Aug 15, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) delivers to the plate against the Tampa Bay Rays during the second inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Does King Felix's New Deal Make Hamels a Prince?

King Felix Hernandez can now purchase the crown jewels of England if he so desires.

ESPN’s Buster Olney has broken the details of Hernandez’s new extension (5 years $135.5 mil) which will make him the highest paid pitcher in the game.

It seems like just yesterday Cole Hamels was making headlines with his mega-extension, but that’s old news now.

“Who knows how much Hamels would have gotten on the open market” Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Hamel’s deal came up short of CC Sabathia’s contract with the Yanks, and was surpassed by both Hernandez and Zach Greinke this off-season.

King Felix has been the unquestioned ace of the Mariners since his arrival as a teenager in 2005. Now, as the highest paid pitcher no one can question his dominance over the baseball realm.

But do his new found riches make him the unquestioned best pitcher in the game?

Too much attention and credit gets heaped on players once they cash in big, but it’s hard to fight human nature. Hernandez is the latest big money pitcher, but he won’t be the last. His $27.1 avg. annual salary trumps Cole Hamels by a couple million, but I don’t see that as justification for superiority.

To get to the bottom of this debate I turned to the numbers Not the cash, but the stats.

Felix Hernandez

Year Age W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP SO/BB
2005 19 4 4 2.67 12 0 0 84.1 61 26 25 5 23 77 158 0.996 3.35
2006 20 12 14 4.52 31 2 1 191.0 195 105 96 23 60 176 98 1.335 2.93
2007 21 14 7 3.92 30 1 1 190.1 209 88 83 20 53 165 112 1.377 3.11
2008 22 9 11 3.45 31 2 0 200.2 198 85 77 17 80 175 123 1.385 2.19
2009 23 19 5 2.49 34 2 1 238.2 200 81 66 15 71 217 171 1.135 3.06
2010 24 13 12 2.27 34 6 1 249.2 194 80 63 17 70 232 174 1.057 3.31
2011 25 14 14 3.47 33 5 0 233.2 218 99 90 19 67 222 109 1.220 3.31
2012 26 13 9 3.06 33 5 5 232.0 209 84 79 14 56 223 122 1.142 3.98
8 Yrs 98 76 3.22 238 23 9 1620.1 1484 648 579 130 480 1487 127 1.212 3.10
162 Game Avg. 14 11 3.22 34 3 1 231 212 93 83 19 69 212 127 1.212 3.10
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/8/2013.

Cole Hamels

Year Age W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
2006 22 9 8 4.08 23 0 0 132.1 117 66 60 19 48 145 115 1.247 9.9 3.02
2007 23 15 5 3.39 28 2 0 183.1 163 72 69 25 43 177 135 1.124 8.7 4.12
2008 24 14 10 3.09 33 2 2 227.1 193 89 78 28 53 196 141 1.082 7.8 3.70
2009 25 10 11 4.32 32 2 2 193.2 206 95 93 24 43 168 97 1.286 7.8 3.91
2010 26 12 11 3.06 33 1 0 208.2 185 74 71 26 61 211 133 1.179 9.1 3.46
2011 27 14 9 2.79 31 3 0 216.0 169 68 67 19 44 194 137 0.986 8.1 4.41
2012 28 17 6 3.05 31 2 2 215.1 190 80 73 24 52 216 131 1.124 9.0 4.15
7 Yrs 91 60 3.34 211 12 6 1376.2 1223 544 511 165 344 1307 126 1.138 8.5 3.80
162 Game Avg. 15 10 3.34 34 2 1 221 197 87 82 27 55 210 126 1.138 8.5 3.80
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/8/2013.

“Who’s the man now?!?” Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

These two pitchers have a lot more in common on paper than you might think. Hamels, the smooth throwing lefty, and Hernandez, the fire-balling righty, have nearly an identical career ERA+. Hamels has pitched one fewer season, but his avg. annual IP aren’t far behind the King’s nor his strikeouts. The only big difference between the two pitchers is Hamels weakness for the long ball.

The stat sheet may not provide a clear answer, but their trophy case is what truly sets these pitchers apart.

Felix has three all-star appearances to go along with a Cy Young award and a perfect game. Not too bad.

Cole on the other hand matches Felix in all-star games, and has a World Series MVP.

Cy Young awards are nothing to scoff at but very few pitchers take home a World Series MVP (along with the ring). It may be circumstantial, but Hamels has pitched on Baseball’s biggest stage and pitched lights out. I won’t bemoan anyone trying to argue that Hernandez is the better pitcher, but until he brings his dominance to October I’ll take Cole Hamels on the mound any day of the week.

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Tags: Cole Hamels Felix Hernandez

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