Who Are The Kings of New York?
The city of New York is buzzing. The MLB season is currently about one third complete, and both the New York Mets and New York Yankees are comfortably in first place in their respective divisions. Not only are the two teams dominating their divisions, they’re two of the best teams in the league as a whole, with each of them holding the best record in their league. So with a Subway Series coming in July that is potentially a World Series preview, let’s go ahead and decide at this point in the year, who are the real kings of New York?
Offensively, the Mets and Yankees have both been elite. They both are top ten teams in terms of total runs scored, with the Mets in second place and the Yankees in sixth. But how the two teams score runs is an entirely different story, and the difference may end up being a crucial factor when the two giants square off.
For the Yankees, the story is pretty similar to what we’ve seen from them in the past few years. Stack the lineup with power hitters who get on base, and drive them in via the long ball. It was a little surprising to see the Bronx Bombers stick with this plan, given that they were 19th in the league in total runs scored in 2021.
But credit where credit is due- the Yankees are a top-tier offensive team this season. They rank second in the league in slugging percentage, first in home runs hit, and perhaps most surprisingly, rank just outside the top ten in lowest team strikeout percentage.
However, the Yankees’ offense is not without its flaws. They’re only 14th in the league in batting average with runners in scoring position, or RISP, 14th in total batting average, and even with the addition of Matt Carpenter, have a lineup that skewers heavily towards right-handed batters.
While the Yankees stayed the course with their 2022 offensive approach, the Mets did a complete 180. In 2021, they leaned heavily into the idea of constructing a lineup full of guys who did one thing- got on base. However, they ran into a key problem with having a lineup full of guys who had a .380 OBP, but a .240 batting average- who was going to drive them in? A complete inability to drive runners in from scoring positions led to a stagnant offense. So in the offseason, they acquired key offensive pieces like Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Cahna to help lead the team to a new era of small ball baseball.
This new game plan has revitalized the Mets offense. They rank first in the league in batting average, first in RISP, first in OBP, and second in total runs scored. They are also third in team OPS, behind the Yankees ironically, and have the fifth lowest strikeout percentage. And watching them play, it’s easy to see the “keep the line moving” mentality in action.
Both the Yankees and Mets have offenses that give most opposing pitchers nightmares. However, the Mets get the slight edge here. They have the ability to hit for power, but their uncanny ability to drive in runners in scoring position and overall more well-rounded approach gives them the advantage.
Going into the 2022 season, both the Mets and Yankees were projected to have two of the best starting rotations in the league, but with the Mets having the better staff. Meanwhile, the Yankees bullpen was arguably the best in the league going into the regular season, while the Mets had some patchwork to do. However, injuries to Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer have changed the starting pitching outlook, but the bullpens stack up relatively similarly to their preseason projections.
The Yankees starting pitching has been the best in the majors. Their staff leads the league in ERA with 2.55. Gerrit Cole has been his usual dominant self, but it’s the other arms who have
made the rotation as dominant as it is. Nestor Cortes is in the midst of a breakout season for the ages, posting a 1.50 ERA in 60 innings pitched. Luis Severino has come back from being injured most of 2021, and has been lights out. And Jameson Taillon and Jordan Montgomery have been producing quality start after quality start. If this rotation can continue this level of excellence, the Yankees might just run away with their division.
The bullpen for the Yanks has also been as dominant as advertised. They rank third in the majors in ERA, seventh in strikeouts per nine innings, and these numbers are all being produced without key arms like Zach Britton, Chad Green, and Aroldis Chapman.
The Mets starting rotation’s performance is actually very impressive given the injuries they’ve suffered. Jacob deGrom has missed the entirety of the season and is likely out until July, Max Scherzer strained an oblique and is also out until mid-July, and young gun Tylor Megill went on the IL with right biceps tendinitis and isn’t back until mid-June. So the fact that even without those three pitchers the Mets’ staff ranks 11th in ERA, fifth in innings pitched, 11th in walks per nine innings is very notable. A bounceback year from Carlos Carrasco and surprisingly good starts from David Peterson and Trevor Williams have helped keep the rotation together until the big guns come back.
Just like the Yankees, the Mets bullpen has been about as good as they were projected to be. A top ten bullpen, but not necessarily an elite one. They rank 9th in ERA, third in K/9, and rank tenth in BB/9. Edwin Diaz is turning in an elite year as the Mets’ closer, and unexpected great performances by rookies Colin Holderman and Adonis Medina provide the Amazins’ with some much needed depth.
The question of who has better pitching can be broken down into two key lenses. Who has the better pitching right now? The Yankees. Their rotation is otherworldly, and their bullpen never seems to run out of quality arms. But who will have the better rotation at the end of the year? Scherzer and deGrom could very well be the deciding factors.
The Subway Series is one of the best rivalries in baseball. Last year, the Yankees and Mets produced one of the best games of the season when the Mets won 8-7 in Citi Field behind the power of three Francisco Lindor home runs. The atmosphere in Queens was playoff-esque, even though the Mets were already out of the hunt. So you can imagine what the emotions will be like in July when these two titans collide. That series could even be a possible World Series preview. But who is the king of New York? It’s hard to argue with a team that has a top five offense, a top three bullpen, and the best rotation in the sport. The Yankees have the throne, but the Mets could take it at any time.