We are a half decade removed from the spring of 2009. That spring Cole Hamels was 25 years old coming off a World Championship and a World Series MVP award.
2009 ended up being Cole Hamels worst season....to date. 2014 is full of uncertainty for the now 30 year old Southpaw. He has a mysterious injury the Philllies remain mum about, Scheduled throwing sessions have been scratched, Hamels has described the issue as arm fatique and minor. None of this is comforting to Phils fans as Cole's 2014 Debut keeps getting delayed.
This makes Hamels new season tough to predict. It may be true that Hamels was a victim of poor run support in 2013, but his overall performance was quite average. Whils his WHIP, H/9, BB/9, K/9, and K/BB numbers each were off only slightly, the cumulative effect of the averages was that his ERA+ dropped to 106 well below his career average of 123. This is in a season when the rest of the leagues pitchers were putting up unprecedent strikeout numbers. It could very well be that Hamels was suffering from his present arm issues last season.
To gain some insight into what Cole Hamels season may 2014 season may look like we took a look at his age 29/30 similarity score matches in Baseball-ref. Of Hamels top 10 matches 2 are active in his class (Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke) and Juan Pizarro was a reliever. This leaves us with seven comparables:
Yellow = Age 30 seasons of the 7 pitchers that comp with Hamels
light grey line 1 = average of all 7 pitchers
light grey line 2 = average of the bottom 5 pitchers on the list
Grey = Team Phungo 2014 Projection
Four of the 7 pitchers pitched full seasons. Jake Peavy had an unprecedented back/torso injury midway through his age 29 season. During the winter prior to 1990 Kevin Appier had an off the field injury. Sid Fernandez missed about half a season due to a series of knee injuries. I created two lines of averages, the first line is all 7, the second line excludes Peavy and Appier due to the timing/type of injuries. I kept Fernandez because his injury was basically in season and not season ending.
Those odds would give Hamels a 4 of 7 chance of getting 200 innings (57%) for the full set. 4 in 5 (80%) if you exclude Peavy and Appier.
Those are fairly frightening numbers for the Phillies who likely need many things to go their way to be competitive. Hamels looks to be gone for at least part of April which jeopardizes any chance he has of getting 200 innings.
Beyond that 2013 for Hamels was an average major league season. Among the comps Bob Welch and Fernandez's abbreviated season were the two that could be considered significantly above average. The rest were slightly above average and sadly I think that is the best we can hope for from Mr Hamels.
I see Hamels 2014 Numbers roughly matching his 2013 averages, which slightly lest output due to missing a month of the season - 8-10, 3.65 ERA with 185 innings. His 2013 WAR was 4.6 - for 2014 I am penciling Hamels in for 3.8 WAR.
2009 Topps Postseason Hightlights
Minor quibble with the flip side of this 09 PSH card - As the card mentions in the text, the 2009 Series included an unprecedented 2 day rain delay. This meant the Series ran through October 29th, not the 27th.
Phillies 2014+ Index
New York Times
Rory Costello @ Sabr.org - Sid Fernandez
Larry Stone @ Seattle Times