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Jacob deGrom wins NL Cy Young Award in landslide vote

Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom smiles in the

Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom smiles in the dugout before a game against the Rockies at Citi Field on May 6. Credit: Brad Penner

Finally, some support for Jacob deGrom.

The Mets’ righthanded ace, his win total stifled by the losing team around him, won the National League Cy Young Award in a landslide vote announced Wednesday, picking up 29 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers’ Association of America members.

DeGrom, who led the majors with a 1.70 ERA, tallied 207 points, a total that afforded him the rarest of luxuries during his historic season: a win by a comfortable margin. The Nationals’ Max Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young winner, came in second with 123 points (one first-place vote), and the Phillies’ Aaron Nola was third, collecting 86 points.

And yet deGrom still got nervous before learning the result.

“I was actually really nervous. I don’t know why,” deGrom said. “I said before this was one of my goals. The team didn’t end up where we wanted to be this past season, but you set personal goals. Being able to accomplish something that has been a dream of yours is something special. To be a Cy Young Award winner, you’re in great company and it truly is an honor.”

DeGrom led the majors in opponents’ slugging percentage (.277), opponents’ OPS (.521) and home runs per nine innings (0.41, half of his career rate). He was also second in innings (217), third in WHIP (0.912) and fourth in strikeouts (269).

For baseball, deGrom’s win is a watershed moment for the devaluing of a pitcher’s record. DeGrom went 10-9 — several would-be wins blown by the bullpen, and a bunch of others made impossible by a lack of offense from the Mets — to set a record for fewest wins by a starting pitcher who won the Cy Young. Seattle’s Felix Hernandez (13 wins in 2010) held that mark.

During this era of big-data baseball — or sabermetrics or analytics or whatever you want to call it — the philosophy that a pitcher’s W-L record is not a good way to measure his effectiveness has become increasingly prominent.

DeGrom’s 2018 turned into quite the case study for that school of thought. Twelve times, for example, deGrom pitched at least seven innings and allowed two or fewer runs — a very good outing — but was not awarded a win.

“That’s kind of out of your control in a way. What I experienced firsthand this year,” deGrom said. “You go out there and you compete for your team. As long as you can look yourself in the mirror and say you gave 100 percent and be happy with that outing. You go out there and try to keep them in a position to win. That was my goal this year.”

In the end, deGrom’s masterful run prevention proved more valuable, at least in this vote to choose the league’s best pitcher. Scherzer, who led the majors in innings (220 2/3) and strikeouts (300) and the NL in wins (18), had a 2.53 ERA. Nola, a first-time All-Star, had a 2.37 ERA and 17-6 record.

DeGrom said he thought his ERA — at 1.70, sixth lowest by a qualifier since baseball lowered the mound in 1969 — was what gave him the strongest chance to win.

“The goal of pitching, for me, is trying to keep the other team from scoring runs,” deGrom said. “My goal is to go out there and put up zeroes. You do that, you put your team in a pretty good position to win. That was probably the main stat that I was looking at.”

With the win, deGrom joins one of pitching’s most exclusive clubs, becoming only the seventh individual to win Rookie of the Year (2014) and a Cy Young.

The others who snagged the ROY/CYA career combo were a pair of Mets greats, Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden, plus Don Newcombe, Rick Sutcliffe, Fernando Valenzuela and Justin Verlander.

DeGrom also becomes the fourth Met to win a Cy Young, following Seaver (1969, 1973, 1975), Gooden (1985) and R.A. Dickey (2012).

Among his many accomplishments, two that tell of deGrom’s consistency: single-season major-league records for consecutive starts allowing three runs or fewer (29) and consecutive quality starts (24). Both streaks are active.

After all that, deGrom declared, “I can get better.

"You always keep working hard, going out there and competing. Learning something from Johan Santana whenever I was rehabbing from Tommy John (2010-12), being able to talk to guys like John Smoltz and being able to pick their brain — anything you can learn to try to get better at this game, you take and apply … to help it work for you.”

NL Cy Young vote

Total points on a 7-4-3-2-1 basis.

Player 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total

Jacob deGrom, Mets 29 1 - - - 207

Max Scherzer, Nationals 1 29 - - - 123

Aaron Nola, Phillies - - 27 2 1 86

Kyle Freeland, Rockies - - 2 17 9 49

Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks - - - 7 9 23

Miles Mikolas, Cardinals - - 1 1 8 13

Josh Hader, Brewers - - - 1 2 4

Mike Foltynewicz, Braves - - - 1 1 3

Jon Lester, Cubs - - - 1 - 2

Cy metrics

0.41

HR/9 innings (MLB best)

0.91

WHIP (tied for NL best)

1.70

ERA (MLB best)

1.87

Road ERA (MLB best)

.244

Opp. OBP (NL best)

.277

Opp. slugging pct. (MLB best).

Unique season

11th starting pitcher in the last 100 years to finish the season with an ERA of 1.70 or below.

Only pitcher since 1912 to finish with a sub- 2.00 ERA, 260 or more strikeouts, 50 or fewer walks and 10 or fewer HRs allowed.

Allowed 3 runs or fewer in his last 29 starts, the longest single-season streak in MLB history.

Pitched 7 or more innings and allowed 1 run or fewer in 13 starts (he did not earn a win in 8 of those starts).

Mets Cy Young Award winners

Player, YearW-LERAIPKO/9WHIP

Tom Seaver, 196925-72.21273.16.81.039

Seaver, 1973        19-10   2.08 290.07.80.976

Seaver, 1975         22-92.38280.17.81.088

Dwight Gooden, 1985      24-41.53276.28.70.965

R.A. Dickey, 201220-62.73233.28.91.053

Jacob deGrom, 2018   10-91.70217.011.2   0.912

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