Free Mustache Rides (at least to date) - Cole Hamels

Free Mustache Rides - CSN

To date in two games, Cole Hamels has a 10.97 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP. What’s the deal? Keep in mind it’s all exacerbated by a Billy Butler grand slam and Atlanta fireworks in Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton whose making everyone look like a 2012 Ervin Santana. But what’s the deal to date (in addition to his mustache of course)?

Sell Cole Hamels? I ranked creepy mustache guy as the 8th best SP in my top 105 after Madison Bumgarner with a regressed 3.33 ERA over at Rotobanter.

To date in two games, Cole Hamels has a 10.97 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP. What’s the deal? Keep in mind it’s all exacerbated by a Billy Butler grand slam and Atlanta fireworks in Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton whose making everyone look like a 2012 Ervin Santana.

Cole Hamels is much more of a GB/FB pitcher than we have seen thus far. In 2010 and 2012 he had a 1.2 GB/FB ratio and an elite 1.6 ratio in 2011. Thus far his ratio is .67. He’s given up 18 Fly Balls with only 12 Ground Balls. A ratio at or below 1.00 doesn’t bode well in Philadelphia. Four of those Fly Balls have been home runs already. Natural positive regression will take place as it relates to his GB/FB and HR/FB ratios.

But what’s the deal to date (in addition to his mustache of course)?

If I had to finish the post here – which maybe I should – from watching him, it simply looks like mistakes over the plate and a lack of distinguishing his changeup and fastball. Cole Hamels has an elitechangeup. According to Albert Lyu in 2012, Name every pitch result or pitch value stat related to his change, and Hamels is in the top 2 among qualified starting pitchers: 2nd to Roy Halladay in throwing his changeups for strikes (72.0%), 1st in baseball in SwStr% (27.1%), and 1st in baseball in both wCH and wCH/C. That he leads both changeup value categories speaks to both the reliance that Hamels had on his changeup in terms of quantity, as well as the quality of each changeup that he threw on average.

So let’s see what this looks like in 2013 thus far in relation to his career:

(Stats via Fangraphs/Baseball Info Solutions)

Pitch Type

Fastball%

Cutter%

Curve%

Changeup%

2013

45.10%

24.60%

5.60%

24.60%

Total

54.20%

5.90%

10.10%

28.40%


Velocity

vFA

vFC

vCU

vCH

2013

91.4

87.9

75.7

83.7

Total

90.8

88.3

75.7

81.7

Pitch Type Difference

FB Diff.

FC Diff.

CB Diff.

CU Diff.

Total - 2013

-9.10%

18.70%

-4.50%

-3.80%

Velocity Difference

vFA

vCH

Difference

2013

91.4

83.7

7.7

Total

90.8

81.7

9.1

There’s nothing really too concerning here. In fact, his fastball has started off slightly above his career average. What we’ll have to keep an eye on is his fastball-changeup velocity differential. In my opinion, with the dominance of his changeup, hitters are sitting on the fastball and 91 MPH isn’t exactly elite these days, but at the same time, it’s what we are used to seeing from Hamels.

Just look at his weighted on-base average off of his fastball in the early going against lefties:

2010: .293 wOBA vs. Lefties

2011: .291 wOBA vs. Lefties

2012: .281 wOBA vs. Lefties

2013: .537 wOBA vs. Lefties (6 hits, 1 homerun and 2 walks in 16 total batters faced)

For those more used to looking at batting average, thus far batters have hit .478 off of his fastball compared to .269, .265 and .265 in the previous years, but his changeup is also getting hit a little harder than usual (.250 compared to .217, .142! and .220) albeit in a very small sample size. While he is using his cutter more as his career progresses, it hasn’t been hit that hard (.222, which is in line with the past few years) and he hasn’t mix in as many curvesin the early going. Again, this may somewhat qualify the issue at hand - smaller mix of curves, more cutters and not distinguishing the changeup and fastball enough.

Here are the discipline-related Pitchf/x batting statistics thus far versus Hamels:

Pitch

Pitches

O-Swing%

Z-Swing%

Swing%

O-Contact%

Z-Contact%

Contact%

Zone%

SwStr%

2013

FA

88

23.30%

68.90%

46.60%

80.00%

93.60%

90.20%

51.10%

4.60%

2013

FC

48

30.80%

72.70%

50.00%

62.50%

93.80%

83.30%

45.80%

8.30%

2013

CH

48

48.70%

88.90%

56.30%

68.40%

75.00%

70.40%

18.80%

16.70%

2013

CU

11

33.30%

50.00%

36.40%

66.70%

100.00%

75.00%

18.20%

9.10%

Total

FA

9291

27.50%

61.60%

46.30%

77.50%

89.70%

86.50%

55.00%

6.30%

Total

CH

4869

48.10%

71.00%

59.10%

44.20%

67.40%

57.60%

48.10%

25.10%

Total

CU

1723

22.90%

51.00%

33.60%

51.40%

89.20%

73.20%

37.90%

9.00%

Total

FC

1016

30.80%

70.30%

50.20%

73.00%

89.20%

84.10%

49.10%

8.00%

Total

FT

165

26.80%

64.90%

48.50%

73.70%

82.00%

80.00%

57.00%

9.70%

Total

SL

10

20.00%

100.00%

60.00%

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

50.00%

0.00%

Based on the above matrix, it’s clear that hitters are making much more contact with both of his fastballs and changeups whether inside or outside of the zone, but not necessarily sitting on the fastballs seeing the swing% as basically even although they’re swinging at his changeup less often. My original assumption of hitters sitting on his fastball more doesn’t hold true.

If we focus on the two stats Albert Lyu mentioned above, his changeup Swinging Strike% is certainly below his career average (16.70% vs. 25.10%) and his changeups aren’t catching the zone nearly as much (18.80% vs. 48.10%). There’s a negative effect in both variables on his fastballs as well but to a lesser extent.

What does land in the zone to date has gone for contact (75% and 93.6% vs. 67.4% and 93.6% on his changeups and fastballs respectively) and hard contact at that.

Honestly, I am just qualifying his poor performance to date. He’ll look to get back on track next time out against the Marlins and what better NL team to do so? Cole Hamels should continue to be an elite option moving forward if he can continue his elite Fastball-Changeup deception and regains control. With nothing else wrong, expect a positive regression across the board.

Dan Schwartz is the owner and contributor for Rotobanter.com - home of visitor requests and live discussion. You can follow him on twitter @Rotobanter.

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