Mets: Let’s talk about Pat Zachry, the pitcher traded for Tom Seaver
By Tim Boyle
If Pat Zachry joined the New York Mets under different circumstances, we would think of him a lot differently.
Pat Zachry’s MLB career couldn’t have started off better. He won the 1976 Rookie of the Year Award then won both games he pitched in the playoffs. His first year as a major leaguer ended with a championship. Only a few months later, he was a member of the rebuilding New York Mets.
Zachry arrived to the Mets under less than ideal circumstances. The team was going into rebuild mode. He also had the daunting task of replacing Tom Seaver although I’m not sure anyone believed he actually could.
In examining the career Zachry had with the Mets, it’s quite obvious how much he underachieved. One year after leaving New York, he became a successful reliever with the Los Angeles Dodgers and even returned to the postseason with them after years of never sniffing playoff baseball in Flushing. It wasn’t all his fault. It was a team effort to come up short so many times in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
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Zachry arrived to the Mets when he seemed to be pitching his worst. As a member of the Reds in 1977, he was 3-7 with a 5.04 ERA after 12 starts. Fortunately, things got better when Shea Stadium became his new home. In his final 19 starts wearing blue and orange, the young man went 7-6 with a 3.76 ERA.
The very next season, Zachry was an All-Star for the first and only time of his career. He went 10-6 in 1978 while posting a 3.33 ERA. He did only make 21 starts that year and followed it up with just 9 in 1979.
When he returned healthy in 1980, Zachry had another successful year. His 3.01 ERA and 7 shutouts tell the best story of the good that came out of his performance. Not so great was the 6-10 record.
This was about the end of the good times Zachry experienced while pitching for New York. Although he didn’t go off the deep end, he led the league with 14 losses in 1981 and saw his ERA climb to 4.14. He had another losing season in 1982 when he went 6-9. His ERA this time was at a slightly lower 4.05.
Ultimately, Zachry spent five and a half of his ten years as a big leaguer representing the Mets. He went 41-46 with them, finishing with a 3.63 ERA and 99 ERA+. In other words, he was about average.
It’s strange to go back and look at the players the Mets got in return for Seaver. Zachry was an All-Star. Doug Flynn won a Gold Glove. Steve Henderson hit .287 across four seasons and was a Rookie of the Year runner-up. The fourth guy, Dan Norman, wasn’t nearly as memorable.
The Mets got about what you might expect from the Seaver trade although we often hope for a lot more out of blockbuster deals like this. As we see many times throughout baseball history, none of the lesser players ever do a thing with their new team. In this case, three of the four did.
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In Zachry’s case, New York landed a serviceable pitcher. Because of the circumstances that landed him in Flushing, his career in orange and blue looks a whole lot worse.