Cubs' Cole Hamels is quietly building his Hall of Fame resume with another strong season

Perhaps lost in the fireworks of Wednesday's Cubs-Rockies affair were the seven scoreless innings from Chicago lefty Cole Hamels. He's now thrown 22 innings in the month of June with zero earned runs (one unearned run) on 11 hits and four walks against 23 strikeouts. Opponents have hit .151/.203/.178 against him. 

That's two outings against the Cardinals and one against the Rockies in Coors Field. Not too shabby. 

On the year, the 35-year-old Hamels is 6-2 with a 2.98 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 83 strikeouts in 84 2/3 innings. In terms of an All-Star trip, he's probably on the outside looking in, but he's pitching his way into the conversation. Speaking of the conversation, Hamels pitching at this level has me thinking he's making his way toward Hall of Fame consideration. 

Now, the first reaction when someone says something like this is for people to freak out. Overreact without reading the context!

As things stand, Hamels is absolutely not a Hall of Famer. It's probably not very close. To be sure, I said he's making his way toward consideration. 

Surface-level check: Hamels' top four statistical similars through age 34 on baseball-reference.com are John Smoltz (Hall of Famer), Kevin Brown (probably should be), Jake Peavy (not) and Justin Verlander (will be). 

Overall, he's 162-116 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and has worked 2,637 2/3 innings.

Hamels now sits at 2,498 strikeouts. The 2,500 mark isn't one of those milestones we watch because it's not quite as round as 3,000, but he's already ahead of Hall of Famers like Don Drysdale, Jack Morris, Sandy Koufax, Robin Roberts, Early Wynn, Juan Marichal, Lefty Grove, Jim Palmer and Pete Alexander. 

Where Hamels will fall short in the minds of many -- aside from wins, which is such a dumb individual stat these days -- would be individual awards. He's only been an All-Star four times and hasn't finished higher than fifth in Cy Young voting (he has one fifth-place finish, two sixth and one eighth). He does, however, have an NLCS MVP and World Series MVP, as he was 4-0 with a 1,80 ERA in 35 innings in the 2008 postseason when the Phillies won it all. 

The workload in this day and age should move the needle positively. Hamels has thrown over 200 innings eight times with two more 190+ and another 180+. With that workload, Hamels has moved to 59.1 WAR in his career, which puts him above Hall of Famers like Whitey Ford, Three Finger Brown, Bob Lemon and Rube Waddell. He's within five of Juan Marichal and Bob Feller. 

The average Hall of Famer starting pitcher WAR is 73.2, so it's not like Hamels is sneakily already there, but I never said otherwise. I simply said he's working his way into consideration. 

There are different types of Hall of Famers. Hamels already has more WAR than Sandy Koufax, who won three Cy Youngs and an MVP but didn't pitch past age 30. He's a peak Hall of Famer. There are longevity types. I mentioned Morris. He was a five-time All-Star and never finished higher than third in Cy Young voting (and Hamels actually has better postseason numbers, by the way). The Hamels route to the Hall of Fame is being a longevity candidate like Morris. 

The way Hamels is pitching right now, he's absolutely going to get an offer to be in a rotation for next season and then we'll see how it goes from there. If things continue on this path, we'll be having a conversation about whether or not he belongs in Cooperstown five years after he retires. That's pretty damn cool from his perspective, no? 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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