Despite a dominant season on the hill, Jacob deGrom didn’t get to experience the thrill of victory very often in 2018. He’s feeling it now though after his efforts were rewarded with the National League Cy Young award.
The New York Mets ace was a near unanimous winner, receiving 29 of a possible 30 first-place votes on ballots from the Baseball Writers Association of America announced Wednesday. That topped three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals. Scherzer received the other first-place vote. Aaron Nola of the Philadelphia Phillies finished a distant third despite his exceptional season.
DeGrom is the fourth New York Mets pitcher to win the award, joining Tom Seaver (1969, 1973, 1975), Dwight Gooden (1985) and R.A. Dickey (2012). He’s also the first starting pitcher to ever win the Cy Young while only having won 10 games.
Performance wise, not a lot separated Scherzer and deGrom from one another as the two top choices. Scherzer’s pedigree likely made him the pitcher to beat in the eyes of some voters, and he certainly did nothing to lose it. The 34-year-old right-hander led the majors with a career-high 300 strikeouts. His 220 2⁄3 innings also led MLB, while his 5.88 strikeouts per walk, 0.91 WHIP and .187 opponent batting average all led the NL.
The WAR edge went to deGrom (8.8 to 7.2), as did the sentiment of the public after he managed to transcend a dismal Mets season by delivering perhaps the best season in franchise history. DeGrom led MLB in ERA (1.70), FIP (1.99), xFIP (2.60) and home runs per nine innings (0.4). He also posted MLB single-season records with 24 consecutive quality starts and 29 straight outings of three runs or fewer.
With Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays winning the AL Cy Young award, he and deGrom joined Bob Gibson and other exclusive company thanks to their sub-2.00 ERA.
Assuming deGrom wins the NL Cy Young Award, this will be only the third time in history that both Cy winners had sub-2.00 ERAs. (Snell 1.89, deGrom 1.70). The others were 1968 (NL Bob Gibson 1.12, AL Denny McLain 1.96) and 1972 (NL Steve Carlton 1.97, AL Gaylord Perry 1.92).
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 14, 2018
Unfortunately for the Phillies’ Aaron Nola, he just picked the wrong year to be great. The 25-year-old right-hander posted a 2.37 ERA, good for second in the NL, and a 0.97 WHIP which ranked third. His 5.6 WAR ranked eighth among starting pitchers, which says a lot about the quality of the position in 2018. His season should not be overlooked.
As for the debate between Scherzer and deGrom, we’re sure it will rage on. For now, the spotlight shines on deGrom. His brilliance in the face of the chaos and dysfunction that has defined the last few Mets seasons is to be appreciated. Aside from injury, nothing has stopped the 30-year-old right-hander from stacking dominant starts and seasons during his career.
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