The 1973 New York Mets narrowly won the World Series with a record barely above .500. Decades later, they remain MLB’s worst team to make it that far.
In some ways, the 1973 New York Mets don’t receive the love they deserve. After all, they came one win away from winning the World Series. The Oakland Athletics narrowly defeated them in seven games after a hard-fought championship battle.
What makes the 1973 Mets so unique is that they made it to Game Seven of the World Series with a rather underwhelming record. At 82-79, they still have the record for the worst team to ever make it to the championship round.
Back then, the American League and National League were divided into only two divisions. Each had six teams separated into East and West. In a tight National League East race, the Mets captured the division with a record of 82-79.
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The .509 winning percentage was the ninth best in MLB this season. Three teams in the NL West had better records. If they played all 162 regular season games, they may have even tied the Houston Astros whose 82-80 record was only the fourth best in their division.
Much like the 1969 ball club, this was a team of destiny. Their 1.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals at the end of the regular season was barely enough to earn a playoff spot. In fact, the whole division was rather close. The Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Montreal Expos, and Chicago Cubs all finished with five games of the Mets. Only the Philadelphia Phillies at 11.5 games out failed to stay with the pennant race into the final weeks.
As it often has, pitching was the reason for their success. Tom Seaver won 19 games with a .208 ERA. Jerry Koosman and Jon Matlack each had slightly below .500 winning percentages, but had respective ERAs of 2.84 and 3.20. A surprise success store, pitcher George Stone went 12-3 with a 2.80 ERA in 20 starts and 7 relief appearances.
For further proof, the Amazins averaged the second fewest runs scored of any MLB team at 3.8 per game. However, they also averaged the second fewest allowed at 3.7 per game.
The Mets made it to the World Series by holding the Cincinnati Reds to a .186 batting average in the five NLCS games they faced off in. Joe Morgan hit .100, Tony Perez batted .091, and just about everyone else not named Pete Rose or Johnny Bench looked horrific.
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Even with the addition of the second Wild Card, I’m not sure anyone will advance to the World Series with a winning percentage lower than the one the 1973 Mets had.