How Jacob deGrom’s season compares with Tom Seaver’s 1971

Jacob deGrom is racking up a historic year on the mound for the Mets, one with quite a few similarities to the season the greatest Met of all, Tom Seaver, put up in 1971. In ‘71 Seaver was in his fifth year in the Majors, as deGrom is this year. Both had won a Rookie of the Year award, and both had helped pitch their team to an unlikely pennant, Seaver in ‘69 with the world champs, and deGrom in 2015.

deGrom is scheduled for one more start this season, so his stats will change slightly. But as of today, several of those stats are remarkably close to Tom Seaver’s 1971 figures. Seaver led the league with a 1.76 ERA, and deGrom has an ERA of 1.77. Both were well ahead of their nearest rivals. The nearest qualified starter to Seaver’s total was Dave Roberts of San Diego with a 2.10 ERA. Trailing deGrom is Aaron Nola of the Phils with 2.45, almost ¾ of a run per game behind.

WHIP was not an official statistic back in 1971, but it can be calculated, and Seaver’s figure was 0.946, which would have lead the league. deGrom’s WHIP is very close, at 0.938, second in the league. Another stat that was not official back in ‘71 is FIP. Seaver’s 1.93 would have lead the league, and deGrom’s slightly higher FIP of 2.03 does lead the NL.

One stat in which they are far apart is wins, a stat that was valued more highly in 1971 than it is today. Seaver notched 20 wins, against 10 losses. deGrom’s tally sits at 9-9. Seaver pitched 21 complete games in his 35 starts in ‘71, so he did not have to rely as much on his bullpen to hold leads. However, when he did get relief help, it was usually quite good. The two main relievers for the Mets in ‘71 were Tug McGraw, with a 1.70 ERA in 111 innings, and Danny Frisella with a 1.98 ERA in 91 innings. deGrom, unfortunately, has been the recipient of the current bullpens’ efforts, enough said about that.

There is one comparison that hopefully will not play out. Seaver, despite having perhaps his best season statistically, did not win the Cy Young in 1971. Ferguson Jenkins of the Cubs, with his 24-13 record, was the winner that year. Jenkins’ ERA was 2.77, just about a run per game worse that Seaver’s mark. Jenkins’ win was controversial at the time, and would have been even more so today with advanced metrics available to the voters. Seaver had already won one Cy Young award, in 1969, and he would go on to win two more, but he really deserved to win in ‘71 as well.

Although deGrom is considered to be the favorite for the Cy Young this year, there is stiff competition from Max Scherzer of the Nats, and, to a lesser extent, Aaron Nola. Hopefully the 2018 voters will be more diligent than their 1971 counterparts were.

14 comments for “How Jacob deGrom’s season compares with Tom Seaver’s 1971

  1. Madman
    September 25, 2018 at 11:23 am

    Wins? Not valued (as highly)? Winning isn’t that why they play the game? Aren’t QBs devalued because they didn’t win a Super Bowl? And Ewing and othe B-ball greats are devalued because they couldn’t beat out Jordan.

    • John Fox
      September 25, 2018 at 1:54 pm

      I was writing about wins as reflective of a pitchers performance, the modern trend is to look at more metrics that the pitcher has control of in judging the pitchers performance. When it comes to a team as a whole, wins are what matters.

    • Bill
      September 25, 2018 at 8:56 pm

      QBs play the entire game so not a good comparison. Team pulls DeGrom after 6-7 innings due to pitch count.

  2. Metsense
    September 25, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    The article was unique and an enjoyable reading. I still can’t believe that Jenkins beat Seaver for the Cy Young Award. I lived in New York until I retired so if Seaver was “The Franchise” is Jacob ” de Franchise” you’all?

  3. Michael Walczak
    September 25, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    If you have an ERA of 1.76 and pitch 21 complete games, it is much more likely that you will win more games, than pitching six innings a game.

    That being said, both seasons are great. It is going to be very interesting to see how the Cy Young award voting plays out. It is only one game, but his last start is important. Would be great to extend the streak and finish the year on a high.

    Here is the impact. If he wins, he is 10-9. If he loses, 9-10. That could sway the Cy vote. Thoughts ?

    • John Fox
      September 25, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      Michael, I think if Jake is the winning pitcher that could have at least a little impact, a win crosses 2 thresholds in that it gives him a winning season and it also pushes him into double digits in wins.

  4. John Fox
    September 25, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Thanks, Metsense, and it did take me a few seconds before “de Franchise” made sense, very clever

    • Metsense
      September 25, 2018 at 7:51 pm


  5. david
    September 25, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    Seaver was robbed by the voters. What an embarrassment!

  6. José
    September 25, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    Interesting, but if you examine Jenkins’ WAR in 1971, it was just a hair lower than Seaver’s. Could be because Jenkins pitched 40 more innings and walked 25 fewer batters (numbers approximate) than “The Franchise”.

  7. Pete from NJ
    September 25, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    I recall the 1971 season vividly. It was unbelievable that Seaver did not win the CYA much like deGrom not winning this year.

    Yet Fergie Jenkins was a great pitcher and without looking up previous awards I remember “it was his turn to win.”

    In addition, John Fox adding that Seaver/deGrom are both in their 5th season in 1971/2018 puts me in a tizzy. Seaver was the franchise simply because the team never had a star player before him. deGrom’s historic season is diluted (for me) because there are players that proceeded him with star talent.

    Perception is everything?

    • david
      September 26, 2018 at 12:44 am

      Pete, from my home state: you are truly correct: It was about time that Ferguson finally won the Cy Young award. Unfortunately, my home town hero was also deserving of the honour. Tom Seaver is one of the finest all time starting pitchers in MB History.

      In the Pacific, DCH

      Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words in your post, as that is a violation of our Comment Policy.

  8. david
    September 26, 2018 at 12:29 am

    Tom Seaver
    1969 New York Mets
    Record 25-7
    World Series Champion

    New York True Champion

  9. Kahuna Tuna
    September 27, 2018 at 2:20 am

    Four old-school stats from Jenkins’ 1971 season that I think helped persuade the writers to choose him over Seaver: NL-leading 30 complete games; NL-leading 24 wins; 37 walks in 325 IP (1.0 per 9 IP); it was Jenkins’ fifth consecutive 20-win season.

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