Why Cole Hamels is Not a Top-3 Cy Young Candidate – Phillies Nation

Why Cole Hamels is Not a Top-3 Cy Young Candidate

When I was over at The Phrontiersman, I was fond of responding to public outcry or fan overreaction (positive or negative) by throwing out a link to “Let’s Not Shit Ourselves” by Bright Eyes. Since coming here, I haven’t used that clip, but I’ve been hearing rumblings that make me want to break it back out. So here it is.

Over the past year and change, I’ve been one of the biggest defenders of Cole Hamels even when he’s been down on his luck. I’ve explained BABIP to more drunk Pinies than I can count, and I’ve railed against that lunatic idea that Hamels should have gone the other way in the Roy Halladay trade instead of Kyle Drabek.

But I’ve noticed a groundswell of support for Cole Hamels to get Cy Young consideration–perhaps not for the top spot on the ballot (Roy Halladay’s already sewn that up in most people’s minds), but for lower spots on the new, expanded 5-man ballot. Two of the leading Hamels cheerleaders in the Phillies blogosphere are people I know well: Pat Gallen of this site and Dash Treyhorn of TheFightins.com. I consider both Pat and Dash to be friends, great writers, and knowledgeable baseball analysts, but in this case, they’re quite wrong.

It is worth noting that a commenter named Lewisauce chimed in on Pat’s post with the following: “Who cares. Just win the World Series.” I’m inclined to agree with that sentiment, but today’s an off-day, so I ask for your indulgence.

Is Cole Hamels having a career year? Sure. Is he, in large part, responsible for the Phillies’ success this season? Sure. Has he had one of the three or five best seasons of a National League pitcher? I don’t think so.

The common argument for Hamels as a Cy Young contender is that since May 1, he’s pitched as well as anyone in the game. The following comes from Pat’s post yesterday morning:

-Since May 1, just after a less-than-stellar opening month, Hamels has a 2.51 ERA. If you toss away his one inning start against the Braves in which he gave up three runs before being pulled due to the weather, his ERA drops to 2.36 since May 1.

-After the all-star break, Hamels ERA is 1.89 with a batting average against of .200

-He’s allowed just two earned runs this month, one against the Braves on Monday night and one against Florida the previous week.

Unfortunately for Hamels, voters don’t vote based on “since May 1,” “after the all-star break,” or “this month.” If I were going to award the Cy Young based on a full season minus a month, I’d pick not only Halladay but Adam Wainwright, Mat Latos, and Josh Johnson from Opening Day to September 1 over Hamels’ May 1 to present. For half a season, I can’t see why you’d vote for anyone other than Ubaldo Jimenez pre-All Star break. Yes, Hamels has had a great September, but at the risk of overstating my argument, so did Shane Spencer in 1998, but no one gave him Rookie of the Year or MVP attention. My point is that as much as Cole Hamels himself would like to have those six starts back, you have to be judged on your entire body of work, and taking those six starts out takes out almost 20% of Hamels’ season.

So on to the merits of Hamels’ entire season. How does he stack up against other National League starters? All stats are up-to-date before Wednesday’s games.

Well, Hamels is pretty good on strikeouts. He’s third in the league in that category, only six off the league lead–not too shabby. After that, it gets a little hairy. He’s 11th in the league (and third on his own team) in ERA, behind such luminaries as Brett Myers, R.A. Dickey, and Jaime Garcia. He’s tied for eighth in the league in innings pitched. Seventh in the league in K/BB ratio (at almost exactly half the rate of league leader Halladay). Seventh in the league in xFIP. Hamels is 10th in the league in WHIP (fourth on his own team, behind Oswalt, Halladay, and, improbably, Jamie Moyer). Cole is eighth in the league in WPA among starting pitchers, and 10th in WAR.

Finally, for those of you who hate progress and facts, Hamels is tied for 19th in the NL in wins.

Here’s my point, in short. Hamels has been outstanding this season, particularly of late. For that he deserves all the credit in the world and the sincere and abject apologies of everyone who badmouthed him last season. But if you look at the numbers, you’ll find him consistently in the top 10 in pitching categories, but out of the top 5, and consistently behind the same guys: Latos, Halladay, Johnson, Myers, Wainwright, etc. Has Hamels had a top 10 season in the NL? Certainly. But there are only five spots on the Cy Young ballot. He’ll probably get a few votes, but will he crack the top 3 or contend for the award? Well, like I said, let’s not shit ourselves.



  1. Bart Shart

    September 23, 2010 at 10:30 am

    It is great to see Hamels pitching like he is capable of pitching. However, nobody owes him any apologies for bad-mouthing and criticizing him when he did not pitch well last year and earlier this year.As fans, we have a right to complain when someone admittedly did not keep in shape in the off season, did not pitch well and hurt the team by not being prepared. It is great to see Hamels doing well. I hope he continues to flourish in a Phillies uniform and he will be one of my favorites. But, part of earning millions of dollars a year playing baseball requires that a player be ready, willing and able to both perform and answer to the fans when he fails to perform because of lack of preparation.

  2. mark

    September 23, 2010 at 10:33 am

    The analysis here is right on the money. No question.

    The only question that remains- who would be the #1 starter in a potential playoff series?

    I know what Charlie is going to do ( Halladay) but I think the better choices would be Oswalt or Hamels.

    Halladay has not been a dominant pitcher for about a month now.

    Pennant pressure? Fatigue? Who knows. But the other 2 guys have stepped it up in a major way this past month. Halladay hasn’t .

    Also, Oswalt and Hamels have proven post-season credentials. Halladay has none.

  3. Manny

    September 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Bart, I understand your point of view… but cmon.. the guy had just won us a WORLD SERIES, first in TWENTY FIVE years for the city of Philadelphia –NLCS and WS MVP— and you can’t give the guy a break for a sub-par season (ESPECIALLY when all signs were showing that it was mostly bad luck –he had great peripherals– and the dead arm phenomenon for young pitchers).

    I’m sorry.. if you’re a casual fan I’d understand. But you’re an informed Phillies fan who checks blogs like this one on a regularly basis, and is exposed to valuable data that at least partly explain what was going on (in this case with Hamels 09). In the latter case, there should be NO REASON… absolutely ZERO… to complain about a Hamels when he was having his down year. Again, ESPECIALLY, after a WFC.

  4. bfo_33

    September 23, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Nice post, I think it echoed a lot of the comments in Pat’s post. I agree that Cole is pitching very well, but for the whole year, Cole is second tier, in with Latos, Myers, Oswalt, Johnson…. Also a repeat – right now, if I had to win 1 game, all other factors equal (rest, neutral line-up,…) I’d probably pitch Cole. Starting a series, Doc has proved he can go on short rest, he’d be my 1st starter. We’re in a great position, have 3 of the top 10 starters in the league. It’s a fun conversation for an off day, but all I care about (and I think the same goes for the pitching staff) is winning the World Series, not really concerned with who gets the Cy Young (should be Doc, Wainwright, Jimenez, in that order).

    Doc is the ace of the team, and has earned the right to start the first game of the playoff series (maybe he’s not lights out right now, but still a quality start every time out, will probably only pitch 6 innigns next start, maybe an innign or 2 in the final). Just like Werth behind Howard, split up the righties with Cole. In a 5 game series, we don’t see Blanton. In a 7 game series, I think it depends on where we’re at – if up, Blanton pitches with a quick hook, KK in the wings. If down, see Doc on short rest in game 4, maybe Blanton game 5, but probably Cole.

  5. SJHaack

    September 23, 2010 at 11:11 am

    1) Cole Hamels threw the ball just as well in 2009 as he is this year. He’s getting less awful bloop hits followed by singles. Somehow this year he’s getting the BENEFIT for having a bad W-L record while last year he got shit for it even though those numbers mean the same amount of nothing both years.

    2) My ballot for Cy Young would be


  6. Chuck

    September 23, 2010 at 11:22 am

    The bottom line….that with RUN SUPPORT….Hamels would have something like 5 more wins. Would a 17-5 record then put him in consideration?

    Wins are a necessary…but overrated….stat.

    And, yeah…I’m pretty sure Cole would agree with Lewisauce….”Who cares. Just win the World Series.”

  7. Manny

    September 23, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I HATE Wins as a stat. Needs to be updated… perhaps it made more sense back in the day when starting pitchers would actually finish games on a consistent basis. Not anymore.

    The game has changed. So does that stat.

  8. Phan in the outfield

    September 23, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I have to echo Bart Shart. Well said, though Cole never has been one of my favorites.

    As for asking for our indulgence, I think Cole’s had our indulgence (much more than other players), also a big learning curve, and a long time to get his kook LA head together. He’s been a lucky guy w/a lot going for him, but he has a tendency to whine. Not great. More indulgence & attention isn’t nec what he needs. Unfortun. it’s generally what guys like him get.

    He should make the most of what he has; stay in shape; work hard; enjoy being here; enjoy the job. When he feels the urge to whine – learn fr Werth & DON’T SPEAK; just play the game to his best & the fans will reward him, likely the game will reward him as it has this season; remember he isn’t alone, he’s part of a TEAM, what he does & says affects others.

  9. Lefty

    September 23, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Most of the greatest pitchers of all time had up and down years. There was a lot of overreaction to Cole having a down year in 09. Micro-deciphering all the different reasons why gets you nowhere. It just happens. The great pitchers always come back from those down years until theiir career comes to an end.

    In 1972 Steve (Lefty) Carlton had arguably the greatest year ever winning the CY. The next year he was 13-20 with an ERA just under 4. He was disgusted with the press and fan reaction. He didn’t speak on the record to the press again for many years. Of course he went on to win three more CY’s and lead the Phils to a WC in 1980.

    Bart I usually agree with you, but this time I think it’s just the way it goes for pitchers. Cole said all the right things after 09- that he didn’t focus as well, let things get to him to easily, and maybe went a little too Hollywood. But in reality, it’s just what happens. Look at Nolan Ryan’s career, look at any of the modern greats. They all look the same, up and down years. Check the link of my man Lefty’s career numbers- Oh and one more thing, there is a direct correlation to CY’s and Wins. I agree with Manny that maybe it shouldn’t be that way anymore, but I don’t see it changing any time soon.


  10. Bart Shart

    September 23, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Manny, respectfully, I disagree with you on two points. Wins as a statistic is vital, perhaps not the most important stat, but very significant. Bob Welch once won 27 games with a 4.00 ERA. He was magnificent and other players have won a lot of games with some stats a little out of line. Wins count big time. It is what determines who is champ and who is chump. Secondly, I did criticize Hamels for his performance and attitude last year. I did not hate on him, but he deserved to get his butt reamed by the fans especially after the mid-way point. Remember, we support these guys. We pay them from out hard-earned incomes. Ultimately, we are their “bread and butter” and if we do not let them know that we are pissed, then we are really not doing our jobs as watchdogs of the franchise. Hamels has the skills to be one of the best in baseball. If he needs a kick in the shorts, then it is our responsibility to do the kicking. This does not mean that we don’t appreciate him.

  11. Bart Shart

    September 23, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Moreover…..last year Hamels by his own admission was not in the needed physical shape to compete when the season opened. Sure he got married and was on the banquet circuit (which screws up a lot of athletes) but I only consider an injury to be an excuse. I wonder if Myers would still be on this team if he and Hamels did not have a falling out? Just a question. But look at Myers now and how would he look in a Phils uniform if he were still here. Maybe Myers needed a wake up call and not being tendered a contract was indeed that call. Just a moot question. But Myers is lost to the Phillies and thriving in Houston.

  12. Bart Shart

    September 23, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Lefty and Manny….just so you know, it is a pleasure sharing opinions with you guys. It’s what makes this blog top notch.

  13. Chuck

    September 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I think Brett Myers had problems with more people than just Hamels. Seems his schtick got really old.


    I think Cole is different this year for many reasons….but the one thing is that with each passing year he gets a little more mature, can handle things better.

    This kid is only 26!! Think how good he can get….

  14. biz

    September 23, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    The rotation is going to start with Halladay, then it’s probably Hamels followed by Oswalt. Halladay will pitch on short rest, hell, he’d pitch both games of a double header if no one stopped him, so it’s a no-brainer. You want an ace available for game 4 if needed. Hamels will be 2nd because he’s been a long time Phillie and Oswalt just got here. Charlie doesn’t have to worry about petting egos because Roy2 will understand. He’s just happy to be here. That said, Hamels has already said he won’t pitch on short rest. That means having him as the 2 will mean we see Blanton if we get pushed to 5 games. I don’t think it’s likely that any NL team can beat our top 3 twice before we beat them 3 times. Case and point, what just happened in Atlanta. Blanton probably wont pitch until the NLCS. And I can live with that.Hopefully we’re up 3-0 when he gets the call.

  15. The Original Chuck P

    September 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    I don’t think that Cole is up there with Halladay or Wainwright…


    The point that you made about not being able to discount one month is partially flawed. All else being equal, I would definitely give an edge to the guy that finished strong over the guy that started strong. If they were almost exactly the same during the summer months, I think that everyone would agree that pitching well in September is more important than pitching well in April. And for that reason, Cole deserves recognition. Is he a Cy winner? No… but he has made his case when it has mattered that he belongs in the top 5 conversation. It’s a lot like the Heisman… guys don’t win the Heisman in the first couple weeks; they win it when their season is on the line. Mark Ingram won the Heisman because he was a one man wrecking crew in the SEC and National championships. Baseball is a bit different because the season is so long but if I had a vote, I would give preference to the guy that pitched well down the stretch…

  16. Lefty

    September 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Bart – agreed 100%

  17. Andrew from waldorf

    September 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    This is as relevant as making a post why the phillies didnt win 162 games this year.
    Who cares?
    Why didnt Utley hit 75 homers this year?
    I guess its what we have to expect for the next 2 weeks.
    I am going to laugh when the phils lose 2 in a row to scrubs. And it will be like armagedon.
    You still dont care about the final series even if the Msets sweep the phils.
    Why did doc only win 20? It could have been 30.
    The Braves wont go away they are too good lol

  18. Bart Shart

    September 23, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Chuck… you are right about Myers in my opinion. He did have a bushel of problems, not just with the team but with alcohol and his own wife. He was on a slippery slope. Frankly, I am happy to see the guy turn things around and wish him success against everyone but the Phils. Nevertheless, the dude has talent and I remember when he took the role of closer. Sometimes people learn from hard lessons. I just don’t know if that hard lesson could have seen him remain a Phil. No way to tell.

  19. Lefty

    September 23, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Did anyone read the post by Diturno in yesterdays Philly.com Gelb article? If you like a good laugh, it’s priceless.

  20. Phillistein

    September 23, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Ok….lets be serious – with that record Cole will not be on anyone’s CY ballot. As much as he’s been lights out the past few months – that’s just not how it works.

    For us here in Philly of course he’s been a godsend.

    A couple of factors that have led to his success IMHO

    1. He’s just flat out matured. Whether it’s been getting married and having a child, Cholly and Dubee finally sinking in, just getting older – who knows – WHO CARES????

    2. Added weight has put a few more mph on the fastball.

    3. Finally, FINALLY, devloped pitches other than a fastball and changeup – and throws them effectively. Amazing that he’s done so well for so long with just two pitches. He’s a starter – not a reliever. Two pitches don’t cut it.

    4 Having Roy Halladay on the team and his track record, demeanor and work ethic. Took alot of pressure off Cole.

    Bottom line – He’s always had talent. But this year, his environment, coupled with his maturation and professional development have allowed him to put it all together.

    I would be surprised if he wasn’t a serious consideration NEXT YEAR.

  21. Phan in the outfield

    September 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I like Chuck’s take – My hunch at the time was that Myers had problems with others, not just Cole. Myers might have the kind of personality that thrives on the ‘I’ll show them!’ energy. He likes getting back at ppl he thinks didn’t appreciate him. Of course there’s no proof and I dislike attempts at delving into a person’s head, but the fact that he’s doing so well in Houston seems strange considering his perfomance here. Admittedly I never liked the guy much.

    Bart – I llike your take on the fans voicing their opinions. I agree. But I also think there are times when fans might not know the full story, nor should we (I mean about why something went wrong or a guy acted a certain way, etc.). Not everything is our business. Also these guys aren’t public servants paid w/tax dollars. They’re essentially, for lack of better word right now, entertainers paid w/hard-earned “expendable” income. We choose to spend this money this way.

    Personally I’m not a boo-er. I don’t like it or enjoy being around it. It makes me uncomfortable. I don’t think it necessarily results in great play from the athletes. But there are plenty of players who’ve said they are fine with it. Victorino & Werth both have been interviewed after they were boo-ed saying they thought they deserved it at the time, and they had no problem with it. It’s these kinds of players I think are specifically made to play in Philadelphia.

  22. Phillistein

    September 23, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Hey Andrew

    The Phillies will never again lose more than two games in a row.



    Realistically though, I would have no problem with them losing 2 even 3 in a row. As long as it’s not in the playoffs.

  23. Phillistein

    September 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Myers did indeed like a practical joke.

    If you haven’t seen this it’s worth a look.

    It’s long though – 5 minutes.

    (LOL….the hot dog guy)


  24. The Original Chuck P

    September 23, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    You mentioned Drabek…

    Small sample size (this falls in the who gives a flying eff category, for sure)- in 2 major league starts this year against the Orioles and Blue Jays, Kyle Drabek is 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA. 8 K’s, 4 BB and 13 hits in 11 innings… not the debut they were hoping for.

  25. Bart Shart

    September 23, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Phan …. I agree that booing is crude and cruel. But I must admit that I have done it. But I have not booed Cole or any of the current Phils. I did boo Bret Myers after his wife incident in Boston which was disgraceful. I did boo J D Drew for the games he played with the Phils and what I perceived as arrogant and unworthy. Also, I booed Barry Bonds because of what I read about him being an arrogant jackass. I am guilty of what I usually detest. But sometimes it is fun and it does let you really express yourself. Sometimes listening to the Boo Birds makes me laugh, as well. But, on the whole, I really do agree with your stance.

  26. Chuck

    September 23, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    So where does that leave Drabek for next year I wonder???….

  27. The Dipsy

    September 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Phan/Bart – CBP Park was built in large part with tax dollars. The Phillies rent from us. We also basically pay the players salaries. A fan has every right to boo. In fact, if he wants to boo and suppresses, he does himself a disservice for he should express himself. Its although physically unhealthy. When I go to a restaurant and get a bad meal, I send it back. When I go see a movie and it sucks, I walk out in the middle. When a guy gets picked off of second base BY THE CATCHER, I’m sure as shit gonna boo. Crude and cruel. C’mon Bart. Buddy. Philadelphia fans, by and large, don’t boo people that they perceive to be trying but just don’t get the job done. SEE: Ibanez, Raul and Burrell, Pat. We do boo lack of hustle, seeming incompetence, or sheer stupidity.

    Booing is as american as apple pie and Chevrolet. Do it, and do it with vigor.

    The Dipsy

  28. The Dipsy

    September 23, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    *also, not although.

    The Dipsy

  29. Chuck

    September 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm


    Wow. I feel so much better…

  30. Bob in Bucks

    September 23, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I’m off topic because this topic has been over done. Here is my question – can anyone generate a total list of times each player has been on the Jeltz or Ashburn award this year? Given it is an off day I would find that retrospective more interesting than redoing prior discussions. The Phils are coasting now, not much more to say.

  31. pheeling it

    September 23, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Cole Hamels will win something, comeback player of the NL.

    Cy Young, thats been stolen by teammate Roy Halladay, who will recieve another day off and prolly start the last game of the Braves series.

    I hope Cole is considered the ace in the playoffs. Welcome back kid.

    Hamels- the Hollywood Kid
    Halladay- the Cy Young
    Oswalt- the Competitor

  32. Chuck

    September 23, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Doc will be considered the ace. That’s why he was brought here. He’ll be up for it…no doubt in my mind.

  33. pheeling it

    September 23, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    No doubt in mine either Chuck, anyway Cholly decides is right with me.

    Rest days are great for the Phillies, but boring.

    They should throw Worley vs Carpenter against the Iron Pigs at the Bank tonight for some rest night entertainment

  34. pheeling it

    September 23, 2010 at 7:43 pm


  35. Lefty

    September 23, 2010 at 7:49 pm


  36. pheeling it

    September 23, 2010 at 7:56 pm


  37. pheeling it

    September 23, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    If we have a 3 man rotation in the post-season, Halladay would have 3 starts. Could you imagine a team beating Roy in even one of those 3 starts? Roy 2 and Cole would only need one win, championship

  38. Manny

    September 23, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    How does the voting work? Can a voter only vote for 5? 10?


    September 23, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I HATE OFF DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Lefty

    September 23, 2010 at 9:38 pm

  41. Manny

    September 23, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Oh nice! Thanks for the link Lefty!

  42. Ryan

    September 23, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Bart is right. We should not appologize to Cole for his 2009 season being a down year. In fact, we should forgive him for it. His success this season does not take away from his poor performance last year.

    However…we should not let last season dictate how we view Cole Hamels as a pitcher from now on, no matter what kind of year he’s having. We should base it off of this season and the 2008 season: He is a competitive pitcher with great stuff and tremendous confidence in himself, his team, and the use of any of his pitches in a given situation.

    Last season was a frustrating year for him, but I think it really helped him mature into a better pitcher and a better person all around. His attitude needed an adjustment, and I think last season made him realize that.

  43. Andrew from waldorf

    September 24, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Logged some espn time today.
    Everyone is picking the phillies to win it all. Some guy just said they wont lose a game in NL playoffs.
    I dont like it

  44. Andrew from waldorf

    September 24, 2010 at 12:53 am

    Rockies and Padres keep losing. so maybe Braves back in still.
    Its moot though. With Rockies out doesnt matter if Braves make it.
    Reds or Giants are no big deal. Would prefer to play reds of those 2

  45. Chuck

    September 24, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Going down tonight to see the Mutttts. Sort of an annual tradition we have…you have to have at least one Mets game a year. Hope they’re still handing out rally towels.

  46. SJHaack

    September 24, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Sorry Bart, you’re wrong.

    Pitcher Wins don’t mean a damn thing. Felix Hernandez should be a runaway freight train of support for the AL Cy Young, but he’s on a team that is going to score 3 runs a game for the entire season.

    Can’t hurt him for that.

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