Jacob deGrom wins National League Rookie of the Year Award

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Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom was announced as the winner of the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year Award by the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) on Monday, beating out Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton and Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong. It wasn’t unanimous like Jose Abreu in the American League, but DeGrom still received 26 out of the 30 first-place votes. Hamilton got the other four first-place votes.

A late-bloomer, deGrom wasn’t on the radar in most prospect circles coming into the season and was even an afterthought among Mets fans with Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero presumed to be close to the majors. However, he turned out to be the biggest bright spot in the Mets’ season. Called up in mid-May after an injury to Dillon Gee, the shaggy-haired 26-year-old posted a 2.69 ERA with a 144/43 K/BB ratio in 140 1/3 innings across 22 starts.

Hamilton faded during the second half, but deGrom got better as the season moved along. He had a 1.99 ERA over his final 15 starts and allowed more than three runs just once in that time. DeGrom had a minor scare with his right shoulder in early August, but he rejoined the Mets’ rotation a few weeks later and finished September strong with a 1.67 ERA over four starts. The final push put made him the heavy favorite to walk away with Rookie of the Year honors.

While deGrom didn’t pitch the full season in the majors, he was right there among the game’s best when he was on the mound. Among pitchers with at least 140 innings pitched, he ranked 10th in the majors in strikeout percentage (25.5 percent), 11th in batting average against (.225), and 10th in OPS against (.613). His 130 ERA+ checked in at 19th. The Mets already had an impressive young nucleus of pitchers coming into this season, but deGrom’s unexpected emergence gives them another front-of-the-rotation stud.

DeGrom is the fifth National League Rookie of the Year winner in Mets history and the first in 30 years. Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983), and Dwight Gooden (1984) are the others.

Complete voting results for the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year Award can be found at BBWAA.com.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.