Cole Hamels: All-Star Starter?

As we’re now about three weeks away from the 2011 All-Star Game in Arizona, it feels about time for the focus on potential all-star pitchers to intensify a bit.

Assuming health, most starters should see another four starts before the festivities begin, so there’s still plenty of time for moving and shaking. As such, I’m not exactly stumping for Cole Hamels to be the first man on the mound come July 12. Yet. But his candidacy to be the first Phillies all-star starter since Curt Schilling in 1999 is a compelling one.

On the year, prior to Sunday’s start in Seattle, Hamels has logged 97.2 IP over 14 starts, striking out 97 and unintentionally walking 17 along the way. Striking out a bunch of batters is not new territory for Hamels, but the diminished walk rate (down 0.8 BB/9 from ’10 and 0.5 from his career rate) and greatly reduced home run rate – something Hamels has always struggled with prior to this season – have helped keep runs off the board more than ever.

Great. I’m sure this isn’t news to you, distinguished reader. Where, then, does Hamels rank among National League starters right now? Do his impressive numbers really merit starter consideration? Let’s take a preliminary look at some starting contenders and where Cole ranks among them. Again, being three weeks out means we’re bound to see some movement. Consider this an electoral primary of sorts, then.

Here’s Cole’s campaign platform within the National League Party:

  • Durability: His 97.2 IP is ninth in the N.L., and the most of anyone with 14 starts. With 6.2 innings Sunday, he could move into second place behind Roy Halladay.
  • Power: Those aforementioned 97 punch-outs are good for fifth, with an 8.94 K/9 that leaves him 10th.
  • Control: Cole’s 1.75 BB/9 is fifth in the N.L.
  • Unhittablenessosity: A new term I’ve coined for trademarking. Hamels is allowing just 6.54 hits per nine (third in the league) on a .260 BABIP, but a huge spike in ground balls induced could keep that from rising much higher. Cole has allowed just 27 hits in his last 44 IP, and only one home run in his past seven starts.
  • Peripheral Vision: Beyond his impressive 2.49 ERA, Hamels also resides among the leaders in xFIP and SIERA, solidifying his numbers as genuine. With a minimum of 60 IP, Hamels’s 2.51 xFIP ranks second in the league, and his 2.71 SIERA likewise ranks second. He’s also second in the league in both major versions of WAR.

Cole does still have some work to do. He trails Halladay in a number of the listed categories, but what fun is making a post for Doc’s starting candidacy? Well, actually, probably a bunch of fun. But I digress and harp on things too-obvious.

Cole Hamels is off to a flying start. He’s improved nearly every aspect of his game, from stuff to results, and looks to be on track to have a serious shot at starting the All-Star Game come mid-July.

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13 comments

  1. FanSince09

    June 19, 2011 03:03 PM

    The Phillies can’t afford to get Hammmels anywhere near this game. Regardless of who we verse in the World Series, we need that home field advantage, and Hammels can’t pitch with anything on the line!

    Cliff Lee should start for the NL (should of last year, too!)

  2. dave

    June 19, 2011 03:24 PM

    CLIFF LEE, WHAT!? More like J.A. Happ.

  3. FanSince09

    June 19, 2011 04:45 PM

    Also if you look past the meaningless W-L stats you’ll see that his wins have come because the offense bails him out and he only verses the other team’s 4th starter.

  4. Raysfan76

    June 19, 2011 05:05 PM

    he guy is punching out everybody on the planet and deserves to start that game. ANd oh yeah, if not him, some other guy named Holliday will… There is no way around that pitching staff no matter how you slice it and they’re 16-17 games up after being a traditionally 2nd half team.. WOW

  5. Jesse

    June 19, 2011 06:50 PM

    Hamels also is dominant in the one stat that both SABR and old school folks can agree on: WHIP. And when I say dominant I mean dominant. Sure, .92 walks and hits per inning sounds good any way you slice it, but the next closest is Tommy Hanson at 1.03 and the discussion is over.

  6. Nick

    June 19, 2011 07:13 PM

    For all the Hamels haters out there claiming that he is bailed out by the offense – he’s given up a mere 27 runs so far. To compare, Halladay has 32 earned runs given up on the season.

  7. bernard gets

    June 19, 2011 07:15 PM

    Fan since 09- are u kidding? Hamels is a world series mvp. May want to look at his performance in 08 with a championship on the line before you make anymore unfounded comments

  8. Bender

    June 19, 2011 07:36 PM

    You guys do realize this Fansince09′s schtick right?

  9. Moose

    June 19, 2011 08:53 PM

    Bernard,

    Yes, he is. Clearly, your last name is not a description of your comprehension skills.

  10. jauer

    June 19, 2011 09:09 PM

    He is kidding; it just isnt funny

  11. chris spotts

    June 19, 2011 10:19 PM

    Hamels definitely should be the starter in the all star game they only have the best record in the league and he has the best stats on the team and has performed at a legendary status

  12. Css228

    June 20, 2011 09:09 AM

    gotta love Fansince09

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