Tom Seaver Could Have Been ‘Terrific’ for the Braves If Not for a Technicality
The sports world is mourning Tom Seaver, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.
Seaver, 75, passed away from complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19. The New York Mets legend retired from public life in March 2019 after the dementia diagnosis.
Although Seaver is possibly the greatest player in Mets history, he could have done that damage for the rival Braves instead — if not for a technicality that instead sent him to New York.
The baseball world is ‘devastated’ about Tom Seaver’s death
Tom Seaver was nicknamed “Tom Terrific” for a reason.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner was just that good. A 12-time All-Star, Seaver went 311-205 with a 2.86 ERA and 3,640 strikeouts from 1967-86.
Although Seaver pitched for four teams, he spent 12 seasons with the New York Mets.
Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon said they were “devastated” in a statement.
“He was simply the greatest Mets player of all-time, and among the best to ever play the game which culminated with his near unanimous induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.”
Seaver pitched his final MLB season for the Red Sox in 1986. The team fondly remembered him in a tweet of their own.
“Our hearts go out to the Seaver family,” the team tweeted. “We are proud that his stellar Hall of Fame career culminated in a Red Sox uniform. RIP Tom Terrific.
Former Mets star Keith Hernandez, now a broadcaster for the team, paid his respects in an emotional tweet.
“I had the honor of unsuccessfully hitting against him & having as a teammate,” Hernandez wrote. “He is the greatest Met of all time. No one will ever surpass him that wears the orange & blue. My condolences to Nancy & his family. Tears.”
Longtime New York sports radio host Mike Francesa went a different route with his tribute.
“Sandy Koufax is the most dominant pitcher I’ve ever seen,” Francesa wrote. “But the most consistent and professional was Tom Seaver. An amazing performer. RIP.”
Seaver is a New York Mets legend
To understand just how “terrific” Tom Seaver was in a Mets uniform, one should look at the advanced stats.
Using Baseball-Reference’s Wins Above Replacement system, Seaver totaled 76 WAR with the Mets. Only one other pitcher, Dwight Gooden, had over 40 WAR as a member of the Mets.
Jacob deGrom, the Mets’ current ace, has 34.8 WAR through Sept. 2, 2020.
David Wright leads all Mets hitters with a 49.2 WAR.
In short, Seaver totaled nearly 30 WAR than the next-closest Mets player. There is a reason the team called him the greatest player in franchise history.
Tom Seaver nearly played for the Braves … if not for a technicality
Although Tom Seaver is best known for his time with the Mets, he originally should have joined the Atlanta Braves.
Atlanta drafted Seaver in the January part of the 1966 MLB draft. The 20th overall selection, Seaver signed with the Braves that February and received a $40,000 bonus.
There was one problem. MLB rules prohibited a player from signing a professional contract after his high school or college team’s season began.
At the time, Seaver was pitching at the University of Southern California. That meant the Braves couldn’t sign him and he couldn’t finish his college career.
With Atlanta banned from signing Seaver, commissioner William Eckert decided to hold a lottery of where Seaver would land. In extraordinary luck, the Mets acquired Seaver’s rights and he debuted in the majors a year later.
In what served as a further punch to the gut, Seaver went 23-10 with a 2.28 ERA in 54 games (53 starts) against the Braves throughout his career. Seaver threw 24 complete games and six shutouts in those games.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.