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Yankees vs. Mets a surprising comparison

Robinson Cano smiles after hitting a solo home

Robinson Cano smiles after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning of a game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. (April 8, 2013) Credit: Getty

With the Subway Series nearly upon us, we decided to take a look at the Yankees and Mets lineups – but with a twist. Instead of strict “player vs. player” breakdowns, we went through the lineup by composite defensive position and batting order.

Some of the results may surprise.

Our main tool for comparison was on-base plus slugging percentage. Good hitters generally post an OPS over .800 while poor hitters generally have an OPS below .650. The MLB average heading into Wednesday’s action was .721.

The Mets have an MLB-average OPS at four of their eight non-pitching defensive positions: catcher (.750), second base (.824), third base (.924) and left field (.867). Those numbers are composites of every player who’s played at the position, but it’s largely representative of John Buck, Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Lucas Duda.

The other four positions are all under the .650 line: first base (.462), shortstop (.529), center field (.592) and right field (.627). Step right up Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Marlon Byrd, Collin Cowgill and Jordany Valdespin.

The Yankees, by contrast, have just two positions under the .650 mark, shortstop (.458) and right field (.614), largely due to the struggles of Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez and Ichiro Suzuki.

Four other positions are below the MLB-average: catcher (.717), first base (.708), third base (.717) and center field (.719). Only two positions, second base (.910) and left field (.777), have a better than MLB-average OPS.

So the Mets actually have FOUR positions with at least a major league average OPS to the Yankees’ two:

Here are the Yankees' numbers:

And here are the Mets':

However, the Mets’ feast or famine approach isn’t as successful overall as the Yankees’ average, but consistent, tact. The Mets’ overall OPS is .673, while the Yankees stand at .725.

The Yankees have also succeeded by stacking their hottest hitters at the top of the lineup, as opposed to Terry Collins’ approach of trying to lengthen his lineup by spreading out his best batters.

The only four positions in the Yankees’ lineup with at least an MLB-average OPS are the first four. Those four spots account for 793 plate appearances (47.3 percent), while spots 5-9 have come to the plate 883 times (52.7).

The Mets, meanwhile, also have four positions with at least an MLB-average OPS. But instead of stacking them, Collins has spread out the production in the second, third, sixth and seventh spots in the order. Those spots account for 731 plate appearances (44.9 percent), while the other five have come to the plate times 897 times (55.1).

While it may not seem like a huge difference, Joe Girardi is getting his best hitters more plate appearances than his counterpart in Queens.

Here are the Yankees' numbers:

And here are the Mets':

Perhaps now you’ll see this Subway Series in a whole new way. All aboard.

New York Sports