He did make it, of course, establishing himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball -- or perhaps simply validating his status as such. deGrom was already one of the game's top arms, having won National League Rookie of the Year honors in 2014. But given his emergence seemingly from nowhere, there was a thought heading into this summer that he might tumble backward.
Instead, deGrom catapulted forward, actually improving across the board to become the Mets' lone All-Star. Outperforming Matt Harvey and everyone else in New York's star-studded rotation, deGrom took his place alongside the game's best in Cincinnati; if not for Zack Greinke's otherworldly season for the Dodgers, he may have even become the first Mets pitcher since Harvey to start for the NL.
"I wanted to kind of prove that it wasn't luck," deGrom said. "Everybody says that your second year is your toughest year because they've got more video and stuff on you. I think I made a pretty good adjustment looking at video and having a good game plan going into a game."
His adjustments include throwing more offspeed pitches behind in counts, as well as a mechanical tweak that he believes helped him reduce his walk rate from 2.8 per nine innings to 1.7, seventh in the NL at the break. But mostly, deGrom has simply used his increased fastball velocity -- he's averaged almost 95 mph with that pitch this year, up from 93.5 a year ago -- to overpower hitters; he's throwing it almost two-thirds of the time.
Unlike Harvey, who has been inconsistent in his first year back from Tommy John surgery, deGrom has been routinely brilliant in going 9-6 with a 2.14 ERA over the season's first half. He fired eight consecutive quality starts from May 16 through June 25, posting a 1.23 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings. So it makes sense that his confidence is creeping up to match his results.
DeGrom may still be still wide-eyed in some ways, gushing about meeting Clayton Kershaw and, at the end of his media session Monday, detaching his nameplate from the wall behind him to keep as a souvenir. Yet if last summer's ROY campaign did not convince deGrom that he is one of the game's best pitchers, his trip to Cincinnati has seemingly done the trick.
"I think I'm a good pitcher," deGrom said. "I think we're all confident in that whenever we take the mound. But I never would have thought I'm All-Star-type material. So it's taken a little while for it all to set in."
During the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile in Cincinnati on Tuesday, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Chevrolet, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app.
The 86th Midsummer Classic will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (coverage begins 7 p.m. ET), in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.