In 1971 the Mets had Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan and Gary Gentry, yes Jerry Koosman (only 6 wins that year) was there but for this comparison we’ll use Nolan Ryan who was on the cusp of greatness. Unfortunately the Mets wouldn’t experience it.
Seaver was the ace. He was 26. He was 20-10 with a 1.76 ERA a .946 WHIP and 289 strikeouts in 286 innings.
Some call deGrom the Mets ace and some still say Harvey. We’ll slot Harvey here because of age. At 26 he’s finally healthy and so far he’s 9-7 with 125 strikeouts in 133 innings, a 2.27 era and a 1.06 WHIP. All things considered matching up eras this is pretty close with Seaver getting the edge. Seaver’s WAR (wins above replacement) was a 10.1 and Harvey is a 2.7
Gary Gentry was 24 with a 12-11 record, 3.23 ERA, 155 strikeouts in 203 innings, and a 1.22 WHIP. So far deGrom is 27, he’s into his second season and Gentry was into his 3rd. deGrom has a 10-6 record, 135 strikeouts in 133 innings a 2.09 ERA with a WHIP of .893.
deGrom gets the win here. His WAR so far is 4.1 to Gentry’s 1.8.
Ryan, 24 was 10-14 with a 3.97 ERA. In 152 innings he had 137 strikeouts. His WHIP was terrible at 1.58 something that plagued him for a good part of his career.
Noah Syndergaard, 22, is 6-5 with a 2.66 ERA a 1.05 WHIP with 100 strikeouts in 94 innings.
Noah wins. His WAR is 2.0 and Ryan’s was -0.2.
Different eras are hard to compare. Syndergaard is 6-6, 240, and Ryan was 6-2, 170. Both are the definition of power pitchers. The ages here are close. Even the team records are close. The 1971 Mets were 83-79 and were in third place. This year’s team could win 90. Ryan was traded in ’72 because he wasn’t fitting in New York. The rest is history. The Mets seem poised to keep these three intact but you never know. In ’71 the Mets were flush with pitching. They had Koosman and a young Jon Matlack. Zach Wheeler and Steven Matz are ready to break through and Jon Niese has regained his form.
You can’t predict where the next injury is coming from. Gentry fell off the map with arm injuries after ’71 and was never the same. He wasn’t a Met when they contended again in ’73. I think there are some parallels that can be drawn between these teams and where the Mets are in their development. They were pitching strong then, Tug McGraw anchored the bullpen as Jeurys Familia does now.
That feeling of “Ya Gotta Believe” is back in Flushing.
A copy of Cohens’ book can be purchased on Amazon or at your local bookstore.