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Who Ya Got? Will be the Dodgers or Mets the NL’s Best Team?

The Dodgers have an improved record compared to the Mets, but will be the two teams nonetheless evenly matched? (Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

You will see no Davids on the diamond because the LA Dodgers and NY Mets meet for a three-game set at Citi Field on the next three days. Just Goliaths.

Question is: That is the larger, badder Goliath?

The simple answer could be adequately summed up as, “It is the Dodgers, stupid.” They are close to unbeatable as they’ve won 44 of 54 since June 29. Their 89-38 record has them on pace to win 114 games, while their plus-286 run differential gives them a go to become only the 10th modern team to complete at or above the plus-300 threshold.

The Mets have previously shown they are able to go toe-to-toe with the Dodgers, splitting a four-game series in LA in early June. They’ve also done a more satisfactory job than the majority of hanging with the Boys in Blue. Because the Dodgers have gone 33-8 since July 13, the Mets have gone 28-13.

Although Mets remain eight games off the Dodgers’ pace for the National League’s top recordand with it, home-field advantage through the entire NL playoffsthe two clubs have essentially equal probability of creating a deep tell you the postseason. FanGraphs puts the Dodgers’ and Mets’ World Series chances at 29.4 and 27.3.

Basically, an effective comparison of the Dodgers and Mets can’t simply begin and end making use of their records.


Comparing the Offenses

Harry How/Getty Images

If we’d access to a period machine, we wouldn’t need to return back that far to get the right environment for a spirited debate concerning the Dodgers and Mets offenses. As recently as June 26, the teams were separated by most of one run scored.

Things have changed since that time, however, because the Dodgers have opened a 79-run advantage over their counterparts from Queens.

Graph via Google Sheets

The Dodgers bats have already been especially hot because the All-Star break, collectively rating as 34 percent much better than average by wRC+. They’ve also scored 224 runs (or 6.1 per game) and slammed 52 home runs over their 37 games.

Mookie Betts is in charge of 11 of the latter, and Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner aren’t alone in joining him in hotness. Of 11 other players with at the very least 45 plate appearances, only Chris Taylor (69) and Cody Bellinger (94) don’t have a wRC+ over 100.

MLB @MLB

.@mookiebetts stays hot! That’s HR No. 30 on the entire year for the former MVP. pic.twitter.com/llzPUfrl2p

In every fairness, Mets hitters are averaging 4.7 runs per game this year and also have likewise gone off for a 122 wRC+ in the next half. Jeff McNeil is hitting .366 because the break, while Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso have a 146 wRC+ and 12 home runs between them.

Yet, good in vacuum pressure and good compared to the Dodgers are two completely different things in the context of the discussion.

It is also much less if the Dodgers offense has any exhaust port-like weaknesses at this time. Its power may stick out probably the most from the second-half run, but its .303 average with runners in scoring position (3rd in MLB) and .210 average in two-strike counts (1st in MLB) aren’t to be overlooked.

Advantage: Dodgers


Comparing the Defenses

Harry How/Getty Images

What’s the ultimate way to quantify a team’s defense? Answers will change, but the most simple is assessing how efficient said team reaches turning balls in play into outs.

Compared to that end, it isn’t a lot of a contest:

  • Dodgers: .728 (1st in MLB)
  • Mets: .693 (19th in MLB)

The Mets fare better in other metrics, including outs above average. They’re at plus-nine to the Dodgers’ zero, and there is no overstating precisely how good Lindor and McNeil have already been as a double play combination lately. They’ve combined for 10 OAA in August alone.

The Dodgers, though, have the very best defensive player on either side.

That’s Betts, who’s gunning for his sixth Gold Glove Award through five outs above average and 13 defensive runs saved. The team all together is really a major standout for the latter, as its 74 DRS put it 18 prior to the St. Louis Cardinals for tops in the NL.

LA Dodgers @Dodgers

They call him Mookie but we call him Superman. pic.twitter.com/RT8CMkXFrw

A very important factor the Dodgers do is shift much better than most. By FanGraphs’ estimation, opposing teams hit just .262 against them if they have a shift on, the cheapest such mark in the NL.

Advantage: Dodgers


Comparing the Starting Rotations

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

As a unit, Dodgers starters have already been nothing lacking scintillating. Their 2.67 ERA is the very best in baseball by 40 points on the Houston Astros, and they are the only real team with four starters with ERAs under 3.00.

Though Dustin May isn’t among that foursome, the stuff he’s shown in two starts since his return from Tommy John surgery has been filthy:

Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja

Dustin May’s Incredible Stuff from YESTERDAY EVENING. pic.twitter.com/1th6qk2by8

Yet even despite May’s triumphant return, “healthy” isn’t the initial word anyone’s likely to keep company with the Dodgers rotation.

Walker Buehler underwent his second Tommy John surgery last Tuesday, and the Dodgers may also be missing fellow aces Clayton Kershaw (back) and, by Monday, NL ERA leader Tony Gonsolin. The latter includes a strained forearm that’s reportedly likely to cost him only two starts, though that seems optimistic.

The Mets, meanwhile, got an enormous piece back Aug. 2 when Jacob deGrom made his season debut following a prolonged recovery from shoulder issues. The two-time Cy Young Award winner has appeared as if his usual self as he’s fired triple-digit fastballs and mid-90s sliders:

Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja

Jacob deGrom, Filthy 93mph Slider and 100mph Fastball combo.

[I would’ve called a TKO & ended the AB from then on Slider]

9Ks thru 5. pic.twitter.com/wwY01DRunb

With Scherzer and Chris Bassitt also dominating lately, the Mets’ three best starters have combined for a 2.14 ERA since deGrom’s return. There doesn’t figure to be a lot of a drop-off after them in the years ahead, as Taijuan Walker has allowed only three runs in 12 of his last 13 outings and Carlos Carrasco is due back from the strained oblique in early September.

Though Kershaw also needs to be back in early September, FanGraphs’ projections for the rest of the growing season aren’t as bullish on the Dodgers rotation because they are on the Mets’. The latter is slated for 3.6 WAR, in comparison to 2.9 WAR for the former.

Advantage: Mets


Comparing the Bullpens

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Somewhat, relief pitching is another area where the Dodgers only appear to be getting stronger. Their bullpen includes a 3.08 ERA for the growing season and a 2.64 ERA in the next half.

But despite the fact that Mets relievers are in 3.63 and 4.11, the rest-of-season WAR projections for both of these units will be the same:

  • Dodgers: 0.9 WAR
  • Mets: 0.9 WAR

This projection arguably doesn’t track with today’s and near-future of the Dodgers bullpen. The fivesome of Evan Phillips, David Price, Alex Vesia, Caleb Ferguson and Chris Martin has combined for a 1.37 ERA in the next half. In addition they the other day got flame-throwing right-hander Brusdar Graterol off the injured list, with Blake Treinen and Tommy Kahnle to check out.

There’s, however, the Craig Kimbrel question.

Though Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has kept chucking save opportunities at Kimbrel, the veteran right-hander has too often made things interesting with a 4.14 ERA. He previously a golden possiblity to create a statement Monday contrary to the Miami Marlins, but he couldn’t complete the 10th after pitching an ideal ninth.

The Mets haven’t any such worries making use of their closer. Edwin Daz has allowed only eight earned runs through 51.1 innings and struck out 99 of the 198 batters he’s faced. His fastball and slider have simply never been nastier:

Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja

Edwin Daz pic.twitter.com/Fto7FPM1Tn

The bridge to Daz looked shaky for some time however, not so much given that Adam Ottavino and Seth Lugo have started shoving. In the next half, the three right-handers have combined for a 1.18 ERA with 62 strikeouts over 45.2 innings.

Way more compared to the other three categories, that one feels as though an apples to oranges comparison. But while we shall hear arguments and only the number the Dodgers have within their pen, the standard of the Mets pen strikes us as more desirable.

Advantage: Mets


THE ULTIMATE Verdict (with a Hedge)

Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

So then, who’s the larger, badder Goliath?

At this time, it is the Dodgers. Obviously, it is the Dodgers.

Just as much as we choose the Mets rotation and bullpen, the gaps there aren’t as large because the ones and only the Dodgers offense and defense. It’s as though there are reasons that they stick to track for just one of the best seasons in the annals of Major League Baseball.

The Dodgers would also figure to get a substantial advantage on the Mets if this week’s series proves to become a National League Championship Series preview. Unless they cede the very best spot in the NL to the Mets down the stretch, they’d maintain home-field advantage at Dodger Stadium, where they are beaten only 16 times in 61 games all season.

However now for a last-minute hedge: We’re not going to write off the Mets’ likelihood of being the final NL team standing, and neither should other people.

Even in accordance with the Dodgers, Cardinals and Atlanta, a very important factor which makes the Mets stick out from the small crowd of elite teams is how battle-tested they’re. They will have 37 victories against winning teams, whereas no other NL club has a lot more than 30.

These Mets may also go on it from the 2019 Washington Nationals that a team really must keep opponents away in the playoffs is really a couple of untouchable pitchers. deGrom and Scherzer could be for the Mets what Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg were for the Nats, who didn’t have even a Daz within their bullpen.

Regardless, baseball deserves much better than because of this week’s series to function as last time the Dodgers and Mets meet in 2022. Somewhere within four and seven more games sounds about to decide that is the higher team.


Stats thanks to Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.

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