With Second Cy Young, Jacob deGrom Looking Like a Hall of Famer
The entire list of pitchers in Major League history who have won a Rookie of the Year award and two Cy Young Awards are Tom Seaver, Jacob deGrom, and Justin Verlander. That’s the entire list, and of the three deGrom is the only pitcher in Major League history to win a Rookie of the Year and consecutive Cy Young Awards.
On the topic of consecutive Cy Young Awards, that is a feat which has been accomplished by just 11 pitchers. Of those 10, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Steve Carlton, Pedro Martinez, and Jim Palmer are in the Hall of Fame. Roger Clemens likely would’ve been but for the steroids implications, and we reasonably expect Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer to be inducted when they are eligible.
Ultimately, that means seven of the 11 pitchers who have accomplished this feat are in the Hall of Fame. Looking forward, the question is whether deGrom can be the eighth.
When looking at deGrom’s Hall of Fame chances, the biggest obstacle at the moment is his not having made his Major League debut until his age 26 season. As noted by Beyond the Box Score, Old Hoss Radbourn, Mordecai Brown, Joe McGinnity, and Hoyt Wilhelm are the only four pitchers who debuted in or after their age 26 season inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Of those four three of them were starting pitchers.
Looking at the aforementioned three older starting pitchers, they averaged a 54.4 JAWS and a 58.9 WAR7. Even if deGrom were to repeat his 10.1 WAR from 2018, his subsequent 45.0 JAWS/WAR7 would fall short of the mean. However, it would put him in line with Brown.
But that is an important point. The one thing to take a look at is deGrom has only pitched six years in the majors. Even with his hitting the 200 inning mark in each of the past three years, he doesn’t have much mileage on his arm. This has him in the prime of his career with an opportunity to build off of these past two years.
Essentially, what deGrom needs to do is repeat the success Max Scherzer has had.
Entering his age 32 season Scherzer had accumulated a 37.0 WAR in 10 years. Over that time frame, he had two Cy Young awards with two other top five finishes. In the ensuing three years, Scherzer had accumulated a 21.7 WAR with another Cy Young and two more top three Cy Young finishes. At this moment in time, Scherzer is rightfully seen as a future Hall of Famer.
Assuming for a moment, deGrom has similar success over the next three years, he would have a 56.6 career WAR. That number would definitively put him in the conversation with the aforementioned starters, and it would start putting him in the larger conversation as well with his approaching his opt out year in his contract.
If deGrom does pitch that way, he is going to earn another Cy Young award. Winning that award would be of vital importance. While Denny McLain and Tim Lincecum have not and will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Clemens remains the only pitcher with more than three Cy Youngs not in the Hall of Fame, and again, we know there are extenuating circumstances there.
Now, we know the Hall of Fame is not just a WAR exercise. When looking at any position, especially pitcher, we need to dig a little deeper. When doing that, right now, deGrom’s case looks great.
So far, deGrom has the fifth best ERA+ in baseball history putting him ahead of pitchers like Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson. His K/9 is 15th best ahead of hurlers like Pedro Martinez and Nolan Ryan. It’s not his strikeout rate, but his control which stands out. His 4.72 K/BB is eighth best in Major League history putting him ahead of pitchers like Greg Maddux and Roy Halladay.
As you break it down, deGrom stands right there among all the greats, and he has the awards to prove it. He also has the postseason success. When looking at deGrom, we are seeing a Hall of Fame career. All deGrom has to do from this point forward is stay healthy and maintain his greatness.
Whether he can do it is anyone’s guess. Whether he gets there or not, it is going to be fun watching him prove his greatness every fifth day in a New York Mets uniform.