Jacob deGrom did not win the National League Cy Young Award this year, but the Mets have the attention of the guy who did.
Trevor Bauer, a free agent who helped the Reds to the playoffs, was announced as the winner of the top pitching honor Wednesday night. He received 27 of 30 first-place votes and 201 points overall.
As he mulls his options for 2021 and beyond, Bauer, who turns 30 in January, said he hasn’t thought too much yet about where he’ll end up, preferring to leave that to his agent, Rachel Luba.
But Bauer, a big personality who likes to use social media to advance his brand and technology to optimize his ability, appreciated Mets president Sandy Alderson’s compliments this week.
"It was refreshing to hear him speak that way about me," Bauer said on a conference call with reporters. "In the past, a lot of the narratives surrounding me was I couldn’t handle a big market, a big media market, I was a headcase or whatever the case is. That’s kind of been the narrative. To hear that someone as high ranking as Sandy feels the way he feels about that is refreshing."
Here is what Alderson said on WFAN on Tuesday: "I actually think Bauer would be a great personality in New York. He’s the kind of guy that fans would embrace. This is an entertainment business. We’ve got to be open-minded about how players express themselves. The thing what’s interesting about Bauer is he brings along with him a lot of ideas, a lot of routines and sort of a technical orientation that I bet we can learn from."
Bauer said he "zeroed in" on the entertainment bit.
"We are an entertainment business," Bauer said. "That’s a view that I share, that’s something that I’m passionate about. I certainly would like to move that initiative forward, because I think the players will be better for it when they start looking at it that way."
The Cubs’ Yu Darvish came in second in Cy Young voting, getting three first-places votes and 123 points. DeGrom, who won the award in 2018 and 2019, rounded out the field of finalists with a third-place finish with 89 points.
Select members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voted on the Cy Young — just like all the other major awards: MVP, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year — before the start of the playoffs.
It was hard to argue against Bauer as the top choice in the Cy Young competition: His 1.73 ERA led the league — well ahead of Darvish (2.01) and deGrom (2.38). So did his 0.79 WHIP. He was first in opponents’ batting average (.159), second in strikeouts (100), sixth in innings (73), second in strikeouts per nine innings (12.33) and fifth in walks per nine innings (2.10).
With deGrom’s loss, there remain only two pitchers who have managed a Cy Young three-peat: Hall of Famers Greg Maddux (1992-1995) and Randy Johnson (1999-2002), who each won four in a row.
DeGrom, to be sure, had another excellent year. He led the NL in strikeouts (104) and strikeouts per nine innings (13.8, the highest rate of his career) and was fourth in ERA, tied with Darvish for third in WHIP (0.96) and third in opponents’ average (.190).
Over the past three years — since he ascended from very good to all-world with his first Cy Young season — deGrom has a 2.10 ERA. That is better than others who have a claim to being baseball’s best pitcher, including Justin Verlander (2.56 ERA; out next year because of Tommy John surgery), Gerrit Cole (2.71), Clayton Kershaw (2.79) and Max Scherzer (2.85).
Over seven major-league seasons, deGrom has a career 2.61 ERA. Who has been superior since he arrived as a fringe prospect tabbed for fill-in bullpen duty? Kershaw has a better ERA (2.27). Scherzer matches his Cy Young total of two in that span and has a 2.86 ERA.
As Mets owner Steve Cohen said on Tuesday, "We have the best pitcher in baseball."