deGrominating Baseball

“deGrominating” the Competition

For New York Met fans this year has been a complete bust. The club is 72-82 and 14.0 games out of first place in the N.L. East. However, the lone bright spot has been watching ace Jacob deGrom. deGrom has been nearly unhittable in 2018. He is toting a 1.78 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, while striking out 259 batters in his 209 innings of work. Hitters are hitting an abysmal .200 against deGrom in 2018. Unfortunately, for Mets fans and deGrom (9-9 record) run support has been an issue during deGrom’s starts.

In an already magical season deGrom managed to etch his name in the record books. deGrom is the sole record holder of most consecutive quality starts (28). deGrom separated himself from Bob Gibson and Chris Carpenter after scattering 3 hits, and allowing 1 run in his seven innings of work against the Nationals tonight. A quality start is defined as, six plus innings pitched while allowing three runs or fewer.

This was the aces 23rd consecutive quality start, a MLB single-season record. deGrom has only allowed more than 4 runs in one of his 31 starts in 2018. Barring the results of his final start of 2018, deGrom could join an elite group of pitchers that notched 200+ innings and toted a sub 2.00 era. This would add to an already historic year, for an ace that is not on a playoff contending team. deGrom is on the verge of breaking yet another record, more WAR than wins. Wins above replacement or WAR measures a players total contribution to his team.

The success of deGrom has been highlighted throughout the entire year. The real question is what has contributed to this success. Upon breaking down deGrom’s mechanics he is a very rare pitcher. He is a long and lanky pitcher that stands 6’4”. He uses his length very well and drives down the mound forcefully. The first aspect of his mechanics that was assessed was his stride. His stride is much longer than most MLB pitchers. This allows him to get down the hill, and extend through his target. He also has incredible hip-shoulder separation, and has a strong, and flexible core.

Another aspect of deGrom’s mechanics is his lower arm slot. This allows him to get more movement and creates deception to throw off hitter’s timing. What is really interesting is that deGrom utilizes his long stride, and low arm slot to create a higher spin rate on his fastball. deGrom’s average spin rate is 2,358 rpm, whereas the average MLB spin rate is 2,262 rmp. The reason high spin on a fastball is important is because the ball “defies gravity” for slightly longer than a pitch with average spin. In a hitter’s eyes, the ball falls more slowly, and to the naked eye, may appear that the ball is “rising”.

For younger pitchers, all of this data is not indicating that you need to increase your stride, and lower your arm slot. Jacob deGrom is a freak athlete that makes unconventional mechanics work for him. More than anything deGrom’s success comes from one simple fact, he gets ahead of hitters. The New York Mets ace has thrown 69% of strikes to hitters. His K/9 is 11.15 this year compared to his BB/9 which is 1.98. deGrom has committed himself to attacking hitters. He is going to make hitters beat him, and not allow them to walk down to first base.

It has been an incredible year for deGrom. He is in contention to win the NL Cy Young for the 2018 season. He is creating successful outcomes by incorporating: consistent mechanics, attacking opposing hitters, and competing every pitch. deGrom is a competitor who seeks to win every game he plays, despite being out of playoff contention. Competitiveness is an uncoached trait, that can be an X-Factor in having success in any athletic event. It will be interesting to see if deGrom can finish off his historic season with continued success in his next start. He definitely lived up to his nickname as the “The deGrominator” and has dominated just about every hitter opposing him.

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