In George We Trust
A(nother) blog about the most storied franchise in sports
Monday, February 20, 2006
2006 Cross-Town Comparison
Growing up, I was always one of two black sheep in the family. My Grandfather and I are the lone Yankee fans in a family (immediate and extended) of diehard Mets fans, so needless to say I've spent countless holidays and get-togethers buried in arguments like "Sorry [insert relative here], but in his prime, John Franco was not a better closer than Mariano." Franco's in-laws live on the block I grew up on in Brooklyn, and I've actually had the pleasure of meeting him about a half-dozen times over the course of my adolescence - he's a great person and a class act all the way, but when it comes to pitching, he's no Mo.

Thanks to many years of comparing the Yankees and Mets with my family (and partially inspired by SG's Yankee-Red Sox comparison at RLYB), I present the first annual Yanks-Mets Cross-Town Comparison:

Jorge Posada vs. Paul LoDuca
Both guys were mid-to-late round draft picks (Posada was taken in the 24th round in 1990; LoDuca in the 25th round of the 1993 draft) who made the most of their opportunity and played their way into the bigs (Posada's career minor league line: .258-.365-.436-.801; LoDuca's: .310-.387-.411-.799). LoDuca is an above average catcher that doesn't hit for much power (averages 13 HR per 162 games) but hits for a decent average (.285 career BA) and won't hurt you defensively. Despite being on the decline, Posada is still one of the game's best offensive catchers, averaging 24 HR and 96 RBI per 162 games while playing solid defense. Posada is only about 8 months older than LoDuca, and has had the more productive and recognizable career thus far.
Telltale stat: Posada: .815 career OPS w/ RISP; LoDuca: .694
Edge: Yanks

First Base
Jason Giambi vs. Carlos Delgado
Talk about comparisons; both are lefthanded, both have played roughly the same number of ML games (Giambi: 1483; Delgado: 1567, 84 game difference) and both have exactly the same career OPS (.952). Both are lefthanded power hitting first basemen who have hit in the heart of their team's order for just about their entire career. From Opening Day 1998 to Opening Day 2003 (both had injury interrupted seasons in 2004), Delgado drove in 741 runs while Giambi plated 718, good for 4th and 7th, respectively, in baseball over than time period. Giambi has a much keener eye at the plate, as his 1.05 K/BB ratio shows (Delgado's career K/BB ratio is 1.52), but pitchers have shown more fear of Delgado, intentionally walking him 148 times in his career (Giambi has received 68 career IBBs). Such a close comparison between two offensive monsters isn't easy, so I'll boil it down to this: Which of the two would I most expect to put up a 30+ HR, 120+ RBI season in 2006? I'd have to say the answer is Delgado.
Telltale stat: Delgado: 1.013 career OPS at Yankee Stadium; Giambi: .925
Edge: Mets

Second Base
Robinson Cano vs. Kaz Matsui
You've got two players who are both early into their MLB careers (Cano has 138 games under his belt; Matsui's played in 201), but their career paths appear to be going in opposite directions. With the exception of a poor August, Cano's batting average went up every single month in 2005 (May to Sept/October: .253-.310-.319-.207-.384), as did his XBH total (May to Sept/October: 8-12-13-4-16). That pretty impressive considering pitchers had obviously adjusted to him in August, only to have Cano rebound and make adjustments of his own. Matsui on the other hand has been on a constant downward spiral since he came over to the States. If not a 2-week hot streak to finish out the season, Matsui would have finished the year with a .231-.283-.310-.593 line. He missed more than a month with recurring back spasms and lost his second base job to current pinstriper Miguel Cairo. Going into 2006, it's pretty clear who's expected to have the advantage at second, but in case it's not: Matsui cost the Mets $7M in 2005 and will cost them $8M in 2006; Cano earned the league minimum in 2005 ($320k) and will do so again in 2006 (raised by the league to $327k).
Telltale stat: Cano: 37.3 ABperHR in 2005; Matsui: 89
Edge: Yanks

Third Base
Alex Rodriguez vs. David Wright
Let's see, on one hand you've got the greatest all-around player in the game since Ken Griffey Junior's heyday in the mid-90s, while on the other you have arguably the best young player in the game. Just how good has David Wright's big league career been to this point? At the end of his first full season, Wright has 41 career HR, 142 career RBI, and a .895 career OPS. After A-Rod's first full season he had 41 career HR, 144 career RBI, and a career .940 OPS. To ask which team has the edge is a fairly obvious question at this point because Wright is so young and relatively unestablished, but this will definitely be an interesting debate in seasons to come.
Telltale stat: A-Rod: .302 BA w/ RISP & 2 outs in 2005; Wright: .227
Edge: Yanks

Derek Jeter vs. Jose Reyes
At this point in time, another one-sided comparison. Jeter's 2005 stats are better than Reyes' in every aspect of the game (Jeter's 2005 line: .309-.389-.450-.839; Reyes': .273-.303-.386-.686), with the exception of stolen bases (60 for Reyes; 14 for Jeter). Both had roughly the same amount of plate appearances out of the leadoff spot in 2005 (Jeter: 723; Reyes: 702), but Jeter had more walks (74 to 25), more hits (199 to 184), more RBIs (68 to 55), and scored more runs (119 to 97) from that spot. Reyes is an exciting player to watch on the bases, but it'll be some time before he challenges Jeter as the best shortstop in New York.
Telltale stat: Jeter: .409 OBP leading off an inning in 2005; Reyes: .285
Edge: Yanks

Left Field
Hideki Matsui vs. Cliff Floyd
Floyd had his best season since 2001 last year, putting up a .273-.358-.505-.863 line to go along with 58 XBH and 98 RBI. Matsui had a down year in 2005, but still managed to outperform Floyd with a .305-.370-.484-.854 line accompanied by 71 XBH and 116 RBI. Since Matsui came into the league in 2003, he's been more durable than Floyd (487 games played to Floyd's 374), and on a 162 game average, Matsui smacks 1.67 more XBHs (65.86 to Floyd's 64.19), drives in almost 10 more runs (109.77 RBI to Floyd's 99.99), strikes out almost 14 less times (88.82 to Floyd's 102.18), and hits 33 points higher with RISP (.314 to Floyd's .281). Matsui also has a higher career range factor in left (1.93 to Floyd's 1.75) and is 2 and half years younger.
Telltale stat: Matsui: .645 OPS on an 0-2 count in 2005; Floyd: .316
Edge: Yanks

Center Field
Johnny Damon vs. Carlos Beltran
It's the guy who'll be roaming center for the Yankees in 2006 vs. the guy many expected would be roaming the same piece of real estate last offseason. It's also a comparison between two different types of players: Damon is a leadoff guy while Beltran is supposedly a middle-of-the-order threat (he sure strikes out like one: 1.73 career K/BB). Damon's career BA (.290) and OBP (.353) are higher than Beltran's (.282, .350), but Beltran has a higher career slugging percentage (.479 vs. .431) and steals more bases per 162 games (32 vs. 29). Beltran is also a better fielder (2.71 career range factor vs. Damon's 2.49) but a clearly inferior hitter in high percentage scoring situations (.217 BA with bases loaded since 2003 vs. Damon's .375). Based on the numbers, it's a pretty close call, but Beltran is 4 years younger. Age before beauty.
Telltale stat: Beltran: 1.072 career OPS at Yankee Stadium; Damon: .702 (eek)
Edge: Mets

Right Field
Gary Sheffield vs. Xavier Nady/Victor Diaz
Somehow Willie Randolph is going to platoon 2 RH hitters in right field this year, while Gary Sheffield enters into his option year for the Yanks ($13M club option for 2007). Nady and Diaz combined for 606 ABs in 2005 while Sheffield had 584 for the Yankees, but if you combine Nady's and Diaz' stats, Sheff still had more RBIs (123 to 81 - Nady:43, Diaz: 38), more HRs (34 to 25 - Nady: 13, Diaz: 25), scored more runs (104 to 81 - Nady: 40, Diaz: 41), and had just 1 less XBH (61 to 62 - Nady: 34, Diaz: 27) by himself. To bring up runners in scoring position is almost unfair, as Sheffield had a .364-.449-.722-1.171 line those situations, while the Nady/Diaz tandem combined for a .219-.346-.397-.743 line (Nady: .212-.309-.388-.697; Diaz: .227-.391-.364-.755) with men in scoring position. Say it with me kids: L-A-N-D-S-L-I-D-E.
Telltale stat: Sheffield: .964 OPS when seeing a pitcher for the third time in a game; Nady/Diaz: .655
Edge: Yanks

Starting Rotation
Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, and some 3-man combination of Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Aaron Small, Chien-Ming Wang and Shawn Chacon vs. Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Steve Trachsel, Victor Zambrano, and one of either Aaron Heilman, Jose Lima or John Maine
Looking at the top 2 starters of each staff, and it would seem as if the Mets tandem pitched better in 2005: Johnson/Mussina combined for 30 wins and a 4.04 ERA in 407.1 IP; Pedro/Glavine combined for 28 wins and a 3.17 ERA in 428.1 IP. At first I figured the significantly lower ERA was a result of the National League, but then I saw that NL pitchers actually had a higher average ERA (4.35) than their AL counterparts (4.22) in 2005, which discounts that theory. Based on that, you'd have to give the Mets the edge when it comes to the top 2 rotation slots.

The other 3 pitchers are a different story however. Combined, the remaining 5 potential Yankee starters went for a 4.81 ERA and a 1.54 GB/FB ratio, while the remaining 5 Mets arms put up a 5.10 ERA with a 1.23 GB/FB ratio. It'll be hard to judge who has the advantage here because there's so much uncertainty involving who'll win jobs and who won't, but of the guys vying for spots, Small is the Yanks elderstatesmen at a youthful 34 while the fivesome average 29.4 yrs of age. On the Mets side, Trachsel is the oldest at 35 while the entire group averages 29.8 yrs of age. I think Wang clearly has the highest upside of any of the pitchers mentioned (although if you frequent, you're aware Mets fans see Heilman as the second coming of Tom Seaver), which certainly should be considered in deciding who has the edge. Based on payroll, the Mets are clearly getting more bang for their buck: Yanks combined 2006 rotation payroll: $53.127M; Mets: 30.981M.

Looking at the stats, I don't know who's got the edge. There's too many variables at hand to make an accurate assessment. In a short series, give me Johnson, Mussina and Wang over Pedro, Glavine and Trachsel. That may be my Yankee bias coming out, but so be it, it's my blog (now just picture Stewie Griffin yelling "Ha!").
Telltale stat: Yanks: 3.14 combined postseason ERA; Mets: 3.54
Edge: Yanks

Mariano Rivera vs. Billy Wagner
I had originally planned to include the closers with the rest of the bullpen, but a matchup like this is just too good to pass up. The similarities are striking: neither is physically intimidating (Rivera is a scrawny 6'2", 185 lbs; Wagner is only 5'11" and listed at 201 lbs), both are best known for 1 pitch (Rivera's cutter; Wagner's triple digit fastball) but have underappreciated second pitches (Rivera's 2-seam fastball; Wagner's slider), and both sport "Enter Sandman" as their theme song. Conversely, Rivera has 6 career 40-save seasons (including two 50-save campaigns) while Wagner has recorded only 1 such season (a 44-save effort in 2003). Wagner has more of a penchant for giving up the long ball (59 HR allowed in 630.1 IP compared to Mo's 42 HR allowed in 807.2 IP), but Billy the Kid does strike out almost 4 more batters per 9 innings (11.99 career Kper9 against Rivera's 8.12). Wagner is unquestionably the best lefty reliever in the game, but Rivera is simply the best reliever ever.
Telltale stat: Rivera: career 0.81 career postseason ERA; Wagner: 7.71
Edge: Yankees

Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Myers, Tanyon Sturtze, Ron Villone and the 2 losers of the Carl Pavano/Jaret Wright/Aaron Small/Chien-Ming Wang/Shawn Chacon rotation battle vs. Duaner Sanchez, Chad Bradford, Steve Schmoll, Jorge Julio, Royce Ring, Yusaku Iriki and possibly Heilman
Beyond Wagner, the Mets bullpen is reminiscent of The Island of Misfit Toys. All those guys listed above have some outstanding quality to them, only to have some dark cloud hover over them at the same time. Example: Bradford has given up only 32 XBHs to RH batters in his 8 year career, but LH hitters have tattooed him for a .316-.421-.471-.892 career line. Then there's Jorge Julio with his blazing high-90s heat that no one knows where it's going (career 4.09 BBper9 and 36 WPs), or Duaner Sanchez, who's Kper9 has gone up for 2 straight years (4.95-7.79), but so has the percentage of inherited runners he's allowed to score (26.5%-32.5%).

Of course the Yankees bullpen isn't bulletproof either. Farnsworth's Kper9 has gone up for 2 straight years like Sanchez' (10.54-11.19), but his K/BB has gone down (4.57-3.22). Tanyon Sturtze still can't pitch under the sun (night games: 3.64 ERA; day: 6.39), and Ron Villone apparently enjoys the All-Star break a little too much (pre All-Star break ERA: 2.72; post: 5.07).

That said, the Mets certainly have youth on their side (Mets bullpen average age: 27.7; Yanks: 31.5), but what they gain in age they greatly lack in experience (only Bradford and Sanchez have been to the playoffs). With that, I'll take the experienced guys in October over the young guys any day of the week.
Telltale stat: Yanks: 115.1 combined career postseason IP; Mets: 11.2 (9.2 by Bradford)
Edge: Yanks

Kelly Stinnett, Miguel Cairo, Andy Phillips, Bubba Crosby vs. Ramon Castro, Julio Franco, Chris Woodward, Endy Chavez, Xavier Nady/Victor Diaz
It's not really sensible to compare each team's bench, simply because the Mets have a greater need for a strong bench seeing how they're in the Senior Circuit. The Mets expected 2006 bench put up a .259-.323-.428-.751 line off the bench in 2005, which is better across the board than the .247-.294-.345-.639 line the Yankees expected 2006 bench put up last season. End of story.
Telltale stat: Yanks: 1 PH XBH in 2005; Mets: 9
Edge: Mets

Insurance Policies
Scott Proctor, Al Leiter, Scott Erickson, Wil Nieves, Felix Escalona, Kevin Reese vs. Heath Bell, Juan Padilla, Brian Bannister, Bobby Estalella, Brett Boone, Tike Redman
I limited this to 6 players per team (3 pitchers, 1 catcher, 1 infielder, 1 outfielder) because otherwise it would just be overly excessive. I'm not even going to break out any stats, because it would be difficult to get a happy medium between aging vets looking for one last shot (Leiter, Erickson, Boone), prospects on the rise (Bannister) and just your everyday journeyman (Nieves, Escalona, Estalella). Based on reputation, the Yankees clearly have the better insurance options on the mound, while the Mets seem to have better position player options; and we all know pitching wins championships.
Edge: Yanks

Farm System
A laugher. After Mets GM Omar Minaya purged the system's already thin crop of it's depth by trading for Paul LoDuca and Carlos Delgado, he left Lastings Milledge and Phil Humber as the only farmhands with a chance to be above average big leaguers. Luckily for Minaya, top 2005 draft pick Mike Pelfrey finally signed, giving them 3 good prospects. Regardless, if it wasn't for the Reds, the Mets' system would be the worst in baseball.

The Yanks system isn't what it was 4 or 5 years ago, but it's certainly on the rise. There's the much talked about talents of Phil Hughes and Eric Duncan; but most of the Yanks high end talent has yet to play above Class-A: Jose Tabata, Marcos Vechionacci, Josh Schmidt, Rolando Japa, Austin Jackson, CJ Henry, Jeff Marquez...If it all comes together (a big IF), the Yanks system could eventually be deeper than the Dodgers' system is right now, and that's deep.
Telltale stat: Yanks: .539 combined minor league winning percentage; Mets: .495
Edge: Yanks

Final Tally
Yanks: 11
Mets: 3
As usual, it looks like the Yanks advantage over the Mets extends far beyond the backpages.

Update: The new Weekly Poll Question is up.
Anonymous Adam B. said...
On the farm systems, something is especially telling: In short season low A ball and in Rookie ball the Yankees's teams(Staten Island, GCL Yankees) handled the Mets's(Brooklyn, GCL Mets) teams with no problems (even sweeping the GCL title from them).

Also, I don't see their payroll going below $100 million simply for two reasons: With the largest media market of any team giving them nearly unlimited reasources they have no reason to cut spending by a large amount, and also, inflation will make $100 million not worth as much, so the Yankees will be above that mark.

Anonymous baileywalk said...
This was a terrific article. The only thing I'd disagree with is the comparison of Wright to A-Rod. Wright couldn't eat out of his shoe today (A-Rod is arguably the best player in baseball and Wright is merely a very good young player) and I don't think Wright is nearly the young player A-Rod was. For one thing, A-Rod was considered the best shortstop in baseball. Wright is a lousy third baseman (he makes up for it with his offense, but he throws that ball all over the place). Plus A-Rod hit over .350 in his first full year as a player.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
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Blogger Patrick said...
Nice read.

Blogger Dyslexia said...
Hey Crosstown Rivals here, you left a post on our Yankees Mets comparison. I went the same way with all 8 starters only I gave a push to Matsui and Floyd. As a fellow Yankees fan here, I'm a fan of Hideki, but Floyd can hit. Granted, a 270 something avg. isn't going to show that, but you watch him this year, I can see him knocking in 100/110.
Also, was wondering if you might link to us somewhere on your sidebar, we'd be glad to do the same. Leave a post on our blog at or email me at with your answer. We're a website pretty much solely dedicated to the Yankees and Mets commentary and the divide between the two teams. (can't forget bo sox and braves though) My friend Jack is a diehard Mets fan you see.
Thanks, and keep hating John Rocker,
Alex Moss
Crosstown Rivals

Blogger Dyslexia said...
Good article

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