The loss of Darryl Strawberry in the middle of the lineup is too much for the virtual New York Mets to handle in our 1991 simulation.
For three straight virtual years, the New York Mets have won the National League Pennant. They won it all in 1988 then fell short with a World Series loss in 1989 and 1990. This year will be a little different. Mostly because Darryl Strawberry is no longer with the team.
It’s 1991 and the Mets are seemingly fading out of a potential dynasty era in the late 1980s. Although they’ve captured all but one NL East title since the 1985 season, it has been disappointing to win just one trophy.
The offseason did have one notable event to report. Jerry Koosman was voted into Cooperstown on his first ballot. Koosman’s MLB career in this simulation turned out even better than it did in real life with about 40 more wins. He’ll be the first Mets player to wear the team’s cap into the Hall of Fame.
To catch everyone up on past fake Mets seasons, here’s a breakdown of what you may have missed:
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)
1988: 99-63 (World Series Champions)
1989: 110-52 (World Series loss 4-1)
1990: 103-59 (World Series loss 4-0)
After two straight 100+ win seasons, what’s in store for 1991 Mets?
The preseason predictions don’t look too favorably on the Mets. At 80-82, they are predicted to finish in a tie for second place well behind the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates. The powerhouse Bucs have a preseason prediction of 104-58.
If there’s anything to hang our hats on, David Cone, Dwight Gooden, and Frank Viola are still expected to have great seasons and are in the list of the top ten preseason pitchers in the league. Some notable predictions for them include 250 strikeouts from Cone, a 2.79 ERA from Gooden, and 17 wins from Viola.
Actual preseason results turned out well with the Mets finishing first in the NL East at 17-13. Howard Johnson led all NL hitters in home runs and newcomer Vince Coleman stole more bases than anyone else in the league.
Perhaps the loss of Strawberry will not be as significant.
Regular Season Results
Now things matter. The regular season has started and the Mets have a huge target on their backs.
The first half didn’t have the results a playoff hopeful squad looks for. Feeling buried, the Mets went into the All-Star Break with a record of 39-41 which put them 12.5 games out of a playoff spot. Unfortunately, as the preseason predictions suggested, the Pirates are going to run away with this division with none other than Bobby Bonilla as the early frontrunner to win the NL MVP.
It would take more than a historic second-half by the Mets to earn a playoff spot. They had overpowered the Pirates for the last few seasons despite plenty of winning in Pittsburgh. This year, the Bucs had revenge on their minds.
The Mets crept within 5.5 games by the end of July. At the end of August, they managed to climb 3.5 games within reach. We can credit Gregg Jefferies for a lot of the help as he suddenly jumped into the batting title race in late August.
Sadly, that was as close as the Mets would get. They faded quickly in September and finished 15.5 games behind the Pirates. At 84-77, it was a better than expected year but not one many people will talk about in the future.
The 1991 Mets sent just one player to the All-Star Game, David Cone. After pitching in the final game before the break, he was made unavailable.
No Mets earned major awards. For the first time in a while, there wasn’t much to celebrate in the early stage of the offseason.
Howard Johnson did have a three-home run game on May 26 versus the St. Louis Cardinals. Other than that one game, I have nothing more to report.
Notable Individual Statistics
Gregg Jefferies did follow up on his Mets record-setting season in 1990 with another fine year at the plate. He hit .324 but his 438 plate appearances weren’t enough to qualify him for any batting title. If he had enough trips to the plate, he would have won by one point.
Jefferies surprised everyone with 35 stolen bases in a limit season due to injuries. Because this simulation mimics real-life moves, we already know the bad news: Jefferies is gone after 1991.
David Cone had an awesome year on the mound. At 22-6 with a 2.00 ERA, it was possibly better than expected. He finished third in ERA, second in wins, and first in strikeouts with 250. Cone was also behind only Greg Maddux in WAR.
One final notable statistic to mention are the 37 saves by John Franco. By a single save, he has set a new single-season record for the franchise.
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The 1991 simulation went okay and would have felt better if it was a step toward something better. Unfortunately, because this simulation replicates rosters and is somewhat similar to results, I’m not sure there’s much to look forward to when we resume with the 1992 season.