The text message read: “Hollywood is starting to look like Compton.”
I got that text from a high school friend late on Friday night, April 23: the night Cole “Hollywood” Hamels gave up four home runs in a seven-batter span en route to a 7-4 loss in Arizona.
Apparently Cole didn’t realize the Home Run Derby wasn’t supposed to take place in Phoenix until July 2011.
Anyway, I agreed with the text message’s sentiment, because I, like most Phillies fans, have been pretty pissed off with Cole Hamels at times in the past couple of years.
I haven’t enjoyed hearing Cole whine about pitching in day games (’09 NLDS vs. Colorado). I haven’t enjoyed watching him repeatedly give up two-out, two-strike runs to the opposition. I haven’t enjoyed seeing him pitch like Steve Carlton for five brilliant innings only to see him look like a southpawed Adam Eaton for one, usually fatal, frame.
I haven’t been a Cole Hamels apologist and don’t mean to make excuses for him here. But after doing some statistical research over the last few days, I’ve realized that Cole doesn’t deserve a lot of the flak he’s been given by fans such as myself over the past few seasons. I was wrong.
Is Hamels nothing more than the three-week wonder he was back in October 2008? His win-loss record suggests he is. Since the start of ’08, Hamels has a very pedestrian 31-28 record in 85 starts.
But actually, Cole Hamels has been a pretty unlucky pitcher over the years, and his record could be a lot better than it is had he just a little bit of luck on his side.
Now, what exactly is luck? How can it be quantified? Those questions aren’t exactly easy to answer. So, here are some statistics, and you can make of them what you want.
2008: More Than Just the Playoffs
Considering the pitching clinic Cole put on in the postseason, it’s easy to forget just how good he was during the regular year.
Cole had one hell of a season, and his 14-10 win-loss record didn’t tell the whole story. Hamels led the NL in WHIP (1.08) and finished second in innings pitched (227.333), sixth in strikeouts (196), tied for fifth in ERA (3.09), and tied for fourth in quality starts (23).
Meanwhile, the Phils’ prolific offense finished 2008 tied for the second-most runs scored in the national league (799) but continually failed to support its ace. In 2008, Cole Hamels pitched 10 games in which he gave up two earned runs or less and DID NOT get a win. 10!!!
So yeah, he was 14-10. But he could have easily won at least 18 games had the Phillies' usually reliable offense not let him down.
2009: Betrayed by the Bullpen
Remember how the Phillies bullpen had so much trouble closing out games last year? Of course you do, and you probably don’t want to be reminded.
Anyway, Cole was killed by the bullpen more than any other Phillies pitcher. Phillies relievers blew SEVEN potential wins for him. In other words, there were seven games that Hamels left with a lead in which he did not get a win.
So sure, Cole was a disappointment in 2009, but a record of at least 13-11 instead of 10-11 would have definitely been possible had the ‘pen had done its part.
2010: NO Run Support...Period
Cole struggled in April, going 2-2 with a 5.28 ERA in his five starts. But since the start of May, Cole has regained his old form.
His record is just 5-5 since the start of May, but his ERA is a fantastic 2.80. Cole is walking more hitters this year than ever before, but his strikeout rate is the highest it’s been since 2007.
He’s given up more than three earned runs just once in his last 15 starts, and he’s pitched at least seven innings in eight of his nine starts. He also has a 1.72 ERA in five July starts...but just one win to show for it.
Everyone acknowledges the fact that Phillies ace Roy Halladay has totally been victimized by a lack of run support in 2010. But guess what: Halladay is actually receiving more run support per game than Hamels (4.07 to 3.64).
Mr. Hamels, I don’t have much of a law background. But if you ever need a defense attorney, then well, I just might be your guy. Check out this chart. Hopefully, it’s a point made and a case closed.
Average Run Support Per Game (Number of starts in parentheses)
Cole Hamels Jamie Moyer Kyle Kendrick
2007 5.24 (28) 5.40 (33) 6.67 (20)
2008 4.72 (33) 5.24 (33) 5.93 (30)
2009 4.67 (32) 5.05 (25) ----
2010 3.64 (20) 4.69 (19) 6.14 (19)