Greason: deGrom deserves Cy Young Award on account of dominant season
Elizabeth Greason | Wednesday, October 24, 2018
It’s campaign season. As the midterm elections approach, I’d like to draw your attention to a candidate who deserves your undivided attention: the one and only Jacob deGrom. The New York Mets ace is battling it out for the National League Cy Young Award after producing one of the single-most-impressive seasons in baseball history. And he only won 10 games.
deGrom’s 1.70 ERA does all the talking it needs to (although there are other, incredibly impressive stats to embellish it that I’ll get to). This season, he became just the 11th pitcher in the last 100 years to finish with a 1.70 ERA or lower. Zack Greinke did it in 2015, and before him, it was Greg Maddux in 1994 and Mets legend Dwight Gooden tabbed a 1.53 in 1985.
His ERA didn’t fluctuate much, no matter the level of talent he was pitching against. deGrom finished the season with a 1.79 ERA against teams with a 0.500 record or better. The next-best pitcher in that category walked away with a 2.58. That’s a notable difference.
deGrom’s iffy record of 10-9 was an unfortunate result of the Mets’ inability to score any runs. Ever. Especially when deGrom was on the mound. If the Mets had been able to score just two runs in each of his starts, deGrom’s record would have risen to an undeniably good 20-6. With three runs per start, he would be sitting pretty at 25-1. And at four runs per start, the 30-year-old would have himself a 30-0 record. Incredible. deGrom’s win-loss record is not indicative of his skill or talent. He’s even the first pitcher ever to record such a low ERA with 10 wins or fewer.
The Cy Young Award is meant to honor the best pitcher in each league. Not the winningest pitcher in each league. deGrom was undeniably the best pitcher in the National League this season.
Let’s take a quick look at deGrom’s competition.
Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola had himself a fantastic season. He has the next-best ERA to deGrom’s in the NL: 2.37. That’s 0.67 points higher than deGrom’s. Just saying. Jacob deGrom’s ERA is over half-a-point better than the next-best pitcher in his league. Yes, Nola was able to come away with a better record (17-6), but that’s because he played for an objectively better team. Nola protected himself well against the long ball, only giving up 17 home runs on the entire season. But deGrom was better, only allowing 10 homers in 32 starts.
Nola walked 58 batters, and Nationals star Max Scherzer walked fewer with 51. But again, deGrom takes the cake among the three of them, with just 46.
In fact, the only major category in which he doesn’t lead among the three is strikeouts. deGrom tops Nola with 269 strikeouts, compared to 224, but Scherzer tallied 300.
deGrom also proved this season he isn’t afraid to stay in the game, pitching 217 innings, just shy of Max Scherzer’s 222 maximum.
deGrom even provided for his team offensively, with a 0.164 batting average and five RBIs. Not too shabby for a pitcher.
As his hair has gotten shorter, his pitching has gotten even better. Over the years, deGrom has matured from a stellar pitcher with a floppy mop of hair that prompted the Mets to start up a #FeartheHair hashtag, to a close-cut, smiling and unflappable All-Star, who did not give up a single hit in a bases-loaded situation this season.
Jacob deGrom’s season made MLB history in many ways. He’s still in the midst of a 29-start streak of giving up three runs or fewer, which tied the MLB record, and broke the longest single-season record (one that went back decades).
He is the only pitcher in the MLB’s modern era — since 1900 — to have an ERA below 2.00, record more than 2.00 strikeouts, fewer than 50 walks and 10 or fewer home runs in a season. Let me repeat that.
That is a feat not a single human being has accomplished in the last 118 years.
And there are people out there arguing that this man doesn’t deserve the Cy Young Award?
Don’t let his record fool you. As the Mets like to claim, deGrom was truly deGrominant this season.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.