Interleague play proves AL better than NL
If the National League is to best the American League in the 2012 round of interleague play, then they must overcome recent history.
The American League is better than the National League.
Some will point to the outcomes of the last two World Series and the last two All-Star Games and argue otherwise, but that's a comically misguided approach. The best evidence we have -- i.e., the largest data sample we have -- is interleague play, and according to interleague play the AL is the superior circuit by a gaping margin. In fact, the AL has won every annual round of interleague play since 2004. The affirming/damning numbers:
|Year||AL Wins||NL Wins|
As you can see, the AL is almost 200 games over .500 againt the NL in interleague play since 2004. That comes to a winning percentage of .549, and that, in the familiar terms of the 162-game season, comes to a record of 89-73. Go ahead and add those last two World Series and All-Star Game outputs to the brew. The AL is still almost 200 games better than the NL. Both the strength and span of the trend are undeniable.
Why has this happened? It's surely a mix of reasons. AL teams tend to have higher payrolls and deeper investments in amateur signings; AL teams also provide better destinations for free-agent sluggers who foresee a need to DH in their later years; and you could make the case the AL tends to have the larger share of smart, progressive front offices. Whatever reasons you wish to come up with, though, the reality is that the AL has had its way with the senior circuit for the better part of a decade.
No, it's not because the top handful of AL teams are padding the overall interleague record, and, no, it's not because the DH rule confers some kind of structural advantage upon AL teams. The AL is simply the stronger league.
To be fair, though, the NL has made up some ground since 2009, so it's possible the trend is reversing. In that important sense, the upcoming round of interleague play will be quite telling.
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