Examining Chad Durbin’s Hall of Shame Credentials


With all the fuss surrounding the retirements of Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Todd Helton, and Vladimir Guerrero, I’m afraid that the possible ending of another exceptional career has gotten lost in the shuffle. As any fool can guess, because it’s in the title of this post, I’m talking about Chad Griffin Durbin. Durb, who’s been featured in these pages before, started off the year in Philly on a rather handsome contract. He was released from that contract in June, after giving up 17 runs in 16 innings, on 25 hits and 9 walks. He hasn’t pitched since, to my knowledge, and this could be the end of the road for the 35-year-old righty.

It’s easy to forget just how bad Durbin has been, and for just how long. In fact, his combination of longevity and mediocrity is quite rare — rare enough to raise the question: assuming he’s done with baseball, is Durbin’s resume Hall of Shame-worthy?

First, let’s look at his numbers. Durbin boasts a respectable losing record for his career, at 43-47. More importantly, his brief 2013 campaign nudged his lifetime ERA over 5 (5.03, to be exact), gaining him entry to an exclusive club: only 31 pitchers in history have cleared that fabled threshold over at least as many innings as Durbin has pitched. But it’s his WAR that really makes him stand out. Durbin has been worth exactly one win over the course of his career, which translates into 0.24 WAR per 200 IP. If we set the innings threshold again to Durbin’s number, that works out to the sixth-lowest WAR rate ever for a pitcher (and the lowest since Jeff Brantley). Almost never has a pitcher clung to relevance for so long while playing so close to replacement level.

Now, the skeptics among you (to say nothing of the haters) may point to that IP number of 836.1, and protest that Durb just didn’t log enough time to warrant consideration. To them I say that Bruce Sutter pitched 1042.1 innings, and he is in the Hall of Fame. Billy Wagner pitched 903 innings, and a case has been made for him. Durbin spent 14 years in the majors; he shouldn’t be penalized for being a reliever. And anyway, logging 800+ innings is a lot harder when you pitch badly than when you pitch well.

Chad Durbin was bad as a starter (11-21, 5.76 ERA), before he was bad as a reliever. He was bad against lefties (4.82 FIP), and he was bad against righties (5.08). He was bad in the regular season, and he was bad in the playoffs. He gave up 3 runs in the clinching Game 6 of the 2009 World Series, which his Phillies lost. Then he gave up 2 runs in Game 4 of the 2010 NLCS, a game that the Phillies lost by one. He gave up a run, and did not record an out, in the Braves’ infamous Wild Card loss to the Cardinals in 2012. His postseason resume is nearly unimpeachable, although his 0.2 innings of scoreless relief in the Phils’ victorious ’08 Series could be pointed to as a slight blemish.

As little attention as Durbin earned during his career, it’s tough to come up with another pitcher from the last decade-and-a-half whose HoS credentials are stronger. Indeed, for Chad Durbin, the biggest roadblock on the way to Blooperstown might be the fact that it doesn’t yet exist. In a future post, we’ll address this issue and look at some other active players who are making cases for themselves.


Chad Durbin at home, watching the All-Star Game, just as he has every year for 14 years. What is it going to take to get this man some recognition?

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10 years ago

I was about to suggest Daniel Cabrera, then I looked up his stats and saw his career WAR/200 innings is a lofty 1.8.

I have now lost all faith in advanced statistics.

10 years ago
Reply to  triple_r

Daniel Cabrera is a pitcher who has shown that he can consistently underperform his FIP, so I think it’s more appropriate to use RA9-WAR when evaluating him. That shaves off two-and-a-half wins off his total and puts him much closer to replacement level for his career, coming in at just over 5 wins over 800 innings.

Having watched him pitch in person, I whole-heartedly endorse his inclusion into the Hall. When he was released from a terrible Nationals team in 2009, General Manager Mike Rizzo explained, “I was tired of watching him.”

No seriously that’s a real quote: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2009/05/cabrera_designated_for_assignm.html