Reese Kaplan -- Total deGrominance, 2019 Edition


Reigning Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom made the voters reconsider their traditional win-bias last season when he demonstrated that a rather pedestrian 10-9 record meant nothing when he led the league in ERA by a wide margin while striking out a respectable 269 batters en route to a dominating 9.6 WAR.

This season his win total ticket up a little bit to 11-8 on a better team.  His ERA, though respectable at 2.43, is up somewhat significantly, but he’s leading the league in strikeouts and WHIP while providing a WAR total of 7.3 over 32 games started.

His main competition seems to be coming from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Nationals’ Max Scherzer.  While deGrom finished with a flourish, Ryu is limping along to season’s end, having pitched north of 6.00 ERA lately.  Still, his record right now stands at 13-5 with a 2.41 ERA over 28 games started.  His league leading ERA is about the only standout number to go along with being very stingy with free passes, having issued on average just 1.2 per 9 IP.  That’s good for 4.7 WAR.

Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer has also had a very nice season, having gone 11-7 with a 2.92 ERA.  He has fanned 243 batters and pitched to a WHIP of 1.027.  His 12.7 Ks per 9 IP is league-best as it his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 7.36.  He earned his 7th straight All-Star nod in 2019 as well. 

With WAR being a cumulative stat for overall impact on the game, deGrom’s lead by nearly 3 full points may by the deciding factor.  He started 4-5 more games, struck out more and made it to the league-best mark of keeping people off base.   That spells deGrominance in anyone’s book.

In case you’re interested in a Mets’ historical perspective, for his career deGrom is sporting a 2.62 ERA.  Over the first stint with the Mets, Tom Seaver tallied a 2.47 mark.  However, Tom Terrific fanned on average 7.7 people per 9 IP while walking 2.4.  deGrom made 10.3 batters whiff every 9 IP while only giving up 2.2 free passes.  Seaver has a wide margin of victory on both wins and complete games, but the latter stat is somewhat deceiving as the role of the relief pitcher has come to prominence. 

The other dominant pitcher to suit up for the Mets was, of course, Doc Gooden.  After his early career brilliance, Gooden fell to earth as part of his lifestyle choices.   Consequently for the 11 years he was a Met he falls behind both of the other contenders in every category. 

So while you can make the case that deGrom is not yet in Seaver territory for his career, you can also just as easily give him the nod for his second straight Cy Young Award, something Tom Terrific never did during his career.  The Mets are betting he has three more similar seasons in him (to the tune of over $100 million).  Barring injury, there’s no reason to believe he doesn’t. 


Tom Brennan said...

Jake's had a few more blemishes in 2020, particularly early on. My brother reminded me that after 2 great season starts, Jake pitched in really poor April weather in game 3 and believes that messed him up for his next few games. That short stretch caused most of the ERA slippage between 2019 and 2020.

Jake has done great and deserves the Cy Young. Remove a half dozen 2019 weaker starts and his ERA has to be around 1.00. Dominant. Especially his last 4 starts: 28 IP, 12 H, 1 R, 35 K. Brilliant.

I did look back at a few Seaver vs. Jake #'s, which I present here - draw your own conclusions:

Jake has 30.2 career innings in the 8th and 9th inning, ERA 4.99

Seaver had 351 innings in the 8th, career 2.46 ERA; 243 IP in 9th inning, 2.81 ERA; and 27 IP after the 9th inning, 1.67 ERA. His career ERA is 2.86, so he was better in the 8th inning and beyond than in his overall career.

Seaver also was 59-75, 3.75 over his twilight year (37 and later) seasons; before those years, he was a brilliant 252-130, 2.45 over 4,783 innings.

Regardless, Jake needs the worm to turn from here on out - give him strong offense and strong pen and let's see what his W-L record is going forward. In 2019 and 2018, he clearly should have been something like 40-12, not 21-17, due to lack of run support and poor pen work.

Tom Brennan said...

Correction to what I wrote above: the 4,783 Seaver innings were his total innings; he had 3,262 innings while going 252-130 over the first 15 years of his career.

Mack Ade said...

Reese/Tom -

Comparing deGrom to Seaver is apples to oranges.

Different time, different ball being thrown.

I always wonder if a wife of man who truly loved her, dies, and lyears later, he meets someone and falls in love with someone else that he marries.

What happens if wife #2 dies first?

When he dies, and both wives are waiting for him at the pearly gates with their arms stretched out, which directing does he go?

Seaver? deGrom?

Mike Freire said...

Jake is a beast and it is shocking that he started out his baseball career as an infielder!

I agree with Mack....hard to compare the the different conditions that each pitcher played under, but Jake should do something that Tom never did and that is win back to back Cy Young's. It would be a travesty to deny him the award this year, especially with the stretch run he has had.

Nice analogy, Mack.......can you pick both? (or maybe that wouldn't be allowed up there)

Anonymous said...

Tom, you are way off base by consistently trying to dog deGrom with lazy comparisons to Seaver, who pitched 50 years ago against weaker lineups. This isn't the skinny guys of the 1970s anymore. The game has changed, the batters these guys faced have radically changed.

It's not only wildly unfair to Jake -- it's repetitive -- it ignores arm health and TJ surgeries -- and shows a lack of appreciation for the arc of baseball history.

At least compare Jake to the pitchers of his era.

Seaver was a slouch compared to "Old Hoss" Radbourn, who threw 678 innings in 1884.

Guess Tom just wasn't as tough as Old Hoss.

Or maybe things changed? Hmmmm.


Tom Brennan said...

To Mike and Mack (I was hoping to write Mike and Mack in the Morning, but it's too late), I think the one big difference it shows, regardless of era, is Seaver's ability to not just complete games, but keep going in the 8th and 9th (and a few times beyond that) without slippage - he did not limp to the finish line. If anything, Seaver got tougher in terms of results in innings 8 & 9 than in innings 1-7.

Even in the 6th inning, though, Jake shows some signs of slippage, with a 2.91 career ERA in the 7th vs. a 2.52 ERA in innings 1 thru 6.

That is the Seaver vs. Jake difference in my book. Seaver just stayed at a top level deeper into games.

If I had the two guys at age 26 and had to start a team, I'd pick Seaver - but Jake has been the best ace over a several year period as a Mets since Seaver, with the possible exception of Doc.

Tom Brennan said...

Jimmy, thou art entitled to thy opinion, while I am entitled to mine.

"Old Horse" Radbourn? You'd have to ask Mack about him, he was before my time.

Mack Ade said...


Old Horse?

I knew Old Horse.

Old Horse was a friend of mine.

You're no Old Horse.

Reese Kaplan said...

Speaking of Hoss Radbourne, a great read is 59 in '84 about the year he fell just short of 60 wins and what it was like playing in that Era.

Mack's Mets © 2012