The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Mets vs. Yankees: A Unique Look at a Crosstown Rivalry

Growing up as a Mets fan, there haven’t been that many seasons where I’ve had the pleasure of being a fan of the better team in the New York area.  I’m aware, of course, that the Yankees have enjoyed many more World Championships than have the Mets since I started following baseball in the mid-’70’s.  But it occurred to me that I’d never really taken a look at each of the teams’ respective best players on a year-by-year basis.  I wondered if perhaps the Mets actually had the better player (measured by WAR) as often as not over the past half-century.

Here, then, are the results:

1962:  F. Thomas – 2.6    M. Mantle – 6.0

1963:  C. Willey – 4.2       E. Howard – 5.1

1964:  R. Hunt – 3.2        W. Ford – 6.8

1965:  J. Lewis – 2.4        M. Stottlemyre – 6.9

1966:  D. Ribant – 3.5      T. Tresh – 5.4

1967:  T. Seaver – 6.7      A. Downing – 4.6

1968:  T. Seaver – 7.0     S. Bahnsen – 5.9

1969:  T. Seaver – 7.2     M. Stottlemyre – 6.1

1970:  T. Seaver – 6.4       R. White – 6.8

1971:  T. Seaver – 6.9     R. White – 6.7

1972:  J. Matlack – 6.1      B. Murcer – 8.1

1973:  T. Seaver – 11.0    T. Munson – 7.2

1974:  J. Matlack – 8.7     E. Maddox – 5.4

1975:  T. Seaver – 8.2      C. Hunter – 8.1

1976:  T. Seaver – 5.3      G. Nettles – 7.9

1977:  L. Randle – 4.1       G. Nettles – 5.5

1978:  C. Swan – 5.5         R. Guidry – 9.6

1979:  L. Mazzilli – 4.8      R. Guidry – 6.5

1980:  L. Mazzilli – 3.2     W. Randolph – 6.6

1981:  H. Brooks – 2.6       D. Righetti – 3.5

1982:  J. Stearns – 3.8       R. Gossage – 4.5

1983:  K. Hernandez – 4.3   R. Guidry – 5.3

1984:  K. Hernandez – 6.3   D. Mattingly – 6.3

1985:  D. Gooden – 13.2     R. Henderson – 9.9

1986:  K. Hernandez – 5.5    D. Mattingly – 7.2

1987:  D. Strawberry – 6.4  D. Mattingly – 5.1

1988:  D. Cone – 5.8             R. Henderson – 6.3

1989:  H. Johnson – 6.9     S. Sax – 4.4

1990:  F. Viola – 6.3          R. Kelly – 5.5

1991:  D. Cone – 4.3          S. Sax – 4.1

1992:  S. Fernandez – 6.2   M. Perez – 6.0

1993:  D. Gooden – 4.2         J. Key – 6.2

1994:  B. Saberhagen – 5.7   W. Boggs – 4.5

1995:  J. Kent – 3.2              B. Williams – 6.4

1996:  B. Gilkey – 8.1        A. Pettitte – 5.6

1997:  E. Alfonzo – 6.2        A. Pettitte – 8.4

1998:  J. Olerud – 7.6       D. Jeter – 7.5

1999:  R. Ventura – 6.7      D. Jeter – 8.0

2000:  E. Alfonzo – 6.4   J. Posada – 5.5

2001:  M. Piazza – 4.4       M. Mussina – 7.1

2002:  E. Alfonzo – 5.0      J. Giambi – 7.1

2003:  S. Trachsel – 4.5    M. Mussina – 6.6

2004:  A. Leiter – 4.7        A. Rodriguez – 7.6

2005:  P. Martinez – 6.5    A. Rodriguez – 9.4

2006:  C. Beltran – 8.2    C. Wang – 6.0

2007:  D. Wright – 8.3        A. Rodriguez – 9.4

2008:  J. Santana – 7.1    A. Rodriguez – 6.8

2009:  A. Pagan – 4.0       D. Jeter – 6.6

2010:  A. Pagan – 5.3       R. Cano – 8.2

2011:  J. Reyes – 4.7        C. Sabathia – 7.4

2012:  D. Wright – 6.9      R. Cano – 8.5

Overall Tally:  Mets 19 wins, Yankees 31 wins, with one tie (1984.)  If you throw out the first five years after the expansion Mets came into existence, the Mets have 19 wins to the Yankees 26.  From approximately 1985-2000, the Mets matched up pretty well overall with the Yanks.  In the 21st century, however, it’s mostly been all Yankees.

If, like me, you were wondering who the hell C. Willey was on the ’63 Mets, Carl Willey was a 32-year old pitcher from Cherryfield, Maine who finished the season 9-14 despite a reasonable 3.10 ERA over 183 innings.  Two years later, he was out of baseball.

The best single season of the group?  Dwight Gooden’s 13.2 WAR in 1985.  The best Yankee?  Ron Guidry’s 9.6 in 1978.

Perhaps with the Mets new emphasis on youth (and perhaps spending some dollars this coming off-season) as well as the obvious aging of the Yankees, the tide may turn.  But one thing Mets fans have learned over the years is, never count out the Yankees.

 

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14 thoughts on “Mets vs. Yankees: A Unique Look at a Crosstown Rivalry

  1. Carlton Willey, Johny Lewis, Dennis Ribant…surprisingly, none of them are on the Mets’ Mount Rushmore.

    • I was always partial to Randy Tate myself. Somehow, the Mets thought he was ready for The Show in April of ’75 despite the fact that in 1974, in the minors, he walked 158 batters in 176 innings. Talk about setting a guy up for failure.

  2. All well and good, but WAR, in my book, remains a questionable measure of value. First of all, what the hell is it, really? There are three different organizations that provide this stat, each using different proprietary alogrithms. Some of the stats used in those equations aren’t even in the public domain, the creators compile them themselves. While there may be some value in adding this stat to the overall evaluation of a specific player, using this one value for a single player per season is hardly a valid method for comparison of two teams in different leagues.

    • Hi Mark, the problem is, there is no one stat that I know of other than WAR that can be used to compare players’ performance against one another, especially if you want to compare a pitcher to a position player. Also, for all its faults, if you look at a list of the all-time leaders in WAR, it’s pretty much the list of the all-time greats you would expect to see, though perhaps not quite in the same order. I do expect that WAR will continue to be refined, especially when it comes to defense and base-running, but I can live with what we have to this point. Seaver turned out to be the leader six or seven times for the Mets. That sounds about right to me.
      Always appreciate the comments,
      Thanks, Bill

  3. Kind of shows how Tom Seaver earned his nickname. Willey was a Gee type, right handed not overpowering. Interesting his WAR was higher than Hunt’s. Ron was second to Pete Rose in the ROY voting in 63.

    • All these years later, I still can’t believe the Mets were misguided enough to trade Seaver. Willey as Gee sounds about right. I really like how Gee has been pitching lately.
      Thanks for stopping by,
      Bill

  4. It’s interesting with all the complaints about Alex Rodriguez, his two 9.4 seasons are the best WAR seasons since Ron Guidry way back in 1978 and Rickey Henderson’s 9.9 in 1985 (come on, Henderson, couldn’t you have gotten another tenth?).
    v

  5. this war duel could become a pre game ritual between the current leaders
    david wright and matt harvey versus
    robinson cano and hiroki kuroda.
    it could be like a tomatina vegetable bombardment war.

  6. Kevin Graham on said:

    Steve Sax and Roberto Kelly in 89, 90, 91. Those were some lean years for the Yankees….kind of like this season. My pre-season prediction was 80-82. I may have been too generous.

    Kevin

    • That may turn out about right. But they’re bound to get some guys back from injuries, and perhaps they’ll make a deal at the deadline. They’re still the Yanks.
      Take care,
      Bill

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