The New York Mets have always been known for their pitching. Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, Doc Gooden, Ron Darling, David Cone, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, and Jacob deGrom are just some of the studs that have pitched for this team.
The Mets have had seven Cy Young seasons, so let’s rank them.
I decided to lean heavily on ERA+ for this ranking. ERA+ takes a wide range of factors into account, such as ballparks and leagues, and is adjusted to the factor of 100. That means that 100 is the average. If somebody were to have an ERA+ of 150, it means they performed 50% better than the average pitcher. Because of this, it is a normalized stat, which means it can be applied to any time period and have the same meaning. This makes it very useful for comparing players from different eras, like say, Tom Seaver and Jacob deGrom.
While doing my research, I noticed a couple of insane pitching seasons that did not win Cy Youngs that I just want to briefly touch on.
Jacob deGrom had an insane 2021 before being shut down due to injury. In 92 innings, deGrom allowed just 40 hits, 11 earned runs, 11 walks, and he struck out 146 batters. All of that led to an ERA of 1.08, a FIP of 1.24, a WHIP of 0.55, and an outrageous ERA+ of 373. He still finished 9th in Cy Young voting, but, had he reached the innings minimum to qualify for the award, he would’ve captured his third Cy Young in four years.
Tom Seaver was absolutely robbed of the 1971 Cy Young. The righty tossed 286.1 innings, gave up just 210 hits, 56 earned runs, 18 homers, 61 walks, and struck out 289 batters. His ERA was 1.76, his FIP was 1.93, his WHIP was 0.95, and his ERA+ was 194. Fergie Jenkins won the Cy Young that year because he had more wins (24), innings pitched (325), and complete games (30), but his ERA was a full run higher (2.77) and his ERA+ was just 141.
Dwight Gooden burst onto the scene in 1984 with a remarkable rookie season. In 218 innings, he gave up just 161 hits, 63 earned runs, seven homers, 73 walks, and struck out 276 batters. His ERA was 2.60, his FIP was 1.69, his WHIP was 1.07, and his ERA+ was 137. He won the Rookie of the Year, but came in second in the Cy Young voting to Rick Sutcliffe, even though Sutcliffe pitched 78 less innings, made 11 less starts, and struck out 121 less batters. Makes sense, right?
With that out of the way, let’s rank the Cy Young seasons in Mets history.
7. R.A Dickey 2012
R.A Dickey’s comeback story came to fruition in an epic season on the Mets in 2012.
The Mets brought in a crafty knuckleballer in 2010 with the hopes of plugging a hole in the rotation, and they wound up with an ace. His 2010 and 2011 seasons don’t get talked about much, but he very quietly had good years. In 2010, he pitched 174 innings with an ERA of 2.84 and an ERA+ of 138. In 2011, he pitched 208.2 innings with an ERA of 3.28 and an ERA+ of 112.
Then, some magic happened. In 2012, he pitched 223.2 innings, allowing just 192 hits, 71 earned runs, 24 homers, 54 walks, and striking out 230 batters. His ERA was 2.73, his FIP was 3.27, his WHIP was 1.05, his ERA+ was 139, and his WAR was 5.7. He led the league in games started (34), complete games (5), shutouts (3), innings pitched, and strikeouts.
R.A. was at his peak during a two game stretch starting on June 13th, 2012 at Tampa. The only hit of the game was on a chopper to David Wright where he went for the barehanded play and missed. He went all nine innings, didn’t allow a walk, and struck out 12. His next start came at home against the Orioles, and he threw another one-hitter, this time striking out 13. He is one of just 10 pitchers ever to throw back-to-back one-hitters.
What made Dickey an anomaly was his ability to control the knuckleball. Over his three years with the Mets, he averaged just 50 walks per season. His K-to-BB ratio was 3-1, and during his Cy Young season, it was greater than 4-1. This led to him being the only knuckleballer to ever win a Cy Young, and it was so much fun to watch.