Cole Hamels did it again last night.
As is usually the case with Hamels, he did not receive the "win" for his performance. But that is nothing new.
#Phillies Cole Hamels now has seven career starts in which he pitched at least seven shutout innings and did not ear a win.— MLB Play Index (@BRefPlayIndex) June 12, 2014
Last night, Hamels struck out 11 Padres and walked just one, and among Phillies pitchers who have pitched in at least 256 games...
10+ K games through 256 games: Cole Hamels 26 Steve Carlton 24 Curt Schilling 23 Jim Bunning 21 Cliff Lee 19 Roy Oswalt 13 Roy Halladay 6— MLB Play Index (@BRefPlayIndex) June 12, 2014
Here are some other phun phacts about Cole that should make you realize that dude is earning every cent of his seven-year, $153 million contract.
I can't read my own notes: Hamels has HELD THE OPPONENT to 3 runs or less in 34 of last 43 starts. Phils were 15-27 in first 42 games.— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) June 12, 2014
Cole Hamels over his last seven starts: 1.78 ERA, 56 strikeouts, 15 walks, 50 2/3 innings.— David Murphy (@ByDavidMurphy) June 12, 2014
Cole Hamels has 2 wins this season, both vs. the Reds. In them, he received 15 runs of support. In his other 8 starts? 17 runs of support.— Corey Seidman (@CoreySeidman) June 12, 2014
Over the past two calendar years, or basically since Hamels signed his new contract, he's 14 among qualified SP in FIP. 15th is Verlander.— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) June 12, 2014
This was Cole Hamels' 7th straight start of 7+ innings. 3rd-longest streak of career. Only SP in MLB with longer streak this year is Cueto— Corey Seidman (@CoreySeidman) June 12, 2014
So, Cole Hamels is pretty good, and you should yell at people who tell you otherwise.
With Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins finishing up two spectacular careers, there is a lot of talk about their Hall of Fame chances. And for good reason, as both will likely be on the bubble for consideration, with both giving themselves an opportunity to make their cases stronger over the next couple years.
But what about Hamels? Cole is about five years younger than both Chase and Jimmy, with more of his peak years still ahead of him. What are his chances of reaching Cooperstown, and what does he need to accomplish in order to get in?
I know it's probably way too early in his career to be talking about this, but it's a Thursday in mid-June in the middle of a lost Phillies season so, let's have some fun.
Here is the average Hall of Fame pitcher's numbers, compared to what Hamels has done in his 9-year career so far (numbers courtesy of Baseball Reference).
|Average HOF Pitcher||254||178||2.97||3816||1051||2084||4||70|
It's clear there is still a lot of work for Hamels to do. But perhaps we should also be looking at some of the pitchers who made the Hall of Fame but didn't quite measure up to what the "average" Hall of Fame pitcher accomplished, especially when you consider that the "average" Hall of Famer's numbers are skewed by the ridiculous totals of old timers like Cy Young, Old Hoss Radbourn, and Walter Johnson.
Obviously, most of these pitchers came from a different era, a time when their careers were interrupted by military service. Bullpens weren't as important, relievers were used less, there was less specialization and starters were expected to pitch deeper into games.
That said, when you look at those six Hall of Fame starters, perhaps the task for Hamels isn't as improbable as it would first seem.
Perhaps a better benchmark would be a recently-retired starter who will likely be on the bubble of Hall of Fame consideration for the next few years, Curt Schilling.
Like Hamels, Schilling suffered while playing for some poor Phillies teams that gave him no run support and cost him a lot of the counting stat "wins" that have historically been so important to Hall of Fame voters. And Schilling's WAR is more than double what Hamels' is, so Cole would need to do some serious catching up there.
However, like Schilling, much of the argument for Hamels' inclusion will be his postseason record, which is quite good.
|Hamels Playoffs||7||4||3.09||81.2||21||77||NLCS/WS MVP|
This is obviously not an argument that Hamels is a Hall of Famer now. Clearly he is not. But what does he need to accomplish in order to be a legitimate candidate?
Even though the "win" stat is an antiquated and mostly useless metric, Hamels would probably need to reach 200 in order to get his foot in the door. He probably needs to do some combination of win a Cy Young Award, reach 3000 strikeouts, keep his ERA below 3.50, and/or continue to bolster his postseason reputation.
Can he do it? He's just 30 years old now and has a WAR of 1.2 this season. With the exception of 2009, Hamels has had a WAR over 4 every year since 2007, and over the last four years (not including this season) his average WAR has been 5.3.
If he can put up a WAR of 5 over the next three seasons, that gives him a career total of 50, and a couple more 3-4 WAR seasons in his mid-30s would put him in the 60-70 range. Hamels has also averaged 210 strikeouts a season in his career, and another five 200-strikeout seasons puts him at about 2500 for his career.
And of course, a Cy Young or two would help cement the deal.
Much of the Hall is about counting stats, and the length of Hamels' career will dictate how many of those he'll be able to accumulate. It's possible he could go another 8-10 years pitching effectively, although it's just as likely he'll wear down by around age 36 or 37.
Or maybe he'll break down next week, given the way the Phils have been riding him this year. No one knows.
Hamels has an uphill road to the Hall, although it's not an impossibility. The likelihood is he'll fall short of reaching the milestones needed to get in, but my guess is he'll get close on most of them.