The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees are two of Major League Baseball's power brands.'
And so far this season, their success is matching that branding.'
Both the Yankees (22-8) and Dodgers (20-9) are sitting in first place in their respective divisions, not to mention they fact that they have the best records in baseball coming into Thursday.
How did the two super-franchises get here?
It's not secret that the Dodgers' lineup is deep. The offseason signing of the 2020 National League Most Valuable Player Freddie Freeman bolstered a unit featuring two other former MVPs in Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger.'
They have the best home win percentage in baseball to start the season (.833, 10-2) and are 14-4 against teams outside the NL West. They are also the only team in MLB with two win streaks of more than five games.
So, yes, the offense is good - but it hasn't been the force keeping the Dodgers at the top of the standings. In fact, it's their pitching.
Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin are the four starters who primarily make up the rotation. Relievers Alex Vesia, Brusdar Graterol, Daniel Hudson, Phil Bickford, Evan Philips and Justin Bruihl have been regulars out of the bullpen, and closer Craig Kimbrel is still shutting down opponents in the ninth inning.
The pitching staff has the lowest earned run average in Major League Baseball at 2.25 and the lowest WHIP at 0.99. They allow the fewest runs per game at 2.45 and are the only team below 2.5.
The Dodgers have surrendered the second fewest home runs this season (20, tied with the Yankees) and have issued the fewest walks (72). The next closest in walks issued is Houston with 82.'
In addition, L.A. has just one blown save this season, which is tied with St. Louis for the fewest in the league.
On the other side of the country, and in the opposite league, is the Yankees, who have the most home wins (14) and most comeback wins (10) in baseball.
New York is 10-2 outside of the AL East, but unlike the Dodgers, almost half of their run production has come via the home run. Aaron Judge leads MLB with 10 home runs, while Anthony Rizzo is a close second with nine.'
In total, 50.4% of the Yankees' runs scored have come via home runs.
Judge is hitting .288 with a .352 on-base percentage and a .613 slugging percentage. He has 32 hits in 111 at bats, six doubles, 22 runs batted in, 11 walks and 34 strikeouts. In his last 11 games, Judge has hit six homers, scored 10 runs and collected 16 RBIs.
Rizzo is batting .234 with a .354 on-base percentage and .533 slugging percentage. Judge, Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton all have 22 runs batted in.
In addition to their potent offense, the Yankees pitching staff has the second-best ERA in baseball, 2.60, trailing only the Dodgers.'
Gerrit Cole has brought his ERA down to 2.67 from last season's 3.23. Jameson Taillon and Jordan Montgomery have both seen close to a one-run improvement and then, there is MIchael King, who has been a pleasant surprise out of the bullpen. In 10 appearances and 20 innings pitched, he has a 1.35 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 2-1 record and one save.
The last time the Dodgers and Yankees faced off in the World Series was way back in 1981.'