Dwight Gooden’s Rookie Year Was Best In Mets History
In their history, the Mets have had six players win the Rookie of the Year Award – Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983), Dwight Gooden, (1984), Jacob deGrom (2014), and Pete Alonso (2019). Out of those six, two stand above the rest as they were record breaking seasons:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 21, 2020
When the Mets posted a poll on Twitter, fans were split as to who had the better rookie season. They shouldn’t have been.
With respect to Alonso, there is no denying how great a year he had. During the year, Alonso would break Aaron Judge‘s rookie home run record, and like Judge, he would win the Home Run Derby. He would also be an All-Star. Alonso proved to be a great power hitter setting a number of Mets single season records.
In 2019, Alonso set not just the Mets rookie records, but also the team single season records for homers, total bases, extra base hits, and HR/AB. He was also in the top 10 in a number of other categories including SLG and RBI. What is interesting, and noteworthy for reasons detailed below, Alonso was not in the Mets single-season top 25 in WAR or the top 15 in OPS+.
Gooden had every bit the record breaking season Alonso had. In fact, Gooden not just broke, but he obliterated Herb Score‘s rookie strikeout record. Ultimately, Gooden would strike out 276 batters that year, a mark which would lead the majors. His K/9 would not just lead the majors, but it would also be the Mets single-season record.
In that season, Gooden would also lead the league in FIP, WHIP, H/9, HR/9, and WAR. If we are being completely honest, he was absolutely robbed of the Cy Young Award which went to Rick Sutcliffe because writers were obviously most interested in narrative and story than facts.
Like Alonso, Gooden’s season wasn’t just a great rookie year, it was also a great single season year in Mets history. In fact, Gooden’s 1984 season would be the Mets single season records for K/9 and FIP. His strikeouts were the most by any Mets pitcher not named Seaver. Remember, this is a franchise with Seaver, deGrom, Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, and other greats.
With all due respect to players like Carlos Beltran, Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry, and David Wright, they just don’t have the same cache as those pitchers. In terms of the pitching, the Mets have had some of the best pitchers of all-time playing at their peak. Please keep in mind, that is in no way meant to disparage those hitters. After all, Piazza and Beltran played like Hall of Famers while with the Mets. It’s just that Seaver and Martinez are on a completely different plateau.
When you are a Mets pitcher who breaks a team record, it is truly noteworthy. It really is of historical significance as you have done something not even Seaver did. Remember, not only is Seaver the greatest player who ever wore a Mets uniform, but he is also arguably the greatest right-handed pitcher in baseball history. In his rookie year, Gooden surpassed Seaver in K/9 and FIP.
Going back to the FIP, Gooden’s season was the 14th best of all-time. In fact, only Martinez had a better FIP in the post World War II era. Looking back, Gooden’s 1984 season is completely overshadowed for how great it was. Part of the reason for that is Gooden had an even better season in 1985.
Going deeper, you can make a good case Gooden’s rookie season was the greatest rookie season a pitcher ever had. While Alonso’s season was great, you can’t make that same claim for him among the ranks of position players.
If the historical significance of both seasons is not enough to convince you, consider their respective WAR. In 1984, Gooden had a 5.5 bWAR and 8.3 fWAR surpasses Alonso’s 5.2 bWAR and 4.8 fWAR.
Overall, while there is no denying Alonso had a great rookie year, the best a Mets position player ever had, it just pales in comparison to Gooden’s 1984 rookie season. Simply put, Gooden probably had the greatest rookie season a pitcher ever had, and he had the best rookie season of any Mets player.