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.