NL Cy Young Race 2018: Jacob deGrom

By: Tim Sever

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The NL Cy Young Award is a three horse race this year, between Aaron Nola, Max Scherzer, and Jacob deGrom. While cases can be made for all three of the aces, the case for deGrom is the strongest. While the Mets had aspirations early on to contend for the division this year, they’ll have to head into the offseason with one of the only positives being deGrom solidifying himself as an elite pitcher. To fully appreciate Jacob deGrom’s excellence this season, you’ll have to look past his mediocre 10-9 record to date. Other than win-loss record, which can be attributed to the fact that he has the second worst average run support in Major League Baseball at 3.53 per game, deGrom dominates in all pitching statistics. Many will argue that the win loss record and lack of team success will essentially eliminate deGrom from the discussion. However, the Cy Young award is for the best pitcher in the league, and deGrom has been just that this season.

 

To start, the most obvious statistic that builds Jacob deGrom’s Cy Young case is his miniscule 1.70 ERA. The name of the game in baseball is to score more runs than the opponent, and deGrom allows less runs per nine innings than any other pitcher in baseball, theoretically giving his team the best chance to win. Who knows what his record would be if he started for a premier team like the Red Sox or Astros. In terms of the Sabermetric statistic DIPS, which is Defense Independent ERA, deGrom has a commanding lead on the competition. DIPS is used to analyze only what a pitcher can control such as strikeouts, base on balls, home runs, fly ball percentage, and ground ball percentage. It aims to give a better understanding of a pitcher’s true ability. deGrom’s adjusted ERA according to this metric is 2.03, still best in the league. While it is higher than his normal ERA, it’s worth noting that Scherzer’s adjusted metric is 2.58 and Nola’s is 2.99. This furthers the narrative that deGrom is the best pitcher in the National League at not allowing runs, which is the goal.

 

ERA Strikeouts Innings DIPS Opposing OPS Run Support
deGrom 1.70 269 217 2.03 .521 3.53
Nola 2.42 224 212.1 2.58 .570 3.79
Scherzer 2.53 300 220.2 2.99 .580 5.27

 

This season, deGrom’s efficiency and consistency has been downright unheard of. In terms of efficiency, deGrom is among the league leaders in all major categories such as K/9, K/BB, and WHIP, coming in the top five in all of these. Perhaps the most impressive feat of Jacob deGrom’s career year is that he has not allowed more than three runs in 29 straight starts. The previous record for this was 25 starts, which was held for a hundred and eight years by Leslie “King” Cole of the Chicago Cubs in 1910. Especially in an era where home runs and hitting are becoming more dominant, it’s incredibly impressive that deGrom has been able to maintain this streak for so long. He consistently gives his team the best chance to win through simply not allowing any team to get an advantage on him. Many critics consider OPS to be the best statistic in analyzing the success of a hitter. It provides a mix of getting on base and how well a player drives the ball by taking into account extra base hits. So far this season, the MLB average OPS is .728. Jacob deGrom has held opposing batters to a league best mark of .521. There isn’t a qualified batter in the entire MLB with an OPS that low. Essentially, deGrom turns every batter into the worst batter in the league on a per average basis.

Jacob deGrom’s season has been nothing short of miraculous. He has clearly been the most consistent, dominant pitcher in all of baseball this year. Not to take anything away from Nola or Scherzer, but deGrom’s overall body of work bodes well for him to capture his first NL Cy Young Award. If voters are able to look past some of the more traditional benchmarks like record and overall team performance, as they should, there should not be much of a debate. While Scherzer has the edge in wins and strikeouts and Nola the edge with WAR, most common and almost all advanced metrics support the argument that Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in the National League, and thus the Cy Young favorite. In the end, the award goes to the best pitcher in the league, and deGrom has certainly made a convincing case this season that it belongs to him.

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