In 1966, the virtual New York Mets introduce what many believe will become the greatest player in franchise history, Mr. Tom Seaver.
We’re now in year five of the virtual New York Mets history. It’s 1966 and the Mets have yet to have a season without a 100-loss campaign. After some bright spots in 1965, can the pitching finally come around with the growth of guys like Jerry Koosman and Tug McGraw?
In the real world, the Mets were in a similar spot in the mid-1960s. Winning was hard to come by. It’s not much different in the virtual world.
For a quick recap of how they’ve done so far, here is how the Mets have performed each year since 1962.
Like the real-life Mets in 1966, will this virtual year have a more promising result?
Since National League baseball returned to New York in 1962, the Mets have been predicted to finish tenth in the league at the end of each season. Every time the virtual experts have been right and with an expected 52-109 record for this season, we can expect another disappointing season plus one rainout that never gets made up.
Spring training numbers shouldn’t matter much, but each time the Mets have finished with the worst preseason record, it has unfortunately carried over into the regular season.
For the second straight preseason, the Mets weren’t last. However, at just 10-20, it’s not as if they inspired much confidence in their loyal fans.
If there is one bright spot to look forward to, Ken Boyer led all NL hitters with a .368 batting average. With him batting third, 1965 All-Star Ed Kranepool in the clean-up spot, and a starting rotation with a California kid named Tom Seaver in it, this could indeed be a more positive season.
Speaking of that California kid, both he and a flamethrower from Texas named Nolan Ryan are on the preseason’s list of the top prospects in baseball.
Regular Season Notes
The first half in 1966 told an unfamiliar tale in Flushing. Rather than seeing the Mets drop game after game, they held in there and stayed relevant for a good portion of the early part of the season. By the time the All-Star Break rolled around, however, they were just 33-50 which put them a single game ahead of the Chicago Cubs for last place.
I suppose it’s small victories like these we should be proud of.
One reason why the Mets had a better first half than they have in the past is the pitching. On June 14th, Rookie of the Month Tom Seaver had his first 10 strikeout game in a shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals. At the time of the All-Star Break, he was 3-0 with 1.48 ERA.
Now in a lesser role, Jim Hickman is hitting .350. Trade rumors are rumbling about a potential future deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers—which as we all know will happen because the game’s settings include all real-life transactions.
The second half was about a few things for the Mets. Continued excellence from some of the young players and a chance to climb out from the bottom of the league are two of the biggies.
Sadly, many of those missions were not complete. Once again, our beloved virtual Mets finished in last place. This time, though, they didn’t have to crane their neck nearly as high. At 56-105, it was the best year in Mets history.
Even though Hunt didn’t get the start, he got into the game early with a pinch-hitting appearance in the fourth inning. In the 18-6 bludgeoning by the NL over the AL, Hunt went 4 for 4 with 3 runs scored and an RBI. Although all of his hits were singles, the performance was the third-best of the game.
There was one other noteworthy award for a Mets player. This one involved the Rookie of the Year honors which went to Seaver. In just one year with the club with many of his appearances coming as a reliever, it’s beginning to look like the Mets have a future superstar.
Notable Individual Statistics
By the end of the season, Seaver became the unquestioned ace of the staff. He made 13 starts and several relief appearances, ultimately going 8-4 with a 1.64 ERA in 121 innings pitched. It was Shaw, however, we set a new single-season record for franchise wins with 12. He also managed to have a solid campaign, going 12-13 with a 2.79 ERA.
Koosman, who missed time due to injury, spent a lot of the year in the bullpen. He went 8-14 with a 3.48 ERA.
Kranepool and Swoboda each hit 12 home runs to lead the team. It was Kranepool’s .301 batting average that led all players with enough at-bats to qualify.
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Before our eyes, the Mets are molding into a team that favors pitching over offense. The bats are going to need to catch up if the result will do them any good in the standings.