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Friday, June 24, 2022

Cole Hamels Targeting 2023 Comeback

Cole Hamels has made just one major league appearance since the end of the 2019 season, but the four-time All-Star continues to look for a return to the mound. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that the free agent southpaw is currently “feeling good” and targeting next spring for another comeback attempt.

The past few seasons have been trying for Hamels, who turns 39 years old in December. He tossed 141 2/3 innings of 3.81 ERA ball with the Cubs in 2019, earning an $18MM deal from the Braves in the process. That didn’t pan out, as Hamels was shut down during the July ramp-up for the shortened season due to a triceps issue. He returned in September, made one 3 1/3 inning start, then landed back on the IL with a shoulder injury that ended his year.

Hamels lingered on the free agent market through the first half of last season as he rehabbed from the shoulder issue. He resurfaced in mid-July with a showcase that led to a $1MM contract with the Dodgers a couple weeks later. Within two weeks, he’d been shut back down after experiencing renewed shoulder discomfort during a simulated game. Hamels didn’t make an official appearance as a member of the L.A. organization, and he hit free agency again at the end of the year.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 24, 2022 at 09:56 PM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cole hamels

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   1. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: June 25, 2022 at 08:41 AM (#6083797)
I had no idea Hamels had 58 WAR, which ordinarily would at least put him the HOF discussion (I use 62 as my informal in/out line). But even if he comes back...well, he's not getting in with ~170 wins and not even coming close to a CY. His top comps are King Felix, Peavy, Appier, Rhoden, Saberhagen...good pitchers all, but nobody's putting them into the Hall, either.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: June 25, 2022 at 03:27 PM (#6083820)
I had no idea Hamels had 58 WAR, which ordinarily would at least put him the HOF discussion (I use 62 as my informal in/out line). But even if he comes back...well, he's not getting in with ~170 wins and not even coming close to a CY. His top comps are King Felix, Peavy, Appier, Rhoden, Saberhagen...good pitchers all, but nobody's putting them into the Hall, either.

I was pretty sure he was on a hof path when younger, didn't realize he missed so much time, and didn't realize he was young enough to actually come back from that. He's 38 years old or so right now, so it's not likely he'll come back, but if he can put a Wainwright 3 years together, he might again enter the conversation.
   3. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: June 25, 2022 at 04:13 PM (#6083830)
I was pretty sure he was on a hof path when younger

Hamels had 39.3 WAR through 2014, his age-30 season, putting him in the same general zone as pitchers like Mussina, Gooden, Buehrle, Rick Reuschel, Verlander, Oswalt, Vida Blue...and Lefty Grove (who got kind of a late start). Some of these guys are/will be in the HOF, others drove right off the cliff, and some were kinda in-between, like Hamels. (Close, but...)
   4. Walt Davis Posted: June 25, 2022 at 04:24 PM (#6083835)
The Cubs rotation will still be junk next year and he can fill the Miley/Smyly role. Maybe Jason Hammel will also come out of retirement.

As to HoF, while the criteria are clearly shifting away from wins, I don't think they're shifting towards WAR (esp not career WAR) but rather dominance and achievements. Halladay is the benchmark for that right now. Scherzer is already a lock not so much for career achievements as for being a stud. If WAR/200 IP was a thing, that might be a q&d way to guesstimate a guy will get in. So, as mentioned, Hamels having no CYA, no real black ink, never did anything cool like 300 Ks or 20 wins (or come close to either)

Barring a return to old usage, it's possible that there will never be a "Sutton of the sabermetric era." Let's see how CC does. I think he'll make it and tht might establish a "career" standard for the modern era ... which will have to be re-established if 5-inning starts remain a thing.

CH 2698 IP, 163-122, 123 ERA+, 58 WAR
CC 3577 IP, 251-161, 116 ERA+, 62 WAR
CF 3197 IP, 200-173, 115 ERA+, 58 WAR (Chuck Finley)

I suppose somebody like Hamels wll have a shot with some 2060 VC. By that time they'll have probably inducted a number of more recent pitchers with similar/worse looking basic numbers.
   5. cardsfanboy Posted: June 25, 2022 at 04:34 PM (#6083836)
I obviously don't think he currently has a shot, but at the same time, he is only 38 years old, and elite pitchers do seem to age pretty well, and if he can do what Wainwright has done going forward for three years, (and what I mean putting up a 120 era+ 600 innings, not the 326 that Waino is at, but 3 complete seasons)

Obviously it's not likely, that is kinda the definition of hof player, being unlikely. But if he puts up 600 innings at 120 era+, that gives him about another 10 war, putting him in the 68 range. With a still low win total, iffy I guess, but in a discussion.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: June 25, 2022 at 06:43 PM (#6083863)
Well, let's see ...

not very similar but Moyer at ages 39-41 put up 650 IP of 112 ERA+ which is brought down a bit by a bad age 41 season (he was much better 42-45). That was 11 WAR, maybe more 12-13 if you plug in 42 or 43 or 41.

Randy Johnson is probably too far in the other direction. Glavine is probably somewhere between Moyer and Hamels in terms of stuff and 39-41 was 610 innings of 108 ERA+, 9 WAR. David Wells seems a decent comp: 615 IP, 110, 11 WAR. So does Pettitte: very good at 38, missed all of 39, had a great half-season at 40 and a very solid 41. Of course, CC was out of gas by 38 (but then he had thrown a lot more pitches than Hamels); so were Happ (many fewer innings) and Lester (about the same).

That said obviously coming back after essentially three years away is far less likely than those guys hanging on successfull -- Pettitte the best comp there. Also I find it highly unlikely that a team in this day and age would give him a chance to make it anywhere close to 200 innings in a season. He'd have to pitch through 42 to add another 600 innings. Of course maybe he has a better chance of being effective and healthy over 150 innings than over 200.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: June 25, 2022 at 08:02 PM (#6083870)
lso I find it highly unlikely that a team in this day and age would give him a chance to make it anywhere close to 200 innings in a season.

That was a point I honestly didn't even consider, but accurate. At the same time, when you are dealing with a guy who is going to be on a one year contract each season, you just might decide to throw him to the wolves, meaning let him pitch as many innings as he is willing provided he is doing a good job.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: June 25, 2022 at 08:59 PM (#6083883)
Yep, you might. But you'd still probably pull him anytime the game was close in the 5th or later; or at least pull him when he puts his first guy on. Roughly speaking that's been Smyly on the Cubs and they let him complete 6 innings just once in 9 starts.

I understand, you're a Cards fan. If the Cards sign Hamels, he will give them 200 innings of 110 ERA+ because they're the ####### Cardinals. You could sign Cano and he'd hit 300 the rest of the season.
   9. The Duke Posted: June 25, 2022 at 11:15 PM (#6083898)
I think he has a shot but he's missed so much time I doubt he can come back and pitch at that sustained level of goodness for three years. He might get over 60 WAR which could help. He looks like he will fall short of 3000 Ks but if he got there, that would really help his case.

He needs to find a team like the Yankees or Dodgers who can help him pad his counting stats
   10. Booey Posted: June 26, 2022 at 12:58 AM (#6083905)
I don't really see Hamels having much of a shot at the HOF. I just don't know what kind of voters his case would be particularly appealing to. His counting stats aren't good enough for the career voters (well short of 200 wins, 3000 innings, and 3000 k's), his peak wasn't dominant enough for the peak voters (no black ink, never finished higher than 5th in CYA voting, never had more than 17 wins or 215 k's), and his best feature - his WAR - is still only borderline, so not even the hardcore SABR voters are going to push too hard for him. And he didn't even debut late enough (say, the 2010's) where voters are almost surely going to have to lower their standards regarding starting pitchers. He debuted in 2006, right between Greinke (2004)/Verlander (2005) and Kershaw/Scherzer (both 2008), who were still able to hit more traditional HOF numbers (200 wins, 3000 innings, 3000 k's, 20 win seasons, etc).

Hamels had a very good career, but I'm guessing he's one and done.
   11. bfan Posted: June 26, 2022 at 01:16 PM (#6083922)
He needs to find a team like the Yankees or Dodgers who can help him pad his counting stats

He did find the dodgers in 2021, but couldn't contribute 1 inning of pitching. I guess he was worn out from his 3 innings of pitching with the Braves, the year before. What kind of foolish team is willing to dive into this pool for 2023?
   12. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: June 26, 2022 at 08:42 PM (#6084011)
Hamels was quite the pitcher for a while there, but I'll always remember him for a classic, snide Prospectus comment that purported to be a biography of "Cole Hamels' Left Arm," or something like that. Must have been from right around the beginning of his career.

I didn't realize that he'd piled up so much WAR, either, but he's a clear no from the HoF perspective -- he doesn't have the quality to build a Blyleven / Raines type narrative around, and he doesn't have the awards or narrative of, say Marichal or Hunter. He wouldn't be an utter travesty -- he's been considerably better than Jack Morris, natch -- but he currently doesn't have *it*, from any perspective.

Though who knows. Weirder things have happened than a once-great pitcher coming back at 39 and doing something amazing.
   13. bachslunch Posted: June 27, 2022 at 08:53 AM (#6084050)
Hamels has a career that closely resembles those of Bret Saberhagen, Urban Shocker, and Dave Stieb. All are well regarded but just shy of the HoF.

Hamels: 59.0 BBRef WAR; 2698 IP; 123 ERA+; 163-122 W-L.
Saberhagen: 58.9 BBRef WAR; 2562.2 IP; 126 ERA+; 167-117 W-L.
Shocker: 58.6 BBRef WAR; 2681.2 IP; 124 ERA+; 187-117 W-L.
Stieb: 56.4 BBRef WAR; 2895.1 IP; 122 ERA+; 176-137 W-L.

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