clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Jacob deGrom wins 2014 NL Rookie of the Year award

The 26-year-old Mets right-hander came out of nowhere to blow away the field.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Baseball Writers' Association of America officially announced Mets right-handed pitcher Jacob deGrom as the National League Rookie of the Year. The 26-year-old beat out fellow finalists Billy Hamilton of the Reds and Kolten Wong of the Cardinals.

The hurler received 26 of 30 first-place votes and totaled 142 points to win the award. Hamilton finished as the runner-up, earning the other four first-place votes and 92 points. Wong came in third with 14 total points.

Prior to the season, Baseball America rated deGrom the 10th-best prospect in the Mets organization. However, the combination of his age and uninspiring 2013 season (4.51 ERA in 147⅔ innings split across three levels) made it clear that the ranking was based on potential rather than performance. (It must also be remembered that hitter-friendly Triple-A Las Vegas is a pitchers' graveyard.) "He has a ceiling as a No. 4 starter," BA concluded, "or better."

That's not what a ceiling is. Yet that oddly tagged-on, contradictory "or better" provided a saving accuracy. Though he didn't start the season with the big-league club, deGrom posted a 2.58 ERA in the dry desert air and was called up in mid-May. A few years removed from Tommy John surgery, deGrom showed off a fastball that averaged 94 mph and a mean slider. On Sept. 15 against the Marlins he tied a major league record by striking out the first eight batters of the game. That was the apogee of a stretch from July through the end of the season in which he posted a 2.10 ERA with 99 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 13 starts.

Center fielder Hamilton, a light-hitting speedster, stole 56 bases, good for second in the NL behind Dee Gordon's 64. However, he had trouble reaching base in the first place, hitting only .250/.292/.355. He also led the league in caught stealing with 23 and disappeared almost entirely in the second half, hitting .200/.254/.257 after the break. His strong defense only partially redeemed his performance.

Second baseman Wong, a 2011 first-round pick of the Cardinals, hit .249/.292/.388 with 12 home runs in 113 games during a season in which St. Louis dumped him to the minor leagues at one point so the team could play the ghost of Mark Ellis for a couple of weeks. With three postseason home runs he became an October hero for the Cardinals, but of course that had no impact on his finish in the voting, which was completed at the end of the regular season.

The Mets organization adds its fifth Rookie of the Year award and its first in 30 years. Previous winners were Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983), and Dwight Gooden (1984).