Mets win the 1988 World Series and all of the glory in our simulated history
By Tim Boyle
The New York Mets find some redemption and win it all in our 1988 season simulation.
The virtual New York Mets are now overdue for their second championship. They have lost in the NLCS in a game seven in two of the last three seasons and came a half-game away from making the postseason the other time. Now it’s 1988 and the window to win is getting narrower.
We’re coming off a year where Darryl Strawberry slammed 48 home runs and Howard Johnson finished second in the league with 43 of his own. Dwight Gooden is healthy and we should get some better results.
The hopeful march to a parade will begin shortly but not before we recap past Mets season:
1970: 101-61 (NLCS loss 3-2)
1971: 100-62 (World Series Champions)
1985: 98-64 (NLCS loss 4-3)
1987: 95-67 (NLCS loss 4-3)
The virtual Mets won their first World Series two years after the real-life ones so the 1988 season could be our year.
Coming off the disappointing end to 1987, the 1988 squad is projected to have a huge year. With a preseason prediction of 105-56, the team is 22 games better than the second-best team in the division.
How are the Mets going to accomplish this? Reigning NL MVP Darryl Strawberry is expected to hit 43 home runs and drive in 119. Howard Johnson will help him out with 38 home runs of his own plus 99 RBI.
In the preseason top player projections, we also find some Mets pitchers. Dwight Gooden may have one of the best seasons in modern history. He is projected to go 26-8 with a 1.99 ERA. David Cone is 16-7 with a 2.29 ERA, Sid Fernandez is 14-9 with a 2.23 ERA, and Ron Darling is 18-10 with a 2.76 ERA.
If those four pitchers can do anything near to this, we could be celebrating in Flushing.
For whatever it’s worth, the Mets went 16-14 in the preseason. I know better than to put any belief in these results so take from it what you will.
Regular Season Results
Onto the regular season where the standings and statistics do matter. I’m predicting a parade down Broadway. Which, by the way, in this virtual world would be the first since the Mets won the 1971 World Series. The Yankees haven’t won at all in this fictional yet perfect from that aspect world.
It’s a nice change to see the Mets have a great mix of pitching and offense. The first half’s offense was led by Howard Johnson, Kevin McReynolds, and Darryl Strawberry. Johnson and Strawberry are battling for the home run title and McReynolds is among the leaders in batting average.
At the end of the first half, the Mets weren’t nearly as far ahead of the division as I hoped. At 50-37, they have only a one-game lead over the Chicago Cubs.
Strawberry does lead the league with 20 home runs and Johnson is one behind with 19. Dwight Gooden (1.80) and David Cone (1.92) have the second and third lowest ERAs while Sid Fernandez is second in wins with 12.
The second half will require this team to continue hitting and pitching out of their minds. There are plenty of big numbers to watch, too, which should make for a fun final stretch.
When it was all over with, the Mets fell short of their predicted 105 victories. Luckily, at 99-61, it was still 8 games better than the Cubs.
The Mets are headed back to the playoffs.
We nearly saw a repeat of the real-life 1988 NLCS but the Los Angeles Dodgers finished the season one game behind the Cincinnati Reds. The bad news is the Reds have beaten the Mets twice in the NLCS in past seasons. Hopefully, this time around, we have better results.
Game 1: Dwight Gooden shutout the Reds in the first game with help from a Kevin Elster home run. By a score of 2-0, the Mets take a quick lead.
Game 2: Unfortunately, Tom Browning got the best of the Mets at Shea Stadium in the second game with a 1-0 victory.
Game 3: Finally a game without a shutout, the Mets win 3-2 to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
Game 4: Hoping to pull further away, the Mets win Game 4 9-5 with home runs by Howard Johnson and Kevin McReynolds powering them to victory. We are now one game away from going to the World Series.
Game 5: Davey Johnson isn’t playing any games. Dwight Gooden starts Game 5 and the Mets win 6-4. Kevin McReynolds wins the series MVP with a .455 batting average leading the way.
After two recent attempts, the Mets have gotten over the NLCS hump. Clear your schedule. The Mets are World Series-bound!
Following their victory over Cincinnati, the Mets headed to the World Series to face the Toronto Blue Jays. This is a team that has arrived earlier than expected. Unlike real life when they became a powerhouse in the early 1990s, our simulated history has them showing off in the late 1980s. When the Reds beat the Mets in the 1985 NLCS, the Blue Jays were the World Series losers.
It’s a great matchup for a lot of reasons. Both teams led their leagues in runs scored and fewest runs allowed. The Blue Jays scored more runs but the Mets allowed fewer.
Enough talk. Let’s get to it. Let’s win a championship.
Game 1: Dwight Gooden had plenty of time to rest up for the World Series. In Game 1, the Mets took down the Blue Jays 7-3 up in Toronto. They got home run help from Darry Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra, and Gregg Jefferies.
Game 2: A 6-1 victory in Game 2 put the Mets up 2-0 in the series. We’re headed back to Shea Stadium for the next three games. Only two are needed to end it.
Game 3: The Mets take this one 3-1 with a Howard Johnson home run assisting in the victory. We’re now one win away from needing to take a vacation day from work.
Game 4: The Commissioner’s Trophy will have to go untouched for at least another day as the Blue Jays take this one 3-2.
Game 5: The Mets send Dwight Gooden back to the mound to close this one. He’s 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA this postseason. He’s up against Jim Clancy, who at 0-2 with a 14.85 ERA, is probably not the strongest opponent. By a score of 5-2, the Mets win it! Gooden gets the win. Randy Myers gets the save.
The World Series MVP goes to Gregg Jefferies, a man who hit .364 in the series and popped a pair of home runs. He had an impressive albeit shortened regular season which saw him hit .340 in 223 plate appearances. He joins Ronnie Collins as the other World Series MVP in Mets history.
The 1988 Mets sent a whole busload of players to the All-Star Game this year. Pitchers Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Bob Ojeda, Sid Fernandez, and Randy Myers all got the nod.
This wasn’t the end of it, though. Darryl Strawberry was voted to start in right field for the NL. He’ll also have Howard Johnson and Kevin McReynolds with him. This makes the NL roster loaded with eight Mets!
It was a special day for Gooden who finally got to start an All-Star Game. In past years, he missed it due to injury or lack of rest. He tossed a shutout first inning complete with a pair of strikeouts. Ojeda pitched a perfect second inning and Cone struck out the side later on. Although Fernandez never got into the game, it was Myers who closed it out.
The game was quite literally won by Mets players. Strawberry led off the game with a home run. It was all the NL would need in their 4-0 victory. McReynolds went hitless in his one trip to the plate with Johnson drawing a walk.
In the major awards category, Gooden won his second Cy Young Award thanks to a 17-13 season and 1.95 ERA. We also saw Myers take home the Reliever of the Year Award in part because of his 34 save season which at one point extended more than 30 straight save conversations.
For a surprising twist, the Mets did get a Gold Glove. Strawberry won it in right field for his defensive performance. He also took home the Silver Slugger Award for the position—the fourth of his career.
An individual game shutout should go to Mookie Wilson who on April 19 had a 3-home run game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
It’s also worth mentioning Cone striking out 15 San Diego Padres on May 28 and Fernandez doing the same to the Philadelphia Phillies on September 21.
Notable Individual Statistics
Home runs were yet again a big part of the Mets’ success although they also got help scoring runs in other ways. The club scored 731 of them all year and led the league in runs scored, OBP, and home runs. Darryl Strawberry led the way with 38 with Howard Johnson right behind with 36. Only ex-Mets slugger Kevin Mitchell hit more than those two.
Strawberry’s 7.7 WAR set a new franchise high for the team, beating out the 7.0 WAR HoJo had one year earlier. Strawberry is now the position player WAR leader. Strawberry is already up to 220 home runs which means he may beat out his real-life total with the Mets as soon as next year.
On the pitching side of things, the Mets got a 1.81 ERA and 17 wins from David Cone. Dwight Gooden, however, led the team with 259 strikeouts and had a nearly as impressive 1.95 ERA.
The winningest pitcher on the team turned out to be Sid Fernandez. The Mets lefty went 20-4 with a 2.24 ERA this season. Cone won the ERA title. Gooden, Fernandez, and Cone finished first through third in strikeouts.
For the second time in our simulated history, the Mets won it all two years after they did in real life. Although I had hoped for a dynasty, I’m glad we at least caught up with a second championship.
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We move onward to 1989 and look to defend the title. Knowing the early 1990s won’t turn out so well for this virtual franchise, I look forward to at least one more deep run into the postseason.