During the All-Star break last year, I wrote a post saying Jacob deGrom had pushed his way into the conversation for Rookie of the Year (and we all know how that ended). I believe I was the first people to about write it; others started after the break. I was going to do the same thing this year for Noah Syndergaard, but it seemed premature. Well, after Tuesday’s brilliant start, Syndergaard has indeed pushed his way into the conversation.
When I wrote the column last year, deGrom had 12 starts, was 3-5 with a 3.18 ERA. In 73.2 innings he had 72 strikeouts. Syndergaard is even better this year. Thus far he’s had 14 starts and is 5-5 with a 2.70 ERA. He has 91 strikeouts in 86.2 innings.
Last year Billy Hamilton was the mid-season favorite, but he slumped while deGrom surged.
Syndergaard has more competition if he hopes to win Rookie of the Year. If the season ended today, Joc Pederson would probably win the vote. He has 21 home runs but is slumping, batting just .228. Kris Bryant would get some support — he is batting .251 with 14 homers and a rookie-leading 59 RBIs. And look out for Giants third baseman Matt Duffy. He is batting .304, good for 10th in the league.
Right now Syndergaard is not even the top rookie pitcher. That honor would go to Chris Heston, that guy who threw that no-hitter against the Mets. He is 11-5 with a 3.14 ERA, with 99 strikeouts in 126 innings. Brewers reliever Michael Blazek is also having a fine season with a 1.81 ERA, but it is rare for a middle reliever to win the prize.
So Noah Syndergaard has some work to do. The hitters have decent numbers, but nothing earth shattering. I think Heston is the real obstacle. Unless he crashes, he’ll probably end up with 17 or so wins and a solid ERA. And while the sabermetrics crowd will tell you wins do not matter, they do when it comes to post-season awards (Felix Hernandez’s nonsense Cy Young award notwithstanding).
Syndergaard has about 10 starts left. Even if he wins eight of them, that leaves him with just 13 wins. The ERA and strikeouts will be key. If Syndergaard is pitching well enough to win eight of his last 10 games, he will likely have an ERA in the low twos, with around 150 strikeouts in about 150 innings in 24 starts.
deGrom won the award with a 9-6 record and a 2.69 ERA. He had 144 strikeouts in 140.1 innings over 22 starts. Again, Noah Syndergaard faces stiffer competition, but it is possible.
And you read it here first.