With the 2021 MLB season about to begin in just a couple of days, both the Mets and the Yankees are expected to be top teams in the league this season. Both teams made big moves in trying to improve their rosters and there can now be a serious argument on who is the best team in New York. Since 2016, the Yankees have undoubtedly been the superior team, as they made it to the postseason and made some runs, while the Mets last playoff appearance was in 2016 when they lost to the Giants in the National League Wild Card game. But now, with the recent acquisitions the Metropolitans have made, there can be a serious argument made for why the Mets are now the top team in the state.
The overall teams have a lot of similarities and there can be an argument made for why one team is better than the other, but as of right now, the Mets are the better team. Starting off with the catchers, the Mets found their new backstop this offseason when they signed free agent James McCann to a four-year deal. McCann has shown—during the past couple of seasons—that he has the ability to be one of the league’s best defensive catchers. The Mets decided to go with defense over offense, choosing McCann over Wilson Ramos. The former Tiger has not been the greatest offensively though.
The Yankees, on the other hand, have Gary Sanchez and he is the complete opposite of McCann. While he did not have the greatest 2020 season, he is still the top catcher in NY. Sanchez has had his fair share of defensive problems behind the plate and that has been greatly documented. But in past years, he showed that he can put big numbers offensively. Sanchez has the ability to have a big impact on the lineup and can be placed in the middle of the batting order and have success. Gary was considered one of the best catchers in all of baseball in the past and he is still pretty good. I expect Sanchez to have a big bounce back year and improve his defense; he is simply the best catcher in New York.
Now to the starting rotations. Jacob deGrom and Gerrit Cole are the best two pitchers in baseball, with the Met being the better of the two. But both team’s front offices have tried to improve the rest of their rotations. The Yanks acquired Jameson Taillon in a trade with the Pirates and signed former Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber. This signing has absolutely no down side for the Yankees. They are getting a former top pitcher for not much and if it does not work he will be on the market again next year. Taillon and Kluber will join Jordan Montgomery and likely Domingo German to make up the rest of the rotation. However, they lost three really important players in Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ.
Meanwhile, the Mets added more pieces than they lost. The only big subtraction involving the starting rotation was the trade of Steven Matz to Toronto. But the amount of additions to the rotation are massive. Carlos Carrasco (who is currently injured) was acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Indians, Taijuan Walker was recently signed to a two year deal during free agency, Jordan Yamamoto was acquired in a trade last month, and the team also traded for left hander Joey Lucchesi from the Padres. Carrasco (once healthy), Walker, and likely Lucchesi will join deGrom, Stroman and Peterson in the rotation. In addition, the Mets will have Noah Syndergaard return at some point in the season, while Luis Severino will return to the Bronx in a couple of months. Overall, the Mets rotation is stronger and has the chance to be the top rotation in baseball by the time the season is completed.
It is a toss-up regarding which team has the better infield. Going from right to left the Mets have Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Francisco Lindor, and JD Davis. The Yankees have Luke Voit, DJ Lemahieu, Gleyber Torres, and Gio Urshela. Both Alonso and Voit are big power hitters who have each led the league in home runs throughout an entire season. Alonso is younger and he is currently demolishing balls in spring training. He is destined to have a bounce back year. Voit had a monstrous 2020 season and although he likely won’t have a repeat performance, he will likely still be a big help offensively. According to MLB Network these two teams have the top two second baseman in baseball. Lemahieu was ranked #1 and McNeil was #2.
McNeil is a younger version of Lemahieu in some way. They are two of the most versatile players in the league, two hitting machines, and they are both pretty good defenders. You could argue for either player being better than the other in this situation. But at the shortstop position it is not so close of who is better than the other. Francisco Lindor is by far the superior shortstop and the best shortstop in MLB. Torres is a top-10 shortstop but he is simply not Francisco Lindor. At third base there is another position that can go either way. Gio Urshela is the better defender, while Davis has a better bat. Both teams have really talented infields, but personally I would go with the Mets infield, and Lindor is the guy who really puts the Mets on top here.
The outfields of both teams are also filled with stars. The Yankees will likely be starting Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, and Clint Frazier on opening day. The Mets starting outfield consists of Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Dominic Smith. Although Conforto had a great last two seasons and is playing for a big contract in the near future, Aaron Judge when healthy is the better right fielder. Judge has had multiple injuries throughout his career but when he is on the field he is a superstar. The center field battle is also close. But Brandon Nimmo has really been improving his defense throughout the last few seasons and his bat provides a big boost at the top of the Mets lineup; he is the better center fielder. Aaron Hicks is a solid player and has a nice glove and he will also be toward the top of the lineup. Nimmo is younger and has been more consistent than Hicks and that is why I would say he is the better player right now.
In left field, both teams have younger players with tons of potential. Clint Frazier is probably going to be starting to the left of Hicks on Thursday. Frazier has been in and out of the major league lineup for the past couple seasons and now seems like a real possibility for him to stay with the big league team. Frazier is a smaller player, but has the ability to hit a lot of homers. Dom Smith has some power and he has proven that over the last two seasons, while Frazier has just shown glimpses of this up until this point. Smith is the better hitter, but Frazier has had the better glove in his career so far. Depending on if you value offense or defense more would lead to what player you would think is better. Personally I would go with Smith, as he had an amazing 2020 and I think he is only going to continue to get better from here. Both teams have top outfieds, but the Mets have the upper hand. The Yankees also have Giancarlo Stanton and he will likely be the DH, but the NL is not going to have that position this year, so it is fair to say the Yankees have the better DH this year.
Finally, the bullpens. The Yankees have had one of the best bullpens in baseball these past couple of years. Aroldis Chapman is one of the top closers and Zack Britton (who will miss the start of the season) is a top reliever in the game. The Mets on the other hand have had one of the worst bullpens in baseball the last few years. This offseason the Mets added some relief arms, while the Yankees traded Adam Ottavino and did not make any major additions. The Mets added Trevor May, Aaron Loup, Jordan Yamamoto, and Jerry Blevins. The Yankees still have Chad Green and he will play a big role for them. Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Dellin Betances can really not play worse than they have played lately for the Mets. If they can improve just a little bit, that would be a ginormous help and if all goes right, the Mets could have a scary bullpen. Although the Mets made some improvements, the Yankees bullpen is still better.
Both teams are destined to have successful seasons, but the Mets have made many impactful moves and now may finally be the time that they are the top team in New York as the 2021 season is about to begin.