FanGraphs: Interleague Play Results Conclusive

By my count, there will be 252 interleague baseball games during the 2012 regular season. We first checked in after the first third, observing that the American League was leading the National League 46-38, and that the AL was outscoring the NL 410-335.

We're now through another third. In the second third, the AL beat the NL 50-34, and the AL outscored the NL 366-324. Put them together and you have a 96-72 record and a 776-659 run separation.

Says Dave Cameron, at FanGraphs: yeah, the American League is still the stronger league. Some blockquoting:

With 84 games left in interleague action, the National League would have to win 54 of them to avoid a ninth consecutive losing record against the American League. Even if the NL manages a split in the remaining games, the AL would finish with 138 wins, matching their best interleague mark since 2009, and the third best mark either league has managed since interleague play began. It’s not quite as bad as it was in 2006, when the AL went 154-98, but it’s clear that the American League is still the superior league.

What's going on? Cameron offers some clues:

So, why is the AL continually better than the NL? It’s probably not any one thing, but instead a combination of factors. Baseball is cyclical, and right now, the AL just has more talent than the NL does, but that’s not going to last forever. The NL has also had a recent funk from high revenue teams being poorly run, so teams like the Cubs and Mets just aren’t as good as they should be. The DH also gives AL teams the ability to give aging sluggers a softer landing, so they can more confidently bid on free agents like Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. And, yes, having the Yankees helps, as they’re annually one of baseball’s best teams, and give the league a leg up in heads-up competition.

This isn't going to last, especially with the Dodgers seemingly on the path to routinely being one of baseball's elite. There was a time that the NL appeared stronger than the AL, and that'll be the case again in the future as things naturally swing around. But for the time being, the situation is as it has been: the AL remains the stronger of the leagues. And home-field advantage in the World Series will again be decided by something else.

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