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Fantasy Baseball: Which Cole Hamels is Real?

I saw this tweet from ESPN's Buster Olney, and it made me wonder about the player mentioned.

I get asked all the time by friends for fantasy tips, and I've been telling them this over the last few days: Take Cole Hamels.

 

Cole Hamels was a bit of a mixed bag last season. I distinctly remember being annoyed during last season as his performance was not nearly what I was expecting.

In 2008, Hamels went 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 196 strikeouts in 227 1/3 innings pitched.
In 2009, Hamels went 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 168 strikeouts in 193 2/3 innings pitched.

Clearly, the results in 2008 were much better. But was it his fault?

The secondary numbers are telling me that there may not really be that much of a difference between 2008 Hamels and 2009 Hamels. From Fangraphs.com:

Strikeouts per 9 innings: 7.76, 7.81
Walks per 9 innings: 2.10, 2.00
Homeruns per 9 innings: 1.11, 1.12

All these numbers indicated that he was essentially the same pitcher in 2009 as 2008. So where does the difference lie? Right here, and it explains quite a bit.

Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) - .231, .274
Runners Left on Base (%) - 76%, 72.1%

So, Hamels was a bit more unlucky last season. His BABIP historically has been closer to the .230-.240 range, and .274 was an outlier for him. He had previously stranded around 76-78% of the runners he allowed, yet dropped to 72% in 2009.

As a result, I think that Olney's advice is pretty good. There's a lot of owners out there who are going to see Hamels' stats from 2009, and without a deeper look may pass on him. CHONE is projecting Hamels with the following season, and I think that there's a pretty good chance he makes all of these numbers:

13-8, 3.80 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 165 strikeouts in 192 innings pitched

As of today, Hamels is currently the 21st pitcher off the board at MockDraftCentral.Com, with an average draft position around pick #100 (10th round in a 10-team league). I think he's a really good value at that point, and potentially even sooner.

Poll

Will Cole Hamels return to his 2008 stats in the 2010 season?

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    Yes
    (77 votes)
  • 21%
    No
    (21 votes)
98 votes total Vote Now