Mets pitchers combine for an all-time great year in our virtual 1976 season
By Tim Boyle
The 1976 season may be the last chance the virtual New York Mets have to win a championship this decade.
After a crummy 1975 season, the virtual New York Mets 1976 not knowing what’s to come in 1977. Of course, as we all know in our 2020 world, this is the final full season with Tom Seaver in blue and orange.
My expectations aren’t high for the virtual Mets in 1976. Although they have exceeded expectations in some years, I don’t expect a miracle this time around.
Before we get into things, let’s quickly recap how past seasons have gone:
1970: 101-61 (NLCS loss 3-2)
1971: 100-62 (World Series Champions)
Can we get the team back to a winning season or will there be another wasted year in Flushing in 1976?
The virtual experts have predicted a 79-83 season for the Amazins. It’s actually better than I would predict. But what do I know? I’m only a real person and not a computer game.
In actual spring training action, the Mets went just 10-20. Although spring numbers don’t always reflect exactly for the year to come, they have been a pretty good indicator.
Can the virtual Mets prove me wrong? Let’s see how the year went.
Regular Season Results
For the first time in a while, there are some offensive numbers to get us giddy. The last few seasons have relied heavily on the pitching, often leading to the team falling short because of how one-dimensional they were. The standings reflected this with the club finishing the first half 48-39 and only 5.5 games out of first place.
Frankly, it’s much better than I could have expected.
There are a couple of Mets leading the league in different numbers. Offensively, Dave Kingman and his 16 home runs top all National League batters. From the mound, Craig Swan’s 1.67 ERA leads the league while Tom Seaver and Jon Matlack are number one and two in WAR.
Finally, there’s Skip Lockwood and his 17 saves to note.
One final tip of the cap to make, Ed Kranepool is hitting .328. The only reason why the Mets aren’t performing better is because outside of Kingman, Kranepool, John Milner, and Felix Millan, the offense is incredibly weak. They concluded the first half with a team batting average of only .230.
Heading into the second half, I had my doubts the Mets could storm into a playoff spot. If anything, we might at least get to see Kingman become the first home run king in franchise history or at least set a single-season record for the organization.
In the end, none of it would happen.
However, the Mets can be proud of an 88-74 record and tie for second place in the division. It’s a somewhat hollow victory considering they were still 10 games out of a playoff spot and never really in any sort of a race by early August.
Ed Kranepool went back to the All-Star Game for the third time in his career. This time, however, he did so as a starter. No other National League first baseman received more votes than him.
Joining him, we find the game’s starting pitcher, Tom Seaver. At 11-5 with a 2.23 ERA, he takes the mound to represent the Mets in the annual exhibition game of the best players in the world.
In the blowout victory by the NL, Kranepool went 1 for 2 with a pair of runs scored. Seaver gave up one run in his inning of work and didn’t factor into the decision.
On May 11, 1976, Dave Kingman added his name to the list of honorable Mets with a three-home run game against the Atlanta Braves.
On June 18, 1976, Tom Seaver pitched the second no-hitter of his career and the fourth in Mets history. A 10-inning performance which included 13 strikeouts and just two walks helped take down the San Francisco Giants.
Notable Individual Statistics
Dave Kingman ended the year with 27 home runs, well short of what I was hoping to see him do. The total was four behind the league leader so the drought of Mets home run champions continues.
Ed Kranepool concluded the year slashing .315/.348/.427. Because he only had 429 at-bats, he didn’t qualify for any league-leading numbers or franchise totals. Somehow, he still led the team with 73 RBI.
Mets pitching may have been at its best in 1976. Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Jerry Koosman, Craig Swan, and Mickey Lolich all had 14+ wins and an ERA of 3.02 or lower. Koosman led with a 19-7 record plus a 1.95 ERA. The ERA total, however, went to Swan who ended the year at 1.82. The pair finished number two and three in the league.
It seems like the virtual Mets missed a big opportunity. Due to a lack of overall success by the offense, the tremendous pitching performance was wasted.
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We already know how this story will end. Because of the game’s settings, we are about to undergo a rebuilding phase for the organization. We move onto 1977 and say farewell to the possibility of multiple championships.