Is Hamels the best in the NL?

A quick note to my two loyal readers: Sorry for the week-long absence. Moving took longer than expected but I’m finally settled in. It doesn’t hurt that the Phils won last night.

I was going to write about how Cole Hamels is possibly the best pitcher in the Phillies’ rotation, if not the entire National League. Just by watching him, I’d say he is outperforming Roy Halladay by a long shot right now. I was fully prepared to dive into statistics from the best pitchers in the NL and compare them to Hamels, until one lonely Braves fan changed my focus. I was reading Todd Zolecki’s latest blog post about Hamels when I came upon the previously mentioned lonely Braves fan, who had this to say:

I’ve since taken to war with Zidane, as have many other commenters. I don’t frequent the comment section on Zolecki’s posts, but it seems that this guy has been irritating fans for quite some time. Feel free to use the link above to get in on the fight. But for argument’s sake, let’s look at Hamels v. the Braves rotation.

Zidane was right about one thing in a later comment. The Braves do have a lower team ERA than the Phillies. By 0.18 runs. This includes our use of Danys Baez, Kyle Kendrick, and Joe Blanton. This is also different form his original argument, which I’ll examine now. Cole Hamels v. the Braves rotation:

  • Hamels: 13 GS, 8-2, 2.58 ERA, 1CG, 0SHO, 90.2 IP, 18BB, 91SO, 0.949 WHIP
  • Derek Lowe: 14 GS, 3-4, 3.73 ERA, 0CG, 0SHO, 79.2 IP, 30BB, 64SO, 1.293 WHIP
  • Tim Hudson: 12 GS, 4-5, 4.14 ERA, 1CG, 1SHO, 76IP, 19BB, 46SO, 1.145 WHIP
  • Tommy Hanson: 13 GS, 7-4, 2.59ERA, 0CG, 0SHO, 76.1 IP, 28BB, 75SO, 1.061 ERA
  • Jair Jurrjens: 10GS, 7-2, 1.75 ERA, 1CG, 0SHO, 72 IP, 11BB, 44SO, 1.014 WHIP

Hamels isn’t the best in each category, but he’s close. Since we’re comparing one person (Hamels) to four others, the best way to directly compare using the above numbers is ERA and WHIP:

  • Hamels: 2.58 ERA, 0.949 WHIP
  • Braves: 3.08 ERA, 1.132 WHIP

The numbers speak for themselves. Hamels is better than the Braves rotation. The scary part? He’s still getting better.

We shouldn’t leave this conversation without also considering Roy Halladay. He was, after all, going to be the focus of my comparison before this joker showed up. He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, but is he the best right now? His numbers:

13 GS, 8-3, 2.56 ERA, 4CG, 0SHO, 98.1 IP, 14BB, 97SO, 1.068 WHIP

Halladay trails Hamels in WHIP and nothing else. But if you watch their last few starts, Hamels has taken his game to a new level. I see very little difference between the two, especially after last night’s game against the Dodgers. Hamels was Doc-like in escaping jams that would have eaten other pitchers alive. He threw eight scoreless innings.

The offense is still struggling, but if this team can get into the playoffs, the rotation will be one of legend.

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