Philadelphia Phillies: Why Cole Hamels Will Lead Them in Wins in 2012
Cole Hamels has become a rock star in the city of Philadelphia. Not only is he one of the 10 best pitchers in MLB, but he helped end a 25-year championship drought for the most passionate sports fans in America.
Hamels agreed to a one-year contract (avoiding arbitration) worth $15 million, but that has hardly set the minds of Phillies Nation at ease. Teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and of course the New York Yankees are salivating at the thought of Hamels entering free agency.
Hamels is only 28 and has a pedigree at this point in his career that has been matched by few. The Phillies have built their Vegas favorite ballclub around their pitching, and they must keep their youngest and brightest star at all costs.
Hamels made it crystal clear in his spring training press conference that he loves it in Philadelphia and he wishes to stay. His family lives here, his foundation is here and he loves the fans. It's been amazing to watch King Cole improve right before our very eyes, and you can be assured that he is poised for a monster year.
Here are five reasons why Cole Hamels will lead the Philadelphia Phillies in wins in 2012.
Increased Run Support
The problem with the Philadelphia Phillies was not their pitching. They finished with the lowest ERA in MLB in 2011, but they finished seventh in the NL in runs scored (13th in MLB).
The lineup struggled mightily compared to recent seasons. The Phillies finished first or second in the NL in runs six straight years prior to last season. The lineup will be better in 2012 with All-Star Hunter Pence in the mix for an entire season.
Add power bats Ty Wigginton, Laynce Nix, Jim Thome and that is a recipe for more runs. John Mayberry Jr. had a breakout season in 2011 and will look to build on that this year.
Hamels has been a victim of poor run support for the past three seasons. That makes his dominance even more impressive.
After the Phillies' offensive collapse in the NLDS against the Cardinals, GM Ruben Amaro stated emphatically that the team will change their approach at the plate.
Charlie Manuel has reiterated those words as has annual spring training invitee (and Hall of Famer) Michael Jack Schmidt. If you don't listen to the bosses than you might as well listen to the greatest position player in team history no?
The equation is simple, give Hamels three runs and he will pile up a ton of wins.
Show Me the Money
As mentioned before, Cole Hamels has a ton to pitch for in 2012. He is already a World Series MVP and has compiled a 74-54 record with a 3.39 ERA. He is also coming off the best season of his young career. He throws in the mid-90's with a top five changeup and a cutter that became an out pitch in 2011.
Oh, and he's a lefty and is only 28 years young.
The sky is the limit for Cole and his agent has made it clear that he is seeking more than the figures Jered Weaver received on his extension. Hamels is a homegrown guy that has helped this team double their team payroll in four years.
Citizens Bank Park has sold out over 200 consecutive games and with Cole Hamels signed to a long-term extension, you can be assured there will be many more in the future.
The Guy's a Competitor
The Philadelphia Phillies built one of the greatest starting rotations (on paper) in MLB history in 2011 when they had Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt as their one through four. Hamels is a guy with a proven track record (albeit at a young age) who would be a No. 1 starter on almost any other team in baseball.
He is technically a No. 3 in Philadelphia. A young star like Cole Hamels can take that two ways: 1) I'm better than these guys and there was no need to bring them in, or 2) I'm going to learn as much as I can from guys who are the most respected in the game.
Cole went with the second option. He had the best season of his career in 2011 by going 14-9 with a minuscule 2.79 ERA. In 216.1 IP, he only allowed 67 Earned Runs.
He struck out 194 batters while only walking 44 and his K/9 rate was 8.1. Hamels' on-field performance has shown that he shines pitching alongside the best in the game (not scared of it), and he has learned a thing or two from their legendary work ethics.
Another offseason in which he can copy Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee's training regimen is a scary proposition for the rest of MLB.
Entering His Prime
Cole Hamels already has six seasons under his belt at the age of 28. After the team monitored his innings during his rookie year in 2006 (still had 132.1 IP), he has pitched 180-plus innings each season since.
He has added a new pitch to his repertoire and he is coming off the best season of his career in 2011. He has a catcher in Carlos Ruiz that understands his style (and vice-versa) and calls a great game.
Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee both needed time in the minors to figure things out and become the dominating pitchers that they are today. Cole Hamels has the ability to learn from those veterans and gain valuable experience at the same time.
Hamels is finally beginning to fill out his lanky frame, and as he continues to get stronger his numbers will become even more staggering. His fastball is regularly reaching the mid-90's at this point and he showed in 2011 that he has the ability to keep it that high late in games.
Hamels wants to finish every game (like Lee and Halladay) and he is admittedly in the best shape of his life. Can you say Cy Young for King Cole in 2012?
Colbert Hamels just looks like a guy that is from Hollywood, California. Don't tell that to Philadelphia, however, as he has become a superstar in the blue collar town.
Hamels showed the country in 2008 that he has ice in his veins and loves to pitch on the biggest of stages. Well, there is no better atmosphere in MLB than a home game at Citizens Bank Park.
Each night is like a (party) playoff atmosphere at the Bank with the standing room only tickets being purchased as fast as an adult beverage. The stadium can be so loud that it helped sway Cliff Lee to shun millions of dollars and two more guaranteed years from the New York Yankees.
Hamels has already forever endeared himself to Phillies Nation when he won a World Series in 2008, but he has the chance to become one of the most beloved players ever to don the Phillies pinstripes.
If he re-signs with Philadelphia that is. Regardless, Cole Hamels will win the NL Cy Young in 2012.
Not exactly a bold prediction, but a prediction nonetheless.