Today starts the seventh year we’ve been doing projections for the top players on the Mets. In the past this was a group project, with the hope that the wisdom of the crowd would be better than just one person’s opinion. While I still believe that, my goal is to get out of the “cat herding” portion of things here at the site. So, this year’s projections will be strictly my own. However, my hope is that everyone will weigh in on what they think. You’ll have more credibility later on about how you “knew” that Player X was going to have a breakout year if you say it before the games have started playing.
Just to state the obvious, these forecasts are pure projection and opinion on my part. There is no vigorous and non-biased systematic approach here. But you can get those computer projections from numerous systems out there.
It’s almost a given that we have to start with Jacob deGrom, the reigning CY Award winner. Everyone knows how magical deGrom’s season was and it’s terrific that those who weren’t old enough to see Dwight Gooden or Tom Seaver pitch got to see greatness up close last year. But how will deGrom follow up his big season? Here’s how the other Met hurlers to win the award did:
2012: 20-6, 2.73 ERA, 1.053 WHIP, 4.26 K/BB
2013: 14-13, 4.21 ERA, 1.237 WHIP, 2.49 K/BB
1985: 24-4, 1.53 ERA, 0.965 WHIP, 3.88 K/BB
1986: 17-6, 2.84 ERA, 1.108 WHIP, 2.50 K/BB
1969: 25-7, 2.21 ERA, 1.039 WHIP, 2.54 K/BB
1970: 18-12, 2.82 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, 3.41 K/BB
1973: 19-10, 2.08 ERA, 0.976 WHIP, 3.92 K/BB
1974: 11-11, 3.20 ERA, 1.161 WHIP, 2.68 K/BB
1975: 22-9, 2.38 ERA, 1.088 WHIP, 2.76 K/BB
1976: 14-11, 2.59 ERA, 1.063 WHIP, 3.05 K/BB
The previous five times a Met pitcher won the top pitching honor, they followed up with a higher ERA all five times, a higher WHIP four times and a lower K/BB ratio three times. Now, to be fair, some of the marks in these category were outstanding and to expect Gooden to beat a 1.53 ERA in 1986 just wasn’t feasible. But it’s important to keep that in mind when we look at deGrom. No one should expect him to come close to his 2018 ERA. And other numbers from a season ago. Here’s his 2018 line:
217.0 IP, 1.70 ERA, 269 Ks, 46 BB, 10 HR
One thing that gets lost in the shuffle was how good deGrom was in limiting the gopher ball. In 2017, he allowed 28 HR in 201.1 IP for a 1.3 HR/9. Last year he cut that HR/9 to a league-leading 0.4 mark . He also reduced his walk rate (2.6 to 1.9) and upped his strikeouts per nine (10.7 to 11.2) – put it all together and we see his FIP going from 3.50 in 2017 to 1.98 last season.
So, what do the computer projections expect from deGrom in 2019? We’ve yet to have the ZiPS forecasts for the Mets released. Two years ago, they were one of the last teams to appear and last year they were one of the first. So far, five teams have had their ZiPS forecast appear at FanGraphs, the last being the Phillies on Dec. 20. Hopefully we’ll see them soon. Here are the two we do have:
Marcel — 189.0 IP, 2.76 ERA, 217 Ks, 51 BB, 17 HR
Steamer – 208.0 IP, 2.93 ERA, 252 Ks, 52 BB, 20 HR
Both expect his ERA to go up more than a full run, which is not surprising. Both see his walk rate in the same general ballpark from a season ago. But Marcel sees his strikeout rate dropping. And both see a HR increase, with Steamer predicting twice as many long balls as he allowed in 2018. Compared to what we saw earlier from the team’s previous CY award winners, these seem right in line.
And here are my completely biased predictions:
This projection series will run on Thursdays this year. Check in next week when we turn our eye towards Michael Conforto.