Virtual Mets have a year to forget in our 1981 simulation

A players’ strike in 1981 couldn’t save virtual New York Mets fans from suffering through a year to forget.

The virtual New York Mets celebrate the 1981 season with a tribute to the 1971 Championship squad. A few retired players return including the unlikely MVP of the 1971 World Series, Ronnie Collins.

The 1981 MLB season was a strange one in real life with a first-half and second-half winner due to the players’ strike midseason. Of course, we don’t know this yet in our virtual world but for a spoiler alert, the settings in this simulation mimic events such as that.

Before we see if the Mets can sneak into the postseason in this odd year, let’s recap previous standings:

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)
1972: 80-76
1973: 83-77
1974: 72-90
1975: 75-87
1976: 88-74
1977: 78-84
1978: 68-94
1979: 64-98
1980: 65-97

It feels like a decade since the Mets went to the playoffs—perhaps because it has been that long. Will we see some magic in 1981?

Preseason Predictions

Oh, boy! The preseason predictions for the 1981 Mets are dreadful. They are expected to go 37-67. By 13 games, it’s the worst in the National League.

Somehow, those bad preseason predictions didn’t translate to actual spring training action. The Mets finished the preseason as the best team in the National League East at 19-11. The return of Dave Kingman definitely helped.

Maybe, just maybe, the 1981 virtual Mets will give us a season to remember.

Regular Season Results

Unfortunately, the preseason success didn’t carry over into the regular season. The Mets began the year 0-11. Can you believe it? It’s the stuff of nightmares.

In this whacky abridged campaign, the Mets went into the All-Star Break 21 games out of first place with a 16-35 record.

Hubie Brooks with a .306 batting average leads the team in the first half. On the pitching side of things, Pat Zachry has an incredible 1-10 record with a 4.34 ERA. It’s that kind of year.

It seems this fictional version of the 1981 season didn’t make any adjustments to the playoff rules. In which case, the Mets were eliminated very early on. The final season tally had them with the fewest wins in franchise history at an abysmal 33-69.

Honors

Lee Mazzilli returned to the All-Star Game as the lone Mets representative. At the time of the All-Star Game, he was slashing .268/.405/.389 with 16 stolen bases. It’s not a fantastic year but definitely the best on the Mets.

Mazzilli went 1 for 4 in the extra-inning affair, knocking a single for his lone All-Star hit.

A surprising honor I did come across is one awarded to Pat Zachry. The Mets pitcher won the Silver Slugger with a .096 batting average, 0 RBI, and only a single run scored. I cannot understand how this happened unless the computer thinks it’s supposed to vote for pitchers with the worst batting numbers against them.

Either way, congrats to Mr. Zachry!

Notable Individual Statistics

OOTP features the top three players at a variety of statistics. Typically, no Mets are featured. This year I spotted Mookie Wilson with the third most stolen bases in the league with 30 and the second-longest hitting streak of any NL player with 16 straight games.

Mike Scott led the club with an 8-5 record and 2.83 ERA. Closer Neil Allen was amazingly third in wins with only four of them.

The season did feature more playing time for some Mets who will hopefully become big parts of the team’s future such as Lenny Dykstra and even Kevin Mitchell. Unfortunately, no one had the kind of franchise-altering season the 1981 virtual Mets needed.

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Next up, we have the 1982 season. With it may come an early debut for one of the best young pitchers in Major League Baseball history, a guy named Doc.