Mets: Tom Seaver’s marvelous 1971 season and Cy Young snub
By Tim Boyle
In 1971, New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver starred with yet another terrific performance. Sadly, he didn’t win the Cy Young despite some historic numbers in arguably his best season.
During his time with the New York Mets, pitcher Tom Seaver won three Cy Young Awards. In 1971, Seaver delivered a masterful season complete with 20 wins and a 1.78 ERA.
However, unlike other years, Seaver did not walk away with the Cy Young award. Fellow Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins did.
Seaver’s league-leading ERA and strikeouts were among several accomplishments which could have led to winning the league’s best pitcher award. Jenkins’ superiority in the wins column may have been what put him over the edge.
Whatever convinced the writers to go with Jenkins over Seaver by a rather large margin is long in the past. Instead of trying to debate the reasons, let’s just enjoy how great Seaver performed.
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Seaver’s 289 strikeouts in 1971 went down as the most he ever amassed in a single year. The same is true of the 1.78 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. His 10.2 WAR was topped only once when in 1973 Seaver posted a 10.6 WAR. In that year, Seaver did take home a Cy Young.
Much like many pitchers from the past, Seaver often finished what he started. Seaver made 35 starts (along with a single relief appearance) and completed 21 of them. In four of those starts, he picked up a shutout.
Perhaps the strangest outing of the year for Seaver took place on August 11 against the San Diego Padres. Tom Terrific pitched 10 shutout frames in a Mets loss. Seaver fanned 14 batters over those 10 innings while allowing 3 hits and a pair of walks. Danny Frisella took the loss for the Mets.
Seaver wasn’t always so lucky. On September 26, the Mets ace threw a one-hitter versus the Pittsburgh Pirates. A walk in the seventh inning to Dave Cash ruined the perfect game and set up Vic Davalillo to knock a single into right field.
The season included 13 double-digit strikeout performances. Twice, Seaver fanned a season-high 14.
Throughout his 20 big league seasons, Seaver gave us plenty of stellar ones. An argument could be made that the 1971 campaign was the best he had to offer.
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Unfortunately, it’s a forgotten season for non-Mets faithful because of his Cy Young snub.