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Your Random D-Back: Lance Cormier

The pitcher stats forgot about.

Arizona Diamondbacks Photo Day Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Another Louisiana D-Back?

I think it isn’t the first time we write in this series about a Random D-Back from Louisiana and a town with a French name. It must be a state that is full with baseball players that didn’t really make a big name for themselves, but they all have in common that in their younger years they were quite good. This random D-Back was inducted into the 2006 Hall of Fame of his High School, the Lafayette HS, so obviously he must have thrown some good ball. Definitely, because he garnered some national attention during his high school years, although the 40th round pick by the Reds in the 1998 MLB draft in his senior high school year, wasn’t really what Lance Cormier had been waiting for.

Lance Cormier decided not to sign that year and instead went 7 hours east to Alabama to pitch for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Cormier was pretty bad in his first two seasons there: he did some starting but most of the time was active in relief work. In his first year he even notched 11 saves, but the 6.27 ERA was abysmal. The 5.54 ERA wasn’t much better in his second year. Cormier struggled hugely with his command in those first two years in Alabama, evidenced by a BB/9 of close to 6.

In 2001 he did something different. Whatever it might have been, it resulted in less walks and less hard hits and so Cormier gained a starting job for the Crimson Tide. He pitches to a 2.30 ERA and 9 wins and gets the attention of the Astros in the 2001 MLB draft. Houston selects him in the 10th round, but Cormier decides to return for a final season to Alabama. He would lead the Alabama rotation in that final year and although he wasn’t as sharp as in 2001, the 11 wins and the 3.28 ERA and few walks do enough to motivate the Diamondbacks to select him in the 4th round of the 2002 draft.

With 129 innings under his belt in 2002 the Diamondbacks take it easy with Cormier and let him pitch in South Bend in mostly a relief role. In 2003 the right-hander pitches his first full season in the Diamondbacks organisation and accumulates the staggering amount of some 162 innings in A, AA and AAA combined. Cormier has troubles in El Paso, but does remarkably well in Tucson, pitching to a 2.60 ERA with a very respectable 1.12 WHIP. Maybe Justin27 did some interesting clam cooking so Tucson feels like home to Cormier.

In 2004 Cormier adds some velocity to the fastball, adds a cutter to his arsenal and keeps on rolling as a pitch-to-contact guy. He doesn’t give up much hard contact, but the 2004 Diamondbacks, en route to a terrible losing season, might not be the most ideal team for a pitch-to-contact hurler.

MLB debut to remember.

“I got a call late [Thursday night], and when I looked at my phone it was weird to see it was Chip calling me,” Cormier said in a telephone interview late Friday afternoon. “He just came right out and told me the news, and I asked him if he was kidding. He said, `Lance you are going to the big leagues. How do you like those apples?’” - Lance Cormier on being called up to the MLB in 2004 on Tuscaloosa News

Lance Cormier’s debut in the MLB on June 19, 2004, is a debut to remember, although not in a very positive way. Check out the search function on the AZSnakePit and you can see that more than once has Cormier’s debut been remembered by Jim McLennan (and others) when certain prospect was called up to make his debut.

“He made a lot of mistakes over the middle of the plate, - Bob Brenly about Cormier’s debut as quoted by ESPN in June 2004

“They jumped on our young kid, took some pitches. When you’re facing a team that’s hot like that, there’s not a lot of margin for error.” - Luis Gonzalez about Cormier’s debut as quoted by ESPN in June 2004

In his debut Cormier is yanked off the mound by Bob Brenly in the second inning after giving up 7 runs on 6 hits and a walk and sent right back to the minors the following day.

Although Cormier does good in AA and AAA that season, his 2004 season in the MLB is a complete miss, which is later recalled in a colourful way as only Bob Brenly can express:

“Lance Cormier is one of the guys that has helped me put me in the booth right next to you, partner. Pitching for the Diamondbacks in 04, pitching in 17 ball games, total of 45.1 innings, gave up 13 home-runs! Went 1-4 with a 8.14 me fired...hahaha!” - Comment of Bob Brenly during a Dodgers vs Cubs game, transcript from YouTube

Being bad in 468.2 innings of baseball.

With his 89 mph fastball/sinker Cormier isn’t fooling anyone and one of the bigger problems is his inability to get batters out. If Cormier doesn’t allow a hit, he is probably walking a guy, just take a look at his year to year WHIP:

  • 2004: 1.919
  • 2005: 1.626
  • 2006: 1.751
  • 2007: 1.708
  • 2008: 1.563
  • 2009: 1.293
  • 2010: 1.645
  • 2011: 1.976

But what baffles me most isn’t the WHIP, but the amount of innings Cormier was allowed to accumulate in the major leagues. Over 8 years in the major leagues, his career line is a 5.04 ERA, a 1.22 SO/BB in 468.2 innings.

That is a terrific accomplishment for a pitcher who most of the time was terribly bad.

Obviously his name isn’t Bumgarner, so his leash was a bit shorter in Arizona, although there were some stretches of success, like the 12 scoreless appearances with which he started the 2005 season. But after 2005 and a 5.11 ERA season the Diamondbacks decide to move Cormier and he gets traded to the Braves along Oscar Villarreal for Johnny Estrada, which in hindsight is a slam-dunk trade for Arizona if you think of it.

For the Braves he struggles during two seasons at the major league level and is eventually released. Via Baltimore and Tampa Bay (where he is mildly more successful) Cormier eventually ends up with the Dodgers. There his MLB career finally comes to a halt when he is released mid May after giving up 4 homeruns in 13.2 innings, ending his time in Los Angeles with a 9.88 ERA. He returns to Tampa on a minor league contract but is released by the end of the season.

At the beginning of 2012 he receives no interest from any major league team and decides to call it quits. Cormier settles in Tuscaloosa with his college sweetheart and wife after having moved around 47 times during his baseball career.

“I can fit a lot into an Isuzu Rodeo,” he said of his moving expertise. - Lance Cormier quoted about his moving experience in Tuscaloosa News in 2017

Cormier and his wife buy a farm with animals and start a CrossFit business in Tuscaloosa. But the love of the game is impossible to forget, so Cormier is also part of the SEC Network team and is a frequent analyst of baseball games on that network, with a special interest in the Crimson Tide games.


Do you remember Lance Cormier?

This poll is closed

  • 68%
    Yeah, never forgot about him!
    (15 votes)
  • 13%
    I didn’t, but now it rings a bell again.
    (3 votes)
  • 18%
    No, and I still have no clue who the guy is.
    (4 votes)
22 votes total Vote Now