Last week, Major League Baseball honored Jacob deGrom with his second consecutive Cy Young Award, a feat that had never been accomplished by a Met’s pitcher. Mets360 recently noted that deGrom actually ranks third behind Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden in consecutive two year fWAR. This is certainly a testament to amazing performances by the former Mets legends, however it begs the question – how good can deGrom continue to be? By looking at factors such as his career arc, health, accolades and analytical projections one can begin to marvel at the potential that the Mets star has to offer.
What the career arc has to say
It’s well known that deGrom played shortstop at Stetson University and didn’t transition into a pitching role until his junior year. Drafted as a 22 year old in 2010 during the Omar Minaya era, the Mets cited deGrom’s athleticism as a focal point within their scouting report. From there deGrom worked his way through the minors relatively unnoticed, then made his debut at 26 years old in 2014. With only ten years of wear and tear as a professional thrower, deGrom likely ranks on the lower end compared to his counterparts who could have aggressively pitched from high school onwards (an additional six years of wear). While difficult to quantify, there is certainly a chance that the late introduction to the rubber will benefit deGrom by adding life to his later years on the mound.
What the health history has to say
The Mets ace started his professional career with Tommy John surgery for a torn UCL in his pitching arm within his first year. The rest of his minor league career appears to have been smooth sailing, save for a broken finger during the offseason of 2013. Besides the time missed in 2016 due to surgery on his ulnar nerve, deGrom has been healthy throughout his major league career. Even better, he is no slouch as a fielder or with the bat in his hands, paying homage to his scouting report as an athletic player. His athletic frame lends itself to a longer career, as the Mets can look at the long and fruitful careers of Mike Mussina and Greg Maddux as comps. Both players won gold glove awards, were nimble on the mound and pitched 17 and 22 years in the majors respectively.
What the accolades have to say
In his short six year career, deGrom has already racked up a number of official and unofficial accolades to note; mainly:
- 2014 Rookie of the Year
- 2015 All-Star
- 2018 All Star
- 2018 Cy Young Winner
- deGrom led the league in ERA, FIP, and HR/9
- 2019 All Star
- 2019 Cy Young Winner
- deGrom led the league in strikeouts
Among the accolades and awards, Jacob deGrom has had his fair share of highlight performances. His first career start was a seven innings of four-hit baseball in Yankee Stadium (in which the Mets lost 1-0, foreshadowing his future years). In the 2015 All Star game, deGrom caught the attention of the baseball world when he struck out the heart of the American League All Star lineup on ten pitches. One of his best game scores (an individual game ranking based on performance) was in 2016 against the Phillies with a score of 91; deGrom went nine shutout innings giving up just one hit. Then there’s his 14 strikeout performance over seven innings in 2019 against the Marlins. The resume speaks for itself and lends itself to that of Hall of Fame caliber pitchers who enjoyed illustrious careers.
What the projection models have to say
As of this writing, the only viable projection available on Fangraphs is the Steamer model for 2020. Taking only this data set as gospel is disingenuous to the process of forecasting, however it is an indication of what the algorithms have to say (which factor in the aforementioned information plus more). Steamer’s projection, listed below, is well aligned with deGrom’s recent success and pegs him at a 6.1 fWAR for the 2020 season. It seems as though all signs point to another dominant season from the Mets ace.
deGrom is the type of organization talent who exudes a winning culture and influences roster construction. The Mets will want to take advantage of these historic years and performances by putting together a formidable roster that can compete deep into the playoffs. Met fans, his peers, and the talking heads of baseball can all agree that Jacob deGrom is a stand-up guy, fierce competitor and most importantly, an incredible pitcher. His past, where he grinded his way to the show and went unnoticed until it was impossible not to notice, is indicative of the grit and blue collar mentality that a fan base can get behind. His present day performance is record breaking and historic on a number of levels, sparking conversations of all-time Met greats such as Seaver and Gooden. His future? Well his future is bright and full to the brim with potential. At just 31 years old and with all of the aforementioned intangibles and factors to boot, it would not be a surprise if deGrom turned in seasons that are even better than campaigns to date. deGrom is the past, the present and the future of the New York Mets; he is their ace in the hole, the face of the franchise, a beacon of hope, and a symbol of greatness.