Yesterday I wrote that in 2008, Chad Durbin allowed extra-base hits at a rate far lower than many of the other pitchers on the team. He also allowed extra-base hits at a rate far lower than he has over his career.

  PA % H % BB % SO % XBH
Durbin ’08 365 22.2 9.6 17.3 4.7
Durbin rest
of career
2,099 25.5 9.2 12.6 8.9

Durbin had the best year of his career in ’08. He didn’t do it by cutting down his walks — he walked batters more regularly than he has over the rest of his career. He did allow fewer hits and strike out batters more regularly, but the most dramatic change in the four categories is the improvement in preventing extra-base hits in ’08.

Coming into 2008, Durbin had allowed 187 extra-base hits in 2,099 plate appearances — that’s one every 11.22 plate appearances. In 2008 he allowed 17 extra-base hits in 365 plate appearances, which is one every 21.47 plate appearances.

In his work as a reliever before 2008, Durbin had also allowed extra-base hits at a rate that was higher than what he did last year and that was very similar to his career numbers overall coming into ’08. Prior to last season, he had faced 299 hitters as a relief pitcher and allowed 26 extra-base hits, or one every 11.50 plate appearances.

The Phillies would have had a lot of trouble winning the division last year without Durbin’s contribution. And they’re counting on him to come up big again this season. I think there’s two things to worry about, though. One is that Durbin’s 2008 was just by far his best year and even including 2008 he still has a career 5.29 ERA and a 1.53 ratio. The other is that Durbin had two dramatically different halves in ’08, a great first half in which he threw to a 1.89 ERA and a 1.20 ratio and a weaker second half in which he threw to a 4.33 ERA with a 1.50 ratio.

If you think the secret to Durbin’s success in the future could be preventing extra-base hits, it surely couldn’t hurt. There’s a lot more too it than that, though, as Durbin himself helped demonstrate with his second half last season. In the second half of 2008, when he was less effective, he still wasn’t being hurt by the extra-base hit. He gave up hits and walks at a higher rate than in the first half, and struck a lot fewer people out, but the rate at which he gave up extra-base hits stayed about the same:

  PA % H % BB % SO % XBH
1st half ’08 214 20.6 8.9 20.1 4.7
2nd half ’08 151 24.5 10.6 13.2 4.6

Opponents hit .282 against Durbin the second half (.234 in the first half) and on-based .367 (.310). So while the fact that they slugged just .382 (.314) against him in the second half helped avoid a complete disaster, it wasn’t enough to make his numbers after the break nearly as impressive as they had been before the break.

The Phils beat Team Canada yesterday, winning 9-2.

Hamels made his spring debut and went two scoreless innings, allowing two singles and a walk. Dave Borkowski threw a perfect inning, continuing his impressive performance in the early going. Andrew Carpenter allowed two runs on three hits and four walks over two innings. Eyre struck out two in a scoreless frame.

Offensively, Mayberry continued his tear, going 2-for-3 with a two-run homer. Jeremy Slayden, who has also been outstanding, hit a three-run homer in his only at-bat. Ibanez was 1-for-3 with a double and three RBI. Paulino 1-for-3. Donald 0-for-3. Stairs went 1-for-3 with a single for Team Canada.

The Phils play Team USA today. Kyle Kendrick is expected to pitch.

The Zo Zone has updates (a day old) on the medical conditions of Utley, Feliz, Werth, Coste and Durbin.

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