Yankees: Who will rule New York City in 2021, Yankees or Mets?

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Gary Sanchez #24 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Gary Sanchez #24 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Recent in-depth empirical comparisons between the Yanks and the Mets have been conducted by reputable sports analytic organizations prior to entering the 2021 season. Nearly all of these evaluations indicate that the Yanks are better than the Mets, overall, and that the Yanks will perform better than their rivals in Queens during the upcoming season.

For example, Fangraphs gives the Bombers a 91.6% chance of making it to the postseason and the Mets an 81.2% probability.

Similarly, BetMGM awarded the Yanks +600 odds (second only behind the Dodgers, who receive a +400) for reaching the World Series. The Mets are sixth on the list of teams likely to participate in the fall classic with a +1200 mark.

As an exception, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA predicts that the Bombers and the Mets will finish the season with nearly identical won-loss records (97-65 and 96-66, respectively). However, many analysts disagree with the PECOTA MLB team assessments and prognostications for 2021.

Finally, USA Today has the Yanks finishing the 2021 season with a 94-68 record with the Mets at 86-76.

While the Mets had a higher team batting average than the Yanks in 2020 (.272 versus .247), the Yanks hit more home runs (94) and RBI (301) than the Mets (86 and 278, respectively) in the shortened season. As most Yankees fans can attest, the Bombers are never out of a game until the last out is recorded.

Still, the additions of Lindor, McCann, and other position players during the offseason should improve the Mets’ run production compared to 2020.

Most of the reputable composite assessments of the 30 MLB teams indicate that the Yanks are the better club heading into the 2021 season. This is primarily because the Yanks, with the retention of LeMahieu, will basically have the same monster lineup as last year. The batters from the Bronx are again expected to slug a lot of home runs and score many runs against their American League competitors in 2021.

Also, in 2020, the Yanks’ pitching staff had a lower team ERA (4.35) than the Mets’ hurlers (4.98). Similarly, the Yanks’ bullpen produced more saves than the Mets’ bullpen (14 versus 11). Since both clubs employed the DH in 2020, the comparisons are accurate indicators of how each pitching staff fared last season and may explain preseason predictions of how the two teams will play in 2021.

With all that said, the Bombers still have a significant problem behind the plate. Gary Sanchez has a long way to go to dispel what’s happened the last three seasons, plus he has to prove if he can remain healthy for an entire campaign. He’s yet to play in more than 122 games in a single year.

On a brighter note, the Yanks decided to reorganize their starting pitching staff during the offseason. If Kluber and Taillon, along with Gerrit Cole, pitch effectively in 2021, the Yanks should achieve at least the same level of success during the regular season as in the past two years. In fact, if these hurlers stay relatively healthy and perform to their full potential, reaching the World Series and winning it all is a real possibility. But if these hurlers falter and the team’s young pitchers cannot fill the gap, it could be a long year.

Adding Wilson and O’Day should help maintain the team’s bullpen strength despite the losses of Ottavino and Kahnle during the offseason.

The Mets’ pitching staff is a reverse image of the Yanks pitching staff going into the 2021 season. With Syndergaard not expected back until June, the Mets helped themselves by adding both Carrasco and Taijuan Walker to their already well-anchored and deep starting rotation.

Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom should again be in top form, and he is likely to win more games in 2021 with an improved offense behind him.

However, the Mets’ bullpen still remains a question mark, though the addition of May should help. The relief corps could turn out to be the club’s Achilles heel and limit their ability to make the playoffs or perform well if they were to get there.

It’s also worth noting that Boone has more experience than Rojas as a big-league manager, which gives the Bombers a distinct advantage during a full regular season and certainly in the playoffs.

Despite the flaws that both the Yanks and Mets possess, I wouldn’t be surprised if both clubs play well in 2021 and make the playoffs within their respective leagues. In fact, given how much the Mets have improved during the offseason, don’t be surprised if we have – dare I say – another subway series!

But right now, the Yankees are the better team and it’s up to the Mets to disprove that in 2021.