With the Red Sox having started this season 17-2, and the Yankees in the midst of their own impressive stretch -- winning 17 of 19 -- both American League East rivals are undoubtedly among the top teams in the Majors.It would not be surprising to see either one representing the
With the Red Sox having started this season 17-2, and the Yankees in the midst of their own impressive stretch -- winning 17 of 19 -- both American League East rivals are undoubtedly among the top teams in the Majors.
It would not be surprising to see either one representing the AL in the World Series this October. But which club has the better core group of players? Let's find out.
For this exercise, I will compare each team's top five "homegrown" players -- defined as those who made their Major League debut with their current organization. These are the five players I've chosen from each club:
Red Sox:Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers
Yankees:Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar
Betts vs. Judge
Deciding between a pair of premium, impactful players such as these two is never easy, with Betts representing one of the best two-way stars in MLB, and Judge ranking among the most intimidating power hitters. Betts is leading the Majors in homers (13), runs (38) and OPS (1.244) while hitting a robust .361, and he's also one of the game's premier defensive outfielders. Judge can rival Betts at the plate, as he features an impressive combination of plate discipline and power that has contributed to a 1.043 OPS since the outset of 2017. However, he's not quite in Betts' class as a defender or a basestealer. When evaluating the entire skill set, Betts has a slight edge.
Bogaerts vs. Sanchez
After struggling at the plate while battling a hand injury in the second half of 2017, Bogaerts has seemingly regained his '16 All-Star form. The shortstop is hitting .330 with three homers, 11 doubles and a .912 OPS through 21 games, and he appears to be healthy after missing time with a small crack in the talus bone in his left ankle during April. On the downside, Bogaerts becomes a free agent after the '19 season. Sanchez, on the other hand, is under club control until after the '22 season. And with the catching position devoid of offensive threats, Sanchez's contributions at the plate (62 homers, .899 OPS from '16-18) are all the more valuable. In spite of his well-documented defensive woes, the slugger is the clear winner in this comparison.
Bradley vs. Severino
Although these two play vastly different positions, we can still compare the value they provide for their respective clubs. Bradley plays every day and offers a stellar glove at a premium position, but questions remain about his offensive abilities. After posting an .834 OPS over 2015-16, Bradley has produced just a .689 mark since the beginning of the 2017 season -- including .528 in '18. Meanwhile, Severino has followed up an impressive '17 campaign (2.98 ERA, 4.51 K/BB ratio) with an even more dominant start to '18 (2.21 ERA, 5.25 K/BB ratio). The 24-year-old has firmly established himself as one of the AL's top aces, and he won't be a free agent until after the '22 campaign, giving him the edge in this matchup.
Benintendi vs. Torres
Torres debuted amid considerable hype earlier this season, and he has not disappointed, posting a .344/.388/.492 slash line with two homers over his first 18 games while collecting multiple clutch hits along the way. Torres has also impressed at second base after spending most of his time at shortstop in the Minors. However, Benintendi is the more established player, having finished second to Judge in the voting for the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year Award. The outfielder is a plus defender with a multidimensional skill set on offense, as evidenced by his 22 homers and 25 steals since the start of last year. Under team control through the '22 season, the 23-year-old will be an ideal No. 2 or No. 3 hitter for the next several years. Torres has a great deal of potential, but he still has to prove he can keep this up over the long haul, and some evaluators I've spoken with have raised questions about his plate discipline.
Devers vs. Andujar
Andujar has shown promising flashes this season, collecting 16 extra-base hits (three homers) in his first 122 plate appearances. But there are still concerns regarding his long-term potential, as he possesses a .287 on-base percentage with the Yankees after producing a lifetime .323 mark in close to 2,500 plate appearances in the Minors. Devers burst onto the scene last year as a 20-year-old, hitting .284 with 10 home runs over 240 plate appearances, and he's continued to show solid power in 2018. Most evaluators I have spoken with think Devers is the superior hitter, and with his ability to go to the opposite field -- the home run he hit to left field off Albertin Chapman last year won't soon be forgotten -- his swing is made for Fenway Park. With a higher ceiling than Andujar, Devers gets the nod here.
In the end, any organization would be thrilled to have these players as its core -- both now and in the next three to five years. Boston's current group is more established at the Major League level, so I give them the nod for the next one to two years. But after 2019, New York's new Core Five could end up being the next Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. Anything less than two World Series appearances would be deemed a disappointment for the Yankees.
Jim Duquette, who was the Mets' GM in 2004, offers his opinions as a studio analyst and columnist for MLB.com.