The New York Mets finished 2016 with a record of 87-75 and lost in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The 2016 season saw the Mets make their ninth playoff appearance in franchise history. The team received valuable contributions from various players over the course of the season. Last Word On Baseball writer John Jackson will count down the top ten most valuable Mets on a weekly basis. He will also analyze the value they brought to the team this past season. Number 10 was Steven Matz, number nine was Neil Walker, and number eight is Jacob deGrom.
Top Ten Most Valuable Mets of 2016
8. Jacob deGrom
deGrom came onto the scene in 2014 and made an immediate impact, as he won the Rookie of the Year Award. The next year, he followed it up with a performance that earned him a spot in the All-Star Game and helped the Mets win a National League Pennant. With all this success early on in his career, deGrom looked to be the ace of the rotation in 2016. This was not exactly the case for the right-handed pitcher, but he still contributed to the Mets in a role deserving of eighth on this list.
April was both a good and bad month for deGrom. It was bad because right lat tightness kept him to three starts. It was good becaue he went 3-0 with a sparkling 1.05 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 17.2 innings.
deGrom was very rocky in May, however. He scattered some quality starts with some poor ones. He didn’t pick up any wins, but earned a loss against the San Diego Padres. deGrom never got blown out, as his worst start was a five-inning game against the Milwaukee Brewers in which he gave up four runs. Overall, it was a modest month for him. Noah Syndergaard was clearly overshadowing him at this point at 5-2 and with a 1.84 ERA, but to say deGrom was having a bad season then wouldn’t have been accurate.
deGrom found his groove again in June. He had five starts and gave the Mets a quality start in each one. Unfortunately, the Mets offense did not help him out, and he went 0-3. His two no-decisions came in his first and last starts of the month, and both were slightly better games compared to the three losses. The first was a seven-inning game against the Chicago White Sox in which he gave up one run and had 10 strikeouts. His last start of the month was an eight-inning shutout against the Atlanta Braves.
In July, deGrom continued to mow down teams, but finally got some wins along the way. He won three in a row to start the month against the World Champion Chicago Cubs, the Miami Marlins, and the Philadelphia Phillies. The game against the Phillies was deGrom’s first career complete game and his first shutout. deGrom did hit a bump in the road in his next start however, as he gave up five runs in 3.2 innings in a loss to the Marlins. His longest game of the year and his shortest game of the year came in back to back starts. He then rebounded by finishing out the month with a seven-inning shutout against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field.
August was a tale of two months for deGrom. He started August by giving up two runs in 20.2 innings to the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and Padres. In his next two starts, he gave up 13 runs in 9.2 innings to the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. His ERA, which at the time was 2.30, inflated to 2.96 after those two starts.
He made one start in September before joining the large list of Mets who were out for the season. He suffered a pinched ulnar nerve in his right elbow, which required surgery.
deGrom finished the season with 24 starts under his belt. He went 7-8 with a 3.04 ERA, a 1.203 WHIP, 15 home runs allowed, and 143 strikeouts in 148 innings pitched. As mentioned before, he also had his first career complete game and shutout.
Overall, he had a solid season. If you take out the two starts to end August, deGrom would’ve been 7-6 with a 2.41 ERA. Of course, those starts happened and must be noted, but they do give some context to otherwise lifeless numbers.
Win-loss records in baseball have become more meaningless with the passage of time and as sabermetrics have taken on more importance. However, for many people, win-loss records still mean a lot. Rick Porcello most likely would not have won the American League Cy Young Award if it wasn’t for his astounding 22-4 record.
There were many games the Mets should’ve won with the pitching that deGrom provided, but the offense fell asleep. This is something that deGrom has experienced his whole three-year career. No pitcher of his caliber, with a career 2.74 ERA, should have 30 wins and 22 losses
Why He Deserves Eighth on This List
deGrom was not the Mets ace in 2016. He was also not completely healthy for the entire season. This was his worst season to date and it was still better than most MLB pitchers.
An argument can be made that he pitched better than Bartolo Colon in his starts. Regardless, Colon was still healthier and more of a consistent force in that rotation. Colon was there when the Mets needed him the most and delivered in those times. Syndergaard was easily the ace of the team in 2016. That means deGrom was the third most valuable starting pitcher in 2016.
While a lot of the pitchers faced injuries throughout the season, replacements were able to efficiently take over. This is part of the reason why both Matz and deGrom are lower on the list.
An underrated attribute that deGrom also brought was his offense. For a pitcher, he can handle the bat well. While this was his poorest season at the plate, he still contributed six hits, six runs, three walks, and two RBI.
Health Wasn’t the Be-All, End-All
Neil Walker, Matz, and deGrom are all lower on the list partially due to their time missed. Health isn’t the only reason though, or this would just be a list of the most healthy Mets of 2016.
Each player put up stats that were decent, but not spectacular. Both Matz and deGrom averaged slightly less than a strikeout per inning and had ERAs above 3.00. Walker had 23 home runs, but also only 55 RBI. They were not on pace for MVP seasons. They would have been higher on this list if they put up numbers worthy of those rankings in their time played.
For example, if Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez was being ranked on a similar list, he would deserve much higher consideration than these three players, as he racked up stats in even fewer games that many players couldn’t even produce in a full season. If Walker had 80+ RBI or Matz and deGrom had 200+ strikeouts, they would’ve been higher regardless of time missed.
Therefore, deGrom can be considered the eighth most valuable Met of 2016.