After another year of watching the American League pound the National League, it’s evident there is an unfair advantage during these interleague games. The AL finished with a 142-110 record and are 1,246-1,020 since 2004.
The fact is these leagues are different, and they have no business playing each other. They’re each assembled to win games in their respective leagues. Obviously, the National League will be constructed more on defense and utility players, and American League lineups are filled with hitters who can take one out of the ballpark.
I’ll admit, the American League currently has more talent than the National League, and that’s why they’ve dominated over the past nine seasons. But most of that is because big hitters are going to the American League where they can DH. It’s an unfair advantage and something the NL can’t compete with.
This doesn’t necessarily mean American League teams are better in a playoff series, as we’ve seen the past two years how good pitching can shut down those big bats when the weather dips down and the intensity level rises. But in the heat of the summer, these AL lineups put up some numbers and NL lineups just can’t keep up.
I saw a graphic during a game over the weekend that showed the numbers for interleague play. I can’t remember exactly what they were, but the AL was averaging nearly a run more a game and the DH spot for the AL was batting around 40 points higher. As one of the announcers said during the broadcast, the DH position has to be learned, it’s not something you just pick up during a two-week stretch in the summer.
AL lineups are suited better for these interleague matchups. Some would argue that it’s not fair when AL lineups have to play real baseball and the pitcher has to bat, but it’s not like that helps either side score more runs.
Here is what Dodger’s manager Don Mattingly said on why the AL is dominating:
“What happens to National League teams is what we’re doing today,” Mattingly said. “We’re DH-ing Ivan De Jesus, one of our guys who plays off the bench. We’re not equipped to having a DH.”
Ivan De Jesus? How do you compare a lineup that is using De Jesus as a DH with a lineup that is paying David Ortiz $14.5 million to strictly play that position?
The fact is these interleague matchups are not fair, especially when an NL team has to use a utility player off their bench in a DH role. Pitchers who are used to having an easy out in the ninth spot have to work batters differently at the bottom of the order.
I understand interleague play is a big attraction for fans, and the fact it brings in money means nothing will be done to change the current system. And with the Houston Astros coming over to the American League, and there being an interleague game every night, things are going to get very nasty for Major League Baseball pretty soon.
If they want these two leagues to meet more frequently, then they’re going to have to make both leagues equal. That means the DH has to go. I’m not even going to assert to the other option because that strictly isn’t an option.
The DH has been on a decline for years as the steroid era has come to an end, and more people realize it’s not easy to hit four times a game and not be involved in playing of the game (i.e., Adam Dunn 2011). There is no need to have the DH in baseball any more. The luster that was there when the rule was implemented is gone. In a few years, people won’t even remember what a DH is.
But before I go on a rant about the DH, the most pressing matter is to make this schedule and format of interleague play equal for both parties. It’s evident right now that the power is heavily shifted towards the AL.