News flash: American League now considered superior to National League
by Bob Timmermann
In the latest "Keeping Score" column of the New York Times, Dan Rosenheck compares the relative quality of the American and National Leagues and it's official: the AL is better. A lot better.
....The gap between the American League and the National League has grown larger in the past two years than at any point since the 1950s, when the N.L. integrated black players much faster than the A.L. did. According to Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus, a typical A.L. hitter moving to the N.L. can expect to gain about 10 points of batting average and on-base percentage and 20 points of slugging percentage. A.L. pitchers switching leagues will usually have their earned run averages decrease because of the absence of the designated hitter in the N.L., but Silver calculates that the E.R.A. of an A.L. pitcher switching leagues is likely to drop by 0.25 runs more than can be accounted for by the D.H.
At a team level, an average A.L. squad would probably improve its record by about 10 games if it could face N.L. competition, meaning that last year’s Yankees probably would have been a 107-win juggernaut if they had played the Mets’ schedule. The same is true in reverse: if the 2006 Mets had played in the A.L., they would have won only 87 games and missed the playoffs. This is about the same difference in league strength as the gap between today’s N.L. and Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.
Rosenheck points fingers at NL owners for not spending as much as AL owners and a playoff system that discourages NL owners from having to create a team that can compete with the Yankees and Red Sox for 162 games, when they only would have to compete with them for no more than seven games.