If the season ended today, there is no doubt in my mind that the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year Award would go to New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom. Out of all the rookies in the NL, he has made the biggest impact on his team and has flat out contributed the most. He has shook off an injury that sidelined him for a couple of weeks in the beginning of August and has looked like he is well on his way to becoming one of the premier pitchers in the game.
Since he debuted in mid-May, he showed that not only does he belong here, but he will be a significant part of this starting rotation. His first career start was against the New York Yankees and you couldn’t even tell he was a rookie, let alone his debut. He has been poised from Day 1 and his maturity level is very high which is something not every young player has.
DeGrom lives off his fastball; he hits his spots with precision which has made him so difficult to hit. His fastball ranges in the 93-96 mph range and he can throw it on the black with great consistency. Earlier this year, he struck out Washington Nationals‘ Bryce Harper on three-consecutive fastballs right on the outside part and he couldn’t touch it. This is what I love about this kid’s game; he says here it is, now hit it.
Last night he only added to what was already a great season. He went seven innings allowing one unearned run on four hits while striking out five in a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. With the win last night, he now improves to 7-6 on the season with a 2.94 ERA and has struck out 106 batters in his 18 starts. His seven wins ties him for first among NL rookie starting pitchers; his 2.94 ERA ranks first among rookie starters and his 106 strikeouts is also the most among rookie starters.
There really should be no argument here. He has been by far the best rookie pitcher in the league given his sample of work. The only guy who really can give deGrom a run for his money is Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton. Personally, I think it really shouldn’t be a conversation. Hamilton is a good player, but his numbers aren’t good enough to deem him as the Rookie of the Year.
In Hamilton’s rookie campaign, he has a slash line of .267/.302/.385, has hit six home runs, driven in 46 runs and stolen 51 bases, but has been caught a league-leading 19 times. He also strikes out quite a bit; on the year, he has struck out a total of 95 times and walked only 25 times which just doesn’t cut it for a leadoff hitter. Hamilton has great speed and does play a solid center field, but he is not the NL Rookie of the Year.
DeGrom has to be the front-runner at this point for the award; I just can’t see it any other way right now. If he finishes off the season strong, which I think he will, this award should be all wrapped up for him. The other candidates are just not having as good of a year as he is, plain and simple. His fellow teammate, Jeurys Familia, should receive some votes as well for his stellar season out of the bullpen, but at the end of the day, deGrom has to get this award.
It has been great to watch this kid jump on the scene and make his presences felt from Day 1. He will be a huge part of the Mets’ future and should be rewarded for excellence with the NL Rookie of the Year Award.