Jacob deGrom put together one of the most dominant seasons in recent memory en route to becoming the fourth Mets pitcher to win the Cy Young Award.
He only had 10 wins because of very little run support, but he led MLB in ERA (1.70) and FIP (1.98), struck out a career-high 269 batters and set a single-season major-league record with 24 consecutive quality starts.
But those stats only paint part of the picture. We know the numbers are great, but how did he get them?
In short, by mixing his five pitches differently and using career-high velocity to overpower opposing batters with strikes.
Here's a look at some of deGrom's advanced pitching metrics (via Fangraphs.com) to help tell the rest of the story. We've broken it up into two sections: deGrom's pitch use, and opposing batters' plate discipline vs. deGrom.
Total fastball usage
DeGrom threw a fastball 52.1 percent of the time, well below his career average of 57.7 percent. That's because he relied much less on his sinker this year, only throwing it a career-low 9.5 percent of the time (compared to a 14.9 percent career average). His four-seam fastball use of 42.6 percent was in line with his career average of 42.8 percent.
However, both of those pitches were thrown a tick harder than usual. DeGrom's four-seamer averaged a career-high 96.7 miles per hour, and his sinker a career-high 96.1 mph. His career averages for both were 95.5 mph and 95.0 mph, respectively.
DeGrom's second most-used pitch was his slider, and he relied on it much more than he historically has. He threw it 23.9 percent of the time, a career high and more than four points above his 19.9 average. He also threw it harder than ever, averging a career-high 91.6 mph (compared to an even 90.0 mph average).
As with his slider, deGrom threw his change-up more — and harder — than ever. He threw it 16.1 percent of the time, a career high that's well above his baseline of 12.9 percent. He averaged a career-high 89.6 mph on his change-up, an increase over his 87.4 mph average.
DeGrom's increased slider and change-up use came at the cost of his curveball. He threw it 7.9 percent of the time in 2018, down from his 9.5 career average. But again, his velocity increased to a career-high 83.2 mph, more than a mile per hour above his average of 81.8.
Strikeouts per nine innings
The result of all these pitches? Strikeouts — and plenty of them. DeGrom averaged a career-high 11.16 strikeouts per nine innings, about one strikeout higher than his career average of 10.03 and well above the 2018 league mark of 8.53.
DeGrom finished the season fifth in strikeouts per nine. Gerrit Cole of the Astros led MLB with a 12.40 mark, while Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who finished second to deGrom in the Cy Young race, was second with 12.24.
Swinging strike percentage
DeGrom got a swinging strike 15.1 percent of the time, a career-high (compared to his 12.9 percent average) and nearly one-and-a-half times the 2018 league average of 10.7 percent. DeGrom tied for fourth in MLB in this category, but once again, he was outpaced by Scherzer, who had 16.2 percent.
First-pitch strike percentage
DeGrom got a first-pitch strike — be it swinging or called — 66.5 percent of the time, which ranked seventh in baseball. That was well above the league average of 60.6. Scherzer was 10th at 65.7 percent, while fellow Cy Young finalist Aaron Nola was second with 69.4 percent (trailing only Miles Mikolas of the Cardinals at 70.8 percent).
O-Swing% (Outside swing percentage)
DeGrom was able to get batters to swing at pitches thrown outside of the zone. He did so at a rate of 37.9 percent, which ranked second in baseball — just one-tenth of a percentage behind Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks. (Scherzer was sixth at 35.8 percent.) It also was a career-high for deGrom, who averages 34.0 percent of swinging strikes outside of the strike zone.
Total swing percentage
In total, batters swung at 51.7 percent of deGrom's pitches, tied with 2015 for his career-high. He finished third in baseball in this category, well above the 46.6 percent league average. Only Mikolas (52.1) and Scherzer (52.0) got batters to chase more often.
When opposing batters swung against deGrom, they made contact far fewer than they did off him in previous seasons, or against other pitchers in 2018. They did so at a clip of 70.8 percent, 6.2 percentage points below the league average and 3.4 points below deGrom's career average. DeGrom was sixth in the league in this category, with Scherzer third at 69.0 percent. (Blake Snell of the Rays led baseball with a 66.6 contact percentage.)
Z-Swing% (percentage of contact made on pitches thrown inside the strike zone)
Most of this was because deGrom was able to get batters to swing and miss at his offerings in the strike zone. Opposing hitters made contact with pitches he threw inside the strike zone 79.7 percent of the time, tied with 2017 for his career low and well below his 82.3 career average. DeGrom far surpassed the 88.5 league average for 2018, ranking third in baseball in this category. Scherzer was first at 77.5, with Justin Verlander of the Astros second at 79.4.