Tom Seaver led the league in wins three times, twice with the New York Mets. Three times, he was the ERA leader in the National League. Then there were five times when he had more strikeouts than any else in the league.
Seaver’s Baseball-Reference page has a lot of bold on it where you want to see bold: the far left and right. Three Cy Young Awards along the way, one feat somehow alluded Seaver.
Those three categories are what constitute the Triple Crown for Pitchers. Despite leading the league in those statistics numerous times, he was never the leader in all three at the same time.
Somehow Mets legend Tom Seaver never won a Triple Crown
Seaver’s 25 wins in 1969 led the way but that was the only place where he led the league in a Triple Crown statistic. Juan Marichal had the league’s best ERA at 2.10 compared to Seaver’s 2.21. It was Ferguson Jenkins with 273 strikeouts that led the way compared to the 208 Seaver had.
Year in and year out, Seaver could never quite lead the league in all three numbers. Four times he managed to have two of them. In 1970, 1971, and 1973, Seaver won an ERA and strikeout title. Even with 20 wins in 1971 and 19 more in 1973, it wasn’t enough.
The 1975 season was Seaver’s second time leading the league in wins. With a league-best 243 strikeouts also on his resume, it was the 2.38 ERA that wasn’t enough. Randy Jones had a 2.24 ERA that season.
It’s a rare feat for anyone to accomplish. Only 38 pitchers have done so with many of them doing it more than 100 years ago. Shane Bieber managed to accomplish it in the shortened 2020 campaign. Before him, Justin Verlander in the American League and Clayton Kershaw in the National League each did it in 2011.
The Mets do have one Triple Crown winner in their history. Dwight Gooden’s legendary 1985 season resulted in him leading the league with 24 wins, 1.53 ERA, and 268 strikeouts. It had been 13 years since anyone had accomplished this in either league. Nobody would do so again until Roger Clemens in 1997.
Seaver managed to accomplish more than most pitchers could ever dream. To have as many years leading the league in wins, ERA, and/or strikeouts is impressive enough. Unfortunately, it never all came together for a single season.