Mets finish off the decade in last place during our 1979 simulation
By Tim Boyle
The virtual New York Mets finished off the 1970s on a down note with a last place finish in Major League Baseball.
We conclude the 1970s with what I expect to be another poor year for the virtual New York Mets. After all, they are now without Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and many other franchise favorites and legends. The 1979 virtual campaign is upon us. With it comes a little more fictional misery.
Unlike some past seasons where we saw bad news coming, this one doesn’t offer much in terms of individual achievements. We had Dave Kingman to look forward to in recent years as he challenged for the franchise home run title. The 1979 squad won’t provide much in the way of franchise records getting set.
Before we cry through the 1979 season, let’s remember how virtual Mets seasons went in the past:
1970: 101-61 (NLCS loss 3-2)
1971: 100-62 (World Series Champions)
Will there be some shocking positive results to conclude the decade or will this year feel like one of those seasons that just won’t end?
To my pleasant surprise, the Mets are expected to go 82-80 this year and finish third in the National League East. It’s not a great finish to the decade yet far better than I could have expected.
Also noteworthy, Lee Mazzilli is one of the best-rated hitters heading into spring training. Expected statistics for him include a .294/.399/’.438 slash line and a 70 RBI campaign.
Craig Swan has made his presence known as well as one of the top pitchers in the preseason predictions. Experts have him going 17-14 with a 2.57 ERA in 1979.
As for actual play on the field in the preseason, the Mets wrapped up spring training with a 16-14 record. This put them only a single game out of first place shared by the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies.
Maybe this year will be better than my pessimism suggested.
Regular Season Results
Well, those moments of thinking positively in the preseason didn’t actually pay off. At the All-Star Break, the Mets sat in fifth place with a 38-49 record. This put them 11 games out of first place.
At the break, Joel Youngblood is arguably the team’s leading hitter with a .290 batting average, 9 home runs, and 41 RBI. Lee Mazzilli also had a fine first-half but missed a lot of time.
On the pitching side of things, nobody is having a very good year. Just about everyone who has started consistently has a below .500 record.
There wasn’t much to watch in the second half. It was one of those seasons where fans can check out and explore other interests.
At the end of the year, the Mets shared the worst record in baseball at 64-98. In a tight NL East that ended with the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates tied and the Montreal Expos one game behind them both, the Mets were buried 28 games out. If there’s any consolation, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals weren’t much better.
The Mets sent one player to the All-Star Game this year, Lee Mazzilli. His .315/.387/.495 slash line at the break was definitely worthy of All-Star consideration although he only played in 59 games because of a groin injury that knocked him out of action for six weeks. The All-Star selection was the first of Mazzilli’s career.
Unfortunately, Mazzilli went 0 for 3 at the plate in his first trip to the All-Star Game.
This wasn’t the end of Mazzilli’s honors. After the season, he was awarded with the Silver Slugger for National League center fielders.
Notable Individual Statistics
Pete Falcone was the top pitcher on the 1979 Mets. At 12-12 with a 3.01 ERA, he had about as good of a year as one could expect from the situation he was in. Craig Swan didn’t meet those lofty preseason expectations. He went just 10-18 with a 3.38 ERA.
The pitching wasn’t horrific for the 1979 virtual Mets but it didn’t do them any favors in the standings.
On the other side of the ball, we saw Lee Mazzilli continue to tear things up through the second half. He finished the year with 39 stolen bases and a .319/.389/.496 slash line. The batting average set a new single-season record in franchise history. Richie Ashburn’s .311 in 1962 has finally fallen.
One final Mazzilli statistic, the 5.6 WAR he posted in 1979 is the third-best by a Mets player in the virtual world. I can only imagine the kind of damage he could have done if not for missing more than a month.
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The 1979 simulation went about as poorly as expected despite the preseason predictions hinting at something better. Next up, we enter the 1980s when we know better days are ahead in the not too distant simulated future.