Cole Hamels is now the newest member of the Atlanta Braves, as the lefty signed a one-year contract with the defending NL East champions. But, did the Braves make a good move in bringing in the former Cub back to the NL East?
Cole Hamels Signs with Braves
As reported yesterday by ESPN‘s Jeff Passan, Hamels signed a one-year, $18M contract with the Atlanta Braves. Hamels spent last season with the Chicago Cubs, and while he may not have been the superstar pitcher he was the Phillies, he showed that he can still be an effective pitcher.
Last season with the Cubs, Hamels went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and struck out 143 batters in 141.2 innings. It was a fine season for Hamels when looking at these numbers, but’s take a deeper dive into the former World Series MVP.
Hamels averaged over a strikeout per inning (9.11 SO/9), thanks in part to the effectiveness of his off-speed pitches. Hamels’ changeup was still extremely effective last year, as hitters only batted .170 last off the pitch. It also had a 32.5 K% rate, as well as a 43.8 Whiff rate, thanks to his ability to effectively command the pitch down and out of the zone.
Hamels also wielded a pretty effective breaking ball last year at time. In a league where breaking balls may be more important now than ever before, Hamels’ curve spin was among the worst in the league (5th percentile, according to Baseball Savant). Still, Hamels’ curve still had a good amount of bite to it, as hitters whiffed on it at a clip of 34.3%. But, with hitters batting .303 off of it, as well as not doing a great job of keeping it down, it’s a far cry from where he used to be with his go-to breaking pitch.
Cole Hamels Curveball Breakdown (2017-2019)
|Year||# of Pitches||AVG||Whiff%||wOBA|
Another interesting thing to keep in mind is that Atlanta isn’t the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in the league. Since SunTrust Park opened in 2017, it’s been a pretty hitter-friendly ballpark, and has consistently ranked among the top scoring facilities in MLB. And considering that he was susceptible to hard-hit balls last season (career high in average Exit Velocity (89.2) and Hard Hit% (40.6)), as well as the fly ball (51.8% of the balls put in play on Hamels were fly-balls or line-drives), he may not be an ideal fit for the Braves. But, considering that they already have a stacked rotation, and Hamels is on a one-year deal, it’s not that big of a risk for one of the top contenders for the 2020 NL Pennant.
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