Noah Syndergaard is a key piece to the New York Mets’ 2020 roster, meaning the club would be wrong to trade him.
New York Mets fans have seemingly been torn on Noah Syndergaard since the start of the 2018 season. Once he returned from his torn labrum, fans seemed to forget he was one of the best pitchers in baseball in 2016.
He was on track to be labeled elite again in 2017 before he tore his labrum. Yet, when he returned from injury and was above-average, on the cusp of elite, many fans gave up on him.
The baseball world started to believe Syndergaard wasn’t special. So, when the rumors swirled around a potential trade in the winter, the fanbase split by way of consensus.
There were those who believed Syndergaard was still an elite pitcher who was being let down by a bad defense and an awful catching situation. Other fans looked at what Jacob deGrom did and wondered why Syndergaard couldn’t do the same. They saw the downfall and thought trading him for a price would better set up the team for the future.
Interestingly, the crowd that wanted to keep Thor and his hammer in Queens is right. The numbers back up those who believe Syndergaard is elite.
Since returning from injury in 2018, Syndergaard has been worth 8.6 fWAR. That’s good for 13th best in baseball. The issue with this number is that Syndergaard has the third-fewest innings of pitchers in the top 13.
If these numbers are broken down on a per nine-inning basis, Syndergaard is worth 0.217 fWAR/9. That would rank 10th in baseball over the last two years, ahead of Zack Wheeler, Stephen Strasburg, Aaron Nola, Zack Greinke, Walker Beuhler and Kyle Hendricks.
That’s elite company for Syndergaard. Strasburg is the second-highest-paid pitcher in baseball, yet Syndergaard has been more valuable on a per nine-inning basis.
This another reason why stats like ERA are starting to become outdated. They don’t judge a pitcher’s true ability to pitch. It judges how the team plays a whole when that pitcher is on the mound.
A better indicator of how well a pitcher is actually pitching is FIP or fielder independent pitching. Syndergaard ranks 10th in FIP. Syndergaard has a half-run difference in his ERA and FIP in the last two years. In 2019 alone, Syndergaard had a near .70 run difference in his FIP and ERA.
All of this is to say that Syndergaard is better when the team behind him can field the ball.
If the last two seasons is too small a sample size than let’s expand this to the last five seasons. Syndergaard debuted in 2015, and since then he’s 10th in MLB in fWAR among pitchers with 18.8.
That includes missing an entire season in 2017 due to a torn labrum. Syndergaard has the fewest innings of any pitcher in the top 20 fWAR since 2015.
On a per nine-inning basis, Syndergaard has been worth 0.236 fWAR. That puts Syndergaard seventh in baseball, ahead of players like Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. Syndergaard’s 2.92 FIP is 10th in baseball over that span.
By almost every advanced statistical measure Noah Syndergaard has been and continues to be a top-10 pitcher in baseball.
He may not be one of the best pitchers in baseball like Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer or Chris Sale. That doesn’t mean Noah Syndergaard isn’t one of the elite pitchers in MLB. It would be hard to argue that Syndergaard isn’t one of the top-10 pitchers in the league.
What he means to the New York Mets in 2020
Syndergaard means everything to the 2020 Mets. With the loss of Wheeler, they’re going to need Syndergaard to be at his best. A level he hasn’t reached since 2016.
For the Mets to be in contention for a playoff spot they’re going to need Syndergaard to be on another level. They don’t have the depth to deal with him not playing to that level.
Wheeler was worth 4.7 fWAR last season. The Mets are going to need Syndergaard to help replace that missing value. If he can reach the level he did in 2016 and have a 6 fWAR season, then all Porcello or Wacha will have to do is put up 3.1 fWAR season.
That’s not too far off from the 2.4 fWAR that Porcello put up in 2018.
It’s not going to be to replace Wheeler and still get better. The key to doing so is Noah Syndergaard. He has all the potential in the world to make a move into the best in the game conversation, as Gerrit Cole did.
If he can finally make that leap in 2020 it’s going to be hard to stop the New York Mets from winning the NL East.