The changeup is a relative afterthought in Corbin’s repertoire, and it’s been hit hard. For his career, bumpy as it’s been at times, the pitch has yielded a .421 wOBA.
Corbin’s wicked-slow bender hits the zone about 20 percent more often than his devastating slider, but the beauty of his slider is its ability to make hitters chase; the bender doesn’t yield the same results. The contact rate on his curve is also 20 percent more than his slider.
A distant third as far as usage, Corbin struggled to locate his four-seamer in 2019, producing a BB rate just shy of 20%. An inflated .380 wOBA last season is actually in line with his career numbers with the traditional fastball.
After shelling out $140m to land Corbin last offseason, the new World Champs were very happy with their return. Corbin’s devastating slider was the 11th best pitch in baseball with a 21.9 pVal. A phenomenal 27.6% swinging strike rate and 238 total strikeouts were invaluable in earning the Nats a post-season berth. The pitch cruised to a lovely .202 xWOBA.
A $140 million pitch, Corbin’s slider wielded baseball’s highest pVal (27.6) in 2018. With a career-high 41.3% usage rate, he rode the lethal weapon to a breakout year and massive payday. Opponents never stood a chance against his superb slider, which submitted a .148/.193/.246 slash line, 51.7% contact rate, and a stupendous 25.1% swinging-strike rate. It just might be the most dangerous pitch in baseball, so the Nationals won’t be disappointed in their new acquisition if he keeps deploying it regularly.
Beyond his devastating slider, Corbin’s sinker was his only pitch to procure a wRC+ below 100 in 2019. It just made the cut at 99. While it didn’t induce many whiffs (4.1% swinging-strike rate), it spawned a 57.4% ground-ball rate.
It’s a good thing Corbin wields a killer slider, because his fastball is mediocre. Yet given past struggles when utilizing his four-seamer (.300/.366/.478 career slash line), last year’s .251/.312/.404 line offers a cause for celebration. (And hey, the $140 million contract is cool, too.) While far from a plus pitch, he at least turned it into a passable offering that yielded an only slightly below-average 102 wRC+. Yet he won’t need to bank on continued improvement if he follows last year’s suppressed 19.7% usage rate.
After Corbin’s lethal slider, no pitch produced a higher swinging-strike (13.05%) and lower contact (61.7%) rate than his newly installed curveball. Yet he submitted just one strikeout with the offering, which incurred a 121 wRC+. As the season progressed, he went to the well less often in favor of his slider and sinker. While not yet a punchout pitch, there’s enough potential to monitor.
Corbin went from throwing 246 and 267 changeups in 2016 and 2017, respectively, to just 36 in 2018. It was 36 times too many, as opponents have pulverized the atrocious pitch to a .425 wOBA and .284 ISO over his career. It’s no coincidence that he enjoyed a career year after discontinuing his worst option.