Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Restoring the Balance

David Pinto notices that the NL is outscoring the AL and not only that, but that it's doing so in a way that puts lie to the CW that the NL is some totally inferior league that should just fold up or become AAAA or something:

Not only is the NL giving more PA to younger players, its younger players tend to be better. Note that at the ages where the NL OPS is higher, it tends to be much higher than it is at the corresponding AL age. Where the AL OPS is higher, the gap is not quite as large. Even in the 31-34 group, the NL is better except at age 34.

This bodes well for the Senior Circuit in the long term. Not only are their hitters producing at a higher rate, but their ages are in the range where we can still expect them to maintain or improve their performances. Meanwhile, AL teams keep signing older players such as Mike Lowell, Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and Torii Hunter to long-term contracts. Over the next few seasons, we may see some AL clubs do what the Marlins, Diamondbacks and Rockies have done recently. Tearing teams down to watch young talent develop resulted in a high scoring National League, even without a designated hitter.
It's a good (and very detailed) article, so definitely check it out.

Also make sure to check out his blog, Baseball Musings. Some people have praised me for being prolific. Applesauce. I'm a dabbler compared to Pinto. It's just after 3PM as I'm writing this, and he has 15 posts up. He had 36 yesterday. This is not uncommon.


Osmodious said...

This NL thing kind of supports the statements made by Brian Cashman, reported (and supported) by Peter Gammons and Buster Olney that baseball has become a young man's game. They were addressing pitching, for the most part, but it holds true for hitting as well.

Of course, in this game everything is cyclical, so it is only a matter of time before we are discussing the renaissance of the veteran player. But for right now, the bulk of the 'impact players' seem to be young guys. (part of this might be decline of the 'bloop and a blast' type of team, with the concomitant increase in on-base/speed types of teams)

Chipmaker said...

Back in the 1980s someone -- I'm recalling it was Whitey Herzog -- complained that the AL was the tougher league because it got 14 draft picks to every 12 the NL got, and that eventually that advantage started piling up more talent in the AL.

That worm has now turned, the NL drafting 16 to the AL's 14 every round (compensations excepted).

Not nearly a full explanation, but likely a contributing factor to some degree.

dubbschism said...

I think it's worth pointing out that the NL as a whole has an RA of 4.60 and the AL has an RA of 4.48, numbers which are well within statistical variation of eachother (not to mention the paltry sample size of ~1/5 of the season). second of all, how much the variation has to do with better hitting vs. crappy pitching probably requires a deeper look. the AL has an average WHIP of 1.37, the NL, 1.40. that might be an indicator. also worth noting, the top 5 parks in the MLB as far as park factors go are all NL stadiums. (of course this does go hand-in-hand with the NL scoring more runs.) i think we should wait until after a few rounds of interleague play to attack this discussion again.