Installed at 30-1 by oddsmakers before the season began, the Mets were not expected to make this kind of a postseason run. The starting pitching was there but the lineup and bullpen looked shaky. But the 2015 Mets, much like their team in 1969, defied the experts and made it to the World Series. The similarities don’t end there.
This year the door to the postseason was left open by the Nationals, who stumbled their way to 83-79 finish. The Mets (90-72) burst through the door to win the division. Such was the case in 1969, when the Cubs faded in September and the Mets went by to win the division and seize their first playoff berth in franchise history.
The Mets’ biggest mid-season acquisition this year was Yoenis Cespedes, who immediately brought some pop to the lineup (.287 batting average in 57 games, with 17 homers and 44 RBI). Donn Clendenon was brought in in the middle of the ’69 season simply to platoon at first base with Ed Kranepool. But in just 202 ABs, Clendenon batted .252 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs and brought a menacing presence to the otherwise mediocre lineup.
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We knew the Mets had excellent young starters when the season began (Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom), and the same was true in 1969. Tom Seaver (age 24) and Jerry Koosman (26) were electrifying the season before, and were even better in 1969. Garry Gentry, a rookie, was also great during the regular season and won the only World Series game he started. Current Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard has the chance to do the same, or even one-up him.
And much like how Jeurys Familia came from out of nowhere to be a dominant closer for these Mets, in 1969 Tug McGraw, who had won only four games in 56 appearances (25 starts) over three seasons and spent 1968 in the minors, turned his career around by going 9-3 with a 2.24 ERA and 12 saves, second to only Ron Taylor on the team (13).
The “Miracle Mets” were able to win the World Series in just five games. Will history repeat itself? We’ll find out starting Tuesday night.