Mets power their way to the postseason in our 1987 simulation
By Tim Boyle
Thanks to two very powerful performances at the plate, the 1987 virtual New York Mets are back in the postseason.
The 1986 New York Mets are beloved by many in reality but in the virtual world, they were another squad that came up too short. Some major injuries, specifically to Dwight Gooden in his Cy Young defense, limited the 1986 Mets to a second-place finish in our simulation.
Fortunately, the core is still together and we can only hope for some better results in 1987.
First, let’s take note of how past Mets teams have performed:
1970: 101-61 (NLCS loss 3-2)
1971: 100-62 (World Series Champions)
1985: 98-64 (NLCS loss 4-3)
Will our simulated season of 1987 turn out better than 1986?
The Mets will have to get through 1987 without Dwight Gooden. The good news is the preseason predictions still have them finishing atop the National League East with an 88-74 record.
Darryl Strawberry is expected to, yet again, be one of the best hitters in the NL with a projected 36 home runs and 101 RBI. Ron Darling is tabbed to go 17-11 with a 2.79 ERA with Sid Fernandez also in the top ten among preseason predictions at 10-12 with a 3.20 ERA.
In spring action, the Mets went 13-17 with Strawberry leading the NL in OPS and Howard Johnson knocking 7 home runs.
I know better than to believe spring training results are any indication of how the virtual Mets will perform. Hopefully, I’m correct.
Regular Season Results
The Mets weren’t going to let the loss of Doc get them down in the early part of the season. Thanks in large part to an awesome start by Darryl Strawberry, the team began the year 26-10. In the early part of the year, Strawberry was in home run race alongside former Met, Kevin Mitchell.
By mid-June, the NL East became a two-horse race between the Mets and Chicago Cubs. Everyone else was 10 games or more behind.
The first-half finished with the Mets in first place at 54-33. The Cubs aren’t too far behind at 50-38.
Strawberry leads the league with 28 home runs and is getting a good portion of his offensive help from Howard Johnson (.284, 18 home runs) and a surprising performance out of Tim Teufel (.356, 11 home runs).
Ron Darling is the first-half leader with 12 wins but David Cone at 9-3 with a 2.66 ERA and Sid Fernandez at 9-5 with a 2.03 ERA are helping the Mets make up for the loss of Gooden. Speaking of Gooden, there’s a slim chance he could be ready by the end of the season.
Following the All-Star Break, the Mets continued to pull away from the Cubs and the rest of the division. Chicago wouldn’t fall out of the race, coming close to catching the Mets in late August. They finally did in the first week of September and the final month was a back and forth.
At the end of the season, the Mets were 95-67, 3.5 games ahead of Chicago. The Mets are playoff-bound with bash brothers Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson leading the way on offense. They finished number one and two in NL home runs.
This year’s playoff opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is the team that the Mets lost to in the 1988 NLCS back in our real world. The Dodgers had to defeat the San Diego Padres in a one-game playoff to make it here.
Game 1: After missing the entire regular season, Dwight Gooden makes his 1987 debut by starting the first game for the Mets. It turned out to be the right decision as the Mets took the game by the score of 2-1.
Game 2: The Mets took the second game behind the pitching performance of Sid Fernandez and a home run each from Howard Johnson and Kevin McReynolds. With a 2-0 lead, the series moves back to New York.
Game 3: In front of the hometown fans, the Mets lost the third game 5-2.
Game 4: As no one expected, the home team loses again with the Mets dropping this game to the Dodgers 6-3. Darryl Strawberry finally did hit a home run but he’s hitting only .214 for the series.
Game 5: Dwight Gooden didn’t have the same luck at Shea Stadium as he did over in Los Angeles. The Mets lose this game 7-2 and come one loss away from elimination.
Game 6: The Mets come soaring back with a 4-1 win with Sid Fernandez on the mound. We’re going to a Game 7 to decide it all.
Game 7: The decider pits David Cone against Fernando Valenzuela. By a score of 4-2, the Dodgers win.
The Mets are eliminated. The season is over.
The 1987 Mets sent five players to the All-Star Game. Pitchers Sid Fernandez and David Cone each got the nod. From the position player pool we find Gary Carter, Howard Johnson, and Darryl Strawberry.
Fernandez’s selection was quite notable because he actually got the start in the game. He pitched a shutout inning with a strikeout. Cone got into the game later on, striking out the side in his lone frame.
Strawberry struck out in his one at-bat, Carter only played defense, and Johnson went hitless in one trip to the plate.
One Mets player managed to do something none have since Tom Seaver in 1970. Darryl Strawberry took home the NL MVP Award. It helped that he hit nearly .300 and drove a league-best 48 home runs. It’s a new single-season Mets record and a mark the Straw never reached in real life.
As expected, this also means Strawberry won the Silver Slugger in right field. It’s his third and second in a row. Joining him on this list of honors is Howard Johnson. HoJo had an amazing season himself and I’m excited to see what he can do moving forward.
Notable Individual Statistics
The Mets had two players break the franchise home run record in this 1987 simulation. Darryl Strawberry hit 48 home runs to lead the NL with Howard Johnson finishing second with 43. For whatever it’s worth, the team also got 33 dingers from Kevin McReynolds and a surprising 18 from Tim Teufel.
Strawberry and Johnson did more than just hit home runs. Strawberry hit .298 with 119 RBI and Johnson batted .290 with 109. As for McReynolds, he hit .249 with 98 RBI.
On the pitching side of things, Darling got the 17 wins he was predicted to. Sid Fernandez and David Cone each won 13 games with ERAs below 3.00 while Bob Ojeda earned 11 wins with a 2.84 ERA.
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This was a fun season from many aspects and what I would have expected from the 1986 simulation. Fortunately, the Mets are hitting home runs at such an amazing race that it may be able to finally make up for many years of poor offensive campaigns. With Doc back to full health, I’m hoping for at least one final playoff run in 1988. And if it doesn’t happen then, we still have the rest of the decade to try and get it done.