Normally, a pitcher carrying a 1.69 ERA two months into any given MLB season would be making headlines all over the sports media landscape. But when it's Jacob deGrom, it just feels like old news.
That's got to bode well for his Hall of Fame chances, right? I mean, what pitcher can say he's recorded a sub-2.00 ERA in a Cy Young season, and has been a front-runner for -- or winner of -- the award in following seasons, and not be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame?
To play devil's advocate... following this logic, Dwight Gooden would be a Hall of Famer. After all, after seven seasons in the bigs, Gooden had the following career stat line and accolades:
119 wins, 46 losses, 2.82 ERA, 1,391 strikeouts, Rookie of the Year award, Cy Young award, pitching Triple Crown
Yes, I know a lot more went into Gooden's downfall than just a drop in performance, and I'm not saying that anything even slightly reminiscent of Gooden's drop off will happen to deGrom. But it's tough to peg deGrom as a Hall of Fame candidate already; after all, it is the most exclusive Hall of Fame in American professional sports.
RADIO.COM Sports MLB insider Jon Heyman is thinking on the same wavelength. A Hall of Fame voter, Heyman doesn't just randomly select which guys will get in and which won't. He follows his own methodology, knocking players for certain aspects of their careers while rewarding others for different reasons.
In deGrom's situation, it's a case of the pitcher not having done quite enough to be considered a Hall of Famer as his career currently stands.
"Well, you have to go 10 years, technically... I'm being very technical here to avoid the question," Heyman joked after "Big Time Baseball" co-host Tony Gwynn questioned him on the Mets ace's chances. "He has a case. I would say he needs a little bit more... at this point, I don't want to stick with numbers entirely."
That's likely because, through six seasons and eight games, deGrom has a 69-50 record, meaning he likely will finish his career without an eye-popping total in the wins column, as Heyman notes. He's already 32, as well, which could factor into his cumulative stats, such as strikeouts (1,325).
"I think he still has many years to go, but (was) kind of a late star in the pitching game," Heyman said. "He was an infielder at Stetson College... when the Mets took him and saw something -- and good for them that they did -- so he's not gonna get 300 wins. He's not gonna get 200 wins, but... I say he looks like he's on track (for the Hall of Fame), potentially. He's won two Cy Youngs. If you win three, it's probably hard to keep someone out. We'll see."
Even without a lofty win total in deGrom's sights, Heyman mentions that it's not impossible to make the Hall of Fame without 300 -- or even 200 -- wins. In fact, there are nine Hall of Fame pitchers who were regarded primarily as starters who are enshrined in Cooperstown with fewer than 200 wins (Dennis Eckersley is excluded from the list due to his prowess as a closer, though he finished with 197 wins).
Koufax was who Heyman used as an example in comparison to deGrom, lauding both players' peaks and saying that he heavily considers peaks during his evaluation. Gwynn Jr. agreed, looking at a span of 10 years of dominance as Hall-of-Fame worthy.
And as far as rate stats go, "dominant" is the right word to describe deGrom throughout his career. He ranks in the top-10 pitchers of all time in WHIP (1.046), SO/9 (10.373), SO/BB (4.783), and adjusted ERA+ (151).
One player who thinks deGrom should be in? His teammate, Pete Alonso, who summed up his thoughts in a post-game interview.
"He's a Hall of Famer. He should be a Hall of Famer. He's tremendous...Not just talent-wise, but he's one of the guys that's a smart pitcher and just has absolutely electric stuff," Alonso said (via Scott Thompson of SNY). "So when you combine talent and brains, you're going to get an absolutely tremendous athlete."
With only 69 wins to his name, could deGrom reasonably finish his career with under 150 wins and still be a Hall of Fame pitcher? Let us know your thoughts!