Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 3/6/13
Cole Hamels has been a dominant starting pitcher in real life baseball for the last half-decade. In four of the last five years, Hamels has finished with an ERA no worse than 3.39 and a WHIP no worse than 1.18. He’s even had an ERA under 3.10 three times and a WHIP one year that was under 1.00! (0.99 in 2011). His 2009 season was a pretty terrible follow-up to his breakout 2008, but every year since has been stellar to say the least.What has held Hamels back in fantasy is the lack of wins. For whatever reason, in four seasons from 2008 through 2011, Hamels never topped 14 wins. That changed last year as he stepped up his game and dominated the NL en route to a 17-6 record. Somewhere (probably at a nearby locker), Cliff Lee looked on in confusion.No matter what peripheral stats you look at — batted ball splits, K:BB ratio, pitch selection, velocities — Hamels appears to be the same consistently great pitcher year-in and year-out, and there’s little reason to expect anything different in 2013.At a GlanceStrengths: K, ERA, WHIP, IP, QS, LNeutral: WWeaknesses: nonePlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: David Price (TB)Likely scenario: Cliff Lee (PHI), CC Sabathia (NYY), Madison Bumgarner (SF)Worst-case scenario: Mat Latos (CIN)Cole Hamels 2013 Fantasy ProjectionWe have Hamels ranked 45th overall in our top 200 countdown, but we dropped him to 55th overall in our official 2013 rankings available in our draft guide. We didn’t alter his projection at all, we just ended up slotting a few extra batters in front of him in the rankings.Hamels separates himself from players like CC Sabathia and Zack Greinke because of his potential for a great WHIP, and that’s because he posts low BABIPs on a yearly basis. Much of this is due to some great line drive rates, which in 2010 and 2011 sat at 16.7% and 15.0%, respectively. That rate rose last year to 21.5%, which was the second-worst of his career, but Hamels also posts better-than-average infield fly rates. Those really do wonders for a pitcher’s BABIP/WHIP. While he’ll probably end the year in the 1.08-1.15 range, there’s always the potential he could do a little better than that (see: 2011). While Sabathia and Greinke will probably end the year ranked right around Hamels, Hamels is the only one of the trio who could really threaten for top-five starting pitcher status.Will the wins return? There’s really no way to know. Maybe Hamels figured something out last year that helped him turn some of those Ls and NDs into Ws, but really all we can do is draft him based on his likely ERA, WHIP, and K totals (all of which will be elite) and hope that the wins follow. While poor win luck might doom his overall fantasy ranking, solid streaming throughout the year should help compensate.
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