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Evaluating Pitchers With New Homes Using HRPF+

After I developed directional home run park factors and converted them to a plus metric, I covered hitters who have a new home in 2020. For this portion of the series, I’ll cover some of the top starting pitchers with new clubs. Of course, there are outside factors like switching leagues and facing unfamiliar opponents but I have tried to include that in my analysis. In case you’re new to my work, I’ll cover the directional park factors real quick. For the full explanation, you can check out the original article here and the conversion to a plus metric, here.

Guts of Directional HRPF+ 

I pulled three years of batted ball data from all 30 MLB venues. Then, I broke down the data by direction: left, center, right. From there, I separated the barreled balls that were hit to each field and how many of those barrels turned into home runs. That’s the home run per barrel rate (HR/BRL%) to each field. I refer to this metric a lot, especially in my eHR metric. Of course, I found out that HR/BRL% was much higher for pulled balls than for balls hit to the opposite field. So, I had to separate all data for right-handed and left-handed batted balls. then, I ran Z-Scores using all this data for each venue to determine how left, center, and right fields compared to the league average. That’s the genesis of the data.


However, nearly 20% of all home runs were hit with a quality of contact below that of a barrel. Jonathan Metzellar of PitcherList explains this very nicely in his most recent article, Beyond the Barrel. Most of the remaining home runs are qualified as Solid Contact. Balls that qualify as solid contact are home runs between 10 and 11% of the time. I certainly had to account for those, so I devised a formula to include them in the park factors. I won’t bore you with more details and data, so let’s get to the pitchers!

I won’t cover Corey Kluber or Jordan Lyles because Globe Life Park is no more in 2020. The Rangers will have a new home with a retractable roof and a more controlled environment and different dimensions. So, the data for Globe Life Park is unfortunately useless. 

The park factors that I reference (HRPF+) measure how much better or worse a park plays for home runs based on a percentage. 100 is league average in terms of home runs relative to the same direction. For every point above or below 100, the park is 1% better or worse than league-average.  In other words, if a park is valued with a HRPF+ of 110 to left field, it’s 10% better to left field for home runs than the league average left field. The same goes for HRPF+ below 100.

Madison Bumgarner (SP – ARI) from SFG

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Oracle Park (SFG) 89 65 57
Chase Field (ARI) 106 68 98

While we only have two years of data from Chase Field since the humidor was installed, it’s clear that Mad Bum gets a downgrade to right field. Why? Because, well, right field at Oracle Park is 43% below the league average and ranked 30th for home runs hit. That was a good thing for him when he pitched there but now that he’s gone, he won’t have that advantage. Left-handed batters managed a 48.7% HR/BRL rate over the last three years at Oracle. For reference, the league average HR/BRL% for left-handed batters to right field is 75.8%. Centerfield was equally helpful for Mad Bum but what about left field? Bad news for Mad Bum. Since 2015, here are the HR/FB% to left field for Bumgarner in succession 16.4%, 23.8%, 24.2%, 30.6%. That’s a disturbing trend in a home park that played 11% below league average to left field. Now,  he calls Chase Field home that’s played six percent better than league-average to left field. Last year, Bumgarner ended up with a career-worst 12.6% HR/FB rate, which considering the juiced ball, wasn’t half bad. I can say with quite a bit of confidence, that Bumgarner sets a new career-high in home run rate, settling in with an ERA above 4.00.



Zack Wheeler (SP – PHI) from NYM

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Citi Field (NYM) 110 107 105
Citizens Bank (PHI) 115 91 114

Well, this isn’t quite the park downgrade most skeptics are projecting. To be fair, Citizens Bank Park does play more favorably for hits in general and therefore runs scored, so it is a better hitters park overall. However, for home runs, it’s very close. Outside of 2017, Wheeler has always been able to suppress home runs. And, since both left field and right field are within 10% in terms of my HRPF+, let’s focus on centerfield. Citi Field is seven percent worse than league-average (for a pitcher) on home runs to center where Citizens Bank is nine percent better than league-average to centerfield. Over the last three seasons, one-third of Wheeler’s fly balls traveled out towards centerfield. In 2017, something weird happened. Wheeler gave up an astonishing seven of his 15 home runs to centerfield in just 86 innings. Since then, he’s allowed just five homers over the last two seasons combined. His HR/FB% to centerfield over that timeframe is just four percent, which is lower than half of the league-average. Based on the scant number of homers he’s given up to center, I don’t think I can regress that number anymore. In other words, this move is essentially neutral with maybe a slight downgrade overall for Wheeler.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP – TOR) from LAD

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Dodger Stadium (LAD) 98 150 95
Rogers Centre (TOR) 110 101 102

In 2019, we saw everything come together for Ryu, health, home run suppression, weak contact, luck, etc. It was a best-case scenario type of season. Now, he finds himself in the AL East. Without knowing anything about park factors, we can safely assume the competition will be more difficult. Not only is the division better, but he’ll face an extra hitter in the DH instead of the pitcher twice. However, he will receive a much more giving centerfield compared to LAD, but he’s only given up eight home runs to centerfield the last two seasons. So, maybe he gives up three this year? How about left field? Ryu’s given up 47 home runs since the start of 2017, 24 of them have gone out to left field (51%). Left field at the Rogers Centre is 12% more favorable for home runs than Dodger Stadium. Ryu’s HR/9 last year was just 0.84. For 2020, I’ll set the over/under at 1.20. Given neutral luck, I’d expect something close to an ERA of 4.00. That’s not all that playable with a below-average strikeout rate.



David Price (SP – LAD) from BOS

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Fenway Park (BOS) 96 68 75
Dodger Sta (LAD) 98 150 95

Price is in for a massive spike in home runs to center and right fields. Throughout four seasons with Boston, his HR/FB% to right field hovered around 10%. To centerfield, it was slightly lower with a HR/FB% around 9% but spiked in 2019 to a career-high 12.8%. I think it’s important to note that during his time with Boston, he gave up 33 home runs at home and 45 home runs on the road. He did throw 21 more innings on the road over that time but doesn’t account for a difference of 12 homers. I decided to look at wOBA minus xwOBA on all fly balls and line drives against Price since 2015 on batted balls to center and right field. It’s essentially wOBACON minus xwOBACON to CF and RF but excluding ground balls. 

Season LD+FB: wOBA-xwOBA (CF) LD+FB: wOBA-xwOBA (RF)
2016 -.021 -.007
2017 -.051 -.039
2018 -.124 -.044
2019 -.180 -.166

I trust Statcast’s data more in 2018 and 2019 as the kinks have been ironed out. That’s where the biggest discrepancy lies between wOBA-xwOBA. A portion of the difference can be attributed to the stellar outfield defense between Mookie Betts and JBJ. Fortunately, Betts will be roaming right field once again, so that’s a wash. Bellinger in center is a slight downgrade from Jackie Bradley Jr. But, overall, I think Price continues to partially outperform his expected metrics on balls hit to center and right on balls that stay in the yard. However, given the increase in home runs he may allow, the gap between LD+FB wOBA-xwOBA should be much smaller. That being said, the smaller outfield dimensions from left-center to right-center at Dodger Stadium should turn some doubles and triples into outs. It’s difficult to predict how this will play out. On one hand, he’ll turn doubles and triples into outs. On the other hand, the doubles/triples that he would have allowed in Fenway may turn into home runs. His ERA may go up due to the homers but I expect his WHIP and strikeouts to improve as he avoids the DH and will face weaker opponents.

Kenta Maeda (SP – MIN) from LAD

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Dodger Stadium (LAD) 98 150 95
Target Field (MIN) 97 82 94

Okay, his one is easy. A negligible change to both left and right fields, but look at centerfield! Dodger Stadium is an incredible 68 percent more favorable for home runs to centerfield than Maeda’s new home, Target Field. Over the course of his career, Maeda has given up more fly balls to centerfield than to left or right fields, respectively at nearly 40%. He definitely felt the juiced ball with a HR/9 of 1.47 in 2017 and 1.29 in 2019. However, in 2018, he allowed just a 0.93 HR/9. It seems like the generous centerfield at Dodger Stadium played a role. His 15.8% HR/FB to centerfield last year was the worst of his career and about 5% worse than the league-average. Yet, he allowed fewer home runs per fly ball than the league-average overall. This proves that Dodger Stadium hurt his number, and he allowed 13 of his 21 home runs at home in 2019. The move from the NL to the AL isn’t ideal but the AL Central has its weaknesses. Detroit and Kansas City are poor clubs and have favorable parks to pitch in. Cleveland is top-heavy but not all that deep and the White Sox are talented but young. I would bet that Maeda knocks a few home runs off his total in 2020 and ends with a sub-4.00 ERA for the second time in four years. I want Maeda over Ryu this season and it’s not all that close.



Dallas Keuchel (SP – CHW) from ATL

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
SunTrust Stadium (ATL) 88 100 100
U.S. Cellular (CHW) 110 107 113

Keuchel had a wild 23.1% HR/FB rate last year with the Braves in an abbreviated season. Normally, a ratio that high would be a death sentence to a pitcher’s ERA. But, Keuchel still managed an ERA of 3.75 thanks in large part to a 60% ground ball rate. His sinker and changeup both generate a ton of ground balls. However, his sinker was crushed when elevated in the strike zone. On his sinker, he gave up six home runs on just 16 fly balls in 2019. Moving from Atlanta to Chicago is clearly a negative for Keuchel, not only because the park is more favorable for hitters to all three fields but he’ll also face the DH. Because Keuchel gives up so few fly balls, I don’t think it’ll completely decimate his ratios given the park change. I’m more concerned about his dipping zone rate. It hit a career-low 33% last year and hitters aren’t exactly chasing often enough to justify the drop. It showed up in his walk rate that went from 6.6% in 2018 to 8.0% in 2019. His strikeout rate will once again be below 20% and if his walk rate jumps to nine or 10%, he could finish with a 4.50 ERA in 2020.  

Wade Miley (SP – CIN) from HOU

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Minute Maid (HOU) 136 73 129
GABP (CIN) 121 132 136

Miley jumps from one hitter’s haven park to another. At least he leaves the American League and the DH to go to the NL where lineups are generally weaker. Great American Ballpark is the most favorable (or unfavorable for pitchers) for home runs in all of baseball. Minute Maid Park in Houston is a hitter’s park to both left and right fields, so there’s a minimal change for Miley on pulled and opposite-field fly balls this coming season. Then, there’s centerfield. If you recall, Minute Maid used to have Tal’s Hill in center field and was 435 feet to dead center. In 2015, the hill was removed and the fences were brought in to a distance of 409 feet to dead center. My park factors only include the results after the fences were brought in and it still performs poorly to centerfield. That’s because the left-center field fence is 404 feet away from home plate. Okay, enough about Houston, let’s focus on Miley. He gives up a lot of fly balls to centerfield. In fact, over 40% of his fly balls head out to center. He gave up just three homers to center last year with just a 4.9% HR/FB rate. I expect that to at least double if not triple in 2020. That could be the difference between three and nine home runs to centerfield over the course of a full season. With an unknown opening day, I think he may give up three or four more home runs in 2020 then if he stayed put in Houston. 

Cole Hamels (SP – ATL) from CHC

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Wrigley Field (CHC) 105 106 79
SunTrust Stadium (ATL) 88 100 100

Entering the twilight of his successful career, let’s find out if Hamels can bring back some fantasy goodness in the ATL. While Wrigley has a higher HRPF+ to center field, it’s mostly due to the cheap home runs when the wind is blowing out. The difference between the two parks and their three-year average in terms of HR/BRL% is within one percent. Hamels will see more significant changes to left and right fields. As a left-handed pitcher, he sees the righty-heavy lineups most of the time. Righties have done pretty well against the southpaw with a .330 and .321 wOBA in 2018 and 2019, respectively. The good news for Hamles is that 60% of the home runs he’s allowed since the start of 2018 have gone to left field. Wrigley was slightly favorable for home runs to left where SunTrust should suppress them a bit more. I expect Hamels to allow fewer home runs to left field in his new park but the short porch near the right-field line could allow for some non-barreled balls to drop just over the fence. I’m not chasing Hamels in drafts even though he’s cheap. I’d look for upside plays such as Corbin Burnes, Justus Sheffield, and Kwan-Hyun Kim over the crafty veteran. 

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.





Photo courtesy AP Photo/John Bazemore

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Weekly Rundown – You Spell Khrush with a K

Player’s Weekend is upon us and I think my favorite nickname is Rich Hill who has been dubbed, “Dick Mountain.” You really can’t top that. I read somewhere that Brock Holt coined that nickname for Rich back in his Red Sox days. Turns out Brock Holt is useful! The next best nickname is Brad Boxberger’s in which the back of his jersey simply displays an emoji of a cardboard box and a cheeseburger. Clever. Ok, let’s dive in!

Hot Hitters
Kendrys Morales has woken up in the month August and is hitting a blistering .500 with 6 homers with 9 RBI as he’s your Flavor of the Week. Over at BaseballSavant, he’s the hitter who has underperformed based on xwOBA-wOBA more than any other hitter in the league. While I don’t fully trust MLB’s expected numbers, Morales is clearly starting to catch up to his career numbers. I understand that’s cliche, but look at Morales’ last four seasons, he’s a .260 hitter with mid-20s pop at this point in his career.  

Khris “The New Krush” Davis is at it again against the Rangers, well, all teams really. This beast has an MLB leading 39 homers thanks to 5 homers this past week. He also has 10 RBI in that span with 103 on the season. Davis has cut his K rate by nearly 5%, upped his hard-hit rate by 5% (although everyone has), and increased his fly ball rate by 6%. He’s likely going to slow down (well obviously), he has 18 homers in 32 games since the break! I think he’s a lock to go in the second round next year as he finally gets some well-deserved respeKeD.

David Peralta is hitting nearly .500 with 3 homers and 6 RBI this past week. Peralta has always been a guy who has shown moderate power with a little bit of speed and good contact skills. He’s a guy that always seems to be available on shallow league waiver wires. Until this year, of course. Is this for real? The answer, kind of. He’s only increased his fly ball rate slightly from the high-20s to 30%. Meh, but his hard contact is WAY up to 47% and has doubled his HR/FB from last year. He’s also hit fewer infield flys, so do I think he’s a .300, 30 HR hitter next year? Not quite, but a.290 with 22-25 HR hitter, yes sir.

Xander Bogaerts has been an RBI machine with 10 RBI in the last 7 days with 2 homers and a .357 average. Bogaerts was sick of his soft contact ways of 2017 where he barreled 1.3% of his batted balls in 2017 (brutal) and is up to 10.5% this year. I was down on Bogaerts coming into the year because his fly ball rate was low, his hard contact was bad, and his IFFB% was way up. This year, he’s improved in all three aspects. At 25, Bogaerts looks like a .300-25-10 guy for the foreseeable future.

Whit Merrifeld and Jose Peraza both have two homers and two steals apiece with .400 averages. I lump them together not only because their stat lines are so similar this past week but are they really that different? Sure Merrifield has shown more power in the past with 19 home runs last year so he’s not quite a White Rabbit. Merrifield has 9 homers and 28 steals in 548 plate appearances this year. Peraza has 8 homers and 20 steals in 540 plate appearances. Sure, I prefer Merrifield, but Peraza is a nice consolation prize going into 2019 and he’s five years younger.

Justin Turner just hit his third home run in the last seven days to go along with 9 RBI and even threw in a stolen base! Is Turner the Red Rocket or is Kole Calhoun? I think Turner’s nickname is just Red. Anyways, Turner is Red-Hot! Ok, I’m done. Seriously though, it took Turner a little while upon his return to get his power back, but since the All-Star break, Turner is .390 with 5 homers, 8 doubles, and a triple in only 89 plate appearances, good for an ISO of .325! If you waited it out with Turner, you have been handsomely rewarded.

Hot Pitchers
David Price has given up only 2 earned runs with a 0.67 WHIP and 15 strikeouts in his last two starts. He’s starting to look like the top 25 pitcher I envisioned in my preseason rankings. Since Price’s July 1st 8-run blow up, he’s essentially been an ace. His fastball and cutter have combined for a 12.0 pitch value in only 8 starts! That’s insane. Unfortunately, he has no other good pitches. I don’t think Price is an ace anymore but he’s a smart veteran pitcher who can be your #2.



Now, this is an ace! Aaron Nola is Str8 Ballin’ and making his case for NL Cy Young with a 0.60 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 20 strikeouts in his last two starts. Nola does so many things well, but the best skill he has is home run suppression with his 0.46 HR/9. He’s rocking a 50% ground ball rate and an elevated IFFB rate which is how he can limit those dingers. In addition, Nola has boosted his swinging strike rate by nearly 2% but his K rate remains slightly lower than 2017. You know what this means? I’m expecting a strikeout bump next year, and Nola will be in my top 5 SPs going into 2019.

Walker Buehler really has lived up to the hype as he’s gone 20 innings giving up just 1 earned run with a 0.85 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in the last two weeks. Yes, that’s cheating, but his last two starts have been dominant as well, I just wanted to point out how great he’s been. Buehler threw just about 100 innings last year and is currently at 103 IP this year. We are dealing with the Dodgers, so we have to be careful with Buehler and an innings limit which I think will be about 130-140. If the Dodgers believe Buehler will be part of their Postseason rotation, he could be skipped a couple of times before the regular season is done. Owners, be aware.

Cole Hamels continues his dominance with the Cubs who desperately needed pitching help. He’s rocking a 0.56 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP in his last two starts. He’s not getting the strikeouts, but that’s fine, he’s basically the Cubs ace right now. It’s odd because Hamel’s four-seam fastball has not been good this year but he’s finding a way to be successful with it since joining the Cubs and is actually throwing it more! Maybe, it’s location, when he’s up in the zone with the pitch, it’s yielded some positive results. Let’s hope it continues because velocity is not his game anymore.

CC Sabathia is 38 years old, has dealt with issues with alcohol, went to rehab and is still killing it in the mound. Yes, he qualifies as a Return of the Mac. In his last two starts, CC has 15 Ks, a 1.50 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in 12 IP.  Sabathia now has 2,960 strikeouts in his career which is 17th all time just behind John Smoltz. He’s also 6 wins short of 250 which I think are milestones that get him into the Hall of Fame. Congrats on a great career CC and being fantasy relevant at almost 40.

Freezing Cold Hitters
Mookie Betts is ice cold everyone. I know, it’s sad, but he’s hitting just .172 with no homers or steals this past week. He’s even got eight strikeouts to only one walk, this isn’t the Mookie-VP we know and love. Other than a few extra strikeouts, I’m not seeing anything in Mookie’s profile that concerns me. This is just a mini-slump got Mookie before he makes his MVP-push in September.



Ozzie Albies is 3 for his last 26 with no homers and no steals. This is not just one cold week for Albies, it’s been the better part of two months now. Albies is a player I’m worried about because his overall season numbers look solid (especially for a 21-year-old), but remember he was the hottest hitter to start the season in April. Since the All-Star Break, Albies is hitting .237 with 1 HR and 3 steals. His hard contact is down and he’s expanding the zone too much. He’s still making enough contact, but I think he’s being too aggressive. He might be over-drafted next year and should set up for a discount in 2020, I know I’m thinking way too far ahead.

Jose Ramirez is hitting just .160 without a home or an RBI this past week but has chipped in with a steal thanks to a healthy walk rate. Remember when Ramirez was hitting like .160 in April thanks to an extremely low BABIP? Yeah, this is the same situation. Since August 4th, he’s got a .222 BABIP but he’s still walking more than striking out and is making MORE contact. His quality of contact is down a bit, but that’s the only issue. Jo-Ram is just fine, he’s already given you 140% of his projected stats, be happy.

Rhys Hoskins is hitting just .192 with no HRs, no RBI, 2 runs, and a steal in the last 7 days. It’s essentially been a month-long slump for Hoskins as his .196 BABIP is the culprit. His hard contact is down and his line drive rate is at 15%. Hoskins hits a lot of fly balls and doesn’t run well, so unless he can maintain a 20+% HR/FB, he’s a .250-.260 hitter. Combine that with 30 homers and 90-100 RBI and you have a poor man’s E5. That’s a top 100 pick but not much higher. OBP leagues, he’s still borderline top 50 though.

Kole Calhoun, the red rocket, has fallen back on hard times after a blistering month and a half. Kole is hitting .182 with no homers or steals and carries a 43.5% K rate in the last 7 days.

I had to include a graph of Calhoun’s 15-game rolling averages because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a wOBA fluctuation from 0.089 to 0.525 in the same season. Fear not, the hard contact continues to trend upwards. I’m not telling you to buy him, but continue to hold unless the strikeout rate gets out of control.

Starling Marte again! Yes, he’s hitting .160 with zeros across the board. Oh, he did have stolen base last night though, so that’s good. His K rate is up and he’s expanding the zone with a nearly 40% O-Swing (swings outside the zone) in August. You know what helps in these “Dog Days” of summer? PEDs! Ouch, low blow bro! I’m sorry, but Marte was a guy who struggled to stay healthy for 162 and we all know how healthy Ryan Braun has been since getting busted. I’m going to be out on Marte next year, he turns 30 and he’s not getting faster. He’ll be over-drafted thanks to around 20 HR and 35 steals this year.

Freezing Cold Pitchers
Lance Lynn’s success with the Yankees has halted quickly where he’s been punished by the Blue Jays and Marlins of all teams. He’s given up 10 earned runs 19 baserunners in his last two starts. It was starting to look like Lynn was the saving grace after the horrific run by Sonny Gray. I can’t judge (All Rise) Lynn’s performances with the Yankees yet because his getting 11.6 K.9 with a 49% groundball rate but also has a .375 BABIP and a 66.4% LOB. His SwStr% is nowhere near matching his elevated K rate either. I’m chalking this up to small samples and using him as a streamer against weaker opponents.

My boy (he’s not my boy) Big Game James Shields is back to getting roughed up after a mini-resurgence with a 6.59 ERA, 19 baserunners and 3 homers in his last 13.2 IP. I admit I did recommend him once as a streamer this year. The start was OK, it didn’t kill your ratios or your week. The reason I was optimistic was his home run rate has been down (for him) and he’s getting more swings and misses but with a lower K rate. I think my (slim) optimism is gone. Good-Bye Big Game James, it’s been real, it’s been nice, but it hasn’t been real nice.

Zack Godley’s stretch of good starts is long gone as he’s given up 11 earned runs and 19 baserunners in his last two starts that spans 10 innings. The lone bright spot is his 14 strikeouts. Why is Godley bad this year? Well, his walks are up, his BABIP is 50 points higher, and he’s stranding fewer runners. His home run suppression remains intact but he really only has one plus pitch this year, the curve. Last year, his cutter was utilized much better, currently, it’s received a pitch value of -8.6 compared to 7.3 PV last year. I don’t trust him anymore.

Andrew Heaney has struggled in his last two starts posting an 8.74 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP in that timeframe. His last month has actually been relatively poor. He currently has thrown 146 innings this year coming off only about 50 innings last year and 6 IP the prior year. I just think Heaney is out of gas. He’s got a good changeup and breaking ball, so I think Heaney will be on my sleeper list for next year. At this point, he will probably throw a couple more starts then be shut down for the rest of the year. I like him to reach 175+ next year with solid ratios.

Clayton Richard’s nightmare season continues. In his last 8.2 IP, Richards is sporting an 11.42 ERA with a 2.31 WHIP with only six strikeouts. I understand Richard isn’t all that fantasy relevant but last year against lefty-heavy lineups, he was a solid streamer. Then there’s the home/road splits, his 3.94 ERA and 1.22 WHIP at home is playable but the 6.67 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP on the road is just brutal. Am I really recommending Richard as a streaming option at home against lefty-heavy lineups? I guess so, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

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Here’s a Lump of Cole in your Stocking: Hamels Bust Post

A Christmas reference!  It’s the day before Thanksgiving tho!  Blackout Wednesday!!  True, but the radio’s been playing Christmas music for the past month and every store is like “F” Thanksgiving, here’s two isles full of Christmas sh*t.

Ok, back on task.  It’s been a pretty steep decline for Cole Hamels the last couple of years and if you’re hoping for a rebound at age 34, you’re going to be disappointed.  Cole was never an overpowering guy but has always had an elite change up and good secondary pitches.  His command was very good and could induce swings and misses out of the zone with regularity.  While his strikeout numbers were never elite, they were good and he was great at inducing weak contact, limiting walks, and stranding runners on base (over 77% of the time prior to 2016 for his career).  I think it’s safe to say he no longer has those skills.

Just look at his numbers from 2015-2017.

Season Age BB% Hard% Soft% LOB% ERA
2014 30 7.1% 26.8% 20.0% 81.9% 2.46
2015 31 7.1% 27.0% 21.6% 75.3% 3.65
2016 32 9.1% 32.0% 20.4% 79.1% 3.32
2017 33 8.6% 36.0% 13.7% 70.2% 4.20

The four year trend of increasing hard contact stands out the most but the other categories are all trending in the wrong directions.  The only reason for a 3.32 ERA in 2016 was due to high LOB% which IMO was very lucky.  His skills are eroding quickly.  He also posted his first ever SwStr% below 10% in 2017 and I just don’t see any swing and miss upside going into his age 34 season.

So, we have an aging pitcher who pitches to contact, gives up hard contact, has an elevated walk rate, and coming off a career low LOB%.  Sounds terrible and I haven’t mentioned the extremely low BABIP from 2017 of .251, which believe or not is a career LOW for the HAM man.  Ok, terrible nickname, sry.  But how ITF is this possible because he gives up a ton of hard contact and doesn’t have a crazy high HR rate?  A lot of times you see bad pitchers with low BABIPs due to abnormally high HR/9 such as Jeremy Hellickson who had a BABIP of .246 and a HR/9 of 1.92!  Damn, that’s awful!  Hamels HR/9 was only 1.09, so basically he’s Max Scherzer OR the one of the luckiest pitchers for 2017.

This one seems like a slam dunk but IMO C. Ham; Cam? has gone full MEMORY LOSS.  He’s exactly who the big box sites will peg for a rebound due to the name value.  I could see ESPN projecting Hamels inside the top 40 for SPs with something like a 3.80 ERA by lazily averaging his ERA from the previous two seasons which would be ridiculous of course!  Don’t fall for that.  I think he will be even worse in 2018 and essentially undraftable. If you’re wondering, undraftable is a word, I’ve added it to my dictionary in Microsoft Word, so there.  So for 2018 I’ll give Cole:

  • 155 IP, 9 Wins, 4.41 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 125 K (Way to early mock drafts have him around 195).  There are so many pitchers around 200-225 that I want much more like Chase Anderson
  • So have a Merry Christmas  Thanksgiving!