Both teams have benefitted from some strengths that put them among the best in baseball. The Mets rotation, led by RA Dickey and Johan Santana is among the best in baseball in quality starts, shutouts, strikeouts and innings pitched. The Orioles bullpen is one of the best in the game, led by closer Jim Johnson and set-up man Pedro Strop. The Mets biggest weakness has been their bullpen. The Orioles (outside of Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen) starters have struggled this season with Brian Matusz (5-10, 5.42) being sent down to the minor leagues. Jake Arrieta is just 3-9, 5.81 and Tommy Hunter is 3-4 with a 6.11 ERA.
The Mets bullpen has been a joke. Frank Francisco is currently injured, but when healthy was up and down, at best. Jon Rauch is 3-7, 1 save and a 4.20 ERA and Ramon Ramirez is just 2-1, 1, 4.30. All three were expected to jumpstart a depleted bullpen from a year ago. Obviously, the Mets pen is their biggest weakness.
Offensively, both teams have had some injury problems. Jason Bay of the Mets and Nick Markakis of the Orioles should both be back after the All Star break. Nick Johnson is currently on the DL for Baltimore. Both teams have spent long parts of this season without key middle infielders. (Mets Ruben Tejada and Orioles Brian Roberts) The Orioles will be without LF Nolan Reimold for the entire season.
The Orioles seem to have the stronger offensive team. Adam Jones (.298, 19, 42) is clearly their best player. C Matt Wieters (.247, 11, 38) and 1B Chris Davis (.276, 14, 38) will back him up until Markakis (.256, 8, 26) comes back. SS JJ Hardy (.233, 12, 32) bats 2nd, giving them five players capable of hitting the ball out of the park and driving in runs. Even Wilson Betemit (.269, 10, 31) could put up 25+ HR if he continues to play every day. And the team would get a tremendous boost if Mark Reynolds (.207, 6, 22) returns to his 40 HR power form.
The Mets are very big on high on-base percentage and working counts. That has led to a lot of walks and strikeouts. David Wright is clearly their best player, and with his .354, 9, 50 line to go with his 26 2B and 48 walks, he is the best offensive player on both teams. Lucas Duda (.255, 11, 43) has struggled lately and Scott Hairston (.255, 10, 32) has cooled down lately. Ike Davis (.203, 10, 45) is hitting the ball as well as he was at the beginning of 2011 before he got injured. Guys like Tejada (.317, 0, 11) and Daniel Murphy become more important as the season goes on. Outside of Wright, they are the only two hitters capable of hitting for a high average and draw some walks. Bay, similar to Reynolds, could become a huge factor if he returns to form.
When it comes to ranking these teams among the best in their respective leagues, it is hard to put the Mets in Orioles in the same catagory as the Yankees, Rangers, Giants and Reds. It is more difficult for the Orioles, since the balance of power is advantageous for the American League. It is safe to say that both teams need to maintain their success to have a chance to make the postseason. My question is, if neither team is considered a postseason contender, when does that happen? I think both teams are right now even though we all know things can change within a week.