Cole Hamels Is on His Way to Phillies Immortality

Cole Hamels has been bandied about in trade rumors, despite having signed a six-year, $144 million contract extension with the Phillies nearly two years ago to this date. The Phillies’ future is looking bleak, and their other trade chips aren’t expected to bring in a franchise-altering haul. Hamels, on the other hand, could bring that kind of a return to help set the team up for a return to prominence several years from now.

Hamels limited the Braves to one run over seven innings on Saturday night, continuing what has been a great season for the 30-year-old lefty. Since the start of June, Hamels has posted a 1.81 ERA with a 71/23 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 innings across 10 starts. On the season overall, he’s sitting on a 2.83 ERA, which is only slightly below his FIP and XFIP, showing that his results are more or less lining up with his performance. While the shoulder tendinitis that caused him to miss the first few weeks of the season, as well as his slow start, caused some worry, Hamels has shown he is still the same dominant pitcher he has been since the start of the 2010 season. It’s easy to see why he would draw significant trade interest.

The Phillies are under no obligation to make Hamels available, however. Hamels is signed through 2018 and while the Phillies may not be legitimate contender until 2017, realistically speaking, it would be nice to have Hamels around to lead the rotation if and when that happens. The Phillies can also explore moving him during the off-season, or at this time next season as well. Hamels is one of the few veterans on the roster who motivates fans to show up to the ballpark.

Should Hamels stay throughout the duration of his contract, he could challenge for the title of “best Phillies pitcher of all-time”. To be fair, that honor is less impressive than if he had spent his entire career in the Yankees organization, but nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning.

To date, Hamels has logged 1,711 innings and posted a 3.34 ERA. Adjusting for league and park factors, that comes out to a 123 ERA+, which is significantly above average. That’s currently the third-best ERA+ among Phillies starters to have logged at least 1,000 innings:

Player ERA+ IP From To Age G GS
Pete Alexander 140 2513.2 1911 1930 24-43 338 280
Curt Schilling 126 1659.1 1992 2000 25-33 242 226
Cole Hamels 123 1711.0 2006 2014 22-30 262 261
Jim Bunning 122 1520.2 1964 1971 32-39 226 208
Steve Carlton 120 3697.1 1972 1986 27-41 499 499
Earl Moore 119 1151.1 1908 1913 30-35 172 137
Robin Roberts 114 3739.1 1948 1961 21-34 529 472
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/20/2014.

As far as traditional stats go, Hamels just won his 103rd game, which ranks sixth on the Phillies’ all-time leaderboard. Steve Carlton and Robin Roberts are the only two above 200 (241 and 234, respectively), and he still trails Pete Alexander (190), Chris Short (132), and Curt Simmons (115). Hamels is third on the strikeouts leaderboard with 1,624. He trails Carlton (3,031) and Roberts (1,871).

It’s hard to see Hamels racking up the counting stats unless he stays in a Phillies uniform throughout the entirety of his contract while remaining healthy and productive, all of which are unlikely to occur in tandem. Hamels certainly won’t reach the 200-win threshold. However, the game has changed and fans’ understanding has as well, so his wins total won’t be the defining statistic of his tenure in Philadelphia.

A summary of Hamels’ career isn’t complete until going over his post-season success. He was, of course, a big reason why the Phillies ended their playoff drought in 2007 and their championship drought the next season, earning World Series MVP honors with two fantastic starts against the Tampa Bay Rays. Over 13 career post-season starts, Hamels has a 3.09 ERA with a 77/21 K/BB ratio in 81 2/3 innings. Carlton’s post-season numbers with the Phillies? 13 starts, 3.32 ERA, 76/48 K/BB ratio over 89 1/3 innings.

If the Phillies decide to trade Hamels, the reasons for doing so are understandable even if tough to swallow. But if the Phillies opt to keep him, there are certainly worse things than watching him take the mound once every five games on some abysmal teams. He’ll be to these upcoming Phillies seasons as Curt Schilling was from 1996-99.

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6 comments

  1. Jake

    July 21, 2014 09:39 AM

    Bill, wasn’t the contract actually signed in 2012, nearly two years ago to the date?

  2. Derek

    July 21, 2014 07:14 PM

    As much as I love me some Cole Hamels (platonically), it’s the best for the team to trade him now. His contract is in line with his current performance, there’s a market precedent to get a HUGE return (see the A’s trade for The Shark), and Hamels’ value will never be higher than it is right now.

    The Phils will stink until 2017 at the earliest, but if you get some young talent now, you might get better a year sooner. If management cares about attendance, what will bring more people? A full year of a better team, or 15 starts of Cole Hamels (if he doesn’t get hurt).

    I would hate to see him go, but look at the big picture here.

    p.s. Someone hire me as a GM.

  3. Andrew Cleveland Alexander

    July 22, 2014 12:13 AM

    Not to be pedantic, but the Yankees actually don’t have such an amazing pitching history. Probably the best starter in franchise history was Whitey Ford. With the exception of Pettite, all the star pitchers of the 1990s-2000s dynasty (Cone, Wells, Clemens, Johnson, Mussina, Sabbathia) were free-agent types who had their best years with other clubs before coming to the Yankees in their late peak/waning years. (Clemens, of course, had an unprecedentedly long peak but that is a special case.)

    I’d actually take a five-man rotation of Hamels, Schilling, Carlton, Robin Roberts and (yes) Grover Cleveland Alexander over any comparable Yankees rotation.

    • Greg

      July 22, 2014 12:51 PM

      Agreed on the Yankees pitching history. Surprisingly not a ton of stars, at least stars with longevity.
      I’m also amazed every time I hear Jeter is the all-time Yankee’s hits leader, and the only Yankee with 3000 hits. I guess that speaks to his longevity, but it’s still kind of surprising when you think of all the great players and how long the team has been around.

  4. Jim

    July 23, 2014 12:24 PM

    Mike or Bill,

    The Atlanta Braves totally dominated the National League for TEN years (95-05). How did they do it? Was it organization (farm system; coaching). Was it free agency? Magic? I’m just curious how a franchise can stay dominant for a DECADE?

    Jim

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