Oct 1, 2015

Remembering the 1973 NL Champion New York Mets: Preview of the '73 NLCS

1973 NLCS Managers: Yogi Berra & Sparky Anderson
Preview of the 1973 NLCS: The Cincinnati Reds were the heavy favorite, as they had finished the year with the best record in baseball going 99-63.

They won the division by 3 1/2 games over the Los Angeles Dodgers. These two teams were the best of the western division in the seventies, as one or the other finished first all but one year in the decade.

The Reds were led by Manager; Sparky Anderson who had taken his team to the World Series the year before, losing to the Oakland A's in seven games. The Reds had also won the pennant in 1970 losing to the Baltimore Orioles. Anderson would take the Reds to four World Series', winning two of them (1975-1976) in a seven year span. He would later win a Championship in Detroit as the Tigers Manager in 1984.

Pete Rose- Joe Morgan - Johnny Bench
The '73 Reds were led by future Hall of Famers; Johnny Bench (25 HRs 104 RBIs .253 average) Tony Perez (27 HRs 33 doubles 101 RBIs .314 average) & Joe Morgan (26 HRs 35 doubles 67 stolen bases 82 RBIs & a .290 average).

Left Fielder Pete Rose was that years batting champion (.338 average 5 HRs 36 doubles 8 triples 115 runs scored & 64 RBIs).

The Reds had lost their main shortstop Dave Concepcion to a season ending injury in July & had the light hitting Darrell Chaney (.181 average) filling in.

Outfielder Bobby Tolan, another base stealing threat saw his average fall to .206 & had not played until the final week of September. Tolan was then suspended by the Reds after refusing to take batting practice & for lack of interest. He would test the reserve clause the next year & play the entire season without a contract, for the San Diego Padres.

1973 Mets RBI Leader: Rusty Staub
Another weak spot on the Reds was third baseman Dennis Menke (3 HRs 26 RBIs .191 average) playing out the final years of his career.

But the Reds had young Dan Driessen (.301 average in 102 games) Ken Griffey (.384 average in 25 games) & George Foster (4 HRs / .282 average in 17 games) on the horizon.

The Reds pitching staff was led by Jack Billingham (19-10 / 155 Ks / 3.04 ERA). Behind him were Don Gullett (18-8 / 151 Ks / 3.51 ERA) Ross Grimsley (13-10 / 90 Ks / 3.23 ERA) & Fred Norman (12-6 / 12 Ks / 3.30 ERA). The four man rotation had a fantastic bullpen behind them.

Manager Sparky Anderson known as Captain Hook for his fast hook removing his starting pitchers. The pen was led by Pedro Borbon (11-4 / 14 saves / 2.16 ERA) Clay Carroll (8-8 / 14 saves / 3.69 ERA) & Tom Hall (8-5 / 8 saves / 3.47 ERA).

The New York Mets had won the Eastern Division on the final day of the season, finishing up at 83-79 just one 1 1/2 games over the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Mets were in last place at the end of August but still just 8.5 games out of first, in a wild Eastern Division that was up for grabs all year. The Mets were led by Manager Yogi Berra who had taken over in 1972 after the untimely death of legend Gil Hodges. Hodges had led the Miracle Mets to the 1969 Worlds Championship & two third place finishes in 1970 -1971.


1973 Mets Starting Pitchers: Koosman - Seaver- Matlack
The '73 Mets were all about pitching once again. The staff was led by that years Cy Young Award Winner; Tom Seaver (19-10 ). Seaver led the NL in strike outs (251) ERA (2.08) & Complete games (18) while throwing 3 shutouts & pitching 290 innings.

Behind him were a couple of great left handers, who pitched much better of late & were much better than their records showed. The lack of Mets offense cost the top three starters losses in ten games by scores of 2-1 or 1-0.

Lefthander Jerry Koosman (14-15 / 156 Ks / 2.84 ERA/ 12 complete games / 3 shut outs) & the previous years Rookie of the Year; lefty Jon Matlack (14-16 / 205 Ks / 3.20 ERA 14 complete games / 3 shut outs).

Also a pleasant surprise was George Stone (12-3 / 2.80 ERA) who won his last eight decisions. Stone had come over with Felix Millan at the start of the season from Atlanta in exchange for Gary Gentry.

The Mets bullpen had one of the game's best relievers in Tug McGraw (5-6 / 25 saves / 3.87 ERA) . After a rough start the left handed screw ball pitcher McGraw, had won six straight games at the end of the season.

Also in the pen were Harry Parker (8-4 / 5 saves / 3.35 ERA) veteran Ray Sadecki (5-4 / 3.39 ERA / 87 Ks in 116 innings) Jim McAndrew (3-8 one save / 5.38 ERA) & Buzz Capra (2-7 / 4 saves / 3.86 ERA).

'73 Mets HR leader"the Hammer" John Milner is greeted
by Bud Harrelson, Willie Mays & Felix Millan
The Mets regular players had suffered through a lot of injuries during the regular season but were healthy for the post season.

John Milner led the team in HRs (23) drove in 72 runs & hit .239. Rusty Staub was the main run producer & clutch player (15 HRs 76 RBIs 36 doubles .361 on base % & .279 batting average.

Cleon Jones (11 HRs 13 doubles 48 RBIs & .260 average in 92 games) Wayne Garrett had his best season (16 HRs 20 doubles 58 RBIs .256 average .348 on base %) Felix Millan led the team in hits (185) average (.290) & sac hits (18). Jerry Grote batted .256 (10 doubles & 32 RBIs in 84 games) & Bud Harrelson (.258) was an outstanding defensive shortstop.

The bench was also solid with Ed Kranepool (.239 average 12 doubles & 35 RBIs) able to play at first base & outfield (100 games). Jim Beauchamp (.279 average) & Kenny Boswell (.227 average) were excellent pinch hitters.

Of course there was the veteran Hall of Famer; Willie Mays ( 6 HRs 10 doubles 44 RBIs .211 average in 66 games) who was at the end of his Hall of Fame career, but was always a dangerous hitter & had a few key hits in the post season.

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