New York Mets: Could Jacob deGrom win MVP this year?

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 07: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets in the dugout after the first inning of a spring training game against the Washington Nationals at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 7, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 07: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets in the dugout after the first inning of a spring training game against the Washington Nationals at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 7, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

We all know how well Jacob deGrom pitched for the Mets last year. But can he pitch even better in 2019 and claim the Most Valuable Player award?

After such an impressive 2018 campaign for New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom, fans have to think what could be next in store for him. He seemed to have done it all last season with a dominating Cy Young win.

Some fans thought that he would begin to regress and his 2019 campaign wouldn’t be as amazing. But so far, after his first two starts, deGrom began to prove that he has a lot left in the tank.

Last season, he finished fifth in MVP voting in the National League. Here’s the thing. Can he finish higher this year or maybe even win?

There are two factors that most likely will affect deGrom’s chances. First is obviously how well he performs while the other is how well the team performs. Now, we all know that team success isn’t supposed to play a role in voting, but if you really look at the numbers, team success plays a bigger role than you might think.

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Last season, the four players to finish higher than deGrom in MVP voting were all on winning teams. No, they were all on playoff teams. Christian Yelich’s Brewers went 96-67. Javier Baez’s Cubs went 95-68. Nolan Arenado’s Rockies went 91-72. Freddie Freeman’s Braves went 90-72. Then in fifth place, deGrom’s Mets went 77-85.

In fact, the seven players behind deGrom were also all on winning teams. Outside of deGrom, there was no other National League player in the top 12 on a team with fewer than 82 wins. Only one player on a team with fewer wins than the Mets even received votes.

What does that mean for deGrom? If the Mets won more games could he have had a better shot at MVP? What would have happened had they made the playoffs?

Well with all of the roster changes that the Mets did coming into this season, that’s actually something that just might happen. The Mets rebuilt their lineup and bullpen and are poised to win a few more games this year than the 77 they won last year.

If deGrom perfectly replicates his 2018 numbers and the Mets win just six more games, for 83 in 2019, that would be enough to catapult deGrom into top three for MVP. If the Mets perform even better, who knows what’s going to happen.

What about that other aspect? What about how well deGrom performs? Is it possible that he can play even better this year? If he goes the whole season with a lower ERA or more strikeouts, that has to boost his MVP chances by quite a bit right?

But can he actually perform better this year? Entering Tuesday night, deGrom had two amazing starts. Sure, it’s a very small sample size but these were arguably two of his best starts ever.

On opening day, he went six scoreless innings with ten strikeouts. He followed that with another brilliant outing, this time for seven scoreless and 14 strikeouts. Have you heard that one before? You probably haven’t because he’s never had a 14 strikeout performance before, it was his career best.

So in his first two starts, he was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 24 strikeouts after 13 innings. That was actually the most strikeouts he ever had over the first two starts of a season. Last year was his previous best with only 12 strikeouts after his first two starts.

Then came his first start at Citi Field Tuesday night. deGrom gave up a second-inning home run to Mitch Garver and wasn’t able to turn things around afterward. He gave up five runs in the first three innings which meant his stretch of consecutive quality starts came to an end at 26. This was tied for the MLB record with Bob Gibson.

By the end of his third start, he racked up a few strikeouts while giving up six runs over four innings.

It was one blemish early in the season, one of many and even with this bad start, his overall season numbers are still amazing.

There’s one final aspect, but this one is just a simple comparison of the other pitchers who have won the MVP. Recently, we had two big ones in Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander.

Kershaw won in 2014. That year he had a 21-3 record with a 1.77 ERA and 239 strikeouts. deGrom had him beat in ERA and strikeouts last year but his ten wins were no match for the Dodgers ace. Verlander won in 2011. He was 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts. Again, deGrom had a better ERA and more strikeouts but lacked in wins.

The 2011 Tigers went 95-67 while the 2014 Dodgers went 94-68. One other notable pitcher who went on to win MVP is Bob Gibson in 1968. He went 22-9 with an insane 1.12 ERA and 268 strikeouts. That was the year that Gibson had 26 consecutive quality starts.

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Right now, the only person really stopping deGrom from winning the MVP is himself. If he can keep up the insane level of play and the Mets play well, the award could be his for the taking, or at the very least he will finish very close to it.