Mets slugger Mike Piazza joins the home run chase in our 1998 simulation
By Tim Boyle
Home runs are flying out of ballparks everyone and the virtual 1998 New York Mets get a huge boost with the addition of Mike Piazza.
It’s a big year for the virtual New York Mets. I don’t know what the end results will be but because transactions will match real-life ones in this simulation, we do know the 1998 campaign will have Mike Piazza make his way to Flushing.
The Mets made some big strides in our 1997 season simulation. Could Piazza be the missing piece?
First, let’s remember how past Mets simulated seasons went:
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 haven’t been this excited about a simulated season since the early 1990s. Don’t let me down, boys!
The preseason predictions aren’t as high on the Mets as I am. They are expected to go 80-82 this year.
Only one member of the team is on the top ten lists for position players or pitchers. One of the new roster additions, Al Leiter, is predicted to go 14-12 with a 2.55 ERA. Mike Piazza is also set to hit 38 home runs and drive in 116 but some of those numbers will come as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Florida Marlins.
Spring training was a success for the Mets with the team going 19-11. Piazza hit .500, knocked 10 home runs, and drove in 27. The virtual versions of ourselves don’t yet know it but he will be a major player for the team this year.
Regular Season Results
Okay, let’s get to what I hope is a fun season. The Mets haven’t been to the postseason since their three-straight trips to the World Series from 1988-1990. It’s time to change this.
It became obvious early on that the Atlanta Braves were the team to beat in the National League East. While the rest of the division bunched up and had to hope for a Wild Card, they ran away with things quite early.
The addition of Mike Piazza did help the Mets. When the All-Star Break rolled in, Piazza was on his way to possibly winning the fourth MVP of his simulated career. He led the major leagues with 32 home runs and 81 RBI. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa weren’t far behind with 31 home runs of their own.
As far as the standings go, the Mets finished the first-half 47-36. They were tied for second place in the Wild Card race with the San Francisco Giants. Amazingly, it’s 8.5 games behind the San Diego Padres. This team would have a tall mountain to climb in the second half.
Hopeful for a memorable finish to the season, the Mets embarked on the second half of the season with only the Wild Card on their mind.
Unfortunately, the battle in the National League West between the Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers was far too strong. The Dodgers won their final 14 games of the season and finished with a 102-60 record.
The Mets, meanwhile, at 88-74, were once again the best team in the league to miss the playoffs.
Mike Piazza and John Olerud were both voted into the All-Star Game as starters. Piazza led all National Leaguers with the most votes. They were also joined by teammate Al Leiter at the summer’s biggest exhibition game.
Olerud had one hit in three trips to the plate. Piazza, in his first All-Star Game representing New York, went hitless in all four plate appearances he made. Leiter ended up pitching the final three innings. He gave up one run and didn’t factor into the decision.
A pair of Mets won Gold Gloves this year. Rick Reed took home his second straight for NL pitchers. At shortstop, Rey Ordonez won his second Gold Glove as well, but not consecutively.
As anyone could have told you, Piazza won the Silver Slugger for NL catchers. It’s his seventh straight.
Notable Individual Statistics
Let’s start with Mike Piazza’s numbers, shall we? He hit .337 with 49 home runs and 129 RBI. This was combined with all three teams he suited up for. Solely with the Mets, he hit .339 with 32 home runs and 90 RBI.
John Olerud also had a huge year. He hit .318 with 29 home runs and 97 RBI. We also got to see Edgardo Alfonzo hit .308 with 19 home runs and 64 RBI.
From the pitchers, Al Leiter was the biggest contributor. At 15-7 with a 2.76 ERA, he was the team’s ace. Masato Yoshii had a pretty good year, too. He went 13-9 with a 2.78 ERA.
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The year didn’t feature a playoff run but the Mets also didn’t get a complete season of Piazza. Armed with him and even more talent next season, I’m hoping for better results in our 1999 simulation.