It may seem hard to believe, but there is a very real chance that Cole Hamels ultimately ends up being the only member of the 08′ Phillies to make the Hall of Fame. Utley was far and away the best second baseman in the National League for a 4-5 year stretch, but injuries piled up and his career numbers are well short of typical hall of famers’. Still, Utley’s peak was certainly worthy and I believe he will ultimately get in one way or the other.
As for Rollins, he has good career numbers and a great peak but was always overshadowed by other shortstops. Still, Rollins has an outside shot as his numbers are comparable to similar hall of famers, such as Barry Larkin. Ryan Howard? Absolutely no chance. His post-Achilles injury numbers are dreadful and his overall power stats fall well short of other sluggers who aren’t in.
Which brings us to Cole Hamels. Unlike the other three members of the 08 core , Hamels is still playing. Not only is he playing, he’s pitching to a 3.13 ERA (albeit 3.98 FIP) with a K/9 rate of 8.9 through 54 & 2/3 innings pitched. Hamels of course will take the mound against the Phillies tonight for the first time as an opposing player.
Cole Hamels has the most complete career out of the other three aforementioned stars. He’s had a long, consistent run that I believe will ultimately be judged as a Hall of Fame career when adjusting for the time period in which he pitched. Here are five reasons why Cole Hamels will be enshrined at Cooperstown.
He Is One Of The Most Consistent Pitchers Of The Last 15 Years
It’s remarkable to think about how consistent Cole Hamels has been. In a day and age where seemingly every pitcher has Tommy John surgery, Cole Hamels has managed to avoid major injury. He’s had some standard DL (no IL yet) trips in his career but nothing too serious. As a result, he’s managed to remain healthy and log far more innings than his peers.
Most of those years he has been among the league’s best pitchers. Since 2006, Hamels has started no less than 20 games in any season and has only finished with an ERA above 4.00 twice – one being his rookie year and the other 2009. Since then, it’s been all sub 4 ERA with career numbers of 3.39 (3.67 FIP) through 2607.2 innings pitched. Few pitchers in the modern era can claim that level of consistency.
Was Hamels ever the best pitcher in the league? No, but he was consistently in the top 10 for much of his career – top 5 NL at his peak. His peak was also overshadowed by poor run support and the “phour aces”, so that’s another factor. Several pitchers in this time-frame may have had stronger, more notable peaks, but also stronger falls. Think Tim Lincecum, Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jake Peavy and others. These players all had good numbers but none were as good for the length of time Hamels has been. They had years where they didn’t pitch or pitched to an ERA above 4 or 5. Hamels has had no such seasons.
Cole Hamels is still pitching like an All-Star in his age 35 season and has for almost all of his career. That is what hall of famers do, and his consistency will surely be factored in when it comes time to vote.
He Has A Good Chance At 3,000 Strikeouts
For a while, Hall of Fame pitchers typically had a major stat category covered. They either had 300 wins or 3,000 strikeouts, with 300 wins seemingly becoming a thing of the past. As the use of specialists continues to become more popular and injury concerns increasingly common, pitchers don’t go nearly as long as they once did. As a result, there are fewer opportunities for wins.
Plus, wins aren’t as valuable to voters as they once were. Run support, defense and opponents faced go into a win-loss record far more than pure ability. Hamels was snake-bit as a Phillie (and Ranger at times) when it came to run-support and his record suffered. He may only have 190 or so wins when all is said and done, but that won’t matter.
What will matter, however, is his strikeout totals. At his current pace, Hamels should reach 3,000 strikeouts in 2-3 more seasons. Assuming he plays and pitches well, he will have reached that milestone without “stats accumulator” labels being thrown around. Even if he limps to the finish line in his final season to get there, it will be a well earned 3,000.
Hamels is currently sixth in active players for strikeouts and 40th all time. If he reaches just 2,900 he will find himself in the top 20 all time and among pitchers who are all enshrined already or will be. 3,000 strikeouts or just below it is crucial to Hamels’ HOF chances and barring collapse or injury, he should get there.
Cole Hamels Has An Excellent Postseason Record
In addition to being one of the game’s most consistent pitchers, Hamels has always been easy to turn to in the playoffs. He was of course named both NLCS and World Series MVP of the second championship run in Phillies history and has great overall numbers.
All told, Hamels has started 16 playoff games and came on in relief once. He has logged 100.1 innings in that span and pitched to an ERA of 3.41 with a 1.096 WHIP and a record of 7-6. Most of this was compiled during the Phillies’ 2008-12 run but Hamels also has postseason appearances with Texas and Chicago.
He almost pitched the Rangers to an NLCS appearance and was on the mound during the Rangers’ infamous post-season collapse. That was the infamous “Joey Bats” bat-flip game and one of the biggest choke jobs in modern history.
Rangers gonna Ranger though, and overall, Hamels is one of the more reliable postseason arms of his time. He will likely get a chance to expand on that this year, barring injury.
He Threw A No-Hitter
No-hitters/perfect games aren’t required on a Hall of Fame resumé but they certainly help. Sure, guys like Phillip Humber and Armando Gallaraga can catch lightening in a bottle from time to time. More often than not, however, no-no’s are thrown by elite starting pitchers.
Cole Hamels got his during the last start he made as a member of the Phillies. Pitching against his current team – the Chicago Cubs – Hamels faced off against Jake Arietta during his immaculate run. Hamels struck out 13, walked two and allowed no hits in a legendary Phillies send-off. His no-hitter was one of the few blemishes on Arietta’s 2015 second half, arguably one of the best runs for a starting pitcher ever.
So while not crucial, a no-hitter certainly helps out Cole Hamels in his quest to Cooperstown.
He Has Played In Three Big Markets
Fifth and finally, it must be remembered that Hall of Fame voting is a political process. Deserving players (Schilling, Alomar) have had to wait for their name to be called because of the way they are perceived by writers. It shouldn’t matter, but the reality is that it does. It is taking forever for Schilling’s to get in simply because writers don’t like him.
This shouldn’t be a problem in the case of Cole Hamels. Hamels has played for three large-market franchises in Philly, Texas and now Chicago and has had success in each of them. Hamels was one of the AL’s best pitchers in 2016, was dominant for the Cubs down the stretch of 2018 and of course won a World Series with the Phillies. He is a four time All-Star and if he continues to pitch this way, could be selected for a fifth. If he is selected, he will have registered an All-Star campaign with each of the three teams he’s played for.
The fact that Hamels has been well-liked/successful for three big market teams will certainly help.
It Might Not Be First Ballot, But Cole Hamels Will Get There
Ultimately, I don’t believe that Hamels will be a first-ballot inductee. That said, he will get there eventually. The consistency stands out and the postseason record is one of the league’s best. Every great start Hamels has is one step closer to the hall and 3,000 strikeouts will all but ensure it.
It may be a shock to some, but Cole Hamels is a Hall of Fame pitcher.