What Clicked For Hamels?

You know the story by this point in the season: Cole Hamels had himself a bumpy ride through April and May, limping into the summer with a 4.86 ERA, a five- and six-walk game to his name and four starts of five earned runs or more. There were a couple good starts thrown in to mitigate the pain, but you won’t hear too many apologies about that collection of 12 starts from me.

The assumption, though, was always that Hamels would rebound. And rebound he has! With an 18-start stretch of a 2.62 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 127 innings, Cole has comfortably put his out-the-gate stumbles behind him. And that’s good, because Hamels Complainers are the worst.

What’s the deal, though? What was wrong in April and May that has been corrected since? Let’s find out together.

My first turn is to our handy TruMedia tool, which can neatly aggregate some numbers of Cole’s across different stretches of the season. So, here’s a peek at the Jekyll (“Bottom,” June-present) and Hyde (“Top,” April-May) of Hamels in 2013.

Notable observations:

  • Walks are way, way down; nearly halved
  • That, plus a sliced HR rate, led to a big drop in opponents’ slash, despite hitting more line drives
  • More swings with fewer whiffs have translated into more fouls, not balls in play, and the tick up in chasing pitches out of the zone means (likely) worse contact on those
  • Cutter usage has been shaved (thank goodness) with curves taking its place, instead of the usual changeup suspect

One of the starkest improvements, though, has come from Hamels’s fastball. It’s not a velocity thing; Cole’s FB velo has been consistent all year in the 92 MPH neighborhood (cheers to BrooksBaseball for the table to the right).

Static velocity is alright if you can locate, though, and Hamels has improved his fastball spots manifold since June (not that they were really all THAT terrible to begin with). Hamels has thrown his fastball for strikes more than 72 percent of the time in the last four months, more than Cliff Lee (71.3 percent) and second in baseball only to R.A. Dickey (76.4 percent) and he’s, uh, not throwing as many fastballs as Cole. Lee, for what it’s worth, is fifth in the league in this selection.

Better location has also translated to fewer free passes, as Hamels has only had five walks end on fastballs since the start of June, as opposed to an unsightly 17 in the season’s first two months.

Ponder these differing opponent slash lines:

April-May: .341/.408/.616, 20 K to 17 BB in 138 AB (623 pitches)
June-September 8: .273/.295/.436, 34 K to 5 BB in 227 AB (951 pitches)

The fly ball and line drive rates have ticked up, which help explain some of the still-somewhat-high SLG despite a more modest AVG. The moral of the story, though, is that Cole has refined his heater and turned it from a liability back into a weapon in and of itself, not just a set-up for the change.

The cutter is still a weakness, but its damage has been limited by less use and, when it is thrown, Hamels throwing it out of the zone when he does offer it.

And that out-of-zone location is clearly by design. Hitters are still posting an .816 OPS against the cutter, but that’s still a fair deal better than the .923 eyesore from earlier in the year. This is what’s meant by “making adjustments.”

Maybe it took a little longer for him to get righted than we’d expect in a perfect world scenario, but Hamels did get right. Flaws were found and corrected, and Hamels has reclaimed his spot among the very best starters in the league.

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94 comments

  1. EricL

    September 11, 2013 10:30 PM

    Larry,

    Over 169.1 innings pitched vs the AL Cole Hamels has a .310 BABIP, which is about 30 points higher than his career average. His home run rate vs the AL is 1.49 HR/9, whereas his career average is 1.06 HR/9 and hasn’t been above 1.0 since 2010. Both BABIP and HR rate are metrics that can fluctuate wildly over the course of any single season.

    169 1/3 innings is less than the length of a single season.

    If you were to calculate DIPS that accounted for these things, like, say, his xFIP or SIERA, you’d find his performance is much closer to his historical performances against the NL.

    Your assertion that Cole Hamels wouldn’t be a 2nd starter on most AL teams is completely absurd. It’s based on your use of traditional pitching metrics that don’t necessarily paint an accurate picture of a pitcher’s actual performance, and the use of those metrics over a much-too-small sample size.

  2. Phillie697

    September 11, 2013 10:54 PM

    I want to know how a silly assertion from the beginning blew up to such a ridiculous argument about how great, or not great, Hamels is based on some ridiculous arguments. It’s almost as if we’re having the whole sabermetric vs. traditionalist argument, just couched in a different form. My goodness!

  3. Pencilfish

    September 11, 2013 11:17 PM

    Larry makes a good point about AL-NL differences. For example, in 2013, the average AL club has 630 runs, 1270 hits and an .727 OPS over 144 games so far. The NL has 581, 1237 and .705, respectively. That is a 2-8% difference depending on the stats you look at. It is not negligible. If we can make pitching stats fielding-independent, we can certainly make them league-independent. In the end, it would make Hamels numbers look a few percent worse.

    It is so much that Hamels can’t be #1 on many teams. He can. But on teams with deep post-season aspirations, he lines up better as a #2 who is better than most (all?) other #2′s in the ML.

    “I’m trying to figure out in what universe a top 15 pitcher isn’t a number 1″

    I would say you need some other mark of sustained excellence such as a CY award, ERA, SO or IP king for one or more seasons, more GS than BB for one or more seasons, etc. Guys like Lee, Kershaw, Verlander do that.

  4. Larry

    September 12, 2013 12:49 AM

    @ EricL

    ” His home run rate vs the AL is 1.49 HR/9, whereas his career average is 1.06 HR/9 and hasn’t been above 1.0 since 2010″

    Eric, it’s common knowledge that the AL hits more HRs than the NL, just like they score more runs than the NL. You can analyze this data over the last decade if you want or 2 decades, whatever.

    “It’s based on your use of traditional pitching metrics that don’t necessarily paint an accurate picture of a pitcher’s actual performance”

    My apologies for not giving you more sabermetric stats than traditional stats against the AL. This kind of information is a bit difficult for me to find. Maybe you or someone can research this and give Cole’s WAR stats vs the AL in 27 starts. Then compare that with his WAR in his other seasons where he has around 27 starts vs the NL only.

    I can however tell you that his tOPS+ ……. OPS for split relative to players total OPS vs the AL is 131.

    To me 710 PAs would be a good enough sample size, maybe not for you. People have said that they won’t comment on someone like Darin Ruf until he gets at least 300 PAs. For them, that is the size they need to see. Consider that 710 is about 236.5% higher than that sample size, I think that is adequate.

    I’m OK with any argument that Cole is a top 20 pitcher in the NL. However, there is no positive evidence that he would be a top 40 pitcher in the AL. The only stats we can look at in the AL is 710 PAs, which tells us that he has a 4.41 ERA, 1.287 WHIP. If you can figure out WAR based on the information given, then great job by you. I couldn’t find that stat for saber sake.

    “Over 169.1 innings pitched vs the AL Cole Hamels has a .310 BABIP, which is about 30 points higher than his career average.”

    Baseball ref. has it around .286, .24 above his average. I would expect that with better hiiters in the AL, especially with a DH. If you look at the run he has been on since mid June or July his BABIP is 15-20 points below his average. So would you say his recent run is not good, because of his low BABIP. There are always 2 ways you can praise or blast a player’s current play.

  5. hk

    September 12, 2013 04:30 AM

    “Until Hamels proves it, I don’t think he’s the guy to take the ball in game 1 of a post-season game.”

    In 5 Game 1 post-season starts, Hamels has produced a 2.91 ERA and the team has won 4 of the 5 games.

  6. hk

    September 12, 2013 06:12 AM

    To those who are claiming that Hamels only started pitching well when the games didn’t count:

    After losing to KC on April 7, the Phils were 2-4 and Hamels had an ERA of 10.97. Since that time, he’s had an ERA of 3.02. In other words, after a rough first two starts, he’s basically been Cliff Lee. Are those of you who are making this claim suggesting that the season stopped mattering after 6 games?

  7. hk

    September 12, 2013 06:36 AM

    My final point about Hamels is….in the Septembers of his career during which the Phils played high pressure games (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010), Cole produced a 2.43 ERA in 114 2/3 IP. In the other Septembers when making the playoffs (2009 and 2011) or missing them (2012 and this year) was a foregone conclusion, he hasn’t been as good (ERA in the 3.50 range).

  8. pedro3131

    September 12, 2013 07:08 AM

    Different stats stabilize around different sample sizes. It’s something Bill talks a lot about in the comments section of particular articles, but the number of at bats before we can make any confident assumptions (if you believe in such a thing) about Ruf has NO bearing on Cole or any other pitcher.

    Using only league specific stats to determine if a pitcher can pitch in a particular league is a bit of a non-starter. I have no idea how to find league specific stats like that, but as a thought exercise let’s jut grab a similar sample size and see if we can extrapolate some conclusions about it.

    Pitcher A 276.2 IP 266h 90bb 266k .320 wOBA .400SLG against 4.30ERA 1.35 WHIP

    Would you call that a top 15 pitcher, even a good pitcher? What if I told you that was accumulated career stats over the month of August, where games are “high-leverage”?

    What if I told you, the pitcher in question was Justin Verlander, ye of 12 runs surrendered in 15 IP against NL teams in the world series?

    I guess Verlander is just a scrub who would be lucky to be a 2 starter in the NL…

  9. LTG

    September 12, 2013 09:02 AM

    Larry,

    Any good social scientist knows that you can’t just look at two data sets and draw comparative conclusions, nor even one really but the comparison point matters here. Hamels AL data set was collected over multiple seasons through interleague scheduling which is highly imbalanced and makes the results difficult to compare to other AL data sets without accounting for the conditions of the data set’s production. Halladay’s AL data set is not like this. He pitched against the AL over many seasons, balancing the good and bad teams for the most part. There is nothing inconsistent with the two positions I have taken specifically about the AL East narrative in Halladay’s case and the possibility that Hamels has faced specifically the Yankees and Red Sox disproportionately.

    At some point you should try to quantify your claims about the AL-NL difference. You’ve been given many reasons here why the data you cite for Hamels is not the end of the story. You’ve even been offered new ways to analyze the data in order to help your argument. Until you do that I don’t think the conversation can continue.

  10. Mark

    September 12, 2013 09:28 AM

    Larry,

    You’re willing to admit Hamels is a top 20 pitcher in the NL???? This is getting absolutely ridiculous. Since 2007 he has been among the top 10 WAR leaders in all but two seasons and one of those (2008) he was just outside the top 10 and had one of the best playoff runs capped off by a WS MVP. I know WAR isn’t the end all be all of evaluating pitchers, but this is getting ridiculous. Top 20??? Name 10 pitchers in the NL that are better. I’d love to see this list.

  11. kyle

    September 12, 2013 09:42 AM

    Anyone remember that time he won the NLCS MVP and the WS MVP and he helped us win this weird thing called the World Series?

  12. joecatz

    September 12, 2013 11:31 AM

    can I ask a stupid question here, Larry?

    Why do you give a rats ass where healems would be ranked if he pitched in the AL when the phillies play in the NL?

    I mean, make a case or don’t, and argue it till your blue in the face, but why do you, or should anyone care?

    8 interleague games in AL parks?

    No offense but if you buy your arguement, than any NL pitcher will see the same issues.

    Hamels is elite. deal with it.

  13. joecatz

    September 12, 2013 11:42 AM

    also, in terms of NL for 2013:

    Hamels

    xFIP (14th) 3.49 (10th place is 3.44, Corbin)
    FIP (17th) 3.33 (10th place is 3.18, Strasberg)
    SIERA (10th) 3.49
    K/9 (17th 8.19 (10th place is 8.75, Lynn)
    BB/9 (11th) 2.01 (10th is 1.98, Bailey)
    K/BB (9th) 4.07

    WHIP (14th) 1.13 (10th is Bailey at 1.10)

    He’s done this this year with the 24th HIGHEST BABIP of any qualified starting pitcher.

    He’s top 10. trust me. ask any NL GM to put together their top ten wish list for SP and Hamels is on every one.

  14. Larry

    September 12, 2013 12:26 PM

    “No offense but if you buy your arguement, than any NL pitcher will see the same issues.”

    Yes, this happens all the time. If Cliff Lee would have been traded to Boston at the trade deadline. Would his stats be better facing teams like the Braves, Nats, Marlins, and Mets or Yankees, BlueJays, Orioles, and Rays? This should be a no brainer for anyone. Even if you take the NL CY Young award winner from last year, Dickey and throw him in the AL East, it’s a lot more difficult. That’s my case for Doc, he pitched all those years in the AL East and was outstanding. This is why I feel he is a lock to make the HOF, not a fringe candidate like some people think.

    The Phillies have struggled mightily over the years in inter-league play, that includes a lot of our pitchers. Any guesses why?

    Mark if I gave you a list, you would argue that they were wrong. You would tell that guys like Strassburg and Wainwright aren’t better. You would say Harvey wasn’t proven enough. So what’s the point? Some people feel that Cliff Lee is not our real ace. You probably feel that way. That’s fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

  15. Joecatz

    September 12, 2013 12:49 PM

    Since the start of interleafue play the AL has won 2156games to 1949for the NL. 4 NL teams have a winning interleague record. The phillies come in 6th. They’re no worse than any NL team.

    The reason for this is that AL teams carry a designated DH.

    Your Arguement makes no sense.

  16. Mark

    September 12, 2013 01:01 PM

    You’re the one saying he’s top 20. I’m asking you to name the pitchers better. If you want to argue that Strasburg and Wainwright are better, then make the argument. Have you compared Hamels’ career to Wainwright’s? He’s two years younger and has already had a better career. Maybe Wainwright is peaking now, but that just shows that perhaps Hamels hasn’t even hit his peak yet. And I think Strasburg is an ace and will continue to be one. Take a look at Strasburg through his age 24 season and compare it to Hamels through his age 24 season, though. You could make an argument Hamels was better through the same period. Either way, they’re pretty damn close to each other.

    Im guessing you won’t bother with the list since it will be easily refutable.

  17. Scott G

    September 12, 2013 01:05 PM

    Do you people (Pencil and Larry) realizes how ridiculous your comments are?

    One second you say “Game 1s in playoff series are pressure-packed”, then you say, “well all the Game 1s in 2008 weren’t because expectations were low.” That’s such horseshit.

    I really couldn’t read the last half of these comments.

  18. Larry

    September 12, 2013 01:41 PM

    “The reason for this is that AL teams carry a designated DH.

    Your Arguement makes no sense.”

    What argument are you talking about??? I of course agree that NL pitchers would have worse stats against an AL team at their stadium with a DH, therefore giving the advantage to the AL. I think you misread something or took something the wrong way.

    @Scott,

    “Do you people (Pencil and Larry) realizes how ridiculous your comments are?

    One second you say “Game 1s in playoff series are pressure-packed”, then you say, “well all the Game 1s in 2008 weren’t because expectations were low.” That’s such horseshit.”

    That didn’t come from me. My only argument was people saying that he is a top 10 pitcher in baseball. You can make arguments for his good stats against the NL and tell me you think he is a top 10 or 20 pitcher in the NL. That’s fine, you can make that argument with proven stats, where there is a lot of information.

    However, you can’t give any proof or facts of him being that good as an AL pitcher. We have a sample size of 710 PAs vs the AL that doesn’t look that good. You can also add in the fact that probably somewhere around 35-65% of his starts against the AL has been at home, where there wouldn’t be a DH. If you take that into consideration then most likely the stats would be worse when 100% of the time there was a DH.

    @Mark,

    How about you list the NL teams where he would be an ace and the GM had to make the decision of trading away their current ace for him. What do you come up with? Would the Mets trade Harvey for Hamels right now?

  19. Larry

    September 12, 2013 01:49 PM

    BTW Mark I was under the impression that 697 meant right now, meaning today. Would a GM take Cole as their ace right now. If you are going by career numbers, then that’s a totally different argument. You certainly would have two separate answers even if you were talking about anyone else. For example, how different would your answers be for Ryan Howard? Career wise or right now?

  20. Mark

    September 12, 2013 02:07 PM

    You stated Hamels was top 20 in the NL. I just asked for the pitchers you thought were better. Why is that so difficult if you think he’s only top 20?

  21. Scott G

    September 12, 2013 03:03 PM

    Larry,

    Cole Hamels has pitched 60 of 169 1/3 Inter-league innings on the road in his career. That mean’s he’s pitcher 109 1/3 innings at home against AL teams.

    If he’s pitching at home against 8 hitters and 1 pitcher, I’m going to claim it’s a small sample size thing. What else could you possibly be attributing his “poor” pitching to?

    Additionally, IN Boston, New York, and Detroit (the more powerful offenses), Hamels has a very good ERA (small sample-size included).

    So, you can take your random, 710 PA sample against AL teams home or away, and I’ll take the 6421 PA sample over his entire career.

    By the way, his ERA vs. teams with Win % 0.500 = 3.33.

    I guess the next time you argue against Cole Hamels you’ll say he pitches down to his competition???

  22. Scott G

    September 12, 2013 03:06 PM

    I think something happened to my post. It was meant to read:

    “His ERA vs. teams with Win% less than 0.500 = 3.38.

    His ERA vs. teams with Win% greater than 0.500 = 3.33.

    I guess the next time you argue against Cole Hamels you’ll say he pitches down to his competition???”

    I used greater than and less than signs before and I think it took them as that html crap.

  23. Larry

    September 12, 2013 03:21 PM

    @Mark,

    I’m only going by right now, which was the original question and not by career. So let’s just look at this year:

    If you just look at ESPN stats under sabermetric stats:

    Cole is 24th in ERA
    17th in ERC
    12th in DIPS
    17th in Ks per 9

    Even if you look at JoeCatz stats

    14th in xFIP
    17th in FIP
    10th in SIERA
    11th BB per 9
    9th in K/BB
    14th in WHIP

    To me this is not top 10, he would fall somewhere between 13-16th

    Yes, I give some credit to 7th in the WAR, but we know this is not a stand alone stat. So what I’ll do, because WAR is so important to a lot of people is adjust from 13-16th to 12-15th. So not top 10, but top 20. Hey you could say top 15 in the NL, which is pretty good.

    If you want list of guys that have these better stats here you go:

    espn.go.com/mlb/stats/pitching/_/league/nl/sort/earnedRuns

  24. Larry

    September 12, 2013 03:35 PM

    @Scott,

    “Cole Hamels has pitched 60 of 169 1/3 Inter-league innings on the road in his career. That mean’s he’s pitcher 109 1/3 innings at home against AL teams.”

    I guess it would be a lot worse if it was equal innings. That makes my case stronger, but I’m not just picking on Cole, if you take 100 pitchers from the NL and put them into the AL for 1 season, the average ERA would definitely rise. Some guys wouldn’t even make it a full year like Worley. I would love to buy low on Josh Johnson right now and bring him to the Phillies for 2014. He used to dominate the NL East.

  25. Scott G

    September 12, 2013 05:57 PM

    Doesn’t that argument only hold water when you’re talking about game IN the AL because there’s another non-pitcher hitter? Isn’t that the main reason why ERAs could be expected to get worse going from NL to AL?

  26. Larry

    September 12, 2013 06:27 PM

    Scott, that is definitely part of the argument (The DH) However, there are other factors to consider. Believe it not there are 17 guys in the AL with 25 or more HRS. In the NL there are only 4. The AL has a lot more power hitters.

    The AL East has a lot of big hitters in that division. Can you believe there is only 1 sp with the minimum number of innings to qualify in the AL East with an ERA under 3.40? Just 1 starting pitcher?

    Also I think the AL hitters are a bit more patient at the plate in the AL. This was mentioned during the Phillies broadcast after Cole faced the Indians.

    So it’s not just the DH, the AL has a lot more power hitters. Even I am shocked to see how lopsided this is, but it does make more sense now.

  27. Scott G

    September 12, 2013 09:52 PM

    1) you site how the AL East has a lot of power hitters, yet Hamels has a good career ERA vs the Yankees and Red Sox (you’re the one using small samples, so I’m just going off that).

    2) you site how the AL East has power hitters. They actually don’t really have any good pitchers that come to mind, so that’s probably why only 1 has an ERA below 3.40 (your seemingly random point). I think you’re putting the wagon before the the horse with that stat.

  28. Larry

    September 12, 2013 10:26 PM

    ” you site how the AL East has a lot of power hitters, yet Hamels has a good career ERA vs the Yankees and Red Sox (you’re the one using small samples, so I’m just going off that).”

    Yes this true, but I was using the sample size of 710 PAs. Which is in my opinion a regular sample size to look at, since it’s 27 starts. Kudos to Cole for his starts against the Sox and Yankees in the regular season. It was bad in a SSS in the 09 postseason against the Yanks, so we can agree The Red Sox games have worked out good for Cole.

    “They actually don’t really have any good pitchers that come to mind, so that’s probably why only 1 has an ERA below 3.40″

    Do you really think the AL East has no good pitchers Scott? They have last years NL CY Young award winner (Dickey) + Josh Johnson who dominated the NL East, How bout Kuroda career 3.35 ERA. What about guys like CC Sabathia? How about last year’s AL Cy Young award winner David Price?? These are just off the top of my head Scott.

    Both AL and NL Cy Young winners of 2012 are in that division. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few other good pitchers in that division, but it’s tough to pitch there in a regular sample size. Did you forget about the guys I named? There are some big time pitchers in that division. The payroll is high.

  29. Scott G

    September 13, 2013 07:46 AM

    I clearly forgot David Price.. He’s very good. I can now see why you set the ERA at 3.40. His is 3.45. Still a pretty good ERA, and that includes the atrocious start which could have been attributed to his injury.

    I don’t get why you keep citing Josh Johnson. He clearly has stuff, but he’s a walking injury. He only had one year with a sub-3.00 ERA. The rest were (according to your standards of ~3.40 ERA) pretty pedestrian.

    Sabathia is getting older, and his velocity is down 2 mph from his career average.

    And despite winning the CY Young award last year in the NL, I don’t think anyone should be particularly surprised that he’s not getting results this year. Last year was an anomaly for him in terms of K-rate. A pretty big stray from his career norms, which he’s back around this season.

  30. mIKE

    September 13, 2013 08:54 AM

    Dickey has also been dealing with back issues this year.

    Funny how you picked 25 hrs. If you use 20 as your standard you end up with 26 AL guys and 25 NL Guys.

  31. Pencilfish

    September 13, 2013 10:19 AM

    Scott G,

    “Do you people (Pencil and Larry) realizes how ridiculous your comments are?”

    Your comments (and that of many others) betray your emotional attachment to Hamels, so I don’t see how objective you can be. He’s the first home-grown borderline-elite pitcher in a long, long time, so I understand the attachment.

    I summarized my comments about Hamels as such: 1) He’s no more than borderline top 10 (Joecatz’s 2013 ranks seem to confirm that) in the majors (NL and AL)–probably top 15; 2) Hamels is prone to prolonged bouts of ineffectiveness (2009 season and first two months of this year)–that happens to be the years when he was counted as top dog–not sure if coincidental or not; 3) he has been an AS 3 times in 8 seasons and never ranked higher than 5 in the CY vote; 4) If you project Hamels through age 35, he will be a borderline 200-game winner (assuming no injuries, no Halladay-like steep decline, etc)–not quite a HoF’er, 5) Hamels has never thrown a no-hitter or 1-hitter–I think the closest he got was a no-hitter through 6 IP in 2010.

    Bottom line, Hamels is a great #2 pitcher on this team, has lived up to his 17-th pick status and can be the #1 pitcher on many staffs. Halladay, Lee, Schilling or Lefty at their peaks he is not (and probably will never be).

  32. Chonogo

    September 13, 2013 10:59 AM

    After reading this commentary, the only causation/correlation that has been proven is that Hamels most definitely pooped in certain folks’ corn flakes.

  33. Larry

    September 13, 2013 11:13 AM

    @Scott,

    Josh Johnson’s career NL ERA is 3.15. His AL stint this year raised his career ERA 25 points.

    ” He only had one year with a sub-3.00 ERA.”

    I guess technically it’s 2 seasons, but the 1 was a very small sample size. Your point does make sense especially in the NL East. Maybe that doesn’t make Josh Johnson as elite as I was touting him. Also if you feel that way about JJ, then also remember your point applies to Cole Hamels as well, only 1 season under 3 ERA.

    @Mike,

    “Funny how you picked 25 hrs. If you use 20 as your standard you end up with 26 AL guys and 25 NL Guys.”

    Mike if you want to go by your argument then we should add all the HRs of all guys with at least 20 and see what the difference is in each league. 1st off according to ESPN it would be AL -27 to NL- 25

    Totals added up would be AL- 730 to NL- 570.

    Also Mike if you think I was cherry picking stats, consider that the average AL team has 152 HRs to NL of 131 HRs. If you multiply that by 15 (number of teams in each league) you get a difference of 315 HRs. Here’s the proof:

    espn.go.com/mlb/stats/team/_/stat/batting/sort/homeRuns/order/true

  34. Scott G

    September 13, 2013 11:14 AM

    That’s funny, because Cole Hamels’ career ERA+ is 124 while Cliff Lee’s career ERA+ 118…

    His actual ERA is lower too: 3.35 to 3.53 which is probably pretty close to equivalent ERA change from NL to AL.

    I think many people are predisposed to favor Cliff Lee to Hamels. People like Lee because he nonchalantly caught a pop-up in the World Series. Whereas people dislike Hamels for caring enough to complain when things go wrong.

    You’re granting Hamels top 15 starter status in all of baseball. There are 150 starters at any given time in MLB. If you ignore the injury fill-ins, you’re saying Hamels is a top 10% pitcher in MLB. Given that he’s in his prime, that probably should weigh a little more in terms of future success as opposed to Lee and Halladay.

    You can beef with the money he’s making – just as long as you’re aiming the beef at the Phillies and not him.

    Also, he’s “prolonged bouts of ineffectiveness” included 2009 and two months in 2013. I see a longer bout of 2010-2012, last four months of 2013 that carry more weight. That’s not even addressing that people think Hamels was unlucky in 2009.

  35. Scott G

    September 13, 2013 11:18 AM

    Larry,

    re: 152 to 131. I’d probably attribute a lot of that to the pitcher hitting over the additional player hitting (DH or however you want to look at it). If that’s not enough, I’d also say that the 9th AL batter makes a lot fewer outs than the 9th NL spot meaning that the top of the lineup in the AL gets more PAs than the top of the lineup in the NL giving more chances for homers.

  36. mIKE

    September 13, 2013 11:48 AM

    Larry,

    “Mike if you want to go by your argument then we should add all the HRs of all guys with at least 20″

    You don’t know what my argument was then. I was just responding to your post:

    “Believe it not there are 17 guys in the AL with 25 or more HRS. In the NL there are only 4. The AL has a lot more power hitters”

    You were clearly talking about the number of power hitters, which for you is “guys that has over 25 hrs by September 12th”. We are all aware of the al hitting more hrs than the nl. I am simply saying if you make it 20 hrs instead of 25 its a lot closer.

    And just to go with your 25 hr threshold. Guys per league over 25 hrs:

    2012: al-23, n-21
    2011: al-24, nl-18
    2010: al-19, nl-25

  37. mIKE

    September 13, 2013 11:49 AM

    have*

  38. Larry

    September 13, 2013 11:56 AM

    @ Scott,

    “You’re granting Hamels top 15 starter status in all of baseball.

    I never said this. I stated top 15 in the NL only.

    “That’s funny, because Cole Hamels’ career ERA+ is 124 while Cliff Lee’s career ERA+ 118…

    “His actual ERA is lower too: 3.35 to 3.53 which is probably pretty close to equivalent ERA change from NL to AL.”

    This is not an apples to apples comparison at all. Just look at the ERA and ERA+ since they have been on the same team together. You’ll see Cliff Lee has a big lead in both categories. As a Phillie Cliff lee has an ERA of 2.89 and ERA+ 136.

    It’s also interesting to point out that Cliff Lee’s ERA in the NL 2.89, ERA in the AL 3.88, that’s about a 1.0 difference. Hamels in a smaller sample size against the AL and less than half of those games were with a DH as you pointed out to me has about a 1.0 ERA difference as well. Actually it might be higher when I take out Cole’s AL ERA from his career ERA.

    Is this a fluke? Both of these guys have a similar rise or drop when facing both of these leagues. It certainly has been a huge rise for Josh Johnson as well. It was worse for Worley. There are so many articles out there of NL pitchers getting shelled when they switch to the AL.

  39. Scott G

    September 13, 2013 02:50 PM

    Anibal Sanchez, Hiroki Kuroda, Joe Blanton (with the A’s then the Phillies). All of these pitchers have better ERAs while in the AL than the NL.

  40. Larry

    September 13, 2013 03:07 PM

    @ mIKE,
    Yes, when you put it at 20 it was a lot closer, but certainly not the differential. Same would apply to the 3 prior years you posted of it being closer when at 25.

    When creating your name on this site was using a lower case (m)and capital (IKE) done purposely? If you did, it’s kind of funny since it looks like a sabermetrical stat.

    You have:
    xFIP
    wOBA
    wRC
    wFB

    and now the mIKE

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