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Career Profile: Chad Cordero

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Chad Cordero, 2004 (Photo by Don Smith, Getty Images)
Chad Cordero, 2004 (Photo by Don Smith, Getty Images)

Career Profile: Chad Cordero

Per reader request, here is a Career Profile of pitcher Chad Cordero, who announced his retirement earlier this week.

Cordero was a very successful reliever for Cal State Fullerton, posting a 2.95 ERA and 12 saves with an 81/20 K/BB in 55 innings in 2002, then a 1.58 ERA, eight more saves, with a 68/8 K/BB in 57 innings in 2003. The cash-strapped Montreal Expos picked him in the first round, 20th overall. Although considered an overdraft, he was a legitimately solid talent, with a low-90s power sinker, a good slider, workable changeup, sharp control, and a successful track record under closing pressure. The Expos were looking for someone who could help the beleaguered major league pitching staff quickly, and in fact used that as part of their signing pitch to Cordero during negotiations.

It didn't take very long. Cordero tuned up with 26 innings over 19 games for Brevard County in the Low-A Florida State League, posting a 2.05 ERA with six saves and a 17/10 K/BB. This earned him a promotion directly to the majors just two months out of college, and he performed well, with a 1.64 ERA and a 12/3 K/BB in 11 innings. I gave him a Grade B in the 2004 book.

Cordero opened '04 in the Expos bullpen and thrived immediately, posting a 2.94 ERA with an 83/43 K/BB in 83 innings with just 68 hits allowed. He picked up 14 saves, then moved into the full-time closer role with the Nationals in 2005, posting a 1.82 ERA with a 61/17 K/BB in 74 innings, 55 hits, and 47 saves.

That was his peak season. Cordero remained an effective pitcher for two more seasons until his arm fell off in 2008. He made a valiant three-year effort to come back from a torn labrum, but never fully recovered and finally gave up the attempt this week. All told, Cordero finished with a career record of 20-15, 2.89 ERA, ERA+149, with 128 saves and a 298/122 K/BB in 330 innings with 277 hits allowed. His career ERA was much better than his FIP (4.05) or xFIP (4.05), and WAR doesn't like him much at all, giving him a career value of just 2.0. Indeed, even his 47-save, 1.82 ERA season in 2005 resulted in a mere 0.6 WAR.

The Expos took some flak for overdrafting Cordero, but was it really that bad of a choice? They didn't have much money to work with, and he did end up having a better career than several then-highly-regarded-players still on the board in the '03 draft, including Matt Moses, Brandon Wood so far, Brad Sullivan, Brian Snyder, Eric Duncan, Shane Costa, Vince Sinisi, Mickey Hall, Todd Jennings, and Jeff Flaig. On the other hand, many good players were still available as well, including Daric Barton, Chad Billingsley, Andre Ethier, Carlos Quentin, Adam Jones, Scott Baker, and Shaun Marcum.

Although WAR isn't impressed, Cordero got results. Overall, he had a very solid, if too-brief, career.