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How the Yankees and Mets have become MLB’s best teams so far

The Yankees and Mets are giving MLB Subway Series vibes.

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

While we may be in the middle of a scorching-hot summer, fans of baseball teams in New York could be forgiven if they were thinking cool thoughts by reminiscing about the brisk weather from October 2000. That was when the New York Yankees and the New York Mets squared off in the Subway Series that was the 2000 World Series. It’s pretty easy for fans of those teams reminisce about that moment in time since both New York teams are once again flying high.

The main difference between the 2000 World Series Champions and the present-day Yankees is that the current Yankees are locked all the way in right now. The Bronx Bombers currently have baseball’s best offense and there’s not really a major argument for any other team. The Yankees have both the highest wRC+ and the highest wOBA in all of baseball, and they also have the American League’s highest Isolated Power and Barrel percentage. If counting numbers are more your speed, then you’ll be pleased to know that the Yankees are leading baseball in home runs and are the AL’s leaders in runs scored.

Additionally, the pitching has been lights-out for the Pinstripers. Their pitching staff currently sports baseball’s lowest ERA while also possessing the lowest FIP in baseball as a staff. They’re rarely giving up home runs, they’re the best in baseball at avoiding walks and they’re striking out a ton of batters. The Yankees pitchers are the only group in baseball who have an ERA- and FIP- both in the 70s. The Dodgers have a similar ERA- but their FIP- is much higher. So not only are the Yankees absolutely crushing the ball at the plate, their pitchers are doing some serious dealing on the mound as well.

The clear standout in a lineup full of shining stars for the Yankees has been Aaron Judge. Judge has had some big years at the plate but this year seems like he’s reached a different level. The massive slugger is currently on pace for a career year all across the board — and that’s really saying something considering that the man has an 8.8 FanGraphs WAR season under his belt. That season happened all the way back in 2017, but right now Judge is on pace to blow that season out of the water. A 60-homer season is definitely within reach for him, and his wRC+ is sitting in the 190s at the moment. A season like that would put Aaron Judge up there in rarefied air of some of baseball’s greatest single seasons by a hitter and while there’s still plenty of this season left to go, I wouldn’t put it past Judge to keep this up.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the Yankees pitching staff has just been so good as a collective that it’s tough to point out a clear frontrunner. With that being said, the rotation deserves recognition because they’ve formed a unit that basically makes it so that there’s really no nights “off” for opposing hitters. Whether it’s been Gerrit Cole living up to the expectations of his contract, Nestor Cortes breaking out as a high-end starter, Jameson Taillon and Jordan Montgomery refusing to walk anybody at all costs, or Luis Severino racking up strikeouts left and right, the Yanks’ rotation makes for tough sledding for any lineup that has to deal with them on any given night. Plus it can’t be fun seeing guys like Michael King and Clay Holmes coming in from the bullpen.

I’d already say that it’s likely this Yankees team is going to have a say in who wins the World Series this year. History also agrees with me — the Yankees have usually taken a trip to the Fall Classic whenever their record has looked like it does here in June. Despite having some very good competition in the AL East, New York is leaving their rivals in the dust. This is some type of run that Aaron Boone has this team on and it’s probably going to last — for better or worse depending on how you feel about The Evil Empire.

Meanwhile in Queens, the New York Mets are actually not too far behind their local rivals. They’ve gotten off to a great start and appear to be dead set to put their 2021 collapse far behind them in the process. The Mets are actually not too far behind the Yankees when it comes to team wRC+, they have one of the top team wOBA numbers in the National League, and they’ve scored the most runs in all of Major League Baseball. The Mets have somehow accomplished this without hitting for too much power — they actually have a below-average Isolated Power number when compared to other teams in baseball and their Barrel percentage is also decidedly below average.

Where the Mets have shined is in the fact that they’re putting the ball in play a ton and being rewarded handsomely for it. The Mets have one of the lowest strikeout percentages in baseball while also having an astronomical BABIP that leads MLB. The player who fits the team profile the most is Jeff McNeil. He’s having a pretty good season at the plate so far and he’s doing it by hitting for barely any power while also sitting on a higher BABIP than usual — which is something serious since McNeil usually has a pretty high BABIP to begin with.

With that being said, the Mets haven’t been completely bereft of power — Pete Alonso seems to be determined to make up for any power that the rest of their lineup is lacking. Meanwhile, Francisco Lindor and Brandon Nimmo have also been carrying their fair share of weight at the plate with Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Luis Guillorme not too far behind. They may not be bombing the ball out of the ballpark like the Bronx Bombers, but they’re still finding a way to get it done with the bat.

When it comes to the Mets’ pitching, I think the best way to sum up how things have been going for their staff is that they’re still doing decently on the mound despite only getting eight starts from Max Scherzer and zero starts from Jacob deGrom. It says a lot about the job that Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco, and Chris Bassitt have been doing to carry the rotation at the moment. Granted, they’ve been doing enough to make sure that the offense’s production doesn’t go to waste, but that’s all you need at this point. If deGrom and Scherzer return and live up to expectations, then this could be a pretty exciting rotation for the Metropolitans.

St. Louis Cardinals v New York Mets - Game Two Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

As usual, there are two concerns for the Mets going forward: Health and consistency. The Mets have seen multiple seasons fall victim to either injury bugs or not being able to keep up the pace. Fortunately, Buck Showalter has done a pretty good job of steering the Mets through this current rough patch for injuries and they’ve still managed to get the job done with the NL’s best record. The only issue is that it appears that the Braves have loudly come back to life and are smashing any illusions that Mets fans had of this divisional race being a cakewalk. Still, it’s going to be extremely tough for the Braves to win yet another divisional title if Mets can stay consistent.

It’s still far too early to think about any potential World Series matchups, but it does seem like this season has a higher possibility than usual of seeing our first Subway Series in 22 years. The Yankees are absolutely locked in and firing on all cylinders and the Mets are looking to turn their past disappointments into distant memories. There’s a ton of baseball to be played in this season, but New York baseball is setting the tone at this stage of the game.