The rumors are true, folks. The rivalry really is back.

The Boston Red Sox kick off a three-game road series Tuesday with the New York Yankees, their first trip to the Bronx and second series against their longtime rivals in 2018. The clubs’ first battle at Fenway Park did not disappoint, as a wild brawl in the middle game called to mind years of bad blood.

But while everyone loves some old-fashioned Red Sox-Yankees animosity, there’s a better reason why this historic rivalry is generating buzz: Both teams are really, really good.

Consider this impressive stat from the Elias Sports Bureau:

That’s right: The two best teams in baseball will play Yankee Stadium this week, the first time such a matchup has happened in 16 years.

Of course, it’s way too early to tell if Boston and New York will be at the top of the standings come September and October. That 2002 season saw the Yankees post Major League Baseball’s best record (103-58), but the Red Sox slipped to 93-69 and missed the playoffs.

As of Tuesday, though, the Sox and Yanks are a cut above the major league competition — and they’re remarkably evenly matched.

New York and Boston rank first and second in MLB in total runs scored, respectively, and second and third in the American League in team ERA, respectively. They each boast a top-five hitter (Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts leads baseball in home runs, batting average and OPS; Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorious ranks third in RBIs and OPS) and an elite closer (Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman have converted 16 of a combined 18 save attempts).

The probable starters in this series, listed below, have a combined 14 All-Star appearances between them — and that’s without Sox ace Chris Sale.

Tuesday: Drew Pomeranz (BOS) vs. Luis Severino (NYY)
Wednesday: David Price (BOS) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)
Thursday: Rick Porcello (BOS) vs. CC Sabathia (NYY)

Again: It’s only early May. But this clash of titans should serve as a great litmus test for both clubs as they aim to continue their hot starts. And who knows — maybe we’ll see some more fisticuffs to boot.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images