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Cole Hamels will win 2011 Cy Young Award
by Scott Butler 4/10/11

Hamels ready to bring Phillies second straight Cy Young Award in 2011

Cole Hamels

It may seem like a long shot, but Hamels is ready to take his place as an elite pitcher. Now is the time Cole Hamels will claim the 2011 Cy Young award.

The once prized Phillies prospect, Cole Hamels earned 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP honors. He nearly single-handedly brought a World Championship to Philadelphia. Yet Cole Hamels is considered to be the fourth best starter by his own Phillies team and he was already booed by his own fans after just his first start.

Opinions of Hamels will change very quickly. As I mentioned in my Phillies 2011 pitching prediction blog, Cole Hamels is due for a break out season. Here's why:

His resume shows that aside from 2009 Hamels has been consistent and quite dominant. Cole compiled a combined 3.17 ERA in his last three seasons (excluding 2009). His ERA in those three seasons has been steady, ranging from 3.06 to 3.39. Those are remarkably consistent numbers.

His 2009 season cannot be overlooked and may, in fact, be the turning point in his career. After getting caught up with the commitments associated with the "World Series circuit," Hamels was simply not prepared entering the 2009 season. The result was lower velocity and early season struggles from which he did not recover.

I believe his struggles in 2009 make him a better pitcher today for two reasons. First, 2009 was the first time in his entire life that Hamels did not succeed and he had no clue how to handle the failure. He displayed terrible demeanor at times, showed outward frustration with his teammates' defensive mistakes, and had difficulty focusing in tough times. But with several months to reflect, Hamels came back in 2010 with a completely different outlook and managed his emotions well in one of his best seasons as a professional.

Secondly, Hamels realized that he could not simply rely on a fastball, change up, and curveball. He therefore added a cutter in the winter prior to 2010. Cole struggled with his new pitch in April and had a 5.28 ERA. But once the light came on, Hamels was lights out with a 2.68 ERA in the final five months. But that was only a glimpse of things to come.

In his final three months, Hamels had a 2.28 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 9.33 K/9 and 0.61 BB/9. Just how good is that? Let's compare Cole's last three months to 2010 Cy Young winner Roy Halladay's full season numbers. Hamels' ERA was 16 points lower, his WHIP was the same, his K's/9 were 1.43 higher, and his walks/9 were 0.49 lower.

Three months is not a full season, but 18 starts is a decent sample size that shows this guy's potential is sky high. 2011 will be the year Cole Hamels puts it all together. A 20.25 ERA in his first start certainly does not help his Cy Young hopes, but I stand by my prediction.

The ball is in Hamels' hand now...

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