Career w/Phillies: 543 IP / 38-23 / 3.43 ERA / 518 K
On May 12, 2006, a legend was born. Cole Hamels pitched well against the Reds, starting him on a career that has already become epic. The 25-year-old left-hander has fast become one of baseball’s top pitchers. He finished that 2006 season with an impressive 4.08 ERA as a rookie, then turned into a top-shelf arm with a 15-5, 3.39 ERA season in 2007, earning him a top 10 Cy Young vote. His 2008 was stronger (3.09 ERA), but Hamels suffered from poor run support, garnering only a 14-10 record. It didn’t matter — Hamels legend took real shape in the postseason, when he won four of five starts, took MVP honors in both the NLCS and World Series and established himself as the total big-game pitcher. Though he’s automatically Phillies property until 2012, he signed a three-year raise that has confirmed his accomplishments.
Comment: Not since Steve Carlton have the Phillies possessed such a great pitcher. No offense to Jamie Moyer, Tommy Greene, Brett Myers, Terry Mulholland and even Curt Schilling, but Hamels is of a different breed. Using given ability, power and intelligence, Hamels has carved himself a superior position in recent pitching lore. His playoff dominance wasn’t otherworldly, but completely assured, which is why the confidence for Hamels’ career reigns high. At 25, he has become a top pitcher and world champion. Hopefully there’s much more to come.