In sabermetrics, it is argued that the “three true outcomes,” which are walks, strikeouts and homers, can provide a better window into a pitcher’s future performance than wins, losses and ERA. If that is true, it is worth taking a look at Cole Hamels using this method.
Getting stats from baseball-reference.com, Hamels has faced 542 batters so far this season. He has a 4.77 ERA. Last year, after facing 530 batters (the nearest comparison I could easily calculate), Hamels had a 3.18 ERA.
In 2008, Hamels had 118 K, 33 BB and 17 HR through 530 batters. This season, he has 111 K, 27 BB and 20 HR.
To take it another step, in 2007 Hamels had a 3.69 ERA after facing 543 batters. He had 129 K, 32 BB and 21 HR.
Those numbers aren’t dramatically different, but the results this year have been. That would point toward Hamels being a victim of some bad luck.
In 2007, foes were hitting .251 against Hamels while in 2008 it was .204. This year, it is .283. His line drive percentage for 2007 was 16, in 2008 it was 20 and in 2009 it is 19. So Hamels probably had a little bit of good luck last year in keeping the BA against low, but the 19 percent this season is not bad by comparison.
Hamels’ BABIP this season is .331. It was .270 for all of last year and it was .289 for all of 2007.
Bad luck might not explain all of Hamels’ woes this season. Obviously, other factors can contribute to batters getting more hits. But given that his three true outcomes mirror the past two seasons, bad luck might be part of it.