Except literally.

Just about everything looks fantastic about Cole Hamels’s numbers for this year. He’s allowing fewer hits and walks than he has for his career and has cut his home run rate by more than half. Coming into the year he had allowed home runs to about 3.1% (122 homers to 3,884 batters) of the batters he faced and so far this year he’s allowed home runs to about 1.4% of the batters he’s faced (seven to 513 batters).

And then there’s this:

Year IP K K/9
2006-2010 945 1/3 897 8.54
2011 132 121 8.25

But is his strikeout rate really worse? Well, the number of hitters he’s striking out per nine innings is definitely down. But there’s a problem with that, and it has more to do with strikeouts per nine innings (or anything per nine innings) than it does with Cole Hamels. In 2011, the number of strikeouts he’s recording per nine innings is down, but the likelihood he will strikeout a batter is up. Here’s the percentage of batters he’s faced in the same time periods that he’s struck out:

Year Batters faced K % K
2006-2010 3,884 897 23.1
2011 513 121 23.6

The issue, of course, is that he’s facing fewer batters per inning in 2011. Here are the number of batters he’s faced per inning over his career:

Year IP Batters faced Batters faced per inning
2011 132 513 3.89
2010 208 2/3 856 4.10
2009 193 2/3 814 4.20
2008 227 1/3 913 4.02
2007 183 1/3 743 4.05
2006 132 1/3 558 4.22

For the first time in his career, Hamels is facing less than four batters per inning. And that’s good news for Hamels, for the Phillies and just about everything except the opposition and his strikeouts per nine innings number.

The NL won the All-Star game, topping the AL 5-1. Halladay threw two innings without allowing a hit or a walk. Lee went 1 2/3 and was charged with a run on three hits, including a solo homer by Adrian Gonzalez.

The Mets traded Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers.

This says that Lidge hopes to be back for the series with the Padres that starts July 22. After a scoreless inning with Reading on Monday, Lidge has now allowed a run on five hits and no walks over four innings in four appearances between Lakewood and Reading.