Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard has no problem being referred to as the leader of his team's current pitching staff, he told Ben Reiter, who featured a profile on Syndergaard in this month's Sport Illustrated.
His goal, however, is to continue to get better... and look good doing it...
"I always want to raise the bar," he told SI. "Right now, with me throwing 100, I'm not really sure if that's attainable. But I still want to try. And to look good in the uni, of course."
Syndergaard, 24, was 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA (2.29 FIP) and 1.14 WHIP in 31 appearances (30 starts) last season, during which he made the All-Star team, finished third in ERA and became the first pitcher in MLB history to start his career with 350 strikeouts and less than 80 walks.
He has thrown 359 innings during the last year and a half, while averaging the highest velocity in baseball with his fastball (98.0 mph), slider (90.9 mph), and changeup (89.8 mph).
Syndergaard throws during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Syndergaard says he's added roughly 17 pounds of muscle this winter by training at the EXOS facility in Frisco, Texas, which is located near his childhood home in Mansfield.
"He's also cultivating other aspects of his image," Reiter explains. "Syndergaard admires the tough old gunslingers, like Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan, and emulates them on the mound. He famously threw the first offering of his World Series start at 98 mph directly over the head of Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, who had been swinging at-and -hitting-almost every first pitch he'd seen that October."
Syndergaard told Reiter that he wasn't implying that he and the Royals get in to a physical altercation, but that he'd simply welcome the opportunity to discuss any issues they may have had.
"I've never been in a fight in my life," he added. "But, I like my odds."
Syndergaard was diagnosed with a bone spur in his elbow early last season, though it did not impact his performance and does not require surgery, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said in early-November.
In January, Nationals OF Bryce Harper posted a video of himself and his brother, Bryan, singing in excitement for Ohio State football's playoff game against Clemson.
Barstool Sports shared it on their Instagram account, on which Syndergaard responded in the comment section, calling Harper a 'douche.'
Syndergaard later deleted the comment, but not before Barstool Sports and hundreds of fans captured it with a screen grab and spread the image across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
"Bryce and I aren't buddy-buddy, but we see each other out, we acknowledge each other," Syndergaard told Reiter of his relationship with Washington's top player.
"Everybody loves a little bit of rivalry. He and I have the same goal: to make baseball fun again. Draw more fans, draw more excitement to the game."
In December, Syndergaard told WOR 710 AM that he and his teammates plan to hit Spring Training focused on attaining the ultimate goal in 2017.
"I don't want to make any promises, but I think a World Series is looking pretty good to us," he said.