Students from Pace University Law School annually compete in a baseball arbitration competition at Tulane University in New Orleans. Their projections for the salaries of arbitration-eligible Mets players annually prove remarkably close to the actual salaries those players ultimately receive. The current Pace team provides their analyses this week for Metsblog. The squad includes Earl Menard, James Di Maggio, and Scott Koren, all from the Class of 2018. They are coached by Dan Masi, a 2014 Pace graduate and former winner of the Tulane competition. The projections are based on salaries received by other MLB players at the points in their careers when they had comparable service time to the current Mets.
Noah Syndergaard opened 2017 in dominating fashion. He turned in four straight quality starts to open the year. Then his season began to unravel. In his next start, Syndergaard surrendered five runs in just 1 1/3 innings. He then landed on the disabled list with a partially torn lat muscle. Syndergaard would come back for two short starts at the end of the season, totaling three innings, during which he did not allow a run.
For his career. Syndergaard sports a 24-18 record in 61 starts, with a 2.89 ERA. He burst onto the scene in 2015, making 24 regular-season starts, going 9-7 with a 3.24 ERA. And helping the Mets make it to the World Series. Syndergaard followed up his rookie year with an All-Star season in 2016 that saw him finish with a 14-9 record and amass 218 strikeouts in 183 2/3 innings. He finished his sophomore season with seven scoreless innings against San Francisco in the National League Wild Card Game, but the Mets lost to Madison Bumgarner and the Giants.
Entering arbitration for the first time, as a Super 2, Syndergaard compares statistically to Alex Wood, Patrick Corbin, and the late Jose Fernandez when they had equivalent major league experience.
Corbin went through arbitration after the 2015 season and was awarded $2.525 million. He made more starts, pitched more innings and won more games than Syndergaard in the equivalent year experience-wise. For their careers, Corbin had more wins, starts and innings pitched. Syndergaard, however, had a better winning percentage, ERA, WHIP and quality start percentage.
Wood went through arbitration after the 2016 season and was awarded $2.8 million. Wood only pitched 60 1/3 innings over 11 starts due to injury. He went 1-4 and had a 3.73 ERA. Syndergaard posted a better ERA and WHIP in their corresponding seasons. For their careers, Wood threw 100-plus more innings and had 16 more starts than Syndergaard. Syndergaard, however, has a much better ERA, WHIP, and winning percentage.
Syndergaard is closest statistically to Fernandez, whose life was sadly cut short. Fernandez was awarded $3.05 million after the 2015 season. He made 11 starts that year as he was returning from Tommy John surgery. Fernandez threw more innings, but the pitchers had almost identical ERAs. At the corresponding experience points in their careers, Fernandez boasted a better ERA and winning percentage. Syndergaard, however, produced more wins overall, started 13 more games than Fernandez had, and pitched 80 more innings.
Syndergaard has cemented his place as a frontline starter. After returning to pitch at the end of the 2017 season to demonstrate he is no longer injured, Syndergaard will hope to be compensated slightly more than the rate Fernandez earned at the equivalent point.
Syndergaard's market comparisons suggest he should earn a $3.2 million salary.
Adam Rubin (Facebook | Twitter | Contact) has covered the Mets since 2002. He previously worked for the Daily News and ESPN. He also serves as assistant athletic director for strategic communications at NYIT. He is a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the University of Pennsylvania.