The MLB executives that want the major markets playing on the big stage have got to be salivating thinking about the prospects of TV ratings come October when a Subway Series due to the hot start the New York Yankees and the New York Mets have gotten off to in the AL and the NL. They’re both achieving their dominance in a variety of different ways- two giants that clash in styles the same way that Manhattan and the Bronx feel like entirely different planets.
They’re both atop of their respective divisions about halfway through the season. They both have postseason expectations. But which New York squad has the edge? Let’s break down different categories to get a temperature check on the largest market in sports.
The Yankees have lead pitching statistics in virtually every category this year, from their 2.88 ERA, their .211 batting average allowed, and only allowing 58 homers (despite playing in a ballpark with a right field that many could call a sandbox). Yes, they have an ace on the third-largest contract in MLB history in Gerrit Cole, who’s 6-2 with a 2.99 ERA and is top 5 in strikeouts, but that’s expected when you’re earning that much. The difference has been getting production out of the rest of their depth- Nasty Nestor Cortez putting up a top-10 ERA out of nowhere, Jordan Montgomery having a top-10 WHIP, and their bullpen combo of Mike King, Clay Holmes, Aroldis Chapman, and occasionally Luis Severino coming out and dominating to close out the game. Thus far, the Yankees have only allowed 6 runs or more 7 times. It’s dominance on both sides of the ball.
While the Yankees are a matter of if they can keep up this brilliance, the Mets’ pitching is more of what they could amount to becoming. They’ve had unsung heroes come through for them as they’ve had their fair share of injury struggles- potentially the best pitcher in the league, Jacob deGrom, is still rehabbing and hasn’t even made his debut yet. Scherzer was off to his normal dominant start as the veteran missing piece that they paid a king’s ransom for, but he’s been out with an oblique strain and a dog-bitten hand (yes, that’s a very Mets headline). Tylor Megill is another starter in their rotation that will be out for a month with a shoulder strain. Yet the Mets keep rolling on with Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco, and David Peterson. They rank at or just outside the top-10 in most major pitching categories, but are 2nd in strikeouts. If they can finally get healthy, you’re looking at a postseason series where a team would have to face deGrom, Scherzer, Walker, and Carrasco consecutively, which is an absolute murderer’s row.
The Yankees may have had much of their pitching success come from some unlikely heroes that might not be sustainable, but the Mets’ future pitching glory is more of a projection; we have to merely hope that there isn’t any reaggravation from aging deGrom and Scherzer, despite their veteran prowess. With the Yankees’ run support, their pitching looks feasibly capable of keeping this going.
The hitting comes down to a question of which style of play do you think is more sustainable formula of success: the Mets and their on-base, smart base running style of play that is second in average, electric in the base paths, and leads the league in hits and OBP, or the powerful brute strength of the Yankees mashing dingers with their colossal behemoth hitters that club the most home runs in the majors, draw the 4th-most walks, and leads in OPS.
What the Yankees have been doing from a power-perspective IS truly special
Aaron Judge is far and away the AL MVP with the most home runs at 28, Rizzo has also mashed 19, every Stanton home run looks like it gets shot to the moon, and even Matt Carpenter, who they picked up off the streets, looks like he could tear the cover off of the ball as he carries bombs over the right field porch.
Meanwhile, the Mets get plenty of infield hits from their speed coming from Starling Marte, Francisco Lindor, or Jeff McNeil, only for the powerful Polar Bear Pete Alonso to either clobber an NL-leading 22nd home run or knock them in for the most RBI on the season thus far at 69. It’s a small ball reminiscent of those Kansas City Royals teams during their World Series runs of the early 2010’s, but power could still come in places not limited to Pete Alonso- Lindor was capable of hitting nearly 40 home runs during his time in Cleveland, and James McCann should be back from the IL soon enough.
The advantage here still lies with the Yankees despite their style leaning towards the “true three outcomes” that the league wanted to stray away from. They’re just going to continue to hit homers in their ballpark they play at, the rest of their division has hitter-friendly parks, and they have plenty of games coming up left on their schedule against teams like Oakland, Cincinnati, and Kansas City, who they’ll in all likelihood obliterate. They’ve been an unstoppable force, and even if Judge can’t keep up this pace, when you’re getting power production out of players that get DFA’d and released by the Texas Rangers, it’s absurd.
It simply does not matter how hot of a tear the Yankees have been on- Yankee die-hards can’t deny that they were calling for Aaron Boone to be on the hot seat to start the season and wanted him fired after their 5-5 start. He has a reputation for having a bit of a lack of passion (savages in the box rant aside) and hasn’t brought the 28th ring to the Bronx since his hiring in 2018. You know, Yankee-level problems. Sports in general have become known to use the manager or coach as a scapegoat when expectations aren’t met to bring a “new voice” into the locker room, and that’s the perception of where we’re at around Boone despite his .613 winning %.
On the other side of town, this is Buck Showalter’s first season with the Mets after having managed since 1992 and won Manager of the Year with 3 different organizations. He has a .508 winning % and was probably last remembered for mismanaging the Orioles bullpen situation in a 2015 Wild Card extra-inning loss to the Blue Jays. However, Showalter is just the delightful 66 year-old seasoned veteran who the Mets are just happy to have steering the ship, keeping the team afloat, and keeping the positive energy in the clubhouse. They’ve become too accustomed to embarrassing situations, be it on or off the field, that having a grown adult in the room to manage the talent has been paramount. As neither of these managers have yet reached glory with their talent in the past, the advantage goes to Showalter due to his seniority and morale.
The energy of the two teams are probably as opposite as it gets historically. The Mets literally have the moniker “You gotta believe!” almost as a way to reassure themselves that the wheels on the wagon won’t fall off as they loathe in self-doubt. They’ve been the de facto number two in New York with blunders that feel almost as if there’s been a curse during the Wilpon Family ownership era, then the Steve Cohen ownership era with all the money in the world didn’t necessarily improve when they still failed to make the playoffs after giving Lindor his big deal. This Mets team certainly feels different, though. Cohen brought in grown men, competent minds and veteran players who aren’t going to cause unnecessary curse-esque drama that would derail them in the past, and it’s something the Mets certainly aren’t used to. It feels special even if deGrom and Scherzer have still been out. With the injuries and the adversity they’ve faced already, they look hungry for October, and they look like they’re having fun doing so.
On the other side of the coin, it doesn’t matter if the last Yankee World Series came in 2009- a ring is the expectation, and they know that as soon as any sort of loss of momentum hits, there’s an added pressure of playing in the pinstripes. The Yankees were the first team to 50 wins and they’ve never lost more than 3 games in a row (that’s only occurred once), but what’s going to happen if they hit a wall? It’s cliche to say that the team has peaked too early- we’re nearly halfway through the year, so their success is clearly real, but EVERYTHING has gone right so far, and playing in the AL East they will always have the feeling of the pesky Rays, the Blue Jays, and rival Red Sox gunning for them. The vibes are immaculate when you’re the kings of baseball, but heavy is the crown. The Mets are absolutely ecstatic to not only be one of the best, but to merely not be an embarrassment.