Jacob deGrom is putting together a run bearing a striking resemblance to the one Sandy Koufax had. Koufax is in the HOF because of it. deGrom can do it too.
Jacob deGrom did not reach a pinnacle of success until the age of 26. The same is true of Sandy Koufax who, like deGrom, was good but not very good before then. But what came after that is incredible.
A study of pitchers in the Baseball Hall of Fame breaks the group into two types. The first is the “compilers,” the Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, and the Bert Blyleven‘s of baseball. These are the pitchers who pitched for 15-20 seasons, and over time, they had the “numbers.”
The second group is the one we are deliberating on here. These are the pitchers who “dominated” batters over a relatively short time, but that dominance was so impressive it couldn’t be ignored.
deGrom And Koufax – On The Run
From 1962-1966, Koufax reigned supreme in the National League, much like deGrom has done for his last two seasons.
A caveat before we go further suggests that similarly does not mean the same, and this is not to suggest that deGrom is the same or better than Koufax – because Koufax pitched on a planet only he owned.
And granted, five years does not equal two, but deGrom is far from finished. While Koufax led his league for each of those five seasons in Earned Run Average, deGrom has two and counting.
What Dominating Looks Like
With two outs and runners in scoring position, Koufax held hitters to a .155 average in his best year (1966). Last year, hitters batted only .105 against deGrom in the same situation.
Like Koufax, deGrom is totally dominating National League batters. Consider, for instance, that deGrom reach a 3-0 count only five times last year, and a 3-1 count 19 times.
Moreover, of the 800 or so batters he faced, deGrom was 0-2 101 times and 1-2 on 159 hitters.
Regrettably, those stats were not compiled during the years Koufax played, but we would expect the number to be similar.
Sandy Koufax won 165 games during his illustrious career, typically not enough to even be considered for the HOF election. But remember, we’re talking about a five-year run that had no parallel. Until, maybe now.
deGrom has only 66 wins to date. 300 is out, and so too is probably even the 165 compiled by Koufax.
Even if deGrom reaches the end of his contract in 2024 at the age of 36, averaging 20 wins per year, he would only equal the total of Koufax.
And let’s face it, with the horrid run supported the Mets supply for him, deGrom will be lucky to reach 140 wins.
And that is why it is so vital for deGrom to continue and complete the run he is on – if he has any chance for election to Cooperstown.
Koufax And deGrom – Never Numbers Compilers
Koufax, often referred to as The Left Hand Of God, retired voluntarily from baseball due to acute arthritis following the 1966 season, only 30 years old (Video). deGrom, as mentioned before, will be 36 when his contract with the Mets runs out.
Much like Koufax, deGrom appears to have immense pride in his ability to be at the top of his game every time he takes the mound. Which means deGrom is a great bet to step aside rather than take a one or two year deal that has him pitching close to 40.
This, in contrast, for instance, (and I love and idolize him greatly) to CC Sabathia, who hung in there to get that 3,000th strikeout with burning knees and sheer desire – even though his skills as a pitcher were in noticeable decline.
Much like a work-week, this is hump-day for deGrom – the third of five seasons, which, if replicating the last two can be achieved – puts him on the same plane as Sandy Koufax with entry to the HOF as the prize.