I’m a Marlins fan, but I’m also a baseball fan. So, while Jacob deGrom staying healthy directly affects the Fish as a divisional opponent of his, the baseball fan in me wants him to stay healthy for the whole season. Why? Because this man is in the midst of an all-time great season, not just as a pitcher, but as a baseball player.
Modern-Day Bob Gibson?
Bob Gibson in 1968 is considered the gold standard for pitchers. Other seasons get compared to it, like Pedro Martinez’s 1999 and 2000 seasons, or Greg Maddux’s ’94 season. But by and large, people usually look to Gibson’s 1.12 ERA across 304.2 innings (258 ERA+ and 11.2 bWAR, for the analytically-inclined) as the very best a starting pitcher has ever been.
So far in 2020, Jacob deGrom has been better than Gibson. Not just by a little. By a lot.
The Mets ace is sporting a 0.56 ERA and, wait for it… a 689 ERA+ across his first 10 starts of 2021. For those who aren’t familiar with stats like ERA+, it essentially tells you how much better or worse the pitcher is than the league-average pitcher, factoring in the quality of the lineups he’s faced and the ballparks he’s pitched in. Useful tool. 100 means he’s exactly an average pitcher. 120 means he’s been 20% better than average, while 80 means he’s 20% below average, for example. deGrom, if you’re following along, has been 589% better than the average pitcher this season (lol).
He has to take a step back (right?). But deGrom has a real chance to supplant Bob Gibson’s hallowed 1968 season, thus becoming the new standard for starting pitchers. That would be pretty cool.
Modern-Day Wes Ferrell?
Jacob deGrom also rakes. He’s hitting .400 this season with five RBI and an .840 OPS across 25 AB. He’s always handled the bat well (he played a little SS in college before converting to a pitcher), but his bat has become a real weapon this year. The dude is just unfair.
Wes Ferrell is widely considered the best hitting pitcher that ever lived. I’m talking guys that were purely pitchers, i.e. Babe Ruth doesn’t count. Ferrell hit .280/.351/.446 across 15 years with 38 jacks (1178 AB). His best season, and arguably the equivalent to Gibson’s ’68 season on the mound, was 1931. Ferrell hit .319/.373/.621 that year with nine bombs and 30 RBI in 116 AB.
Ferrell’s OPS+ (same concept as ERA+) was 152 in 1931. deGrom’s is 139 so far in 2021, so he isn’t too far behind. The man has a real chance at winning the Cy Young, Silver Slugger, and NL MVP.
Just Stay Healthy
Jacob deGrom has had a few injury scares this season. When you consistently throw harder than anyone in baseball, you’re often putting yourself at greater risk of injury, unfortunately. 100 MPH fastballs put a lot of strain on the body. I’m hoping he makes it through the rest of this season unscathed, and so should you. Even if you’re a fan of a team in the same division as deGrom, you should be rooting for history, as you might be able to tell your grandkids you saw the best one-year pitching performance in the history of the sport.
Jacob deGrom has made that a real possibility.