Cole Hamels was absolutely stellar in spring, and he is primed to compete for his first ever Cy Young Award. Cole brought the Philadelphia Phillies a World Series title in 2008, so when the young hurler retires he won’t be haunted by what if’s like some retired cop, but still, I’m sure he would like to decorate his mantle just a bit more.
I don’t lay that much stock in spring training. You look at how players performed with broad strokes. Think how well they are swinging the bat, not how many more runs, how their pitches look, not how low their ERA is. Cole Hamels had one of those spring trainings that require you to get excited and look at stats. In five starts he went 19 IP with a .95 ERA, 15 K’s, a .789 WHIP and a smile that would rival Todd’s, from Office Space.
Cole Hamels has been close to the Cy Young before, but he never finished inside the top four in voting, in 2012 he was eighth, 2011 fifth, 2007 sixth. Hamels finished in striking distance sure, but to actually win that hardware he is going to have to turn a corner. It is no easy thing to go from one of the great pitchers to the pinnacle, the zenith, the very very best, even if its just for one season.
Cole will have to become one of MLB’s truly elite pitchers if he wants to take home the hardware. The way I see it, there are aces, quality pitchers that nearly every team in baseball has one of, and there are the elite, of which there are about five in all of baseball. It’s the class of pitcher that Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, and Clayton Kershaw belong to. The group that Roy Halladay owned until last year, and Cliff Lee has been on the fringe of for a while. The truly elite are those players that, when your team faces them you get suddenly realistic about your chances, and just hope your team is tied when they take, say, Justin Verlander out in the eighth. Hamels needs to turn into one of those pitchers.
Cole Hamels is an excellent pitcher, who deserved the brand new 6-year $144 million deal he signed last summer, which will net him $19.5M this season, and $22.5M until 2018. When the Phillies brass green lit that deal, I’m sure they game planned for Cole to bring home at least two more trophies: another World Series title and that elusive Cy Young.