Surprising headline, indeed. And, yes, it is true: Cole Hamels has been the Phillies’ best starter thus far. While Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have received the lion’s share of media attention, Hamels has quietly become one of the best pitchers in baseball. In fact, an argument could be made that he has been the best in baseball thus far this season.
After a relatively mediocre performance from Roy Halladay yesterday against the Washington Nationals, the reigning National League Cy Young award winner relinquished his Major League-leading 2.60 SIERA. He was bumped slightly back to 2.66. Hamels, just a shade behind at 2.62, moves into first place.
Hamels isn’t better than every Phillies starter in any particular category. Cliff Lee strikes out more batters, Halladay issues fewer walks and induces more ground balls, while Roy Oswalt allows fewer home runs. However, Hamels is well above-average in every category that best explains and predicts a pitcher’s success and failure.
Of course, Hamels has only been technically the best starter going by SIERA. There is still a lot of variance that reduces our certainty in the data. Additionally, Halladay and Lee have both been a bit BABIP-unlucky, so there is room for them to be even better going forward. At any rate, it is quite nice that the Phillies have the three best starting pitchers in baseball.