Mets History Simulated: 1970 season includes two no-hitters, playoff appearance
By Tim Boyle
We’ve entered a new decade of virtual New York Mets baseball. This time, we’re going to the postseason.
It’s a new decade for the virtual New York Mets. The 1969 squad made some huge improvements, finished 93-69. The season marked the first time in fictional Mets history which saw the team finish above .500.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly enough to land them a parade.
The club does have a positive outlook moving forward. Tom Seaver still looks like one of the best pitchers in baseball. Jerry Koosman may even match him. Let’s also not forget this team has reigning National League Rookie of the Year Wayne Garrett over at the hot corner. Perhaps he can help lead an offensive charge this franchise has needed.
Before we enter the 1970s, let’s recap virtual Mets history and the records from each year so far:
We were all hoping for a miracle with the 1969 season like we saw in real life. Will we get one in 1970?
The 1970s were a wild time for the United States. That’s not to say the 1960s were nearly as smooth, but something about the 1970s seem edgier. The culture class reached a new level and because of technology, it couldn’t go hidden.
All of this is going on in this simulated history of the Mets. Fortunately, none of it matters. We’re here for baseball and the championships that came with it.
Hoping for better results this year, the preseason predictions have the Mets finishing atop the National League East with a 99-63 record. This would put them 8 games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates—the team expected to give them the greatest challenge.
Spring training standings don’t usually predict much but can indicate how much talent is on a roster. Hopefully, this time around it’s not too important as the Mets went just 13-17.
Two notable spring performances came from a pair of men with a shared name. Hank McGraw was among the leaders in RBI while Tug McGraw had the best ERA in the league at 0.61. Who knew they were even related?
In the non-virtual world, Hank never made it to the major leagues. In this simulation, he’ll join his more famous brother on the Opening Day roster.
The rosters are set and Gil Hodges has his lineups ready. Let’s get ready for the wild 1970s and see how long it takes Bud Harrelson to knock out Pete Rose in a fight.
Regular Season Notes
The Mets are a changed organization in the 1970s. Unlike so many years in the 1960s where they started off so slow, they have gotten off to an amazing start.
On May 18, the club won its 500th game in franchise history. It’s a small milestone to reach but an ever-important one all clubs must eventually arrive at.
Throughout the first half, the Mets regularly swapped first place with the Pirates. When the All-Star Break did come around, the Mets were very much alive at only 2.5 games out of first place. Pittsburgh has one of the best offenses in the game led by Roberto Clemente and Manny Sanguillen.
As it always is, pitching is the strength of this team. Seaver leads the squad with a 13-4 record. His 2.25 ERA is only behind Koosman at 2.03. Gary Gentry is having another fine year at 9-7 with a 2.56 ERA through the first half.
At the plate, Arm Shamsky is having the best year. He leads the team with 12 home runs and his .276 batting average is nearly the best. The team continues to platoon regularly which has limited some overall numbers.
A few first-half surprises of positive note come from the .322 batting average Joe Foy has put together as the club’s starting third baseman. Ken Singleton is also hitting .306 through limited action. There are a few disappointing seasons, but I’ll hold out criticism until we see how the whole season goes.
Catching the Pirates was no easy task. On August 10, the Mets finally moved ahead by a half-game. They swapped spots in the standings more than once through the end of the month but entered September with a 2.5 game lead.
Clearly a two-horse race in the NL East, the Mets relied heavily on their pitchers to pull away from the Pirates. On September 29, with three games left, the team defeated the Chicago Cubs 8-2 to officially clinch the NL East. Koosman’s 18th win of the season helped ruin the Pirates’ plans.
New York went on to win their next two games, ending the regular season 101-61. For the first time in virtual Mets history, the club is playoff-bound, baby!
Who do the Mets face in the 1970 NLCS? It’s a familiar playoff foe from real-life history: the Cincinnati Reds. The 96-66 Reds have a formidable lineup. It’s up to the Mets pitchers to shut them down.
Game One ended with a 3-2 victory with Seaver taking down Cincinnati. In the seventh inning, the Mets trailed 3-2. An RBI single by Seaver tied up the game with Foy putting them ahead for good with a single of his own.
Game Two was equally as intense with a 2-1 victory. After the Reds tied things up in the seventh, a Ken Boswell triple in the bottom half plated Tommie Agee and put them ahead.
Game Three moved to Cincinnati and saw the home team win yet again. In another low-scoring affair, the Reds avoided elimination with a 3-2 win.
Game Four saw the trend continued. The Reds won again, this time in a 5-2 game. The Mets will go back to their ace, Seaver, for the finale.
Game Five ended in a great disappointment. A four-run third inning proved to be too much. The Mets dropped the game 5-3 with the best pitcher they could have on the mound up against Cincinnati.
The playoffs are over. The parade route gets tossed in the trash.
After sending just one player to the 1969 All-Star Game, the 1970 Mets were represented well. Seaver, Koosman, and Gentry all head to the Midsummer Classic representing the orange and blue.
The trip to the All-Star Game for Seaver is especially notable. For the first time in his career, he gets the nod to start.
In Tom Terrific’s one inning of work, he allows just one hit and managed to strike out a pair. Gentry was the one who relieved him first, adding on a scoreless second inning in the National League’s 8-4 victory featuring former Met Jim Hickman as the game’s MVP.
Back to Koosman for a moment, he won the National League ERA title. At 1.93, he managed to even beat out two of his teammates; Seaver and Nolan Ryan. While Seaver did go 22-8 with a 2.31 ERA, Ryan did better in the ERA category at 1.98. He did, however, made just 19 starts.
Koosman, however, didn’t have the biggest honor. For the second time in three years, Seaver won the MVP and Cy Young. It’s a pretty fantastic achievement and already puts him on a Hall of Fame trajectory.
A first for a major award, Cleon Jones took home a Gold Glove for his work in left field. His superb defense helped save the Mets from some misery throughout the year.
And let’s finally acknowledge to historical games by Mets pitchers. On May 5, 1970, the first no-hitter in franchise history took place. It wasn’t Seaver or Koosman on the mound for it. None other than Nolan Ryan with a 10 strikeout performance achieved this feat against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Seaver tossed a no-hitter of his own later that month on May 29. His took place versus the Houston Astros in a game featuring five strikeouts.
So, for those counting at home, Seaver won an MVP and threw a no-hitter in the same season. He achieved more in one year than anyone in real life has for this franchise up until 2012.
Notable Individual Statistics
I’ve already covered some of the most notable pitching numbers. Those masters of the mound are, after all, the biggest reason why the team made it to the postseason.
One final pitcher to tip our caps to is McGraw. The team’s closer saved 22 games with a 1.75 ERA for the season.
This was another offensively-challenge season. Cleon Jones led the team with a 4.5 WAR and now owns the franchise record in this statistic, slightly ahead of Harrelson.
Four men did manage to crack the top 10 list in RBI for a single season in franchise history. Jones and Jerry Grote had 69 RBI each which is tied for the second-most by any Mets player. Not far behind, we find Shamsky with 62 and Boswell with 59.
Want your voice heard? Join the Rising Apple team!
The 1970 season was an exciting one for the virtual Mets who finally got to taste the postseason. With any luck, this sip of postseason coffee can push them further. It may take a little more help at the plate to make it happen.