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Ten crazy facts about the 1986 Mets

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As the Mets celebrate the 30-year anniversary of their last World Series championship, we put the '86 team's greatness into perspective.

T.G. Higgins/Getty Images

This weekend, the Mets are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the team’s 1986 championship season with a host of promotions and a ceremony before tomorrow’s game. The ’86 Mets were the best team in franchise history, winning 108 games in the regular season and becoming just the second Mets team to win a World Series. It’s fairly incredible how dominant the Mets were compared to the rest of the league that year. Here are ten crazy facts about the ’86 Mets that put their dominance into perspective.

1. They had 10 hitters who were at least 15% better than league average.

An underrated strength of the ’86 Mets was their depth. They were not simply a team built around two or three star players; they had good hitters up and down the lineup and across the diamond. In fact, the ’86 Mets had an impressive 10 players with at least a 115 wRC+ (in a minimum of 100 plate appearances). Those players were, in order, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra, Kevin Mitchell, Danny Heep, Ray Knight, Wally Backman, Mookie Wilson, Howard Johnson, and Gary Carter. By comparison, the National League Champion 2015 Mets, who had a very strong lineup by season’s end, had just six players with at least a 115 wRC+.

2. They won the Triple-Slash Triple Crown.

The ’86 Mets were a tremendous offensive team, leading the National League in batting average (.263), on-base percentage (.339), and slugging percentage (.401). With a wRC+ of 108, they were the third-best offensive team in baseball and the only National League team whose offensive production was better than major league average. In other words, they were a National League team that hit like one of the best American League teams.

3. They were the best National League team in nearly every major offensive category.

Those categories include hits, runs scored, RBIs, walks, walk percentage, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and wRC+. They finished third in home runs and fourth in doubles. Alas, foot speed was perhaps the ’86 Mets’ only weakness, as they finished just seventh in triples and 10th in stolen bases.

4. No other National League team was close to them offensively.

The Mets’ 108 team wRC+ was a staggering 11 points higher than the Astros’ and Phillies’ second-best figure of 97. The Mets’ 33.3 offensive fWAR was seven points higher than the Giants’ second-best mark of 26.3. In other words, the Mets were about two borderline All-Stars better than any other team in the National League, offensively.

5. They had seven pitchers with ERAs at least 10% better than league average.

The ’86 Mets had quality pitchers up and down the rotation and throughout the bullpen. In fact, seven pitchers on that team were at least 10% better than league average, measured by ERA- (in a minimum of 30 innings pitched). Those seven were Jesse Orosco, Bobby Ojeda, Rick Anderson, Ron Darling, Dwight Gooden, Roger McDowell, and Doug Sisk.

6. They had six pitchers with double-digit win totals.

It’s no surprise that the team’s four main starting pitchers—Ojeda, Gooden, Fernandez, and Darling—won at least 10 games each. What’s unique is that, not only did swingman Rick Aguilera also accomplish the feat, but so did full-time reliever Roger McDowell, who incredibly won 14 games that year. Since 1986, only four teams in baseball have had six pitchers with double-digit win totals: the 1987 Blue Jays, the 1998 Yankees, the 2008 Angels, and the 2010 Twins.

7. They were among the top three MLB teams in nearly every pitching category.

Those categories include ERA (first), ERA- (first), FIP (first), FIP- (first), strikeouts (second), K/9 (third), K/BB (third), HR/9 (first), and WHIP (second).

8. They had 12 players with at least 2.5 wins above replacement.

A 2.5-fWAR player is a quality, productive major leaguer. Last year’s Mets had eight such players. The ’86 Mets had 12, representing nearly half of their roster. Those eight were Hernandez, Gooden, Dykstra, Ojeda, Fernandez, Carter, Darling, Strawberry, Backman, Wilson, Mitchell, and Knight.

9. They went 17-1 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Despite a strong rookie campaign by 21-year-old Barry Bonds, the 1986 Pirates were the worst team in baseball, finishing 64-98 with a .395 winning percentage. Unfortunately for the Pirates, they were forced to play an all-time great Mets team 18 times that year. The result was one Pirates victory in 18 contests.

10. At one point, they had a 1% chance of winning Game 6.

The Red Sox held a two-run lead over the Mets going into the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 6 of the World Series. After recording the first two outs of the inning, the Sox were one out away from their first championship win since 1918. At that point in the game, the Mets’ win expectancy was 1%. Even after stringing together three base hits and plating a run, New York still had just a 19% chance of winning the game when Mookie Wilson stepped up to the plate against Bob Stanley. The rest, of course, is history, as the Mets pulled off one of the most improbable and dramatic wins in the history of Major League Baseball.