The unfortunate history of 77-win teams in Flushing

Chicago Cubs v New York Mets
Chicago Cubs v New York Mets / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

The 2011 New York Mets team was an underwhelming squad. In another season where offense was not as dangerous of a weapon as it had been in the past, we got a 77-85 effort from the boys.

Hey, that record looks familiar. The 2021 Mets also finished 77-85. But how? How could the trade deadline sellers of 2011 finish with the same exact record as the most modern team possible?

On paper, the modern Mets would have ravaged their 2011 counterparts. In actuality, it might have been a little closer than we would think.

The 2021 Mets would have still rolled all over the 2011 squad

Something to always remember about the 2021 Mets—that horrible streak in August and how badly beat up they were early on in the season.

There was no chance for the 2021 Mets to build up victories and run away with the division because of all of the walking wounded. By the time the painful August schedule arrived they were about to start sinking.

After their July 31 game in 2011, the Mets were 55-53. The 2021 team was 56-48. If they had been playing together in the same division in the same year, the 2011 team might not have been so eager to sell a guy like Carlos Beltran.

This is kind of what the situation was in 2021 but instead of the 2011 Amazins time-traveling a decade, we had the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies breathing down the Mets’ necks all year long. Unable to put much distance between the number one spot in the National League East and the two teams behind them, it gave those on their tail a reason to buy.

A 77-win season is a familiar one for the Mets

The Mets have now finished with 77 wins four times. Along with 2021 and 2011, they did this in 2018 and 1991. The 2018 season was similar to the 2011 one with the team selling at the deadline and not doing a whole lot to improve the club in the offseason prior.

The 1991 campaign reminds me a lot of the 2021 season. As luck would have it, those fears we had in the middle of last season came true. They replicated what the club did 30 years prior right down to the win column. In 1991, actually only had 84 losses but never got to make up that final game. At that point, why bother?

One thing to note about the 2021 team is that the Pythagorean record (the assumed winning percentage based on runs scored and allowed) is the lowest of any 77-win team in club history. At .478 compared to the actual .475 winning percentage they really had, the team wasn’t much better than their record showed.

The 2011 team that I never think of as any good had a Pythagorean winning percentage of .485. This is only good for about a game or two better but sometimes, as we saw in 2007, a game is all it takes.

We don’t need to do a full autopsy again on what led the Mets to miss the playoffs in 2021. Their lack of scoring runs contributed mightily to it. Much to my surprise the 2011 Mets outscored last year’s team by a wide margin: 718 to 636. However, the 2021 squad was superior at run prevention, surrendering 668 runs compared to the 742 from 2011.

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