We shouldn’t run out to commission his Hall of Fame plaque just yet, but Jacob deGrom could be in the middle of a career that winds up in that upstate New York town. He has a difficult road ahead of him, but he could have one stat that will make his enshrinement possible.
That stat will not be wins. Because he started his career at the relatively late age of 26 and because he and the Mets offense cannot seem to connect, he will not accumulate enough wins to justify the Hall of Fame. deGrom currently has 63 wins at age 31; he will be lucky to get close to 150.
No, if deGrom gets into the Hall, it will be because of ERA. deGrom’s career ERA currently stands at 2.65. To put that into perspective, the current leader among retired modern-day starters is Whitey Ford at 2.74 (Ford is actually 89th all time, but most of the starters ahead of him pitched during Prohibition, so Ford is kind of, sort of the record holder). Clayton Kershaw will probably retire with the record — he is currently at 2.41.
But if deGrom can continue his excellence and get his career ERA down to, say, 2.50, that could be good enough for the voters. Why? Well, let’s take a look at the ERAs of some randomly selected all-time greats:
Tom Seaver: 2.86
Steve Carlton: 3.21
Pedro Martinez: 2.92
Greg Maddux: 3.15
Sandy Koufax: 2.76
deGrom’s ERA is currently below all of these Hall of Famers, which means it is pretty darned good. And if it goes even lower, can voters deny him?
Well, they could. They could decide deGrom doesn’t have enough wins or his career was too short (let’s say he pitches five or six more years).
One thing that could ensure enshrinement — if deGrom wins more Cy Young awards. He probably needs two more; every eligible pitcher who has won three Cy Youngs is in the Hall of Fame, except for Roger Clemens for obvious reasons.
So deGrom has some work to do. It would help if the Mets offense could score more runs and the bullpen did not fail him. But he could still get into the Hall without their help.