Wednesday, July 15, 2009

AL Stars P0wn NL's Best... Again!

Growing up, I remember watching nearly every MLB All Star game and if my recollection serves me properly, the games weren't scheduled to fit Fox or ABC's "Prime Time" schedule so I was able to stay up for the entire thing. Back then, I had my heart broken nearly every year because as a fan of the Red Sox, I was an "AL" guy. Yup, you know what I'm talking about. Between 1950-1987 (I was born in 1968), the NL won 33 of 42 times with one tie. That's A LOT of dominating.

Now it seems like the AL is equally dominating having not lost since 1996. And the good news is that the game now means something since it determines home field advantage for the Fall Classic. That didn't help the Rays last year but certainly helped the Red Sox in 2007 and 2004. If the Sox can hold on and have a shot at the World Series this year, it's a HUGE advantage to them to be able to play games one and two in Fenway.

So what's the deal withe recent AL domination? Is the AL really that much better than the NL? Does good hitting actually trump good pitching and defense? Inquiring minds want to know!


Derek Peplau said...

For starters, I think it'd be interesting to see what the budgets of the AL vs. NL teams are. That may have something to do with it. It could also be that the AL is simply doing a better job drafting. But, the AL does have that advantage of having at least one player per team whose specialty is (or should be) offense. The NL does not have this advantage, so if you have pitching parity between the two leagues, guess where the deciding factor comes from...

It'd be nice to see more even distribution of wins, but we've had 4 ASG's decided by a single run in the last 4 years (ties the longest streak in the 80 year history of the event), so they have at least been close games. And since "this counts!" I'm quite happy with the result.

Kyle said...

I think Derek hits it where it hurts the NL...the DH. But obviously in the all-star game you don't have a team of 9 DHs, so it gets mitigated offensively, instead it goes to pitching.

There is better pitching on the AL all-star team. Why? Because of the DH. Pitchers who don't have great stuff go to the NL, because they see one less batter per team, which according to Bill James can equal 2-3 wins more a year. A mediocre pitcher "hides" in the NL, but can't in the AL.

Better pitching wins one-run games.

But here is my one bone of contention, I don't want home field in the World Series, it would be nice just once to win it at Fenway after we sweep ;)

adamcohen said...

It's hard to include last night's game in the "pwning" - if Crawford didn't make that catch (how often does one catch make an MVP for the ASG??) Pap would have been stuck with a loss.

Otherwise - This is completely not rooted in any facts or analysis by yours truly, but take a look at how competitive the AL East is, and the relative number of players on the all-star team. Also I suspect the budgets/payroll in the AL suite of teams that has made the playoffs in recent years (LAA, NYY, TB, Boston) is bigger than the same representative teams in the NL. Lastly, contradicting myself, I wonder if the Moneyball approach that has been more broadly adopted by Theo and other teams in the AL is making a difference too. Good food for thought. Where's @Twalk with the statistics when you need him?

Tim said...

1. The A.L. is clearly the better league, and has been for some years.

2. As Derek points out, the last 4 ASGs have been one-run games. Long-term analysis has shown that records in one-run games are volatile, to the point that better teams don't have a particular advantage in one-run games.

3. Last night's game would have gone the other way if (a) Upton had made the best play he could have on Granderson's triple -- there was an out to be made there, but it would have taken a sparkling play; and (b) Crawford had made a less-than-sparkling play on Hawpe's ball.

Andy said...

The AL is a better league for many of the reasons mentioned here. But, that does not explain this streak. If the Red Sox played the Royals 10 times, the Royals would win a game (probably more like 3 games). It's a statistical anomaly.

Could the conspiracy theory be that MLB makes a heck of a lot more money if a game 6 or 7 is played in Boston or New York compared to National League cities (let's assume the Mets and Cubs don't make it to the Series- we can do that, right?). The fix is in.