Mets: How Jon Matlack cost Tom Seaver a ten-year franchise streak
By Tim Boyle
Tom Seaver would have had an impressive ten-year streak with the New York Mets if not for Jon Matlack outpitching him twice.
In 1967, Tom Seaver led the New York Mets with a new franchise-leading 6.7 WAR. It was his first time leading the franchise in this statistic although nobody knew it at the time. WAR is a generally new statistic and not something people cared about in the 1960s.
Seaver led the Mets in this statistic often up until he was traded in the middle of 1977. In fact, if not for Jon Matlack, Seaver would have led the organization WAR all ten seasons from 1967 through 1976.
Good old, Jon Matlack. The third great pitcher from the early Mets days first cut down Seaver’s streak in 1972 with a 6.1 WAR season. Seaver, who finished the year with a 5.6 WAR, had to concede victory to someone else for the first time in his career.
Matlack had an ERA 0.60 points lower than Seaver and wasn’t too far behind in wins. At 15-10 with a 2.32 ERA, Matlack certainly had Seaver-esque numbers.
Meanwhile, at 21-12 with a 2.92 ERA, Tom Terrific settled for second-place this one time.
Seaver returned in 973 with a career-best 11 WAR. He led the league with a 2.08 ERA, 18 complete games, and 251 strikeouts. He did everything a man could do on the mound and picked up the Cy Young for his efforts.
A new WAR streak was about to begin for Seaver, but in 1974, Matlack outpitched him in this category for the second time. This time, the distance was further than it was in 1972.
Matlack went 13-15 with a 2.41 ERA for the 1974 Mets. Seaver, in atypical fashion, was 11-11 with a 3.20 ERA. It was a strange year for the team coming off of their World Series appearance one year earlier. Seaver was not his sharpest nor was Matlack.
As far as totals go, Matlack finished the year with an 8.7 WAR. Seaver settled for a 5.8 WAR in one of his weaker seasons with the Mets. Seaver would rebound with two more seasons of leading the team in this statistic before he left the franchise halfway through the 1977 season.
Nobody has led the Mets in WAR as often as Seaver. His streak of five straight seasons from 1967-1971 is also a franchise-best.
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If there’s one thing that shocks me about this information it’s that Jerry Koosman never dethroned Seaver. Koosman, as brilliant as he was, never led the Mets in this statistic.