Regal Blue

Dodgers v. Phillies 2009 redux, Cole Hamels and the miracle of BABIP

Posted in Uncategorized by gklarsen on October 13, 2009

And so it begins again.

While it’s true that Phillies/Dodgers is better for ratings, competition and overall watchability across the nation, I was secretly hoping the Rockies would win.  The reason is simple: we can, and have, beat the hell out of them.  Who doesn’t want to win?

It’s not that we can’t beat the Phillies.  Before this whole thing started I would have given us a better shot at the Phillies than the Cardinals.  As was documented in Baseball Between the Numbers, good starting pitching has a slightly better determination on outcome than other factors.  Of course it’s all still a crapshoot, but having really solid pitching is just ever so slightly conducive to victory.  Thus, we fear the cardinals.

It’s not that the Phillies can’t throw a ball.  Brad Lidge excluded, there are certainly some nice pieces there.  Cole Hamels has had sort of a reverse Billingsley this year, where he was awful to begin with but began to settle in near the end of the season.  Sure he blew it against the Rockies but the trend overall is in a positive direction.  Cliff Lee had been stellar when he came over from Cleveland but cooled off significantly only to kick ass in two games in the DS.  JA Happ had a stellar season but couldn’t find the strike zone last week, granted it was in Colorado where the temperature was somewhere below 20 degrees.

Getting more into the numbers, however, reveals that Cole Hamels is not quite as off his game as we’d like to think.  The key stat here is FIP.  This year?  3.72.  Last year?  3.72.  He’s striking out about the same number of batters per nine, walking about the same too.  It’s a bit of bad fortune then, as his BABIP rose significantly to .325 and led to a higher WHIP and runs scored as well.  That’s not even remotely his fault, as he’s putting up almost identical numbers in GB%, FB%, and HR/9.  He’s pitched fewer innings, but that’s due to the ERA skyrocketing from a solid 3.09 last year to over 4 this year.  Just sucks to be Cole Hamels this year (relatively speaking of course).

Statistically, it’s the same Cole from last year when he was the grittiest, gaming-ist, clutchiest pitcher in the bigs according to douche nozzles like Steve Philips and John Kruk.  So, his struggles are largely illusory which does not bode well for us going forward because we’ll undoubtedly see him at least twice if the series goes anywhere.

UPDATE:  I just realized what I wrote here contradicts a few statements made in my last post.  That was written before I did any actual research.  Its amazing what you can find when you check the facts.

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