In a year full of disappointment for the New York Mets, one star has shined bright through the darkness of the 2018 season. Although the Mets playoff hopes were dashed after a two month stretch of terrible play, Jacob deGrom has been the most consistent force within the clubhouse. His stellar season, from start to finish, has put him firmly in the race for the NL Cy Young.
The bonafide ace of a marginal Mets’ pitching staff, deGrom has nonetheless had one of the most unfortunate seasons for an ace in baseball history. Usually pitchers who throw as well as deGrom end up with 15-to-20 wins.
Conversely, deGrom only has a pedestrian 9-9 record in 31 games started. However, it’s not due him losing those games; instead, the Mets offense seems to be putrid whenever deGrom steps on the mound. At one point, the Mets were scoring under two runs per every deGrom start. This has given him far too many no-decisions and close losses that have wasted win opportunities for the Mets.
The script of wasting a deGrom pitching gem has been repeated far too often this year, completely hindering his win-loss total. He has pitched remarkably well regardless, compiling a MLB-record 23 consecutive “quality starts.” A quality start is one in which a pitcher logs 6 innings and gives up three or fewer runs. deGrom has given up fewer than three runs in 28 of his 31 starts, which is astronomically good.
Therefore, the win-loss metric shouldn’t be seen as a be-all-end-all when it comes to the Cy Young award. In 2010, Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young with a record of 13-12. Like Hernandez, deGrom had been hindered by the lack of run support, even though his numbers were incredible. For the voters in 2010, it was Hernandez’s other pitching stats that gave him the edge over other contenders, like David Price and C.C. Sabathia, even though the latter two had better records.
This year, deGrom will have to overcome the same issue, as he contends with the likes of Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola. Both Scherzer and Nola have better win-loss records, but deGrom stacks up well with both in every other category.
JDG’s 1.77 ERA leads the majors, along with his 0.4 home runs/9 inning ratio. He is second in the NL in strikeouts with 259, behind Scherzer’s historic 300 punch outs. He also trails Scherzer in WHIP, with a 0.938 percentage, and is third behind both he and Patrick Corbin with 11.2 strikeouts/9 innings. Furthermore, Scherzer has the edge over deGrom in innings pitched, games started, hits-per-9 innings and strikeouts-per-win.
If one were to just go by traditional pitching metrics, Scherzer’s 18-7 record, coupled with his impressive statistics, the voters would have him easily ahead of deGrom in the Cy Young race. Yet, it’s the advanced metrics and their significance that helps deGrom’s case even more so, and may just give him the slight edge over Scherzer.
As mentioned, deGrom gets no run support from his team and is still able to flourish. Allowing the same amount of hits as Scherzer (150), deGrom has given up fewer runs, earned runs, home runs and walks. This leaves very few runners on base for the opposing team, and allows deGrom to take complete control of a game.
Advanced metrics, such as Field Independent Pitching, Adjusted Putching Runs, Adjusted Pitching Wins, Base-Out Runs Saved and Base-Out Wins Saved further reflect his utter dominance. deGrom leads the MLB in all of these categories, which reflect upon a pitcher’s contributions to the team’s success. deGrom’s FIP of 2.03 and that is significantly lower than the next pitcher by .4. Moreover, his Adjusted pitching totals and his runs and wins saved demonstrate that in spite of his team’s anemic offense, deGrom is still able succeed.
The Mets ace has proven to be the most valuable pitcher in the league. deGrom has the second highest pitcher WAR, with 9.2, trailing only Nola. He is also first in the NL with a Win Probability Added of 5.5. Therefore, not only does deGrom pitch well for himself, but he puts his team in the best position to win games. He can’t control what happens after that so he shouldn’t be penalized.
Although Scherzer has put up just as amazing of a campaign, deGrom’s dominance should barely edge out Scherzer for the award. Both pitchers are neck-and-neck in most of the important pitching categories. While Scherzer beats out deGrom in some stats, deGrom has the advantage in other areas. There will be controversy with whoever wins.
If there is one definitive thing that should come out of deGrom’s Cy Young puruit, it will be the death of the win-loss record as a means of evaluating pitchers. deGrom has had one of the best seasons for any pitcher in the modern era, but many people could and should dismiss his .500 record. deGrom winning the Cy Young would change that narrative sooner than later.