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Entries in Cole Hamels (2)


Grounding Hamels

Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies reduced his hits and home runs allowed this season to put him in Cy Young contention.  He accomplished this by inducing more ground balls with his fastball.  From 2008-2010, the percent of ground balls and fly balls put in play against his fastball were very similar, 30.5% fly balls, 35.2% ground balls.  On fly balls, batters did very well, with a .297 batting average and a .814 slugging percentage.  On ground balls, they did poorly with averages of .236/.263.

Cole Hamels, fastball frequency (left) and movement (right), 2008-2010.

Note that in this time period, Cole's fastball stayed up.  Compare that to 2011:

Cole Hamels, fastball frequency (left) and movement (right), 2011.Not only is his fastball lower in the strike zone, his movement is a bit farther toward right-handed batters.  He's now getting 46% of his balls in play as ground balls, only 24.9% as fly balls.  The fly balls still give batters good results, .297/.734.  Batters are hitting .262/.295 on ground balls, but it's worth it to keep the ball in the park.  Hamels is trading extra-base hits for singles, a trade that is paying huge dividends.


Cole Hamels and the Change-Up to RHB

As a second encore to the efforts of Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt in Philadelphia, Cole Hamels will take the ball Tuesday in San Francisco to kick off a pivotal NLCS Game 3. Having salvaged a home split, The Phils will now try to take two of three - or better - in San Francisco to regain control of the Championship Series.

Let's take a closer look at a bit of minutiae that could help the Phillies grab their first lead of the series. 


Hamels's CH vs. RHBThe Giants lineup is primarily right-handed, and Hamels will need to utilize his fastball and cutter inside on the righties to set up the low and outside change. Throughout the course of the 2010 season, Hamels has frequented the outside corner with his change, and that location has proved to yield outs in abundance.

A look at some heat maps shows just how frequently Hamels liked to hit the outside corner with his change against righties (top), and just how ineffective those hitters have been when he hits his spots (bottom).

Opp. SLG vs. Hamels's CHCompare that to the collective SLG that opposing hitters have against Hamels's change, and a similarity emerges: righties really aren't doing any damage against his change-up down and away.

Notice, also, that these pitches aren't being burned. Hamels is hitting the strike zone pretty consistently, and those change-ups that do cross in that area of the zone - including the area a couple inches outside - result in opponents hitting just .186 with a .209 SLG. On the other hand, if Hamels misses over the middle or on the inner half, those numbers balloon to a .419 AVG and .806 SLG. The San Francisco lineup isn't exactly one to fear (outside of Babe Cody Ross, obviously), but exploiting this strength could be an effective means of suppressing the Giants offense.