Friday, December 2, 2011

Why can't Cole Hamels win more than 15 games?

31+ Starts, 15 wins or fewer, 3.10 ERA or lower, W-L% .580+ (2+ seasons, since 1900)
Bert Blyleven (1975, 78)
Jose Rijo (1992-93)
Tom Glavine (1996-97)
Kevin Brown (2000, 03)
Cole Hamels (2008, 11)

Cole Hamels is having an excellent career and is considered one of the best young pitchers in the game.  He is one of only 3 pitchers under 30 (and 6 overall) who has an ERA under 3.40 and 180 career starts (the other pitchers under 30 are Felix Hernandez and Matt Cain; pitchers over 30 are Roy Halladay, Johan Santana and Roy Oswalt).  He has won a LCS and WS MVP and came in 5 in Cy Young voting this year.

The only problem is that he hasn't won over 15 games in a season despite having a low ERA almost every year and routinely starting over 30 games.  He pitches for a team that has won 5 consecutive division titles.

What's the problem?  One issue is that he doesn't get enough decisions.  It's tough to win over 15 games when you are averaging about 23 decisions a year.  In contrast, Roy Halladay has been averaging nearly 29 decisions a year. 

In 2010, they both had 33 starts, but Halladay had over 40 more innings, and 8 more decisions (and 9 more wins).  In 2010, Hamels had a solid 33 starts (only a handful of pitchers went over 33), but finished 30th in innings pitched.  He did better in 2011, with 8 more innings despite 2 fewer starts.

If Hamels stays healthy, he appears ready to have his best season yet.  Last year was his best year for ERA, WHIP, SO/BB, H/9 and BB/9, and 2012 should be his best for wins.

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