Brisbee: Jacob deGrom won the Cy Young with one of the greatest, silliest seasons ever

From SABR member Grant Brisbee at SB Nation on November 14, 2018:

It’s easy to use statistics to talk about Jacob deGrom’s season in the abstract. There hasn’t been a Cy Young-winning starting pitcher with a better ERA in a full season since Bob Gibson in 1968. That sounds gorgeous, and it is, but it’s still abstract. For every nine innings deGrom pitched in 2018, he allowed 1.74 earned runs. That seems impressive, but allowing exactly 1.74 earned runs in a game isn’t exactly something that pitchers usually do. Dumb it down for me, please.

Try this then: In deGrom’s worst start of 2018, he allowed four runs in six innings. It’s the only time he allowed four runs in a start. It’s so, so easy for a starting pitcher to allow a bloop and a blast in one inning, followed by two doubles and a single in another, without anyone wondering what’s wrong. Allowing a bloop and a blast is what pitchers do. Sometimes they nibble on a 3-2 pitch, and sometimes their defense can’t make the great play that will bail them out. Happens. Oh, my, how it happens.

Except it didn’t happen to deGrom. In 29 out of 32 starts, deGrom threw a quality start (6+ innings pitched, 3 or fewer earned runs), and that’s remarkable, but it still undersells him. We’ll have to invent a new stat, a step up. Instead of the quality start, let’s search for the dominant start, in which a starter throws at least seven innings with two runs or fewer allowed. deGrom did this in 18 out of his 32 starts. Only two starters had more games with seven innings pitched period. deGrom had more starts with seven innings pitched than the Brewers.

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Originally published: November 15, 2018. Last Updated: November 15, 2018.