Mets bats fail to have a memorable year in our 1996 simulation
By Tim Boyle
The 162-game schedule has returned for 1996 and the New York Mets bats don’t live up to expectations.
It’s 1996 now in our virtual world and the simulated version of me is starting to get into baseball. This was the first year I followed the game. Will the virtual New York Mets let me down?
The 1996 season is the first full year back from the Player’s Strike in 1994. Home runs are about to start flying out of ballparks like crazy.
The offseason did have one major event take place. Jon Matlack was voted into the Hall of Fame. He joins Jerry Koosman and Tom Seaver in Cooperstown. For Matlack, it was his eighth year on the ballot.
Before you grab your glove and look to snag a 500-foot blast, let’s remember how past Mets seasons ended:
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)
I expect an offensive explosion from at least a few Mets this year. How will it impact the standings?
The National League East does not look like an easy division. Per the preseason predictions, the Florida Marlins, Atlanta Braves, and Montreal Expos will all win over 90 games. The Mets, unfortunately, are left in a distant fourth-place at 73-89.
No one on the roster managed to climb into the preseason top ten lists for position players or pitchers. This doesn’t mean we won’t see some franchise records set just as we did in the real version of 1996.
The Mets finished spring training 16-14. Jeff Kent led the National League with 10 home runs. Maybe this will be a year where the offense powers them to victory.
Regular Season Results
The Atlanta Braves were MLB’s team of the first half of the 1996 season. At 62-25, they are well ahead of every other team in baseball. Fortunately, there’s that Wild Card spot the Mets can win.
The Mets finished the first half of 1996 with a 46-41 record. Although not ideal, they are only a half-game behind the Cincinnati Reds for that extra postseason position.
A 29-game hitting streak from Carl Everett, 24 home runs from Todd Hundley, and an 11-1 record with a 1.72 ERA from Bobby Jones are three of the highlights to mention from the start of this season.
There was absolutely no chance of catching Atlanta this year so the focus of the second-half went to winning a Wild Card spot.
Apparently, it wasn’t meant to be. The Mets struggled in the standings almost immediately after the All-Star Break and quickly fell out of the Wild Card race. When it was all over, they had a record of 74-88. They tied the Montreal Expos for fourth-place while the Florida Marlins went on to win the Wild Card with 89 victories.
Only one member of the Mets managed to climb onto the National League All-Star roster. Catcher Todd Hundley and his 24 first-half home runs awarded him with yet another All-Star selection. It’s his third trip there of his simulated career.
Hundley did get into the game but went hitless in all three of his plate appearances.
A pair of Mets won Gold Gloves this year. At shortstop, Rey Ordonez took home the award. It’s his first of what will hopefully become many. Left fielder Bernard Gilkey also won the first Gold Glove of his career.
As for individual game accomplishments, Rico Brogna had a three-home run outing on April 14 against the Colorado Rockies. He hit 10 home runs all season and got those three out of the way early.
Notable Individual Statistics
There were plenty of monstrous numbers this year. In the American League, Mo Vaughn hit .367, Juan Gonzalez pounded 57 home runs, and Albert Belle had 171 RBI. The Mets didn’t have nearly the same historically relevant numbers.
Carl Everett hit .318, Butch Huskey had a .312 batting average, and Todd Hundley smashed 33 home runs. Everett and Huskey each had fewer than 400 at-bats so they weren’t qualified to even compete for a batting title.
Bobby Jones came back down to earth a little bit but still finished with a fine year. He was 16-8 with a 2.40 ERA.
Bernard Gilkey and Lance Johnson failed to have the kind of year they had in our real-life 1996 season. So much for a record number WAR and hits for those two.
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The season included an early chase for the Wild Card which soon faded into a lost campaign. The 1997 season is up next and with it comes another year closer to what will hopefully be some more promising seasons of simulated Mets baseball.