Looking at my rankings and projections, he's an early round selection that I have the greatest variance compared to ADP data. I'm projecting him to be the 32nd SP off my board and falling all the way to 150 overall. Everyone that supports him has the same argument:
- 6 years in a row he's topped 200+ IP
- He always strikes out a ton of guys
- He's now on a much better team and will win more games
- His innings are catching up to him: One of the biggest positives Hamels has going for him is his consistency. Year in and year out, he pitches 200+ innings. You can count on him to provide volume for your team with better than average production, at some points in his career, excellent production. Hamels is no spring chicken anymore however. He's turning 33 this year and entering his major league 11th season. In addition, because he's been so reliable, he's amassed 2013.2 innings over the last 10 seasons. Last year, Hamels posted the highest BB/9, HR/FB ratio, and WHIP since his 2010 campaign. These were all even more down when you look at his switch from the NL to the AL mid-way through last season (eluding to my second point). Was that the beginning of the downturn in his career? We shall see this season.
- No more automatic outs from pitchers: While this is just common sense for many, now always facing a DH instead of a pitcher, it's natural to expect regression in his metrics even if he pitches at the same level as last year. Just in his own division: Pujols, Cruz, Gattis, and to a lesser extent Butler are all immense improvements over any pitcher he would face in the NL. There is a reason year after year NL pitchers consistently allow less runs than AL pitchers.
- The AL West is not the NL East: Over the last 10 seasons, Hamels has pitched in the weakest hitting division in baseball. While the weak teams have rotated, there are always 2-3 below average lineups in that division. The Marlins have had a bad lineup for a decade, the Mets also usually do, and recently so have the Braves. Couple that with getting to face a pitcher multiple times per game, he's been in an environment that has been easy to succeed in for any pitcher The AL West has many more big bats and better lineups overall.
The Astros have tons of power. Seattle is improved and pretty strong 1-9. While the Angels are down in my opinion, Trout, Pujols, and Calhoun all have big power. Oakland doesn't have a lot of power, but they have an order that makes every out a tough out. The AL compared to the NL see's more pitches in general also and I expect that to wear his overall IP down a tick as well. All together, just a much less favorable division to pitch in.
- Look at his actual production, he's good, but...: Hamels has a career ERA of 3.31. While that very good, that all came in the NL East. In addition, 2 of the last 3 years have been over 3.60. He has a career WHIP of 1.15 and again has been worst than that 2 of the last 3 years. As mentioned before, he will be 33 this year and is very likely past his peak years for production. It's save to expect some natural regression.
- There is simply more better pitching talent in baseball: This is in no way the fault of Hamels, however there is currently an influx of great pitching. I have Hamels projected at an ERA of 3.60, a WHIP of 1.18 and 191 strikeouts. That's a solid season and I think very reasonable Hamels reaches those numbers. The problem is, I have 31 pitchers that are projected better.
Last season, Felix Hernandez was one guy I was very down on compared to the masses for many similar reasons. While he still finished with a solid year, he was universally the #2 SP taken in 2015. I'm essentially projecting a similar regression here with Hamels. I think he can still be a piece on a winning fantasy team, just not where he's being drafted.