I’m already prepared for people blowing up my twitter account, pining for their favorite player. Javier Baez HAS to be MVP, he has the best intangibles of any player in recent memory!! Christian Yelich HAS to be MVP, he’s hit for TWO(!!!!!) cycles this year! Matt Carpenter HAS to be MVP, he’s the world’s best salsa connoisseur on top of being a fantastic baseball player!!!
Due to them having their own award, we take for granted that a pitcher can be the best player in the league. That is exactly what has happened in the National League in 2018. In a year where no one seems to be jumping off the page, Jacob DeGrom deserves to be MVP.
It’s fairly easy to strike a hole in every NL hitters’ MVP candidacy. Javier Baez doesn’t get on base enough. Nolan Arenado isn’t all that good away from Coors. Matt Carpenter’s just had a couple of superhuman months. Christian Yelich has been one of baseball’s worst defensive outfielders. Lorenzo Cain hasn’t even been the best outfielder on his own team. Point is, there is no “elite” obvious choice like there are three of in the American League.
It’s a shame to see the media pulling for one of those six to win over the other five. Quite honestly, none of them deserve it. The ace of the New York Mets does. Jacob DeGrom should be the MVP of the National League.
I was researching about this last night, and I was absolutely amazed to find out that three starting pitchers lead the NL in WPA. Jacob DeGrom, despite only having eight wins (thanks, Mets) leads the entire MLB in Win Probability Added, with Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola trailing in the NL. Only Alex Bregman has a higher WPA than Nola or Scherzer, but no one surpasses DeGrom.
The only active players with a single-season ERA better than DeGrom’s this year are Zack Greinke (2015), Jake Arrieta (2015) and Clayton Kershaw (2016), and Kershaw and Arrieta are only one point higher. Chances are that, come DeGrom’s next start, he has an ERA no active player outside of Greinke can claim to have done before. In fact, should DeGrom leapfrog Arrieta and Kershaw, Greinke and Pedro Martinez (2000) will be the only pitchers with better ERAs this millennium.
Only three pitchers this millennium have posted a season with a better FIP than DeGrom’s this year. One of those pitchers, Chris Sale, is actually doing it this year (but may not win Cy Young due to innings pitched, but that’s an argument for another day.) Clayton Kershaw has surpassed it twice (2014 and 2015), and DeGrom’s former teammate Matt Harvey did it in 2013.
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That may seem like a lot of pitchers with better seasons, but all those pitchers had better MVP competition. Jeff Kent had 7.4 fWAR in 2000, more than anyone will get this year in the NL. That being said, Todd Helton was robbed that year, somehow not winning despite a .372/.463/.698 slash line.
Bryce Harper had an all-time season in 2015, putting up 9.3 fWAR and 197 wRC+ to top Greinke, Arrieta, and Kershaw.
Andrew McCutchen beat out Harvey in 2013, with 8.1 fWAR and 156 wRC+. This is actually the most comparable season to 2018, as Cutch didn’t exactly light the world on fire in 2013. However, his season is still better than any NL hitter’s in 2018.
There hasn’t been a season since 2000 in which a pitcher is deserving of being considered for MVP. Even Justin Verlander, who actually won in 2011, he didn’t have anywhere near the season DeGrom is having this year. He also beat out Jacoby Ellsbury, who is going to finish with at least two more fWAR than any NL hitter this year.
The season isn’t yet over, but if it were to end right now, Christian Yelich (who leads the NL in fWAR among hitters) would be tied for 114th in fWAR for a single season since the turn of the century. Yelich is on pace to have 6.5 fWAR, should he play every game the rest of the year, the lowest for the NL leader since 2000.
It takes a lot for a guy that only plays every five days to win MVP. I completely understand this. However, if it isn’t going to happen this year, will it ever? Justin Verlander won his MVP award in spite of a fantastic season from Jacoby Ellsbury, and in spite of putting up worse numbers than DeGrom is currently. Why shouldn’t DeGrom win it?
Unfortunately, I don’t actually expect voters to vote for DeGrom. The antiquated belief of a lot of voters that think pitcher wins are valuable may cost DeGrom not only the MVP but even the Cy Young. Even those who understand that pitcher wins are a dumb system are using them against DeGrom because “he’s on a losing team.”
And if so, I raise you this: If Amed Rosario throws a ball into the second deck or Jose Reyes’s bat seems to have a hole the size of a small nation in it, why is that Jacob DeGrom’s fault? Why should we hold DeGrom accountable for the team’s play when he is sitting on the bench with a towel around his shoulders? We shouldn’t, and team performance shouldn’t EVER count for or against an individual award case.
Case in point, Jacob DeGrom has been the best player in the National League this year. Doesn’t that make him the most valuable player, on top of the Cy Young?
General logic points to yes…