Jacob deGrom's tantalizing Hall of Fame case on hold yet not done

St. Louis Cardinals v New York Mets
St. Louis Cardinals v New York Mets / Eric Espada/GettyImages

Jacob deGrom was never supposed to be in this position. A 9th round pick by the New York Mets back in 2010, the former HS shortstop turned pitcher at Stetson was viewed as nothing more than a middling pitching prospect. The highest prospect ranking that deGrom ever achieved was #12, and this combined with his 4.51 ERA down in the minors in 2013 didn’t exactly scream greatness. 

When deGrom was called up by the Mets during the 2014 season, he was thrust into a starter role. This could’ve ended up being a disastrous decision for the Mets, but it ended up turning into discovering one of MLB’s most electric pitchers of all-time. deGrom showed no fear on the mound and ended the season with a 2.69 ERA in 22 starts, securing Rookie of the Year in the process. This would only be the beginning of deGrominance throughout the next 8 seasons. 

With all the success deGrom has achieved so far, one question still remains: Is he a Hall of Famer? Let's take a closer look.

Mets star Jacob deGrom's compelling HOF case

Through 8 seasons, Jacob deGrom already has a few stats that are Hall of Fame worthy. His career ERA currently sits at 2.50, which puts him ahead of legends like Cy Young, Satchel Paige, and Pedro Martinez. His career WAR of 42.4 ranks him ahead of a few HOF pitchers such as Catfish Hunter and Jack Morris. Looking at deGrom’s career accolades, he has already won two Cy Young awards, as well as made the All-Star team 4 times. Those two Cy Youngs stand out in particular, as it puts deGrom ahead of other HOFs such as Nolan Ryan and John Smoltz. 

The fact that deGrom is already ahead of such high-caliber pitchers at a reasonable age is mind-blowing considering he came into the MLB at age 26. He has achieved so much in such a short span of time, and has consistently proved doubters wrong about his ability. The best part about deGrom is his improvement over the past few seasons. In particular, his fastball has gone from league-average to elite over the past few years. That's something you just don't see happen to just any pitcher, and just further proves how truly special the Mets superstar is.

There is also the added benefit of him still being within his prime years at 33, as he has a chance to add even more Cy Youngs, as well ASG appearances, to his long list of achievements. That being said, there are also compelling arguments on the contrary that can’t be ignored. 

The Negatives for deGrom’s HOF hopes

When discussing Jacob deGrom, one thing that will always come up is the injuries. The past 3 seasons in particular stand out, as deGrom went from averaging 28.5 starts per season to having 27 combined starts the past 2 seasons. In terms of the injuries themselves, deGrom has had issues with his elbow and forearm issues that have caused him to miss many games. This season alone, he already is starting his season on the IL due to a stress reaction in his scapula. Not to mention the fact that deGrom also underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2016, which will always be in the back of every Mets fans head. 

The main concern with these ailments is the lack of innings deGrom has had the past few seasons. The average HOF pitcher has a total of 3534 IP, while deGrom currently is sitting at 1261.2 IP. Even taking a look at modern day Hall of Famers like Roy Halladay, who sits at 2749 IP, shows the gap that deGrom still has to close. If deGrom pitched 6 more seasons while averaging 200 IP per season, he’d still end up at 2461.2 IP. While it’s clear the quality of his seasons are beyond elite, the lack of innings simply can’t be ignored.

Final Verdict

As it stands right now, I don’t believe Jacob deGrom would be inducted into the HOF based on what his numbers are. There are a few players with similar accolades like Johan Santana and Bret Saberhagen, both of which won two Cy Youngs,  who are on the outside looking in when it comes to a HOF induction. However, deGrom is still just 33 years old and should be able to continue his pitching dominance for at least the next 5 seasons. Only time will tell if he’ll be able to sustain his dominance for an extended period of time but based on his history, you should never count Jacob deGrom out of anything. 

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