All roads lead to New York. At least, that’s the case so far in Major League Baseball’s (MLB) season. The two teams that call the Big Apple home sit atop their respective leagues for the first time in nearly 40 years. The last time the Mets and Yankees finished April with league-best records was in 1986, when the Mets won the most recent of their franchise’s two World Series trophies. Things are looking up for a city that hasn’t had much baseball luck for the past decade.
The Yankees are kings of the American League at 16-6, having won nine straight behind hot shots from Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge. The pair of power hitters turn it on early and either could be the first MLB player to hit ten home runs this season. Rizzo, the former Chicago Cub, leads the Majors in home runs at nine, while Judge is one point behind him and tied for second with eight four-baggers.
Shortened spring training doesn’t appear to have done much to slow the Bronx Bombers’ bats as the Yankees lead MLB in homers and are fifth in batting average. Both Judge (1.027) and Rizzo (1.061) have excellent base ratings plus a slugging percentage (OPS) of over 1.000 and are in MLB’s top ten for that category. When you add super swingers like Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson, it’s easy to see why opposing pitchers dread taking on this dugout.
This Yankee team, however, isn’t just an offensive juggernaut that’s content to get into a brawl with its opponents. They also have some of the best guns in baseball manning the mound, including the leader of AL wins last year, Gerrit Cole. Cole and company combined for a 2.72 earned run average (ERA), the best earned run mark in the AL this year.
The Yankees are known for their loaded rosters, usually raiding the free agent market and powerhouse teams in trades with their massive budget and cache of top prospects. Despite a payroll that would make Elon Musk shudder, the results have been fleeting as the Yankees have spent the past twelve seasons outside of the World Series searching. For once, this 2022 team looks as good on diamond as it does on paper. and are undoubtedly one of the best in baseball as we enter the second month of the season. There’s no debating whether the Yankees are the best team in the AL. But are they the best of the five boroughs?
Across the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge in Queens, the Mets have cooked up their own pretty impressive resume. Leading the National League (NL) at 16-7, the New York Mets won a franchise-record seventh consecutive series on Sunday, winning two of three against the Philadelphia Phillies. Mets loyalists should be optimistic that their team is off to a good start this spring.
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After missing the playoffs for the fifth straight season in 2021, the Metropolitans overhauled their roster this offseason, adding marquee names like two-time Gold Glove outfielder Starling Marte and three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. Scherzer, who signed a three-year, $130 million contract, has obliterated batters throughout the month, totaling 42 strikeouts so far. His 42 punches put him just one behind MLB leading batting this season, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes. He’s not the only top pitcher for the Mets.
In fact, the Mets just pitched a no-hitter team in Friday’s game against Philly where five pitchers took the hill. Scherzer leads a pitching unit that boasts the third-best ERA in baseball at 2.99, just one spot behind the rival Yankees. And they don’t even have their best ace on the mound yet.
MLB’s top pitcher of 2021 was the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, at least until he was placed on the injured reserve list in June of last season, never to return in 2021. Until then, Cy Young’s two-time winner had posted a 7–2 record in 15 starts and recorded a 1.08 ERA with 146 strikeouts. With deGrom’s return potentially sooner rather than later as promising reports made their way to the media from Mets camp, expect the team to proceed with caution given their success in his absence.
Ranking 19th in homers this season, the Mets may not have the longball prowess of their Crosstown counterparts, but the Mets are doing damage on base. They have the most hits of the majors so far and the second-best batting average in the majors at .262. The new league baseball used this season has apparently taxed some potential home runs, leaving them just short of the wall. That will likely change for teams like the Mets that have been slow to get going from a power standpoint. If their good throw continues, an extra offense could make them an early favorite to win the National League.
If these New York nukes can triumph over their respective fields, we could be looking at the second post-season Subway series. The only other was in 2000 when the Yankees won the World Series 4-1 over the Mets. There’s a lot of baseball between now and October, so how this season plays out remains a mystery.
New Yorkers and baseball fans across the country will get what could be a glimpse of the World Series when the Yankees travel to Shea Stadium in late July for their first meeting of 2022 with the Mets. While they won’t be fighting for the commissioner’s trophy at this July meeting, the city’s supremacy will be on the line and everyone will be watching to see who it really is. is the King of New York.