Jacob deGrom had two of the best back-to-back seasons in New York Mets history. How does it compare to what Dwight Gooden did in his best two seasons?
Over the past two years, I have watched practically every Jacob deGrom start and haven’t seen this type of dominance over National League batters from a New York Mets pitcher for a long time. The Mets organization has always been known for having stellar starting pitching during its existence and there have been many great years by them. From Jerry Koosman, Frank Viola, Sid Fernandez, Tom Seaver, Ron Darling, Al Leiter, Mike Hampton, Noah Syndergaard the list goes on and on.
What I want to focus on in this article, is who has had the most dominant two-year stretch. Being a Mets fan since 1982, the two pitchers that come to mind, that I have had to pleasure to watch, is Jacob deGrom and Dwight Gooden.
Unfortunately, I am not old enough to have seen Tom Seaver pitch during his prime in the late 1960s and 1970s. I only remember him pitching for the Mets in 1983 when he came back for that one season. He was solid with his 3.55 ERA but looking at his 60’s and 70’s results, he wasn’t the typical Tom Terrific from his heyday. So I am going to take a close look at deGrom’s two-year stretch over his past two Cy Young years and Doc Gooden’s Rookie of the Year in 1984 and Cy Young 1985 year.
Dwight Gooden G Inn W L R ER SO BB H HR GS CG SHO ERA WHIP
1984 – 19 yrs old 31 218.0 17 9 72 63 276 73 161 7 31 7 3 2.60 1.073
1985 – 20 yrs old 35 276.2 24 4 51 47 268 69 198 13 35 16 8 1.53 0.965
Two Year Totals 66 494.2 41 13 123 110 544 142 359 20 66 23 11 2.00 1.019
Gooden sure was electric. With the high leg kick, the way he commanded the top of the strike zone, then would drop in Lord Charles (the only pitcher I have ever known whose curveball had a name).
During 1984 and 1985 there was no pitcher that was close to being as dominant in all of MLB. This was before Roger Clemens became almost as good in 1986. Personally, I thought Gooden was robbed of the Cy Young award in 1984, losing out to Rick Sutcliffe who had fewer wins, a higher ERA, fewer strikeouts and higher WHIP.
Yes, the Cubs won the division in 1984, but that doesn’t mean Gooden wasn’t better in every way you can slice it. Also, keep in mind Gooden was only 19 years old dominating all-time hitters including Tony Gwynn, Mike Schmidt, Ryne Sandberg, and Tim Raines.
Doc was only getting started. He followed up his great 1984 year with one of the greatest years a pitcher has ever had ever in 1985. Not only did he win the Cy Young award, but he also ended up with the pitching Triple Crown, leading the National League in wins, strikeouts, and ERA to go along with a sub 1.000 WHIP.
Keep in mind that the batters in the mid-1980s where much more contact-oriented than the batters of today. Back then most hitters would use a two-strike approach and would look to make productive outs instead of trying to hit home runs on every swing.
So his 544 strikeouts over 494.2 innings are extremely impressive. He also would finish what he started with 23 complete games and 11 shutouts in 66 starts for a 35% complete game percentage and 17% shutout percentage which is unheard of in today’s game.