How Many Years Will It Take Of The AL Clubbing The NL In Interleague Before Things Change?

AL vs NL

Hunter Stokes (BBBA Featured Writer) 

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With a modest 4 – 3 lead in the season series heading into today’s action. the National League is in foreign territory by leading the Interleague yearly contest.  However I remember the the NL taking a decent lead in the 2014 campaign – before the American League trounced the Senior Circuit the rest of the way – and edged them out by a few games for the entire year..

The Junior Circuit has won the last 12 years of play, and own a decisive .552 win percentage since 2004 (when the 1st 8 years were split 4 – 4 in the seasons, with the NL holding a 30 games wins lead) in that time frame.

I am a bigger fan of the American League game over the National League, yet I am torn because if these splits continue for more seasons, we will never have more Interleague ever. We may stay the same – or god forbid, eliminate Interleague altogether if expansion leads to 32 clubs (16 in each league) and negating an odd amount of teams per league, not necessarily needing to play it anymore.

Right now there are 20 games for each club against the other League. It boils down to just one division playing another division, and then in most cases, a natural geographical rivalry.

Determining how many games there ought to really be, I turn to the “Team Fatigue card” a lot of my fellow westerners have expressed in so much out this way over the years.

I am close enough to see both NL and AL parks play, but there are several cities that are without a league park of the other for hundreds of miles (like Seattle, Arizona, Colorado, Minneapolis), then KC and St. Louis to a lesser extent, but far away enough to classify a full road trip should you partake in a journey to see.

You can add Texas and Houston, with Tampa and Miami in that mix as well.

12 year winning streak - and should continue the trend this year too.

Have a 12 year winning streak versus the NL – and should continue the trend this year too with 6 of the worst clubs in the whole Major Leagues residing in Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Diego and Colorado.  The better teams in the NL are solid, but the whole AL can play near .500 baseball against them too.

Point being is that with a 162 game schedule on the board, there is no rhyme or reason why you couldn’t play all 29 other clubs for at least once series.

How would that happen exactly.

11 Games vs your own division (4 x 11) = 44

6 games vs your own league (non division) (6×10 = 60) = 104 overall

4 games versus the 5 clubs that are in your geographical vicinity (AL West vs NL West, AL Central vs NL Central, and AL East vs NL East (4 x 5= 20) = 124 overall

3 games versus 10 other league (non closest geographical divisions) (3 x 10 = 30) (154 overall)

Then to play your natural rivalry and additional 8 times.

Natural rivals.

New York Yankees vs New York Mets

Boston Red Sox vs Philadelphia Phillies

Toronto Blue Jays vs Detroit Tigers

San Francisco Giants vs Oakland A’s

Los Angeles Angels vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Arizona Diamondbacks vs San Diego Padres

Seattle Mariners vs Colorado Rockies

Chicago White Sox vs Chicago Cubs

Minnesota Twins vs Milwaukee Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates vs Cleveland Indians

Cincinnati Reds vs Atlanta Braves

Baltimore Orioles vs Washington Nationals

Tampa Bay Rays vs Miami Marlins

Kansas City Royals vs St. Louis Cardinals

Texas Rangers vs Houston Astros

But alas 50 games in Interleague would be blasphemous in today’s climate.  As the National League Clubs would hate finding  Designated Hitter for the AL games, and the Junior Circuit would also not like finding their DH’s on the bench for 25 games.

Regardless of my wish of 20 to 50 games in an increase, the situation as we see it now continues to be fascinating. Look at these numbers

Wins by league Heading into 2016

Year Best record Games AL NL %*
1997 National 214 97 117 .547
1998 American 224 114 110 .509
1999 National 251 116 135 .538
2000 American 251 136 115 .542
2001 American 252 132 120 .524
2002 National 252 123 129 .512
2003 National 252 115 137 .544
2004 American 252 127 125 .504
2005 American 252 136 116 .540
2006 American 252 154 98 .611
2007 American 252 137 115 .544
2008 American 252 149 103 .591
2009 American 252 138 114 .548
2010 American 252 134 118 .532
2011 American 252 131 121 .520
2012 American 252 142 110 .563
2013 American 300 154 146 .513
2014 American 300 163 137 .543
2015 American 300 167 133 .557
Overall American 4,864 2,565 2,299 .527

2016 record:  NL Leads Series 4 –  3 (.571): AL leads all time 2568 – 2303 (.527):  Record since 2005 AL Leads 1608 – 1305 (.552)

I have predicted the AL will win almost 60% of their games this year.  This is a bit drastic yes, but it has happened before in 2006 – and almost again in 2008.

In addition to that forecast, I think the American League can push this season winning streak versus the National League to 20 or 25 years without losing.

It is easier to find a glove for a DH that is not used to it, as oppose to a bench player that may not bat every day.  Clearly by now this is a clear advantage for the AL.

Out of many of the top recent Free Agent signings the last 7 years (Mark Teixeira, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, Robinson Cano, Shin-soo Choo, Justin Upton, Chris Davis, Josh Hamilton, Brian McCann, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval) all signed with the American League.

Both Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford were signed originally by the Boston Red Sox – before being returned to the NL in massive salary dumps.

If Cespedes stays in New York past 2016 - instead of the using his opt out clause it probably means he would have not had a great season. Should he crush the ball all campaign - and hit the open market, odds are good he will be flashing a uniform with an American League franchise in 2017 based on recent history. It is the evolution of the more talented offensive players migrating to the AL in my opinion, on how the Junior Circuit has crushed the Senior Circuit in Interleague over the last decade.

If Cespedes stays in New York past 2016 – instead of the using his opt out clause it probably means he would have not had a great season. Should he crush the ball all campaign – and hit the open market, odds are good he will be flashing a uniform with an American League franchise in 2017 based on recent history. It is the evolution of the more talented offensive players migrating to the AL in my opinion, on how the Junior Circuit has crushed the Senior Circuit in Interleague over the last decade.

Jason Heyward is the most significant FA signing in the National League of late as a positional player (without extended from their last played club since Jayson Werth inked a 7 year deal with Washington after many great years in Philly, Hunter Pence, Matt Holliday (although more of an extension with STL, rather than flat out signing).

It is about an 11 to 3 ratio there.  The reason is because of the American League’s ability to transition an older player into a Designated Hitter role.

Guaranteed when Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen all hit the open market, that at least 2 of them will sign in the American League – if not all 3.

St. Louis and San Francisco have mostly cultivated their own talent through drafting.  The Mets made it to the World Series last year without signing any major Free Agents beforehand.

Freddie Freeman is a top player in the game for Atlanta – and was drafted by them.  Same goes for Joey Votto and Ryan Braun, both guys yielding massive long extensions.

This is why the Giancarlo Stanton signing was so surprising by the Miami Marlins.

Ryan Howard was once one of the best players in the game in his prime.  Another drafted player.

Matt Kemp is a former MVP runner up and was extended by his former National League club (the Dodgers, befire being traded to San Diego).  Really this guy should already be a DH.

Of course the pitching has been pretty fair across the board in recent signings.

Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke,   Jon Lester, James Shields and Cliff Lee were with American League clubs to solidify their good standing as starters before heading to greener pastures and cash.

Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija were NL Draft selections with the Reds and Cubs respectively – but ended up with AL Clubs before inking new deals with the NL Giants. Mike Leake was a Reds Draft pick, and is still in the Senior Circuit with the Cardinals.

David Price, Jordan Zimmermann Masahiro Tanaka, C.J. WilsonYu Darvish, CC Sabathia (circa 2009), A.J. Burnett (circa 2009), Ian Kennedy,  all signing via International bid (or to the highest bidder) help counter off set that.

Roy Halladay was the best pitcher in baseball when extended his deal with the Phillies to keep pitching there.

All of these chuckers can lay claim to ace status at some point their career.  It is a more even playing field.

Clayton Kershaw. Felix Hernandez, Matt Cain, Justin Verlander, Cole Hamels, Jered Weaver and Adam Wainwright all fall into signing big extensions with the club that they first had success with in playing their entire career with the franchise at time of extension. (Wainwright was drafted by the Braves, and is the only guy here who wasn’t drafted by the extending team.

Only Hamels has since left their designated clubs in a trade.

The whole diatribe was to explain that American League squads have a cushion to fall back in signing the best offensive ‘Free Agents’ – whereas the pitchers on the open market are more equal.

I believe this factor, combined with the role of the Designated Hitter (being more important than the steroid era) as a a source of power, as the biggest contributing factors in this streak.

Unless there is uniformity in the whole league one way or another (DH or pitcher only), this will continue to favor the American League in Interleague play.

My idea of hitting just 8 batters, and having the pitcher neither hit, (or be hit for) did not do well in poll I recently put out.  I get it.  But it would sure grow offense in the game having the better hitters receive more AB with having just 1 – 8 in the lineups.

So the American League will keep winning this yearly competition…The fans of the National League will just take it because they don’t want to live in a world with a DH.

Fans, who come out in bigger droves to Interleague, because it is something new and cool, will be happy to see an opposing league’s team about once every 6 seasons right now. I am telling you – if there was uniformity in the league no matter who you choose to do it, it would even the playing field.

The worst think that would happen is if they expanded by two clubs – and did away with Interleague.

Fan bases of opposing league’s should want to see a player like Mike Trout or Bryce Harper more frequently than once every 6 years. Under my format, 2 years would be the maximum amount of time.

Wait.  what am I saying?  I love the American League more than the National League – so what do I care?  The AL keeps winning the ALL – Star Game too!!

Since I live near Los Angeles, I can see whatever player I want in the whole MLB.  Forget what you just read and be on your way.  Sorry to waste your time..My bad..Nevermind.

I believe the best chance for Bryce Harper to remiain in the National League - is to sign an extension with the Nats prior to hitting the open market.

I believe the best chance for Bryce Harper to remain in the National League – is to sign an extension with the Nats prior to hitting the open market in 2019.  The 23 year old current MVP will play the next 3 seasons with Washington before putting his talents up for bidding prior to his age 26 year.  Who will come calling.  It is my guess he will become a Yankee for 13 Years/$455 MIL in 2019, at $35 MIL per year Annual Average Value.  The AL will have a better chance to win his services because of the DH position.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of and their other members***


A big thanks goes out to our featured writer Hunter Stokes for preparing today’s post.

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About hunterstokes21

I Played NCAA Baseball at Liberty University in the 90's with Sid Bream's kid Sheldon. Once Hit a Home Run by hitting a hot air balloon that was coming over 2nd base (It was agreed that if a balloon was hit before game by the umpires and coaches - even though they were setting up in LF/CF Bleachers). I believe in the "Church Of Baseball". Come in for worship anytime.

Posted on April 9, 2016, in MLB Reports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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