The 1974 virtual New York Mets enter the year in a playoff drought and finish much worse than expected.
The 1970s have been much kinder to our beloved virtual New York Mets with a championship in 1971 and lots of contending seasons around it. Although the 1974 Mets will begin the year without appearing in the postseason for two straight seasons, things could change.
Two 100-win campaigns this decade, plus five straight winning seasons have made me optimistic for the coming year.
As we do each time, let’s recap quickly how past virtual Mets seasons have gone:
1970: 101-61 (NLCS loss 3-2)
1971: 100-62 (World Series Champions)
Will the Mets return to the playoffs in 1974? Let’s get on with the show.
The Mets are expected to go 84-78 in 1974. The virtual experts are high on the Pittsburgh Pirates, predicted to go 84-78 this year.
Two of the top players in the preseason predictions are Tom Seaver and Jon Matlack. It’s no surprise. Each is coming off of a productive year in 1973. Seaver is also well on his way to a Hall of Fame career while Matlack is still coming into his own.
Spring training went okay with the team finishing at an even .500 at 15-15. Pitcher Jackson Todd made a name for himself with a 2.60 ERA which was among the best of pitchers who qualified. He’ll begin the year in Triple-A, hoping to break onto the big league roster at some point in 1974.
Regular Season Results
The experts weren’t too far off with their predictions for the year. At the All-Star Break, the Pirates were running away with the division. At 48-44, the Mets sat 8 games out of a playoff spot.
Jerry Koosman and Jon Matlack were tied at the break with 9 wins. Right behind them, we find Tom Seaver with 8 victories. It’s Matlack’s first half 1.92 ERA which is the biggest standout number from the beginning of the year.
On the offensive side of things, Rusty Staub is batting .323 with Felix Millan at .295 and John Milner at .290 not far behind. Staub also has 15 home runs and 48 RBI which could potentially lead to some single-season franchise records.
The second half needed a historic performance out of the Amazins to climb into the playoff picture. It never happened with the club finishing the year much worse than expected. Although the Pirates didn’t end up taking the division thanks to the powerhouse Philadelphia Phillies of the mid-1970s, it wasn’t the 72-90 Metropolitans who caught them. In a distant fourth place and 28 games back, it was a disappointing year for the 1974 virtual Mets.
The Mets sent two men to the 1974 All-Star Game. Making his first-ever trip to the Midsummer Classic was Jon Matlack. Joining him for the third All-Star appearance of his career and first as a member of the Mets, outfielder Rusty Staub.
Matlack pitched a shutout inning in the game while Staub watched from the bench for all nine innings.
In this down year, there were no other notable honors to mention.
Notable Individual Statistics
Rusty Staub had the biggest year on the club, finishing with a 5.6 WAR. Only Budd Harrelson’s 1971 season is better in virtual Mets history thus far. Staub hit .310 which came a single point shy of beating Richie Asbhurn’s .311 in 1962.
John Milner had another memorable season as well, knocking 21 home runs with a .277 batting average.
On the pitching side of things, Tom Seaver put together yet another great season. After beginning the first half 8-8, he went on to finish with an 18-10 record and 2.36 ERA. Jon Matlack was 15-9 with a 2.19 ERA while Jerry Koosman suffered at 11-15 with a 3.49 ERA.
The 1974 Mets didn’t have the same dominance as they have in recent years, specifically from the mound. While I like what some of the top contributors on offense did, it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for some of the shortcomings, specifically from the bullpen.
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We’re entering darker days for the cyber Mets and I fear this simulation will yield similar results as real-life did in the latter part of the decade. In the time with Seaver still in uniform, I’m crossing my digital fingers hoping for better things in 1975.