In a matchup of prominent pitchers like Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies and Homer Bailey of the Cincinnati Reds, every pitch tells a part of the larger picture about the pitchers and what they mean to their respective team.
The command and intelligence that the 100-game winner Hamels brings with every pitch is clearly that of a seasoned pitcher who will continue to be a dominating one even as he plays through the decade of his thirties.
Although Bailey is just two years younger than Hamels, he might as well be a rookie compared to Hamels in terms of all the intangibles that make a pitcher a pitcher and not a thrower. No question that the sheer physical strength of Bailey is greater than that of Hamels, just as there is no question that Hamels knows how to pitch much better than Bailey.
Hamels still has plenty of outstanding years ahead of him, even if he doesn’t quite ever replicate his dominance during his age 26 to 28 years that warranted the seven-year, $153 million contract extension that Hamels signed.
Maybe Bailey could be one of the top five pitchers in all of baseball if he could get what’s above the neck to ever equal the neck-down. He has two no-hitters that attest to his sheer ability, and a 4.28 ERA in 151 career starts that clearly states there’s more to pitching than Bailey has shown he can consistently master.
The Reds have hedged their bet with a six-year, $105 million extension that Bailey will master more than he has thus far in his highly anticipated career. Even though that’s considerably less than Hamels’ money, the difference of the annual average between the contracts ($17.5 million for Bailey to nearly $22 million for Hamels) is proportionate to the market-size difference between the Reds ($114 million payroll in 2014) and the Phillies ($177 million in 2014). That makes Bailey the Reds’ equivalent of Hamels from a payroll perspective.
Maybe the Reds will get the production from Bailey that Hamels furnished on average overall during his first eight years (a 162-game average of 3.40 ERA and 222 innings based on 34 starts), but the reality is that the Reds most likely won’t ever see Bailey even come close to the kind of years that Hamels had in the top his prime years between 2010 and 2012.
Meanwhile, the Phillies will likely see Hamels continue to out-pitch Bailey year after year, just like he did in Saturday night’s matchup between the two in which the difference between a pitcher who can keep his command and composure and one who can’t was clearly displayed.