Hardball Retrospective – What Might Have Been – The “Original” 1979 Mets

In “Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises”, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original team. I calculated revised standings for every season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition.  Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.

Expanding on my research for the book, the following series of articles will reveal the teams with the biggest single-season difference in the WAR and Win Shares for the “Original” vs. “Actual” rosters for every Major League organization. “Hardball Retrospective” is available in digital format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes and KoboBooks. The paperback edition is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and CreateSpace. Supplemental Statistics, Charts and Graphs along with a discussion forum are offered at TuataraSoftware.com.

Don Daglow (Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball, Earl Weaver Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball) contributed the foreword for Hardball Retrospective. The foreword and preview of my book are accessible here.

Terminology

OWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “original” teams

OWS – Win Shares for players on “original” teams

OPW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “original” teams

AWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “actual” teams

AWS – Win Shares for players on “actual” teams

APW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “actual” teams

 

Assessment

The 1979 New York Mets 

OWAR: 50.7     OWS: 262     OPW%: .479     (78-84)

AWAR: 24.8      AWS: 188     APW%: .389     (63-99)

WARdiff: 25.9                        WSdiff: 74  

The “Original” 1979 Mets ended the season in the cellar, yet the club outpaced the “Actuals” by fifteen victories! Ken Singleton earned runner-up status in the MVP balloting on the strength of a .295 BA with 35 circuit clouts and 111 ribbies. Lee “Maz” Mazzilli (.303/15/79) nabbed 34 bags and merited his lone All-Star appearance. Tim Foli set personal-bests in batting average (.288), base hits, runs and RBI. John “The Hammer” Milner contributed a .276 BA with 16 jacks while splitting time between left field and first base. “Actuals” right fielder Joel Youngblood posted a .275 BA and raked 37 doubles. Richie “The Gravedigger” Hebner added 25 two-base knocks and drove in 79 baserunners.

Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan rated sixth and twenty-fourth, respectively, among pitchers in the “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract” top 100 player rankings. “Original” Mets teammates registered in the “NBJHBA” top 100 ratings include Ken Singleton (18th-RF) Paul Blair (66th-CF) and Bud Harrelson (88th-SS). “Actuals” third baseman Richie Hebner ranked fifty-sixth while center fielder Jose Cardenal placed seventh-sixth.

  Original 1979 Mets                                  Actual 1979 Mets

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS STARTING LINEUP POS AWAR AWS
John Milner LF 1.8 13.03 Steve Henderson LF 2.18 11.79
Lee Mazzilli CF 3.56 24.14 Lee Mazzilli CF 3.56 24.14
Ken Singleton RF 4.49 31.68 Joel Youngblood RF 3.75 17.31
Mike Jorgensen 1B -0.09 2.56 Willie Montanez 1B -1.71 2.45
Bud Harrelson 2B 0.55 3.1 Doug Flynn 2B -1.92 6.85
Tim Foli SS 1.88 17.19 Frank Taveras SS -0.83 11.83
Ted Martinez 3B -0.34 1.38 Richie Hebner 3B 2.32 14.43
Alex Trevino C 0.36 5.04 John Stearns C 1.28 10.89
BENCH POS OWAR OWS BENCH POS AWAR AWS
Joe Nolan C -0.02 3.57 Alex Trevino C 0.36 5.04
Jerry Morales RF -1.96 3.43 Elliott Maddox RF 0.67 4.88
Duffy Dyer C 0.11 3.21 Dan Norman RF -0.1 2.22
Benny Ayala LF 0.3 3.01 Jose Cardenal RF 0.36 1.99
Paul Blair CF -1.12 1.41 Ron Hodges C -0.24 1.14
Ron Hodges C -0.24 1.14 Ed Kranepool 1B -0.58 0.86
Ed Kranepool 1B -0.58 0.86 Kelvin Chapman 2B -0.7 0.67
Kelvin Chapman 2B -0.7 0.67 Gil Flores RF -0.36 0.34
Bruce Boisclair RF -0.88 0.29 Bruce Boisclair RF -0.88 0.29
Ike Hampton 1B 0.03 0.19 Sergio Ferrer 3B -0.1 0.16
Roy Staiger 3B 0.06 0.17 Tim Foli SS -0.08 0.1

Jerry Koosman reached the 20-win plateau for the second time in his career. Tom “The Franchise” Seaver (16-6, 3.14) led the National League with 5 shutouts and finished fourth in the Cy Young Award balloting. Nino Espinosa delivered 14 victories with a 3.65 ERA. Nolan Ryan aka the “Ryan Express” tallied 16 victories and struck out 223 batsmen. Craig Swan augmented the “Originals” and “Actuals” rotation with 14 wins and a 3.29 ERA after securing the National League ERA title during the previous campaign.

  Original 1979 Mets                                  Actual 1979 Mets 

ROTATION POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS AWAR AWS
Jerry Koosman SP 6.06 22.76 Craig Swan SP 3 15.36
Tom Seaver SP 3.68 16.04 Kevin Kobel SP 1.16 7.87
Craig Swan SP 3 15.36 Pete Falcone SP 0.49 6.15
Nino Espinosa SP 2.15 14.6 Tom Hausman SP 1.69 5.95
Nolan Ryan SP 2.88 13.52 Andy Hassler SP 0.54 4.87
BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS BULLPEN POS AWAR AWS
Neil Allen RP 0.19 6.26 Skip Lockwood RP 1.89 6.86
Tug McGraw RP -1.53 4.62 Neil Allen RP 0.19 6.26
Jeff Reardon RP 0.29 2.33 Ed Glynn RP 0.67 4.5
Roy Lee Jackson RP 0.43 1.77 Jeff Reardon RP 0.29 2.33
Dwight Bernard RP -0.51 0.44 Dale Murray RP -1.34 1.87
Steve Renko SP 2.68 11.18 Pat Zachry SP 0.28 2.94
Jim Bibby SP 2.85 11.06 Juan Berenguer SP 0.35 1.84
Ed Figueroa SP 0.98 5.38 Roy Lee Jackson RP 0.43 1.77
Jon Matlack SP 0.81 4.31 Ray Burris SP 0.13 0.85
Juan Berenguer SP 0.35 1.84 Wayne Twitchell RP -1.31 0.84
John Pacella SP 0.05 0.33 Jesse Orosco RP -0.33 0.57
Kim Seaman RP 0.05 0.29 Dwight Bernard RP -0.51 0.44
Jackson Todd RP -0.64 0.01 John Pacella SP 0.05 0.33
Mike Scott SP -0.83 0 Dock Ellis SP -1.6 0
Mike Scott SP -0.83 0

 Notable Transactions

Ken Singleton 

April 5, 1972: Traded by the New York Mets with Tim Foli and Mike Jorgensen to the Montreal Expos for Rusty Staub.

December 4, 1974: Traded by the Montreal Expos with Mike Torrez to the Baltimore Orioles for Bill Kirkpatrick (minors), Rich Coggins and Dave McNally. 

Jerry Koosman 

December 8, 1978: Traded by the New York Mets to the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named later and Greg Field (minors). The Minnesota Twins sent Jesse Orosco (February 7, 1979) to the New York Mets to complete the trade. 

Tom Seaver

June 15, 1977: Traded by the New York Mets to the Cincinnati Reds for Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Dan Norman and Pat Zachry.

Nino Espinosa

March 27, 1979: Traded by the New York Mets to the Philadelphia Phillies for Richie Hebner and Jose Moreno.

Nolan Ryan

December 10, 1971: Traded by the New York Mets with Frank Estrada, Don Rose and Leroy Stanton to the California Angels for Jim Fregosi.

Honorable Mention

The 2012 New York Mets 

OWAR: 27.7     OWS: 262     OPW%: .492     (80-82)

AWAR: 24.1       AWS: 221      APW%: .457    (74-88)

WARdiff: 3.6                        WSdiff: 41

The “Original” 2012 Mets placed third, fourteen games in arrears to the Nationals. David “Captain America” Wright (.306/21/93) raked 41 two-base hits and received his sixth All-Star invite. Angel “Crazy Horse” Pagan topped the circuit with 15 triples and set career-highs with 38 two-baggers and 95 runs scored. Jose B. Reyes swiped 40 bags and rapped 37 doubles while double-play partner Daniel Murphy contributed a .291 BA with 40 two-base knocks. Nelson R. Cruz nailed 45 doubles and jacked 24 round-trippers. First-sacker Ike B. Davis established personal-bests with 32 taters and 90 ribbies. A.J. Burnett paced the starting staff with 16 victories along with a 3.51 ERA and 180 strikeouts.

On Deck

What Might Have Been – The “Original” 2013 Marlins

References and Resources

Baseball America – Executive Database

Baseball-Reference

James, Bill. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York, NY.: The Free Press, 2001. Print.

James, Bill, with Jim Henzler. Win Shares. Morton Grove, Ill.: STATS, 2002. Print.

Retrosheet – Transactions Database

The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at “www.retrosheet.org”.

Seamheads – Baseball Gauge

Sean Lahman Baseball Archive

 



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Derek Bain is a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games. He has written a number of articles for Fangraphs and Seamheads, and enjoys spending quality time with his family.

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