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Mets: Every Jacob deGrom pitch told a great story in 2018

jkamilhor
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Every pitch is a new sentence in the book of a pitcher’s life. In 2018, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom wrote a Great American Novel.

According to the Baseball Savant website’s Statcast Search, each pitch tells a story, and the New York Mets could learn some interesting things from it. I started out wanting to prove that Jacob deGrom deserved the NL Cy Young Award, and I ended up finding a great new toy that everyone interested in advanced stats should check out.

I looked at pitch by pitch data for the top five Mets starters along with Max Scherzer, Aaron Nola, Chris Sale, and Nathan Eovaldi to find out which data is most useful in evaluating the past season.

Please see below this section for individual pitch results and percentages.

Note that I did not include foul balls, pitchouts, and other occurrences that did not separate pitchers well.

Was the Mets’ number one arm really the best in baseball this past season? Using these numbers, I attempt to find out.

These nine starters combined (compared with average results for pitchers with 1500+ total pitches)

  • Total pitches=23779
  • Pitches resulting in weak contact
    • 2593 pitches
    • 10.90 percent (Average=11.17)
    • 10.90/11.17=0.976 (These pitchers surprisingly had a little less than average weak contact.)
    • Top three of the nine I’m focusing on:
      1. Noah Syndergaard
      2. Nathan Eovaldi
      3. Zack Wheeler
    • Bottom three
      • 9. Max Scherzer (!)
      • 8. Jacob deGrom (!)
      • 7. Chris Sale (!)
  • Pitches resulting in called strikes, swinging strikes, foul tips, and blocked called strikes
    • 7488 pitches
    • 31.49 percent (Average=28.60)
    • 31.49/28.60=1.101
    • Top three
      1. Sale
      2. Scherzer
      3. Aaron Nola
    • Bottom three
      • 9. Eovaldi
      • 8. Wheeler
      • 7. Syndergaard
  • Pitches resulting in balls or balls in the dirt
    • 7808 pitches
    • 32.84 percent (Average=35.53)
    • 32.84/35.53=0.924
    • Top three
      1. Eovaldi
      2. Scherzer
      3.  deGrom
    • Bottom three
  • Pitches resulting in flares or burners
    • 900 pitches
    • 3.78 percent (Average=4.37)
    • 3.78/4.37=0.865 (These pitchers did considerably better than average preventing flares and burners, which were surprisingly effective for positive offensive results.)
    • Top three
      1. Sale
      2. Scherzer
      3. Matz
    • Bottom three
      • 9. Syndergaard
      • 8. Eovaldi
      • 7. Vargas
  • Pitches resulting in HBPs
    • 72 pitches
    • 0.30 percent (Average=0.25)
    • 0.30/0.25=1.200 (these pitchers had significantly more HBPs than average)
    • Top three
      1. deGrom
      2. Eovaldi
      3. Nola
    • Bottom three
      • 9. Sale
      • 8. Matz
      • 7. Scherzer
  • Pitches resulting in hard contact (barrels, solid contact)
    • 393 pitches
    • 1.65 percent (Average=2.25)
    • 1.65/2.25=0.733 (This seems to be the most significant statistic: preventing barrels and solid contact)
    • Top three
      1. deGrom 1.308
      2. Sale 1.347
      3. Syndergaard 1.410
    • Bottom three
      • 9. Vargas
      • 8. Matz
      • 7. Scherzer

Key observations

Jacob deGrom was best at preventing barrels and solid contact of all MLB pitchers with 1,500 or more total pitches, followed by Chris Sale, Brad Keller (13.43), and Noah Syndergaard. Along with preventing barrels and solid contact, deGrom was good at all other stats except preventing weak contact, but so was Sale and Scherzer.

For comparison’s sake, the top three pitchers with 1,500 or more total pitches at allowing weak contact were Joe Musgrove, Robbie Erlin, and Miles Mikolas. Guess who was fourth? Bartolo Colon!

Syndergaard (0.4) was the best at preventing barrels, allowing just nine out of 2,412 total pitches, and deGrom was 7th, ahead of all of his NL Cy Young competition: Nola was 19th and Scherzer was 23rd.

Lance Lynn (0.6) was second to Syndergaard, followed by Walker Buehler (0.7). At this point, the small sample size causes more doubt about the significance of results.

So yes, Jacob deGrom deserves the NL Cy Young for 2018. There’s no doubt in my mind the Mets ace had the best year.

Starter by Starter: Mets top five, Nola, Scherzer, and Sale

Aaron Nola (very consistent: not worse than 5th in any category)

  • Total pitches
    • 3212
  • Pitch result=weak contact (5th of 9 starters)
    • 374 pitches
    • 11.64 percent
  • Pitch result=called strikes and swinging strikes (3rd of 9 starters)
    • 1055 pitches
    • 32.85 percent
  • Pitch result=ball and ball in the dirt (5th best of 9 starters)
    • 1042 pitches
    • 32.44 percent
  • Pitch result=flares/burners (4th best of 9 starters)
    • 119 pitches
    • 3.70 percent
  • Pitch result=HBP (3rd best of 9 starters)
    • 7 pitches
    • 0.22 percent
  • Pitch result=barrels and solid contact (4th best of 9 starters)
    • 49 pitches
    • 1.53 percent

Max Scherzer (2nd best for called/swinging strikes and fewest balls/balls in dirt)

  • Total pitches
    • 3493
  • Pitch result=weak contact (9th of 9 starters)
    • 323 pitches
    • 9.25  percent
  • Pitch result=called strikes and swinging strikes (2nd of 9 starters)
    • 1181 pitches
    • 33.81 percent
  • Pitch result=ball and ball in dirt (2nd best of 9 starters)
    • 1075 pitches
    • 30.78 percent
  • Pitch result=flares/burners (2nd best of 9 starters)
    • 115 pitches
    • 3.29 percent
  • Pitch result=HBP (7th best of 9 starters)
    • 12 pitches
    • 0.34 percent
  • Pitch result=barrels and solid contact (7th best of 9 starters)
    • 65 pitches
    • 1.86 percent

Jacob deGrom (best of 9 in preventing barrels/solid contact; best of 9 fewest HBPs)

  • Total pitches
    • 3212
  • Pitch result=weak contact (7th out of 9 starters)
    • 340 pitches
    • 10.59 percent
  • Pitch result=called strikes and swinging strikes (4th of 9 starters)
    • 1051 pitches
    • 32.72 percent
  • Pitch result=ball and ball in dirt (3rd best of 9 starters)
    • 994 pitches
    • 30.95 percent
  • Pitch result=flares/burners (6th best of 9 starters)
    • 133 pitches
    • 4.14 percent
  • Pitch result=HBP (1st best of 9 starters)
    • 5 pitches
    • 0.16 percent
  • Pitch result=barrels and solid contact (1st best of 9 starters)
    • 42 pitches
    • 1.31 percent

Chris Sale (best of 9 in called strikes/swinging strikes; best of 9 preventing flares/burners)

  • Total pitches
    • 2525
  • Pitch result=weak contact (8th of 9 starters)
    • 234 pitches
    • 9.26 percent
  • Pitch result=called strikes and swinging strikes (1st of 9 starters)
    • 921 pitches
    • 36.47 percent
  • Pitch result=ball and ball in dirt (4th best of 9 starters)
    • 797 pitches
    • 31.56 percent
  • Pitch result=flares/burners (1st best of 9 starters)
    • 64 pitches
    • 2.53 percent
  • Pitch result=HBP (9th best of 9 starters)
    • 14 pitches
    • 0.55 percent
  • Pitch result=barrels and solid contact (2nd best of 9 starters)
    • 34 pitches
    • 1.35 percent

Jason Vargas (Worst of 9 in preventing barrels/solid contact; Worst of 9 balls and balls in dirt)

  • Total pitches
    • 1553
  • Pitch result=weak contact (4th of 9 starters)
    • 185 pitches
    • 11.91 percent
  • Pitch result=called strikes and swinging strikes (5th of 9 starters)
    • 471 pitches
    • 30.33
  • Pitch result=ball and ball in dirt (9th best of 9 starters)
    • 571 pitches
    • 36.77
  • Pitch result=flares/burners (7th best of 9 starters)
    • 66 pitches
    • 4.25 percent
  • Pitch result=HBP (6th best of 9 starters)
    • 5 pitches
    • 0.32 percent
  • Pitch result=barrels and solid contact (9th best of 9 starters)
    • 34 pitches
    • 2.19

Noah Syndergaard (1st of 9 in weak contact; 3rd best of 9 in preventing barrels/solid contact; most flares/burners allowed)

  • Total pitches
    • 2412
  • Pitch result=weak contact (1st of 9 starters)
    • 292 pitches
    • 12.11 percent
  • Pitch result=called strikes and swinging strikes (7th of 9 starters)
    • 710 pitches
    • 29.44 percent
  • Pitch result=ball and ball in dirt (6th best of 9 starters)
    • 813 pitches
    • 33.71 percent
  • Pitch result=flares/burners (9th best of 9 starters)
    • 117 pitches
    • 4.85 percent
  • Pitch result=HBP (4th best of 9 starters)
    • 7 pitches
    • 0.29 percent
  • Pitch result=barrels and solid contact (3rd best of 9 starters)
    • 34 pitches
    • 1.41 percent

Zack Wheeler

  • Total pitches
    • 2884
  • Pitch result=weak contact (3rd of 9 starters)
    • 344 pitches
    • 11.93 percent
  • Pitch result=called strikes and swinging strikes (8th of 9 starters)
    • 821 pitches
    • 28.47 percent
  • Pitch result=ball and ball in dirt (7th best of 9 starters)
    • 982 pitches
    • 34.05 percent
  • Pitch result=flares/burners (5th best of 9 starters)
    • 112 pitches
    • 3.88 percent
  • Pitch result=HBP (5th best of 9 starters)
    • 9 pitches
    • 0.31 percent
  • Pitch result=barrels and solid contact (5th best of 9 starters)
    • 45 pitches
    • 1.56 percent

Steven Matz

  • Total pitches
    •  2693
  • Pitch result=weak contact (6th of 9 starters)
    • 286 pitches
    • 10.62 percent
  • Pitch result=called strikes and swinging strikes (6th of 9 starters)
    • 798 pitches
    • 29.63 percent
  • Pitch result=ball and ball in dirt (8th best of 9 starters)
    •  983 pitches
    • 36.50 percent
  • Pitch result=flares/burners (3rd best of 9 starters)
    • 91 pitches
    • 3.38 percent
  • Pitch result=HBP (8th best of 9 starters)
    • 10 pitches
    • 0.37 percent
  • Pitch result=barrels and solid contact (8th best of 9 starters)
    • 57 pitches
    • 2.12 percent

Nathan Eovaldi (fewest balls and balls in dirt; 2nd best weak contact; 2nd best HBPs) (worst called/swinging strike)

  • Total pitches
    • 1795
  • Pitch result=weak contact (2nd of 9 starters)
    • 215 pitches
    • 11.98 percent
  • Pitch result=called strikes and swinging strikes (9th of 9 starters)
    • 480 pitches
    • 26.74 percent
  • Pitch result=ball and ball in dirt (1st best of 9 starters)
    • 551 pitches
    • 30.70 percent
  • Pitch result=flares/burners (8th best of 9 starters)
    • 83 pitches
    • 4.62 percent
  • Pitch result=HBP (2nd best of 9 starters)
    • 3 pitches
    • 0.17 percent
  • Pitch result=barrels and solid contact (6th best of 9 starters)
    • 33 pitches
    • 1.84 percent

Next. Three possible Juan Lagares trade destinations

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Jacob deGrom had a great year for the Mets in 2018. Hopefully, the story he told comes out with a great sequel in 2019.

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