What was Tom Seaver’s best season for the Cincinnati Reds?

1978: Pitcher Tom Seaver #41 of the Cincinnati Reds steps into a pitch in 1978. (Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos)
1978: Pitcher Tom Seaver #41 of the Cincinnati Reds steps into a pitch in 1978. (Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos) /

Tom Seaver had his last great season with the Cincinnati Reds.

On August 31, the baseball world lost a legend when Tom Seaver, passed away. Seaver is best known for his time with the New York Mets, but his time with the Cincinnati Reds is nothing to ignore. Seaver spent six seasons in the Queen City with his best, or maybe most nostalgic season, coming in 1981.

In 1977, Tom Terrific was traded to the Reds coming off of his tenth All-Star appearance in ten and a half years with the Mets. The trade would include the Reds sending Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, and Dan Norman from the Queen City to Queens, New York.

While next to impossible to replicate his time in New York, now on the wrong side of 30, Seaver lived up to his name still and was Terrific. On top of his 7-3 start with the Mets in 1977, Seaver would come over and pitch in another 20 games for Cincinnati in 1977, going 14-3 with 14 complete games and four shutouts.

In 1981, Seaver was entering his age-36 season. In what would be his last All-Star season, Tom Seaver shined. He went 14-2 with a 2.54 ERA over 23 starts. This was the lowest full-season ERA Seaver would have with the Cincinnati Reds.

Because of the players strike in the middle of the 1981 season, Seaver and the Reds missed the playoffs, finishing second in the standings in both the first and second half of the split season. Cincinnati went 66-42 that year and the Los Angeles Dodgers took home the brass. It does beg the question, if it wasn’t for the strike and the way the playoff structure was that year, could the Reds have won it all?

With the way Seaver was dealing in 1981, it’s at least fair to say that the Cincinnati Reds had as good a chance as any to be the top dogs that year. We’ll always wonder what Seaver could have done with 10 more starts that year, but it’s a safe bet he would have eclipsed his high in wins with the Reds (16) that year.

Tom Seaver finished second in the Cy Young race that year behind Dodgers stud and rookie, Fernando Valenzuela, by just three points. Had a full season been played in 1981, Seaver could have been the one looking for a place to put his Cy Young trophy and World Series ring instead of Valenzuela.

Tom Terrific will always be known as a Met, and that’s fine. He was unbelievable in New York and gave them his prime years. His six seasons in Cincinnati were met with admirable accolades that went to add on to his Hall of Fame career.

Seaver tossed a no-hitter in 1978, made two All-Star teams, won double-digit game and had a winning record every year but his last in 1982. Seaver also finished Top 5 in the Cy Young voting twice during his time in Cincinnati.

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The Seaver family will always have a seat at Great American Ball Park that will be met with appreciative fans. Tom Seaver, by all accounts, was a very beloved man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and a final tip of the cap to Tom Terrific.