Year Inducted: 1992 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 425/430)
The Mets managed to beat the odds in 1969 and win the World Series. They were dubbed the Miracle Mets because merely 7 years prior, they had lost 120 games and were the joke of baseball. But their fortunes changed forever three years prior to that. In 1966 the Braves scouted, drafted and signed a young right-handed pitcher from USC. There was only one problem; due to a technicality, the young pitcher’s contract was voided. The Mets were one of three teams along with the Phillies and Indians to be placed into a lottery for the young man’s services. The Mets won the 2 to 1 shot, and rode Tom Seaver to glory.
Tom Terrific pitched for 20 years in the Major Leagues. In nearly 5000 innings, Seaver went 311-205 with an ERA of 2.86. Seaver was a near immediate success in 1967, winning NL Rookie of the Year honors and having an fWAR of 3.3. From that point until 1979, the 3.3 fWAR he put up in 1967 was the low point of his career, with many seasons north of 5 fWAR. Seaver was the top pitcher of his time, striking out 3640 batters with a WHIP of 1.12 and an average against of only .222. When Seaver was at his best he was unbeatable.
Seaver’s 1969 year was the first of his three NL Cy Young Award seasons, and arguably his worst of the three. In 1969 he went 25-7 with an ERA of 2.21, while in 1975 he went 22-9 with an ERA of 2.38 but an FIP of 2.35 versus 3.11 in 1969. Seaver had four seasons with a fWAR of 7 or higher, including two of his Cy Young seasons, and was just a consistently great pitcher for many years.
Seaver wasn’t able to beat the aging process, beginning a decline phase in 1982, his age 37 season. From that season until he retired, Seaver was ten games below .500, and struck out only 5 per 9 innings versus his career of nearly 7 per 9. Along with the dropped strikeout rate, his walk rate also started to go up by about half a batter per 9 innings, both inflating his FIP and a lot of his overall value stats.
Seaver waltzed into the Hall of Fame with, at that time, the highest percentage of all-time, 98.8% of the ballot. And it isn’t hard to see why. Seaver retired with the 6th most fWAR of all-time, with at least 200 fewer innings pitched than each of the players ahead of him. He also ranked third in strikeouts behind only Ryan and Carlton and 13th in wins, with only two players (Carlton and Perry) from his era ahead of him. Seaver was the best of his time, and will always be one of the best to ever toe the rubber.
Stay tuned for the next updates.
On deck 12/3/16:
#35- The Brewers first inductee
#34- Wave it fair