Do you ever have a dream where you are reliving one of the more enjoyable moments of your life, but then all of a sudden something awful happens in the dream that ruins the moment? Former Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels feels you.
Nearly two seasons after throwing a no-hitter against the Chicago Cubs, one that was sealed by an incredible recovery from Odubel Herrera in center field, Hamels says both he and his inner circle struggle to believe that Herrera caught the ball:
Every so often, someone will text him after watching a replay of his no-hitter at Wrigley Field in his final start with the Phillies. They'll call Hamels and talk about how they still think Odubel Herrera will drop the 27th out.
"So do I," Hamels said.
"I think," Hamels said, "he's gotten a lot better in the outfield from what I've seen." [quotes via Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer]
For those of you who don't remember, here's a video of Herrera collapsing on the center field warning track, only to reach out and catch Kris Bryant's fly-ball, sealing Hamels' no-hitter:
(I can't be the only one who sees the irony in Domonic Brown being the first one to greet Herrera after he nearly cost Hamels a no-hitter with his fielding.)
Hamels' no-hitter, of course, was his final start with the Phillies. Four nights later, the Phillies agreed to a deal that sent Hamels, Jake Diekman and cash to the Texas Rangers, while bringing Jake Thompson, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, Jerad Eickhoff, Alec Asher and Matt Harrison to the Phillies.
The funny part about this is that despite 2015 having been Herrera's first season playing center field, he statistically was quite good in center that year. Despite some defensive lapses, Herrera posted a 9.9 UZR in 2015 (per FanGraphs), which was fifth best in the league. He also posted a 9.9 UZR/150 and saved 10 defensive runs, both of which were among the top six in the league that season.
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Hamels may be correct in saying that Herrera seems to have improved as a fielder, though. Despite his metrics taking a slight dip in 2016, Herrera seems to pass the eye test much better than he did in 2015. And while it is a small sample size, Herrera seems to be getting great reads on balls so far in 2017 and FanGraphs says he is currently the league leader in UZR, UZR/150 and dWAR.
The fact that Herrera has turned out to be a really good fielding center fielder perhaps makes this moment that much more interesting for Hamels to relive, or to wake up screaming about in the middle of the night.