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Mets suffer a World Series hangover in our 1972 simulation

NEW YORK - CIRCA 1973: Rusty Staub #4 of the New York Mets bats against the Cincinnati Reds during an Major League Baseball game circa 1973 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Staub played for the Mets from 1972-75 and 1981-85. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1973: Rusty Staub #4 of the New York Mets bats against the Cincinnati Reds during an Major League Baseball game circa 1973 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Staub played for the Mets from 1972-75 and 1981-85. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
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The virtual New York Mets are coming off a World Series in 1971. In 1972, they fail to keep the playoff streak alive.

The defending champion virtual New York Mets are ready to do something the real-life squad never has: go to back-to-back World Series. Our digital season in 1971 went amazingly well, ultimately ending with a championship.

It’s now 1972 and the team will need to, once again, rely heavily on their pitching for help. Tom Seaver has already won a pair of MVPs and three Cy Young Awards while Jerry Koosman and Nolan Ryan are fierce competitors for the latter in 1972.

As we have each year thus far, let’s review records from past seasons:

1962: 52-108
1963: 43-119
1964: 44-118
1965: 50-112
1966: 56-105
1967: 64-98
1968: 74-88
1969: 93-69
1970: 101-61 (NLCS loss 3-2)
1971: 100-62 (World Series Champions)

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to defend the title.

Preseason

The Mets are no longer classified as underdogs and haven’t been for quite some time. Seaver’s arrival played the biggest part in changing the perception of New York’s youngest baseball team.

Preseason predictions have been kind to this organization. This year, they’re expected to go 79-78. Those missing games come from the fact that the Player’s Union is set to begin the year on strike.

From an individual prediction standpoint, Seaver and fellow pitcher Jon Matlack are among the team pitchers in the National League. In 1971, Matlack finally saw some regular action with the Mets, spending most of his time as a reliever. Things could be different this year; at least according to the virtual experts.

Although the start of the regular season was delayed, spring training had its usual 30-game schedule. Perhaps feeling a bit hungover from the championship, they went 13-17 with the worst record in the NL East. Tommie Agee did have the third most home runs so perhaps we’ll see a memorable season from his bat.

Regular Season Notes

After the end of the Player’s Strike, the Mets and the rest of Major League Baseball returned to normal with an abbreviated schedule. The horrific Jim Fregosi trade also takes place in this virtual world so it should be fun and/or painful to see how this turns out.

The club does have Rusty Staub in his first year with the club and I’m very curious to see how 1971 World Series MVP Ronnie Collins does as the team’s starting second baseman.

The title defense began with three straight losses to open up the year. Staub got off to an amazing start and was one of the first-half’s early leaders in batting average and OPS.

It wasn’t all roses in Flushing this season. Unlike last year when it was a two-team race, the NL East was incredibly tight. Unfortunately for the Mets, they were one of the closest to falling out early.

At the unofficial midway point of the season, the Mets went into the All-Star Break with a 44-43 record and 7.5 games out of first place. More alarming is their fourth-place spot in the division.

The club’s pitching staff hasn’t been as dominant as it was in the recent past with one exception: Tom Terrific. Through 20 starts, Seaver is 12-4 with a 1.25 ERA. No, that’s not an error. The Franchise is doing things nobody thought were possible.

Things aren’t going too swimmingly for the offense. Staub, Cleon Jones, and John Milner are all hitting well but not doing nearly enough in terms of run production. Willie Mays has gotten off to a nice start in Flushing. Let’s see how much the Say Hey Kid has left.

Fregosi, meanwhile, ended his first-half batting only .231.

Sadly, the Mets look like a team ready to finish at or slightly above .500 this year. Barring a miracle, there won’t be a champagne celebration at Shea Stadium.

Miracles do happen in sports. Unfortunately, this team cashed theirs in the 1971 championship. The 1972 virtual Mets finished the year 80-76. This was good enough for 4.5 games out of first place

Honors

The 1972 Met sent a pair of pitchers to the All-Star Game. Tom Seaver went for the fourth time with Tug McGraw picking up his second trip.

For Mets fans hoping to celebrate, there wasn’t much to be happy about. Seaver didn’t pitch in the game and McGraw took the loss. Unlike 1971 when McGraw was the game’s MVP, this All-Star Game saw him get beat up in his three innings of work with six earned runs against the Mets reliever.

McGraw actually went on to finish the season with a 3.20 ERA in large part because of a poor second half.

Seaver didn’t have the same bad luck as McGraw. He continued to pitch at a historic pace, eventually finishing the season 19-9 with a 1.54 ERA. The effort awarded him his fourth Cy Young in five years.

The biggest game of the year came from the performance of someone else. On August 5, 1972, Jon Matlack put his name in Mets history with a no-hitter against the Chicago Cubs. Amazingly, one day earlier Fergie Jenkins pitched a no-hitter against the Mets. Matlack allowed just one walk in his historic performance which now gives the club three no-hitters. I can’t wait until we get a perfect game.

Notable Individual Statistics

Tommie Agee didn’t have the kind of year I was hoping he would. In fact, he has been pretty disappointing for the Mets overall. He hit just .213 with 11 home runs.

One Mets hitter who did have a great year was Rusty Staub. In his 333 trips to the plate, the new right fielder batted .352/.434/.502. Unfortunately, he came up short in at-bats to set any franchise records or lead the league.

For some more bad, Jim Fregosi hit .198 with the usually reliable Bud Harrelson batting .196. We also didn’t get to see Ronnie Collins carry over his World Series magic into the regular season. In limited action, the 1971 World Series MVP batted only .140 and knocked a single home run.

I already covered Seaver’s numbers, but let’s mention what Matlack’s totals looked like. The emerging lefty went 17-9 with a 2.32 across 32 starts for New York in 1972. Although the club lost Nolan Ryan via its already regrettable trade with the California Angels, at least there’s Matlack to make up for it.

Next. Mets 1971 Season Simulation

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Clearly the virtual Mets partied a little too hard between the 1971 championship and 1972 season. What will the 1973 campaign look like?

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