Most talented pitcher in MLB may not be in the Hall of Fame 

The case of Jacob deGrom 

BRANDON WILLMAN, Evergreen reporter

In the current MLB, teams are far more likely to have short leashes for their pitchers to limit injuries. A significant reason for that is the case of Jacob deGrom, potentially the single most talented pitcher to play since Pedro Martinez. 

deGrom has been dominant when he is able to take the mound, but through injuries and load management, as well as the fact that he had a late start to his career, he has only made 209 starts at the age of 34. For context, Clayton Kershaw, who is the same age, has made 398 starts. 

With next year being the 10th season that deGrom will play, he will now be eligible to appear on Hall of Fame ballots when he chooses to retire. His productivity but lack of counting stats beg the question, is pure talent good enough to get you into the Hall of Fame if the sample size is large enough? 

The question does not have a straightforward answer. In the case of deGrom, he may easily pitch for the next five to six years at an elite level and do more than enough to have high counting stats, or he might only pitch to an elite level for two years and injuries could end his career. 

Being a hall of famer is the highest individual honor a player can achieve, but it is in limbo of being a longevity distinction rather than a pure talent one. 

Not only are career analysts finding it challenging to gauge the odds of deGrom making the hall, but WSU students are as well. 

Of 65 WSU students polled on whether they believed he was a hall of famer or not, only six of the 65 said that right now he has a case. However, when asked whether or not he will finish his career with the honor, the results were slightly more optimistic. 

Out of the 65 students, 42 hold the belief that he will end his career with enough accolades and stats to make a strong case. 

The general consensus of those 23 students with a pessimistic outlook on deGrom was that with his lack of consistency staying on the field and with every injury he is becoming closer to having a career-ender. 

But why could deGrom be a hall of famer? The answer is simple: pitching dominance. 

Through his nine seasons thus far he has a record of 82-57, similar to Babe Ruth’s pitching record, with an ERA of 2.52, also similar to Ruth.

deGrom is also a strikeout king, tallying 1,607 to only 303 walks. His career ERA+ is 155 and he has racked up awards with a Rookie of the Year, four All-Star appearances and two Cy Young awards. 

His career wins above replacement is at 43.8 and his seven-year peak is a measly 39.8, both well below the average hall of famer. Even with these stats pointing to low production, his WAR per 162 games is 7.0, 3.5 higher than the average hall of famer. 

Despite all of this, the best case that he might have is the dominant two-season stretch he had between 2018 and 2019. Starting 64 games, he went 21-17 with a 2.05 ERA, tallying 524 strikeouts and having an ERA+ of 190. 

While not as dominant, it is the second-best two-year stretch since Pedro Martinez in 99-00’. 

Going into the 2023 season, there is potential that deGrom will be wearing new threads as he enters free agency. Showing interest in joining the dynasty of the Houston Astros, years of team success and joining a team that has worked magic with older pitchers such as Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke could be the perfect fit for a pitcher trying to solidify a Hall of Fame case.