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Mets History Simulated: Bud Harrelson wins the WAR, no more 100-losses

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 14: Bud Harrelson #3 of the New York Mets and National League AllStars bats against the American League All Stars during Major League Baseball AllStar game July 14, 1970 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The National League won the game 5-4. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 14: Bud Harrelson #3 of the New York Mets and National League AllStars bats against the American League All Stars during Major League Baseball AllStar game July 14, 1970 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The National League won the game 5-4. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
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The virtual New York Mets have yet to have a year with fewer than 100 losses. It all changes in 1967.

The 1966 New York Mets featured the arrival of Tom Seaver. The National League’s Rookie of the Year provided the organization with some promise for the future. How much better will 1967 be?

I think the virtual Mets are still a long way from contending. Although many fans likely felt this way with the real-life Mets back in 1967, I’m going into this year feeling the same way but with even less optimism.

The good news is that Seaver arrived one year earlier than expected. Now it’s up to the rest of the youngsters to start delivering.

If you’re just joining us, here’s a brief recap of what has happened with the Mets thus far:

1962: 52-108
1963: 43-119
1964: 44-118
1965: 50-112
1966: 56-105

Can we finally get a year of 99 losses or fewer? Let’s see how it goes.

Preseason

Yet again, the Mets are expected to have another year at the bottom of the league. Preseason predictions have them at 67-95, a single game behind the Cincinnati Reds.

There is one player the virtual experts believe will be among the best in baseball. In Seaver’s sophomore year, he’s predicted to go 14-17 with a 2.93 ERA. I think he’ll do far better.

For a nice change of pace, spring training went well for the Mets—at least by comparison to previous years. The 12-18 record may not lead to anyone expecting much more from the squad, but at least they weren’t completely left behind in the preseason.

In the coming year, the Mets are going to need the kids to step up. One key is to not fall behind too far early on.

Regular Season Notes

After starting the season 0-3, the Mets quickly climbed back to .500 where they would hover around for a good chunk of the first month. It didn’t take long for them to slip back into old habits and start losing on a regular basis again.

When the All-Star Break did arrive, the Mets found themselves in familiar territory 17 ½ games out of first place and near the bottom of the National League.

This is some surprising good news. The team’s .255 batting average is the second-best in the league with Jerry Grote leading the way with a .300 average. Tommy Davis ended the first half hitting .281 and Bud Harrelson is at .271.

On the pitching side of things, Seaver has an ERA of 3.49. Unfortunately, his 4-9 record isn’t where anyone wants it to be.

In the second half, the mission was to not finish in last place and maybe make up some ground to end the year somewhere in the middle of the division. Since coming into existence back in 1962, the Mets have failed to even stay competitive until the end of August. This year is proving to be another challenge.

The day of reckoning came for the Mets on September 2nd when they were the first NL team eliminated from the playoffs. For a positive spin, they already had 52 wins which nearly matched the franchise’s season-high.

When the regular season ended, the Mets were exactly where they always seem to finish in this dastardly virtual world: last place. However, this time around, they had a 64-98 record.

It was, at least in the standings, the best year in Mets history.

Honors

The Mets had one All-Star in 1967. Catcher Jerry Grote and his 2.8 WAR was good enough to put him on as a reserve for the NL.

Unfortunately for Mets fans who tuned in to see Grote shine, he never got into the 15-3 NL victory which was instead highlighted by a pair of home runs by Willie McCovey.

One of the biggest games of the year came from an unlikely source. Larry Stahl didn’t play much, but on July 16, 1967, he had a six-hit performance versus the St. Louis Cardinals. As it seems to happen too often, New York dropped the game despite the offensive output.

Harrelson also deserves credit for quietly setting a franchise record with a 4.8 WAR. Perhaps, he too, can make a difference in the standings.

Notable Individual Statistics

The Mets didn’t maintain their spot atop the list of NL batting average but did get a good year from Davis who hit 11 home runs while batting .282. Ed Kranepool led the squad with 14 home runs.

Cleon Jones had a good year as well with a .285 batting average but apparently not enough at-bats to qualify for the team’s batting title. Grote’s overall season didn’t look so hot because of a weaker than expected second half. At the end of the year, he was a .267 hitter.

The pitching side is where we were most curious to look at. In Seaver’s first year as a full-time starter, he finished 12-15 with a 2.69 ERA. Jerry Koosman had a similar year, going 7-7 with a 2.36 ERA across 19 starts.

These two, like our real-life Mets, will have to carry the organization for any chance at success in the near future.

Next. 1966 Mets Season Simulation

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The streak of 100-loss seasons is now in the past. The march toward winning has started. How close can the virtual Mets of 1968 get?

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