Monday, May 22, 2006
So far Cole has pitched two pretty nice games for the Phillies, and fans and pundits are already anointing him the next Steve Carlton. Whoa, there. Calm down. Cole is off to a great start but we’ve got a loooong way to go before we start invoking #32 into the mix.
Here are Cole’s stats in the minors:
Clearwater: 20 & 1/3 innings pitched, four earned runs allowed (1.77 ERA), 29 strikeouts (12.83 K/9), 9 walks (3.98 BB/9), 0 home runs.
Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
ERA – Earned Run Average: (Earned Runs * 9) / IP = ERA
FIP – Fielding Independent Pitching: (13*HR+3*BB-2*K / IP) + League Factor Evaluates a pitching by how he would have done with an average defense behind him by keeping track of things that a pitcher can control (walks, strikeouts, home runs allowed) as opposed to things he cannot (hits allowed, runs allowed).
DER – Defense Efficiency Ratio: (Batters Faced – (Hits + Walks + Hit By Pitch + Strikeouts)) / (Batters Faced – (Home Runs, Walks + Hit By Pitch + Strikeouts)) How often fielders convert balls put into play into outs.
Hr/9 – Home Runs allowed per nine innings: (HR * 9) / IP
K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings: (K * 9) / IP
BB/9 – Walks per nine innings: (BB * 9) / IP
It struck me as interesting that he recorded 48% of the outs he got by himself: 29 K’s, compared with 32 outs recorded by his fielders.
On to Scranton:
Scranton: 23 innings pitched, one earned run allowed (0.39 ERA), 36 strikeouts (14.09 K/9), 1 walk (0.39 BB/9), and 0 home runs.
In forty-three and a third innings of minor league ball, Cole Hamels surrendered zero home runs. Okay, I’m impressed. And he got 52% of his own outs (36 K’s, compared to 33 outs recorded by his fielders). That’s pretty impressive too. Toss out Cole’s performance and the Red Barons team ERA jumps from 3.12 to 3.40, despite Cole only pitching 6% of the team’s innings.
In the bigs Cole is off to a decent start: two starts, two no-decisions. In his debut, five innings pitched, five walks, one hit and no runs allowed with 7 strikeouts. In game two, six and a third, four runs allowed on five hits, four walks with 5 strikeouts. Season-to-date:
Batting Average Against: .158
There is a lot to like here and a lot to hate. Let’s look at Cole’s “other” stats:
FIP: 4.40 (+1.22)
In other words, Cole is benefiting from some good defense. I’m sure Cole is playing a factor in that: he’s allowing just 4% line drives, better than the team average of 20% and the NL average of 19%. But Cole’s .808 DER is much, much better than the team average of .675.
What he me bothered is Cole’s walk rate. Surrendering nine walks in just eleven and a third innings is a lot. He’s given up nearly as many walks as he’s gotten strikeouts. It reminds me of the result of Nuke LaLoosh’s (Tim Robbins) first start with the Durham Bulls in Bull Durham: 18 strikeouts, 18 walks. Cole keeps putting them on base and them mowing them down.
Maybe Cole would do well to remember the advice Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) gave Nuke before a start:
Relax, all right? Don't try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic
Remember, Cole surrendered a lot of walks in Clearwater: 9 in just 20 & 1/3 innings of work. I think control is an issue here.
How does Cole Hamels compare to Steve Carlton? Lefty was a unique player and I doubt that we’ll see something like him ever again. In his first season with the Phillies in 1972, he went 27-10, winning 45% of the team’s games by himself. He pitched 25% of the Phillies total innings. Without him, the team ERA jumps from 3.66 to 4.21, and the team record drops to 32-87 (.268). The Phillies would have won about 44 that season, compared with 59, and probably run the risk of being the worst team in baseball since the 1962 Mets.
Cole is a loooooong way from being Lefty. In fact, he’s not even the Phillies strongest starter. He’s got potential, but right now he’s No. 4 behind Job Lieber, Cory Lidle and Brett Myers. So calm down Hamels fans. Let’s see how the boy does.
No game tonight. Tomorrow night the Phillies kick off a three game series with our archnemesis, the New York Mets. Time to righten this ship after getting swept by the Brewers and dropping two of three to the Red Sox. And don't look now, but the Braves are back too.