Fantasy Baseball 2018: Is Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom ranked too high?

Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom was the only one on his team to reach 30 starts. He saw regression and improvements in all stats as a result.

The New York Mets were riddled by the injury bug yet again in 2017. Top hitters and pitchers spent significant time on the disabled list. Well, not all of the top pitchers. Jacob deGrom made a career-high, and team-high, 31 starts this season. With that came the good and the bad. Should he be ranked as highly as he is?

deGrom held down the Mets rotation for the season. He made just 24 starts last season. The increase in use resulted in an increase in many stats. deGrom posted a 3.53 ERA, 1.187 WHIP and 15-10 record. The ERA was up and WHIP was down compared to 2016.

deGrom saw a big rise in his strikeout rate, going from 8.7 to 10.7 K/9. He also had a smaller increase in his walk ratio, 2.2 to 2.6 BB/9. It’s good to see that with a jump of 60 innings, he only allowed 0.4 walks per nine innings.

The thing that does worry me is that deGrom’s ERA is all his fault. Why? Well, his FIP is 3.53, very close to his ERA, something that has been a theme throughout his career. FIP measures the pitcher’s effectiveness at preventing home runs, walks and hit by pitchers and causing strikeouts.

deGrom gave up 28 home runs, 59 walks and two HBPs. With home runs up in the league, the increase in home-run rate makes sense.

With fantasy baseball experts already posting their 2018 rankings, there are still a lot of things that could change. Free agency hasn’t happened yet and there could be another big trade or two to take place. Until then, deGrom ranks as the No. 9 among starting pitchers in ESPN and an average of 8.5 among the four CBS Sports contributors.

As a member of the top-10, fantasy owners expect a lot from a potential top-40 overall pick. I don’t think posting a 3.50 ERA and 1.187 WHIP qualifies as that. He finished as the No. 14 starting pitcher on the Player Rater this year.

The top-four pitchers on the Rater finished with sub-3.00 ERAs and sub-1.00 WHIPs. Those pitchers are Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale. The No. 5 and 6 pitchers, Stephen Strasburg and Luis Severino, weren’t that far behind those numbers.

Now, is it fair to rank deGrom poorly because of his contemporaries over his numbers? I think so. There’s a reason Jose Altuve is the consensus No. 1 second baseman next year. It’s because everyone else at that position isn’t close to his production. Yes, he’s also really good but that’s only part of it.

Looking at the pitchers ranked after him, I’d rather have his teammate Noah Syndergaard, Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander and Carlos Martinez.

deGrom is good, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t think he is a No. 1 starting pitcher in standard leagues. With 200 strikeouts and 3.15 ERA, he has a shot to make it into the top 12 but I can’t see a jump into the top 10. A top-10 offseason ranking is just too high for me.