Cole Hamels

Thing three

Remember this? About a year ago I wrote a post that said that despite the fact that in 2010 Hamels had a walk rate that was worse than Halladay, Moyer, Blanton, Oswalt, Kendrick or Lee, his walk rate still wasn’t awful if you compared him to other NL pitchers who made 30 starts in 2010.

In 2011, one of the things Hamels did well was reduce his walk rate. He walked 44 in 216 innings, or 1.83 per nine innings. It was the first time in his career he had walked fewer than two hitters per nine innings. That includes his time in the minors. Hamels’s overall walk rate in the minor leagues was about 3.31 batters per nine innings and he wasn’t under two for any full year in the minors.

Hamels lowered his walk rate against both left and right-handed batters in 2011, but the results were more impressive against lefties. Coming into 2011, Hamels had walked about 6.0% of the right-handed batters he had faced for his career and about 7.9% of the left-handed batters. In 2011, he walked about 5.2% of the righties and 5.1% of the lefties.

Here’s what the chart for 2011 looks like — again, it’s the walk rate per nine innings of NL pitchers who started at least 30 games:

Pitcher

Walks per nine

Rank BB/9

Roy Halladay
Cliff Lee
Cole Hamels
Ricky Nolasco
Kyle Lohse
Madison Bumgarner
Daniel Hudson
Bronson Arroyo
Clayton Kershaw
Chris Carpenter
Hiroki Kuroda
Ian Kennedy
Jaime Garcia
R.A. Dickey
Javier Vazquez
Tim Hudson
Brett Myers
Ted Lilly
Shaun Marcum
Matt Cain
Yovani Gallardo
Chris Capuano
Tim Stauffer
Randy Wolf
Joe Saunders
Matt Garza
Mat Latos
Anibal Sanchez
Mike Pelfrey
Wandy Rodriguez
Derek Lowe
Bud Norris
Tim Lincecum
Jake Westbrook
Ryan Dempster
John Lannan
Chad Billingsley
Jhoulys Chacin
James McDonald
Group total

1.35
1.62
1.83
1.92
2.01
2.02
2.03
2.04
2.08
2.09
2.18
2.23
2.31
2.33
2.34
2.34
2.38
2.38
2.56
2.56
2.56
2.56
2.57
2.80
2.84
2.86
2.87
2.93
3.02
3.25
3.37
3.39
3.57
3.58
3.65
3.70
4.02
4.04
4.11
2.64

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Halladay one, Lee two and Hamels three.

That’s a change from 2010, when it went Halladay one, Hamels 14 and Lee in the American League. Had Lee not been in the American League in 2010, he wouldn’t have been on the chart anyway cause he didn’t make 30 starts. Had the 2010 chart shown NL pitchers who made 30 starts and guys name Cliff Lee, regardless of their league or number of starts, Lee would been at the top of the list in terms of fewest walks per nine, right above Halladay. In 2010, Lee made 28 starts in which he threw 212 1/3 innings while walking 18. That’s a silly 0.76 walks per nine.

If you’re having trouble following any of this, is pretty much goes like this: Halladay and Lee really don’t walk much of anyone and probably won’t in 2012, either. And Hamels got a whole lot better at not walking anyone in 2011.

This article about how the Phillies evaluate players and don’t evaluate players is, um, memorable. Seriously, if they’re not relying on advanced metrics that suggest Polanco belongs on the field because of his defense, it’s hard to understand how they would let him play. On the other hand, if math is the enemy it does go a long way towards explaining letting Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez combine to get 534 plate appearances in 2011. On the other, other hand, if they’re going to keep leading all of baseball in wins every year, they might just wanna keep up the good work.

This suggests that Contreras is not expected to appear in the first week of games, but could get into a game shortly after that.

The article linked above suggests there is increasing pessimism about Justin De Fratus’s right elbow.

Phils play the Yankees three times in the next three days, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Find your Philly jerseys for great prices at Amazon with coupons.


And tune in tomorrow and I’ll explain why it’s really great news that Martinez is on-basing .012 or whatever

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.


Wile E Pedro

Flummoxed by how much better Pedro Martinez was at preventing runs than Cole Hamels in 2009 despite the fact that Hamels allowed fewer total bases plus walks per inning pitched, I thought I’d look at those two guys a little more closely.

Here’s the percentage of plate appearances that ended in these results for each of the pitchers in 2009:

BB or HBP 1B 2B 3B HR
Hamels 5.9 16.3 5.4 0.6 2.9
Pedro 6.3 14.7 6.3 0.5 3.7

Hamels gave up a lot more singles than Pedro did. And, much less importantly, triples at a slightly higher rate. Still, given that Hamels gave up walks, doubles and home runs less frequently, that didn’t help me a whole lot.

Neither did this:

% of PA
XBH
TB per XBH
Hamels 9.0 2.73
Pedro 10.5 2.75

So Hamels gave up extra-base hits less frequently. On average, when he did, the extra-base hits went for slightly less bases.

If it’s not an issue about how many, maybe it’s a question of when. In this case I think it was. Look:

% of PA
XBH
TB per XBH
Hamels, bases empty 8.7 2.73
Hamels, men on 9.4 2.72
Pedro, bases empty 17.3 2.78
Pedro, men on 2.3 2.50

Opposing hitters were about as likely to get extra-base hits against Hamels with runners on base or with the bases empty — a little more likely with men on. Batters that faced Pedro with the bases empty had a better than 1-in-6 chance to get an extra-base hit. With men on base, though, Pedro faced 87 hitters and allowed one double and one triple. Hitters posted a 224/294/263 line against him with men on base compared to 310/337/630 with the bases empty. With men on base, batters were more than four times as likely to get an extra-base hit against Hamels than they were against Martinez.

The Blue Jays beat the Phillies 5-2 yesterday. Halladay gave up four runs in the first inning, two of which came on a two-run homer by Aaron Hill. Halladay would pitch just three innings in the game, allowing four runs on five hits to raise his spring ERA to 3.46. Polanco and Francisco hit solo home runs to account for the Phillies scoring. Rollins was 2-for-3 to raise his spring average to .297.

Joe Blanton had a bullpen session yesterday that was cut short by a sore left abdominal muscle. The linked article suggests that the issue could prevent him from starting the third game of the season.

Brad Lidge had a cortisone shot on Tuesday and will not throw again until tomorrow.

The Phillies signed Josh Fogg and Ty Taubenheim to minor league contracts. The 33-year-old righty Fogg pitched well for the Rockies in 2009, mostly in relief, throwing 45 2/3 innings with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.14 ratio. Taubenheim is a 27-year-old right-handed pitcher who has thrown 46 major league innings in his career between the Blue Jays and Pirates.

The article linked above says the Phils will head to Philadelphia after today’s game with the Pirates.


The worn reborn?

Cole Hamels made a brilliant start for the Phillies last night, but they have been a less frequent this year coming off of a 2008 season in which Hamels was just fantastic. The Phillies won the fifth game of the World Series on October 29, 2008. Hamels went six innings in the game and was announced World Series MVP that night. He turned 25-years-old almost two months later, on December 27, 2008.

Hamels was a monster in ’08, first in the regular season and then in the post-season. The 24-year-old threw 227 1/3 innings in the regular season, going 14-10 in 33 starts with a 3.09 ERA and a 1.08 ratio. The Phillies wouldn’t have won the World Series without him as he tossed 35 post-season innings with a 1.80 ERA and an 0.91 ratio.

Only one pitcher in the National League threw more regular season innings than Hamels, but Johan Santana, who threw seven more frames than Hamels in the regular season, didn’t throw any in the post-season. Among pitchers who pitched at least part of the year in the AL, Roy Halladay threw about 19 more innings in the regular season than Hamels, but also didn’t pitch in the playoffs. Workhorse CC Sabathia led all baseball in innings pitched with 253 and added 3 2/3 more in the post-season to give him a total of 256 2/3 between the regular and post-season. That’s still not as many as Hamels, who threw 262 1/3 innings between the regular and post-seasons to lead everyone. A lot of the other guys weren’t 24-years-old.

The 2009 season has been a different story than 2008 for Hamels and that must have a whole lot to do with how many innings he threw last year, mustn’t it? Between 2004 and 2008 there were ten pitchers who threw 220 innings when they were in their age 25 season or younger. Here’s a look at their ERA, ratio and strikeouts per nine innings in the year they did it and the year after — the seven who got worse the next year are in the top group and the three who got better, Lincecum, Haren and Buehrle, are in a group at the bottom:


Year

Player(age)

ERA

ERA next

Ratio

Ratio next

SO/9

SO/9 next

2008

Hamels (24)

3.09

4.78

1.08

1.35

7.8

7.7

2006

Willis (24)

3.87

5.17

1.42

1.60

6.4

6.4

2005

Willis (23)

2.63

3.87

1.13

1.42

6.5

6.4

2005

Zambrano (24)

3.26

3.41

1.15

1.29

8.1

8.8

2005

Garland (25)

3.50

4.51

1.17

1.36

4.7

4.8

2004

Sheets (25)

2.70

3.33

0.98

1.07

10.0

8.1

2004

Santana (25)

2.61

2.87

0.92

0.97

10.5

9.2
               

2008

Lincecum (24)

2.62

2.43

1.17

1.04

10.5

10.4

2006

Haren (25)

4.12

3.07

1.21

1.21

7.1

7.8

2004

Buehrle (25)

3.89

3.12

1.25

1.18

6.1

5.7

So in seven of those ten seasons the player had a worse ERA and a worse ratio the season after he threw more than 220 innings at age 25 or younger. The three guys at the bottom each got better in both ERA and ratio the year after (except for Dan Haren’s ratio, which stayed at 1.21 in both 2006 and 2007).

Just three of the ten pitchers struck out more batters the next season per nine innings than they had the previous season (Haren, Zambrano and Garland). Willis’s numbers show 6.4 strikeouts per nine for 2006, but his rate was down a tiny bit in 2007.

Hamels numbers for ERA and ratio have taken a big hit compared to the other six pitchers who were worse after throwing a huge number of innings at a young age. Even after a brilliant start last night, his ERA for 2009 is still up about 146% from last year. The only change in ERA that is worse than that is Willis’s difference between 2005 and 2006 — his ERA went up 147%, but he still threw to a 3.87 ERA in 2006 after a ton of innings in ’05 at age 23. Willis’s ’05-’06 difference in ratio is also the only one that is worse than Hamels for ’08 and ’09. Willis saw his ratio rise 126% compared to 124% for Hamels.

So of the seven pitchers who got worse, Willis probably got the most worse from ’05 to ’06, but Hamels from ’08 to ’09 was second.

The other thing that I think is critical is how many innings Hamels threw in the post-season. The 227 1/3 innings that Hamels threw in the regular season is a lot. But the 35 innings he threw in the post-season is a ton. Forgetting age, the last time that any player threw that many innings in the post-season was 2003 when Josh Beckett threw 42 2/3. Beckett was just 23 years-old, but he had thrown just 142 innings in the regular season.

So has there ever been a player 25 or younger that threw 220 innings in the regular season and then threw 35 or more in the post-season? No drum roll, please, cause while I’m sure there’s someone out there who knows the answer I’m also sure it isn’t me. What I do know is that there’s nobody 25 or under that threw 220 innings in the regular season and then threw 38 or more innings in the post-season that year. Baseball-Reference’s list only goes to the top ten and the guys at the bottom of the list threw 38 innings in the post-season. Of the guys that threw at least 38 innings in the post-season, Fernando Valenzuela may be the closest to doing it. In 1981 Valenzuela threw 40 2/3 innings in the post-season at age 20 but had thrown only 192 1/3 frames in the regular season.

This suggests that all three of Condrey, Romero and Bastardo are expected to return this season.

Brett Myers struck out five in two innings for Reading last night without allowing a hit or a walk.


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