Cole Hamels is one of those pitchers that felt like he was always there. In his prime, you could always count on him to pitch 180 to 200 innings a year. Except for October 2008 (I’ll talk about that in a second) Hamels was never one of the five best pitchers in baseball, but at his peak, he was always in the 10 to 20 range. Is he a Hall of Famer? Right now, no, but I think he might have a stronger case in a few years than some people think. It’s hard to compare eras, but Cole Hamels analytically grades out to be more valuable in his era than Jack Morris was in his. Now I’m not saying Jack Morris doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. He was one of the best pitchers of the 80s and 90s, but it speaks to how effective Cole Hamels was throughout his career. Injuries ultimately ended up catching up to him, but with three or four more solid years, he would’ve had a much stronger case.
￼I didn't realize how young Cole Hamels was when he became the Phillies ace. His ascension coincided with the golden age of Philadelphia Phillies baseball from 2007 to 2011. He made his first All-Star team at the age of 23. He may not be one of the greatest pitchers of all time, but he'll certainly go down as one of the greatest Philadelphia Phillies ever. It would shock me if he ended up having his number 35 jersey retired in Philly. We live in the age of arm blowouts. Making 20 starts nowadays feels like an accomplishment, so I think Cole Hamels' career will age better than people think. From 2007 to 2016, he averaged 32 starts a season, putting up a 3.26 ERA. He never won a Cy Young, but he did throw a no-hitter in the final start of his Phillies career in Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. He was traded shortly after to Texas, where he helped them win two American League West titles.
The defining moment of Cole Hamels' career came in 2008 when he was the anchor for the Phillies rotation when they won their first World Series since 1980. In the modern age, it was one of the greatest postseasons we've ever seen. Hamels made five starts in October that year. He went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA. He is among only four starting pitchers to win both LCS MVP and World Series MVP in the same postseason. He was something of a victim of his success. I think many people probably expected after 2008, Hamels would transform into a multi-time Cy Young winner, and while he never did that, he consistently finished in the top 10 Cy Young voting and made five All-Star teams throughout his career￼.
No one will lament or wonder, "what if" with Cole Hamels. He had a remarkable career, but he was pretty darn good through his age-35 season and attempted to make a comeback with multiple teams. He had one start for the Braves in the Covid year and tried to make attempts to come back with both the Dodgers and Padres before finally calling it quits. He couldn't pad what was already an impressive résumé, but he will go down to one of the best pitchers of his generation. Enjoy retirement, Hollywood. ￼￼￼￼￼