Mets Thursday Therapy: The defense steals wins from Jacob deGrom
By Tim Boyle
Poor run support and explosive bullpen performances are the reason why New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom has trouble winning games. But is there one more finger to point?
Baseball-Reference was kind enough to add a few more advanced statistics to the front page of each player’s profile. While looking over a few deGrom numbers for both pleasure and disgust toward the rest of the team, I noticed some consistent negative numbers.
Negative numbers on deGrom’s stat sheet? Impossible! It must be someone else’s fault. And it is.
Poor Mets defense has surely cost Jacob deGrom some wins, too
RA9def stands for runs per nine innings pitched of support from defense; at least this is the explanation when you hover over it.
Anyway, it’s pretty basic. It measures the team’s total defensive zone rating then the pitcher is on the hill. From 2014-2021, deGrom has a whole lot of negative numbers on his logbook.
Twice deGrom has finished a season in the positive range. In 2014, he was at 0.10. In 2016, he jumped just above at 0.03.
In the years since, deGrom has gotten very little defensive support. His number ranges from -0.34 to the early number of -0.43 in 2021 after two starts. In his memorable Cy Young seasons of 2018 and 2019, he was at -0.38 and -0.41.
The too long/didn’t read/I don’t get it version of the above: the Mets defense stinks and it shows through this number.
This isn’t just an issue for deGrom. With a career -0.22 RA9def, he’s far from the only member of the Mets to have such a low number in this category.
Noah Syndergaard owns a -0.26 RA9def. Longtime Mets pitcher Steven Matz wrapped up his career in New York at -0.34. Things have started off much better for him with the Toronto Blue Jays. He’s positive after two starts.
It’s a trend you’d see not from pitcher-to-pitcher but from team-to-team. A defense doesn’t just suddenly turn into a roster full of Gold Glovers when a certain man takes the mound. Defense, more than anything else, tends to remain consistently good or bad.
Through 185 MLB starts, deGrom holds a 2.585 ERA. This ranks him 53rd all-time in baseball history. Most of the men ahead of him on this list have been retired for 100+ years. They are Hall of Famers and/or a mix of men named things like Orval, Reb, Hooks, Hippo, and Chief.
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deGrom is a generational pitcher. We may never know which part of the Mets team around him deserves the majority of the blame for how many wins he has lost. In games when the offense fails to show up or the bullpen obviously blows it, don’t forget to tell your therapist about how poorly the defense behind him has performed.