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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rob Neyer: AL pitchers feasting on NL?

Have you noticed something strange lately? Seems like every time a starting pitcher does something fantastic, he just happens to be pitching for an American League team against a National League team.

Just my imagination? To check, I scanned ESPN.com’s scoreboard pages, from last Friday through last night’s games, looking for headlines in which the winning starting pitcher was mentioned. I found 15. See if you notice any sort of pattern ...

No, it’s not scientific. No, the list doesn’t include fine games pitched by the likes of National Leaguers Matt Cain and Brad Thompson (or for that matter, American Leaguers Kevin Millwood, A.J. Burnett, Brad Bergesen, and Brian Bannister). But among the 15 starting pitchers who made headlines for winning, 12 made headlines for pitching brilliantly (or near-brilliantly) against National League teams. Jered Weaver threw his first shutout, Luke Hochevar needed only 80 pitches to dispatch Cincinnati, and Gil Meche threw his third shutout in 225 career starts. CLiff Lee took a no-hitter into the eighth, and Felix Rodriguez took a one-hitter into the ninth.

Sure, it’s only 15 games, and 15 games that were subject to the whims of ESPN.com’s headline writers. But I mean, c’mon. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the American Leaguers are playing a different game? A better game?

sigh.

Tripon Posted: June 17, 2009 at 08:54 PM | 226 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. SandyRiver Posted: June 18, 2009 at 05:25 PM (#3223602)
of course this also ignores the Dice-K bonus which isn't included in payroll.

Isn't that because he didn't get the money, that it went to his former team in Japan? If a team, for example, were to purchase a minor leaque franchise, that wouldn't show up on payroll, either. (Not a real good comparison, I know.)

As others have posted, I cannot understand why having more NL teams necessarily dilutes their talent. Don't all 30 teams draft in their combined order of standings? Don't all have (within their financial capacity and overall wisdom) the same access to talent? Yanks/Bosox/(Mets) bankrolls are relevant; number of teams per league is not (IMO), at least over the long term. I don't deny that schedule quirks can give some teams easier/harder matchups than others, an almost inevitable shortcoming of the interleague phenomenon.
   102. Brad B Posted: June 18, 2009 at 05:36 PM (#3223613)
Thank you Kona. If the two leagues did in fact have two separate, but equal pools of players to choose from, then the greater number of teams in the NL would mean that the average NL team was worse because the talent was spread more thinly. But that's not the case, there are in fact 30 teams competing (or not, in the case of the draft) for players out of a single player pool.

I think that point (disproving the "extra" teams theory), combined with the data about home/road splits in interleague games shown above in #46 by Eric J showing that the home field advantage in interleague games is *negligibly* greater than in intraleague games, shows that the AL is just... better.

One of the other typical ways to show that the AL is superior, apart from interleague records, is to look at the performance of players who switch leagues. I have literally no evidence to point to right now (compelling argument alert!), but I know that people have looked at that before, and in general players who switch from the AL to the NL tend to perform slightly better (anecdotal "proof": Raul Ibanez, Javier Vazquez), and those who make the reverse move (can't think of any, they must be doing badly), slightly worse.
   103. Tripon Posted: June 18, 2009 at 05:44 PM (#3223619)
Oh yeah, that Jason Bay, he totally sucks with the Red Sox now. And that Mark Teixeira who played with the Braves for a couple of years? Totally useless.

But that Casey Kotchman's, he's a freakkkkkkkkkkkking darling, because he got of the big bad AL. And Matt Stairs couldn't handle AL's pitching, but look out for him when he can feast on NL's pitching!
   104. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: June 18, 2009 at 05:47 PM (#3223626)
KC is the only silly franchise in the AL

And their winning percentage is about 200 points higher against NL teams the last 4+ years.
   105. Steve Treder Posted: June 18, 2009 at 05:53 PM (#3223643)
Oh yeah, that Jason Bay, he totally sucks with the Red Sox now. And that Mark Teixeira who played with the Braves for a couple of years? Totally useless.

Anecdotes don't cut it.

The comprehensive analysis of the aggregate performance of all players changing leagues provides rather compelling evidence that the AL has been the stronger league over most of the 2000s. The primary advantage appears to be in pitching.
   106. Dewey, Crackpot and Soupuss Posted: June 18, 2009 at 05:55 PM (#3223648)
The comprehensive analysis of the aggregate performance of all players changing leagues provides rather compelling evidence that the AL has been the stronger league over most of the 2000s. The primary advantage appears to be in pitching.

I'm assuming this controls for presence/absence of the DH?

It doesn't seem particularly controversial to claim that the American League is the stronger league right now. Nor is this something new - the National League was stronger for, what, 25 years in the middle of the 20th century?
   107. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 05:56 PM (#3223649)
"Competitive" is probably overstating it, but I think it's clear that the worst teams in the AL are superior to the worst teams in the NL.

At no point in time have I ever said any different. I think on average the AL is superior, I think it's because their crappy teams aren't as crappy as the NL teams, I think it's because they have more good teams, but I don't think that the best AL team is vastly or even noticeably superior to the best NL team.
   108. Steve Treder Posted: June 18, 2009 at 05:58 PM (#3223652)
It doesn't seem particularly controversial to claim that the American League is the stronger league right now. Nor is this something new - the National League was stronger for, what, 25 years in the middle of the 20th century?

At least that long, probably longer. And at its peak the disparity in league quality then was significantly greater than it is now.

These things happen. There's no law that says the leagues have to display equal talent at all times.
   109. Dewey, Crackpot and Soupuss Posted: June 18, 2009 at 06:06 PM (#3223662)
At least that long, probably longer. And at its peak the disparity in league quality then was significantly greater than it is now.

It's interesting that the enormous advantages the Yankees enjoyed seemed to hurt competitiveness in the American League during the Reserve Clause era, and spur on competitiveness afterwards.
   110. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 18, 2009 at 06:07 PM (#3223663)
And their winning percentage is about 200 points higher against NL teams the last 4+ years.


Over the past three-plus years, the Rockies have played .607 ball, a 98-win pace, against the American League, but .481 against the NL, for a 78-win pace. If only they'd switch leagues, they'd have couple more pennants.
   111. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 06:10 PM (#3223666)
Yes, but how is that relevant to the talent disparity between the leagues? To echo Kona's point in #100, all teams draw from the same pool of players, so the size of the league shouldn't make any difference.

ok again there is dilution by just random odds, if you have 10 teams in one league and you have 20 teams in the other league there is a much better chance by pure randomness that the larger league will have both better and worse teams than the smaller league if they are choosing from the same pool. Of course it's not truly random as the Yankees spend enough to pretty much guarantee they will be among the best teams, along with the Red Sox and the Mets.

dilution may not be the right word, but there is no denying that the crappier teams are in the NL, and I've never claimed any different, and nobody else has claimed much different. and because of the crappiness of the worse NL teams, the league on average is lesser than on average than the AL, but that doesn't mean that it's a linear effect saying that the worse team in the AL must be better than the 4ths worse team in the NL therefore the 4th best AL team is better than the best NL team.

The debate is that the AL is better on average, but it's not massively superior, it's better on average is due to the utter incompetence of the worse NL teams, not because of the league being inferior at all aspects. It's better interleague record is a combination of factors, but it's by far not the best evidence to claim massive superiority. Until we figure out how to account for the homefield advantage that the AL enjoys because of the DH, until we account for the extra interleague games that are played by the lesser teams heck until we figure out a way to account for the rivalry factor, there is too many variables in the numbers to use that as anything other than a talking point.


Again, I think Dial and I are mostly upset with the thought that the best AL teams should walk all over the best NL teams because the leagues on average are different in favor of the AL. (and I hate to point this out because I think it's a stupid argument, but the fact is the NL has won two out of the last three world series-yes selective endpoints etc. but it's a piece of evidence that the best NL teams can compete when properly configured for a short series against the best of the AL---again weak argument, and I know it, but I feel that the head-to-head argument is just as weak)
   112. Brad B Posted: June 18, 2009 at 06:10 PM (#3223667)
Ok Tripon, you win (or at least tie) the anecdotal evidence portion of the argument. Rob Neyer would be proud.

I'll now try another approach which is often as compelling as anecdotes: the appeal to authority.
Harball times article part 1
Harball times article part 2

The guy who wrote those articles used actual data to look at most of the arguments that have been brought up in this thread. He includes the one I brought up, of players switching leagues, and it is pretty clear from his presentation that on all fronts the AL comes out ahead. Because he says so.
   113. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 06:13 PM (#3223673)
At least that long, probably longer. And at its peak the disparity in league quality then was significantly greater than it is now

I agree that as recent as 2006 that the AL was pretty much obviously more dominant, I think there has been some slight corrections as the older DH only quality players are being weeded out. Again I still think the AL is on average better, I just don't think it is as big as it was in 2006 or earlier.
   114. Gaylord Perry the Platypus (oi!) Posted: June 18, 2009 at 06:26 PM (#3223691)
Don't NL teams sometimes use the DH to give a regular player a rest from fielding?

That's generally what the Braves do. Usually, Chipper DHs, and someone like Martin Prado plays 3B. So, while Chipper's numbers get counted as a NL DH, it's really Prado who's the extra bat added to the lineup.

Prado's not a bad player, but Chipper >>>>>>>> Prado.
   115. Brad B Posted: June 18, 2009 at 06:27 PM (#3223694)
CFB:
If the average team is worse in the NL (that point has been conceded I think), but the best teams in the NL are as good as the best teams in the AL, then we would expect the best teams in the NL to have better records than the best teams in the AL by virtue of playing inferior competition. But just by glancing at the 2008 standings, I think we can see that's not the case.

I've totally ventured back into anecdotal-land, and I don't claim this proves anything. But I do think that it's likely that the Cubs, if placed in the AL East last year, would've finished 3rd or 4th.

Actually, I think that the best, highest-spending teams in the AL are probably the main reason for the discrepancy between leagues, although I am now really engaging in pure speculation (or hypothesis, if someone has an idea how to prove/disprove the notion).
   116. Tripon Posted: June 18, 2009 at 06:28 PM (#3223696)

I agree that as recent as 2006 that the AL was pretty much obviously more dominant, I think there has been some slight corrections as the older DH only quality players are being weeded out. Again I still think the AL is on average better, I just don't think it is as big as it was in 2006 or earlier.


Right, I think that's where we're all getting at. We know that the AL has been better for a while, we just don't know how much better they really are this year. For Neyer to point at Interleauge record for this year, while a significant portion of Interleauge games still have to be played just seems silly.

On a different note, I wonder if playing these games when they do play them, in late of May, and June makes a difference instead of at the beginning of the season, or at the end of the season.
   117. purebull Posted: June 18, 2009 at 06:29 PM (#3223697)
i love the NL fan comments that AL teams could choose to play their DH's defensively in NL parks
if they chose to do so.

Sure they *could*...they could displace a defensive starter...or maybe displace a couple of
defensive starters, in order to get that extra bat into the lineup. They could misuse the talent
on their roster, handicapping themselves for you. They could.

But see...they don't have to.

So they don't. They play without that extra bat. And they still win more often than they lose.

Is that because their mighty DH's coming off the bench as ubersuperdoublesecret PH's win so many
games for them? mmmm. I'm betting no, on that. I bet we could check and see...

I'm thinking it's because the AL has a better depth and breadth of talent at this point in time, and
has had for the past large handful of years. There's nothing wrong with that. It's the natural
order of things for one league to have better talent than the other. Leaguewide talent distribution
waxes and wanes.

When I was a kid...it was pretty obvious that the NL was the superior league, talent wise. That lasted
for a large handful of years. And then it swung the other way.

It will eventually swing back.
   118. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: June 18, 2009 at 06:34 PM (#3223704)
I thought this was going to be about Mark Buehrle's homer.
   119. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 06:59 PM (#3223728)
Maybe a different tangent, but one way to think of it, is how would a good team in the NL or AL that is transfered to the other league handle the change. (the Thome comments made me think of it, in the AL a team is allowed to keep an injured player on the roster who can bat, the NL team has to make a tough choice--see Cubs and Milton Bradley)

I know if my team is put in the AL it wouldn't change much except to improve them defensively. (Duncan switches to DH, outfield is now consistently Ludwick, Rasmus, Ankiel, with Schumaker as the fourth outfielder instead of the fifth) but my team is probably one of only two NL good teams that doesn't have to do anything to go to the Al.(team improves defensively and offensively)

If the White Sox came to the NL, they would have to put Thome on the DL, and when he comes back move Konerko to left field, when Quentin comes back a decision would have to be made about Konerko. The team is going to take a hit both offensively and defensively. (grabbing the Sox just because they were brought up earlier) eventually the team would either keep Konerko on the bench, giving them one of the best pinch hitters in the league, or trade him for something else.

the point of me trying to bring the scenario option in here is to clarify part of the reason I feel that interleague record isn't the best barometer of level of competition. The teams are designed for their individual leagues, and having a dh on the bench is a better pinch hitter than any NL team is going to spend money on or a player would be willing to sign on for. But it is not an option available to a team that doesn't have a DH. (yes I know the counter argument is 'doesn't that prove they are better' and of course the response is definately not, there is a difference of a team accepting a crappy defensive player for one series --moving the dh to first or left, and going a full season with the crappy defender. or having an elite bat on the bench.)
   120. konaforever Posted: June 18, 2009 at 07:09 PM (#3223742)
ok again there is dilution by just random odds, if you have 10 teams in one league and you have 20 teams in the other league there is a much better chance by pure randomness that the larger league will have both better and worse teams than the smaller league if they are choosing from the same pool. Of course it's not truly random as the Yankees spend enough to pretty much guarantee they will be among the best teams, along with the Red Sox and the Mets.

dilution may not be the right word, but there is no denying that the crappier teams are in the NL, and I've never claimed any different, and nobody else has claimed much different. and because of the crappiness of the worse NL teams, the league on average is lesser than on average than the AL, but that doesn't mean that it's a linear effect saying that the worse team in the AL must be better than the 4ths worse team in the NL therefore the 4th best AL team is better than the best NL team.



I think this argument based on the number of teams in the NL is distracting and irrelevant. The average talent no matter how many teams there are in the NL should be the same even if you had 1000 teams.

If we accept the argument that there are more "bad" teams in the NL than the AL, that doesn't have anything to do with the number of teams in either league.
   121. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 07:11 PM (#3223749)
I think this argument based on the number of teams in the NL is distracting and irrelevant. The average talent no matter how many teams there are in the NL should be the same even if you had 1000 teams.

If we accept the argument that there are more "bad" teams in the NL than the AL, that doesn't have anything to do with the number of teams in either league.


I've already accepted it multiple times that the NL bad teams are worse than the AL bad teams, it's not distracting or anything, it's what it is. It is what is dragging the 'average' down to a large extent, point I was making is that there has to be a worse team, the league with more teams has the greater odds of having the worse team.
   122. konaforever Posted: June 18, 2009 at 07:15 PM (#3223752)
I've already accepted it multiple times that the NL bad teams are worse than the AL bad teams, it's not distracting or anything, it's what it is. It is what is dragging the 'average' down to a large extent, point I was making is that there has to be a worse team, the league with more teams has the greater odds of having the worse team.


Then it would have greater odds to have the best team to counteract it and bring the average back up. The number of teams is again irrelevant, since we're taking the average.

It doesn't matter if the odds are that the NL would have the best and worst team, since they all play in interleague games.

For your argument on the number of teams to be compelling, you'd have to prove than a league with 16 teams is at a disadvantage when playing a league with 14 teams based on that factor a lone, which you can't.
   123. paulkersey Posted: June 18, 2009 at 07:18 PM (#3223758)

Posting twaddle like this isn't going to convert anyone to the non-twaddle cause. And I'd be surprised if it even convinced anyone that the AL is better than the NL; the only people who would look at this piece and say "Hey, Rob's right!" are the people who already think the AL is better.

It's a bad piece. I stand by my derisive comments.


I guess I should be clear that his post did make me cringe a little and that it certainly does deserve some derision. I just think that we should be clear about where he's coming from and why he'd be inclined to write something like that. It's one thing to tell your seven-year-old that babies come from mommies and daddies who love one another very much and quite another to use the same explanation on an audience of OB/GYNs. I exaggerate, of course, but I really think you overestimate the rationality of the average ESPN reader. There are many, many, many people with whom I've dealt through the years who think that something isn't true unless they've seen it with their own eyes. There's a reason a frighteningly large minority of Americans think that global warming and evolution are made up.

I think Rob tries to bring up sabermetric insights from a number of different angles, hoping (correctly, I believe) that each will appeal to a certain subset of his (or ESPN's) readership. He may have whiffed on this one, but a) I appreciate the effort and b) I wouldn't be surprised if his reasoning got through to a skeptic or two. I could be wrong.
   124. Brad B Posted: June 18, 2009 at 07:23 PM (#3223763)
CFB: You're half right. With more teams, the spread in talent is likely to be "wider", meaning the teams at the extreme ends of badness and awesomeness are likely to be badder and awesomer than in a league with fewer teams. But that doesn't change the average at all, and using that as an argument that the bad NL teams are dragging down the league doesn't make sense, because by the same rationale the best teams should be even better.

All of that said, the difference of 14 AL teams vs. 16 NL teams is so small that it's not really a real issue anyway. konaforever is right about it being irrelevant.
   125. Ron Johnson Posted: June 18, 2009 at 07:27 PM (#3223767)
Are you arguing that pinch hitters perform (could or should) in an equivalent manner to DHs?


Why argue when the information is available?

The NL DHs have turned in a 98 OPS+ since the start of inter-league play. In the same time AL DHs have turned in a 108 OPS+.

The NL DHs have been a little better than I'd expected.
   126. Kirby Kyle Posted: June 18, 2009 at 07:32 PM (#3223779)
I had checked the numbers last night, then threw away the paper I wrote them down on. Damn. But here, from memory, is how the four NL teams with the best records (not necessarily the four playoff teams) in each season have done against the AL (cumulative records):

2008 10 games under .500
2007 1 game over
2006 14 games under

Apologies if I'm off by a game or two, but that's pretty much how it broke down. So, on average, the four best NL teams have collectively been about 8 games under .500 each season in interleague play.
   127. Ron Johnson Posted: June 18, 2009 at 07:42 PM (#3223801)
The only dilution would be from the pool of MLB players, and that affects both leagues.


Right. A better argument is the one Bill James used to explain the dominance of the AL East over the AL west at one point in the 80s. Essentially the teams in the NL can shoot for a lower win target and have a real chance at the playoffs than in the AL. (It's the Frank's Famous Light Bulbs article)
   128. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 07:47 PM (#3223808)
Why argue when the information is available?

The NL DHs have turned in a 98 OPS+ since the start of inter-league play. In the same time AL DHs have turned in a 108 OPS+.

The NL DHs have been a little better than I'd expected.


but as pointed out, that isn't completly accurate either, because for the NL, they may DH chipper to play a defensive player at third, so the real comparison isn't AL DH vs NL DH, it's AL DH vs added NL bat.

All of that said, the difference of 14 AL teams vs. 16 NL teams is so small that it's not really a real issue anyway. konaforever is right about it being irrelevant.

and I mostly agree, I would say it's miniscule not irrelevent, which has been my point more or less all the time, that there are a bunch of small factors that aren't being accounted for when people just list raw winning percentage for interleague play, the raw numbers make it sound like their is a massive quality difference, but when you try to account for all the variables that lead to those numbers the difference may not be as big of a difference.

If someone told me that the average AL team was 3 games better than the average NL team, I would probably believe that.
If someone told me the worse AL team was 10 games better than the worse NL team I would believe that also.
If someone told me the best AL team was 10 games better than the best NL team, I would laugh my ass off. if they then amended it to 3, I would at least listen while being skeptical.

I have no problem accepting a few things, 1. on average the AL is superior. 2. the AL has more good teams. 3. the worse NL teams are noticeably worse than the worse AL teams.

I have a real problem accepting 1. advantages of interleague play are wiped out by each team having homefield advantage. 2. the best AL teams are better than the best NL teams. 3. interleague play is great evidence of the gap in quality between the leagues. 4. there is no AL advantage in interleague play.
   129. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 18, 2009 at 07:51 PM (#3223818)
If someone told me the best AL team was 10 games better than the best NL team, I would laugh my ass off. if they then amended it to 3, I would at least listen while being skeptical.

Can you really argue that there is an NL team that has close to the talent of NYY, Bos and TB?

10 is an overstatement, but 5-6 games is plausible.
   130. Craig in MN Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:00 PM (#3223843)

The NL DHs have turned in a 98 OPS+ since the start of inter-league play. In the same time AL DHs have turned in a 108 OPS+.


But they've been hitting against different pitchers, so that's not quite a perfect comparison. The NL DHs have all hit against AL pitching. AL DHs have hit against NL pitching for a few games, but against AL pitching the rest of the time.

FWIW, all PAs as a DH, by league this year (HBPs excluded because I'm lazy):

NL DHs: 0.245/0.313/0.406
AL DHs: 0.249/0.334/0.435

That seems closer to a fairer comparison, since almost all ABs come against AL pitching, but it throw others confounding issues into the mix too. That seems closer than I'd expected, though. What is that...one extra walk per AL team for all of their home interleague games...and one single turns into a double? That's just eyeballing, but it seems close. But that still doesn't take into effect NL teams DHing regulars and starting reserves in the field.
   131. SandyRiver Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:02 PM (#3223849)
I've already accepted it multiple times that the NL bad teams are worse than the AL bad teams, it's not distracting or anything, it's what it is. It is what is dragging the 'average' down to a large extent, point I was making is that there has to be a worse team, the league with more teams has the greater odds of having the worse team.

I respectfully (I hope) disagree with the boldface part.
You're absolutely correct that, in a random distribution, the extremes will be farther from the mean as sample size increases. However, the mean itself wouldn't change (other than minor squiggles, same as "heads" percent moves when flipping coins.) This means that while the larger league is apt to have both worst and best, their average should be the same as that of the smaller league, all else being equal (which, of course, it's not.)
   132. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:12 PM (#3223869)

Can you really argue that there is an NL team that has close to the talent of NYY, Bos and TB?


Tampa Bay? Really? Tampa Bay has the seventh-best record in the AL. I know they're leading the majors in runs scored, but I have my doubts that Jason Bartlett and Ben Zobrist will be able to OPS over 1.000 all season long.
   133. AROM Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:19 PM (#3223884)
Anecdotes don't cut it.

The comprehensive analysis of the aggregate performance of all players changing leagues provides rather compelling evidence that the AL has been the stronger league over most of the 2000s.


Very true. The differences are subtle. A player who hits .300 with 30 HR in the NL should be expected to hit .290 with 28 in the AL (or something in that range). This difference can easily be obscured by changes in park, and more importantly, player year-to-year variation. Odds are for a single player you'll never notice the difference. But over a full lineup and pitching staff, it makes the NL a .475 league, and the AL a .525 league. And when a .475 plays a .525 - the result is the stronger league plays around .550 (not exactly but I'm too lazy to break out the odds ratio.)
   134. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:22 PM (#3223889)
Can you really argue that there is an NL team that has close to the talent of NYY, Bos and TB?

yes. Whether they are currently playing to that talent is different, and not really sure that TB is what I would call an elite team when last season was more about many of their players having a breakout season all at once.


I do not think talent wise any team compares offensively to the Yankees, I don't even think there is a team close to second. But outside of the Yankees, I don't think the Red Sox or Tampa are clearly superior to the best talent NL teams.
   135. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:25 PM (#3223893)
Tampa Bay? Really? Tampa Bay has the seventh-best record in the AL. I know they're leading the majors in runs scored, but I have my doubts that Jason Bartlett and Ben Zobrist will be able to OPS over 1.000 all season long.

I said talent. TB has had problems, mostly in the pen, but they've got an excellent run differential, oodles of talent, and have the resources (prospects) to fix the pen, either through trade, or bringing up the young arms.

I'm pretty sure they will be right their with NYY and Bos all year, which doesn't make me happy b/c I'm a Yankee fan.
   136. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:28 PM (#3223902)
respectfully (I hope) disagree with the boldface part.
You're absolutely correct that, in a random distribution, the extremes will be farther from the mean as sample size increases. However, the mean itself wouldn't change (other than minor squiggles, same as "heads" percent moves when flipping coins.) This means that while the larger league is apt to have both worst and best, their average should be the same as that of the smaller league, all else being equal (which, of course, it's not.)


my point is that the worse teams are random, the best teams aren't random. The best Al team talent wise is the team that probably spent the most money, after that the Mets, Red Sox and others are pretty close to equal. No team is trying to lose or be bad, they are making decisions to save money and hope to make the right choices when they do, technically the dumber teams are going to be the worse teams, but it's safe to say (in my opinion) that almost all the low payroll teams are making mistakes and doing things right that it's just pure randomness that one of them screws it up the most.

I probably should stay away from this random comment, it's just that to me it's fairly obvious that there is a greater chance that the worse team will come from the larger league. There are dozens of other reasons playing into though so I probably should just dump the random comment.
   137. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:31 PM (#3223906)
I do not think talent wise any team compares offensively to the Yankees, I don't even think there is a team close to second. But outside of the Yankees, I don't think the Red Sox or Tampa are clearly superior to the best talent NL teams.

I'll admit I don't follow the NL much, but it seems like a lot of the NL contenders struggle to field 3 decent SPs.

NY, TB, and Bos, when everyone is healthy, go at least 6 deep in SP.
   138. Famous Original Joe C Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:34 PM (#3223912)
But outside of the Yankees, I don't think the Red Sox or Tampa are clearly superior to the best talent NL teams.

Offensively, or as a whole? Do you really think the Yankees are also clearly superior to the Red Sox? Because we don't have a single piece of evidence that says so.

I suppose this also depends on what you mean by "clearly" superior. Do I think the Red Sox and Yankees are the best two teams in the league (on paper)? Yes, and to me, it's clear, but it's not like I think they are head and shoulders above, either.

You'll also note that four of the best five teams by run differential are in the AL (in the East, to boot).
   139. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:34 PM (#3223913)
I said talent. TB has had problems, mostly in the pen, but they've got an excellent run differential, oodles of talent, and have the resources (prospects) to fix the pen, either through trade, or bringing up the young arms.

I'm pretty sure they will be right their with NYY and Bos all year, which doesn't make me happy b/c I'm a Yankee fan.


I like the TB talent, but I don't think it's on par with the Yankees in ability, young players(which I usually classify as under 25) are usually up and down in realizing their talent and it should be figured into anything which is talking about talent. I agree there is no way Kazmir is this bad of a pitcher. But nobody thinks Zobrist is as good as he has been, same with Greg Gross and Bartlett. Upton and Burrell should rebound of course to equal out some of that. They are a good team and will probably challenge just because New York just can't seem to get it together consistently, but they aren't as talented.
   140. Famous Original Joe C Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:35 PM (#3223915)
NY, TB, and Bos, when everyone is healthy, go at least 6 deep in SP.

Heck, the Red Sox go 8 deep right now. These three teams together probably have as many good starting pitchers as the top six NL contenders.
   141. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:39 PM (#3223923)
They are a good team and will probably challenge just because New York just can't seem to get it together consistently, but they aren't as talented.

I agree. But I think it's pretty close, largely b/c with the age factor, the Yankees are unlikely to have all their talent on the field and at peak performance very often. Also the Rays have more upside b/c of their youth.

If I had to guess, I'd say the Yankees are a 96 win true talent team, the Red Sox 94, and the Rays 92. So close that it's basically wide open given injuries, luck, etc.
   142. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:42 PM (#3223932)
The Red Sox are pretty clearly better than the Yankees at this point, it seems to me. Better rotation, better bullpen, better defense, and an offense that is nearly equal. And I can't think of an NL team that comes particularly close to either of them at this point. Maybe -- maybe -- the Dodgers.
   143. Kirby Kyle Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:43 PM (#3223939)
I have a real problem accepting 1. advantages of interleague play are wiped out by each team having homefield advantage. 2. the best AL teams are better than the best NL teams. 3. interleague play is great evidence of the gap in quality between the leagues. 4. there is no AL advantage in interleague play.

I posted in #128 the records of the best NL teams against AL competition each year. In general, they're well under .500. We'd expect average teams to play average teams at a .500 clip and very good teams to have a winning record against average teams. If the best teams in the NL have a losing record against AL teams of varying quality (and I haven't checked to see if the quality averages out for those teams), how many caveats have to be invoked to suggest that they're as good as the best AL teams?
   144. McCoy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:48 PM (#3223949)
Each series is a 3 games series correct? So the possible outcome of each series is .000, .333, .666, and 1.000.

If the three best AL teams play the 3 best NL teams and the AL wins each series but doesn't sweep then their winning % is .666 yet the difference between those teams isn't necessarily .666 to .333. If two AL teams win their series and one NL team wins their series then the AL has a .556 winning % even though only 1 game seperate the two leagues.
   145. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:49 PM (#3223952)
I'll admit I don't follow the NL much, but it seems like a lot of the NL contenders struggle to field 3 decent SPs.

NY, TB, and Bos, when everyone is healthy, go at least 6 deep in SP


really? Um ok, Cardinals have Carpenter, Wainwright, Lohse, Pineiro, and Wellemeyer (and to bag on Wellemeyer is silly, he has a career era of 4.11 as a major league starter, and that is what he has been doing for the past three seasons)

Cubs have Zambrano, Lilly, Dempster, Harden and either Wells or Marshall, both young pitchers who are pitching on par with the Red sox third starter.

Mets are screwed up though. Philly is having problems, but talent wise, Hamels, Myers, Happ, Blanton and Moyer (ok you can make fun of Moyer) stack up to the AL teams.

Dodgers have a patchwork quality rotation although I only know half of them Billingsley, Wolf, Kershaw, with Milton, Weaver, and Kuroda all providing good pitching (I know that this may help your point, but they have gotten good performances out of their fifth guy without having to resort to giving Wang 6 starts (in fact if they can throw 6 guys out there, why not throw six good guys out there instead of getting 6 starts by Wang-- I know low blow, I know what you mean, but if we were only judging by results someone would wonder where these 6 guys that was claimed are coming from any of these teams)
   146. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:50 PM (#3223953)
The Red Sox are pretty clearly better than the Yankees at this point, it seems to me. Better rotation, better bullpen, better defense, and an offense that is nearly equal.

They've certainly played better, but I don't think the talent is better.
   147. McCoy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:52 PM (#3223957)
Couldn't we use the WS as proof as well?

Last 3 years the NL has won 8 games to the AL's 6.

Since 2001 I believe the WS record is 23-23 and frankly that is all I care about. The AL may be a superior league but the NL has won 4 titles and the AL have won 4 titles in this decade. Hell, an 83 win Cardinals team only needed 5 games to win their title.
   148. konaforever Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:56 PM (#3223967)
Each series is a 3 games series correct? So the possible outcome of each series is .000, .333, .666, and 1.000.

If the three best AL teams play the 3 best NL teams and the AL wins each series but doesn't sweep then their winning % is .666 yet the difference between those teams isn't necessarily .666 to .333. If two AL teams win their series and one NL team wins their series then the AL has a .556 winning % even though only 1 game seperate the two leagues.


What are you trying to prove with this?
   149. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 08:58 PM (#3223968)
I posted in #128 the records of the best NL teams against AL competition each year. In general, they're well under .500. We'd expect average teams to play average teams at a .500 clip and very good teams to have a winning record against average teams. If the best teams in the NL have a losing record against AL teams of varying quality (and I haven't checked to see if the quality averages out for those teams), how many caveats have to be invoked to suggest that they're as good as the best AL teams?

as mentioned interleague play doesn't convince me, and then to go to an even smaller sample size is even less convincing. Heck the Cardinals are a better team than the Royals and have struggled against them, the Yankees are better than the Nationals and have issues there. Or even going within division where the evidence is known, the Cardinals are better team than the Giants but have a .333 record against them the past three seasons.
   150. Steve Treder Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:03 PM (#3223977)
What are you trying to prove with this?

That in a three-game series, one game represents 33% of the total?

My best guess.
   151. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:04 PM (#3223978)
Couldn't we use the WS as proof as well?

Last 3 years the NL has won 8 games to the AL's 6.

Since 2001 I believe the WS record is 23-23 and frankly that is all I care about. The AL may be a superior league but the NL has won 4 titles and the AL have won 4 titles in this decade. Hell, an 83 win Cardinals team only needed 5 games to win their title.


the 83 win Cardinal team is one of the reasons I want people to try and understand what is going on. (I did a pyth record for the expected lineups for the playoffs using the the top four starting pitchers, the top 4 relievers, and rc/27 for the expected batters and had the Cardinals post season lineup at 110 wins, had the Mets at 112, the Tigers as a 108 team, the Padres as around 93--don't really remember where I had them, the Cardinals had a ten game advantage though, which is why I think it's silly to look at regular season and judge a team on quality and predictions in the post season by their record)

and of course a shootoff of that was me to start paying more attention to context, and I really do think the AL has a significant advantage when it comes to interleague play. I used to think that the advantage is equaled out based upon the home/home series but I've since changed my mind and think it's pretty obvious to be honest.
   152. McCoy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:05 PM (#3223979)
What are you trying to prove with this?

That small sample sizes based on even smaller sample sizes are prone to errors.

Would the worst team in the league (KC) really be one of the best teams in the NL? Interleague data says yes, reality says no. So how did one of the worst teams in the AL post such a great interleague record and how come we have to take it with a grain of salt?
   153. Steve Treder Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:10 PM (#3223988)
That small sample sizes based on even smaller sample sizes are prone to errors.

Would the worst team in the league (KC) really be one of the best teams in the NL? Interleague data says yes, reality says no. So how did one of the worst teams in the AL post such a great interleague record and how come we have to take it with a grain of salt?


Well, one always strives to use the largest sample possible.

If someone is making claims about league superiority based on an individual series outcome, or a few series outcomes, or the record of one of the 30 teams, then they should rightly be considered nuts.

But if someone is making claims about league superiority based on the totality of interleague play outcomes over a series of years, then it should be taken seriously. Especially when the result of that totality of games is consistent with the analysis of players shifting leagues within that period.
   154. Kirby Kyle Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:19 PM (#3224000)
Couldn't we use the WS as proof as well?

Not if you want your argument to be taken seriously. I'm not dismissing the importance of the WS for bragging rights, but to give 14 games over the past three seasons a weight comparable to that of several hundred games in a moderately balanced distribution is not going to convince any skeptics.
   155. Gaelan Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:19 PM (#3224001)
really? Um ok, Cardinals have Carpenter, Wainwright, Lohse, Pineiro, and Wellemeyer (and to bag on Wellemeyer is silly, he has a career era of 4.11 as a major league starter, and that is what he has been doing for the past three seasons)


This is supposed to be an argument in your favour? That's one often injured pitcher, one good pitcher, two awful pitchers and then Wellemeyer. The Cardinals would have a 0% chance to make the playoffs in the AL. They have one position player who could start on a decent team in the AL and the rotation above filled with castoffs.* This is a team that aspires to be mediocre.

* Ok, I went and checked the roster. Molina could start as well. The rest is total dreck. Last place in the AL east and well out of the playoffs in the central or West.
   156. McCoy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:21 PM (#3224002)
Yes, but what was being discussed, or what I was responding too, was Kirby's notion that the best teams should play the best teams as expected, and the average teams should play the average teams as expected if their records are accurate.

What I am saying is that based on a small set of short series it is virtually impossible that the final record of say the average teams vs average teams to be .500 and that since a small handful of games going one way or the other will show up in the winning % as dramatic shifts.

If there are 6 3 games series pitting average teams vs average teams and we expect it to go 9-9 but one side eeks out 3 more wins then the winning % is .667. But that doesn't mean the average AL team is actually 27 games better than the average NL team over a 162 game schedule. IT doesn't necessarily mean they are better overall.
   157. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:22 PM (#3224004)
If someone is making claims about league superiority based on an individual series outcome, or a few series outcomes, or the record of one of the 30 teams, then they should rightly be considered nuts.

and on here someone was making claims based upon 4 teams from the NL.

But if someone is making claims about league superiority based on the totality of interleague play outcomes over a series of years, then it should be taken seriously. Especially when the result of that totality of games is consistent with the analysis of players shifting leagues within that period.

and I do take them serious when they do it, but at the same time I'm trying to argue that there is a lot of noise in there that needs to be accounted for and most of the time it's ignored for simplicity. As I said I'm perfectly fine admitting that the AL on average is better, I just think that there are much better arguments than using raw interleague data without massaging for what I feel is a clear AL advantage for head to head play. (among other factors)

and of course the argument that the shifting players that worked for a 2008 season or 2007 season, should automatically be applied to in current season numbers to come to an assumption that hasn't been proven yet or even really brought into evidence needs to be taken less seriously. Again people use last years interleague game when the worse teams in the NL got the extra series. (not enough to shift the entire answer, but enough to make a blip.)
   158. McCoy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:22 PM (#3224005)
This is supposed to be an argument in your favour?

Well, the initial question did contain the caveat of "when everyone is healthy". I don't see how it is wrong to include and often injured pitcher when that caveat is considered.
   159. McCoy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:23 PM (#3224008)
Not if you want your argument to be taken seriously

edit: Cardfansboy beat me to it.
   160. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:24 PM (#3224009)
but I have my doubts that Jason Bartlett and Ben Zobrist will be able to OPS over 1.000 all season long.


That's because they don't get to play against NL teams all season long...*ducks*
   161. Steve Treder Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:29 PM (#3224013)
and I do take them serious when they do it, but at the same time I'm trying to argue that there is a lot of noise in there that needs to be accounted for and most of the time it's ignored for simplicity. As I said I'm perfectly fine admitting that the AL on average is better, I just think that there are much better arguments than using raw interleague data without massaging for what I feel is a clear AL advantage for head to head play. (among other factors)

and of course the argument that the shifting players that worked for a 2008 season or 2007 season, should automatically be applied to in current season numbers to come to an assumption that hasn't been proven yet or even really brought into evidence needs to be taken less seriously. Again people use last years interleague game when the worse teams in the NL got the extra series. (not enough to shift the entire answer, but enough to make a blip.)


Well, okay, but all of this is arguing around the fringy edges, accounting for marginal differentials, when the overall evidence for AL superiority is large and stark. You might be right, but, well, so what?
   162. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:31 PM (#3224015)
This is supposed to be an argument in your favour? That's one often injured pitcher, one good pitcher, two awful pitchers and then Wellemeyer. The Cardinals would have a 0% chance to make the playoffs in the AL. They have one position player who could start on a decent team in the AL and the rotation above filled with castoffs.* This is a team that aspires to be mediocre.

* Ok, I went and checked the roster. Molina could start as well. The rest is total dreck. Last place in the AL east and well out of the playoffs in the central or West.


The Red sox have Dice K on their team, he wouldn't crack the Cardinals rotation the way he is pitching, neither would Wang or Kazmir. But you are saying that the Cardinals have total dreck and basing this upon looking at a roster, if I did that with the Red Sox I would laugh at their pitching, same with the Yankees and the Rays, but of course I'm not trying to be dishonest here. Ludwick, Duncan, Ankiel, Rasmus, Schumaker, Pujols, Molina all could be regulars in the Al, the pitching you are deriding has pitched very well, and of course you are bagging on health when we are talking talent.

Carpenter would be the Ace on both the Red Sox and the Rays roster and second behind Sabathia on the Yankees, Wainwright would probably challenge the Rays to be their ace and would probably be the ace of the Red Sox(this is the cardinals number two pitcher) Lohse, Pineiro and Wellemeyer would all be number threes and fours on any of those teams.

people need to actually look at stuff before randomally throwing snark out there without realizing what they are talking about.

this guy thinks "only current numbers for the Cardinals matter, but for the AL teams I'm alowed to project"
   163. Kirby Kyle Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:33 PM (#3224018)
and on here someone was making claims based upon 4 teams from the NL.

My claim was that the AL in general has been better than the NL, which is amply supported by the interleague record over several seasons. Your claim was that there are various reasons for the discrepancy, but the best teams in the NL are equal to the best teams in the AL. You gave no clear evidence for the claim. I posted numbers that contradict your contention, albeit in a small sample size. I'm sure the comparison can be done more rigorously, and I invite you to present a larger and more balanced sample that shows the equivalence you claim.
   164. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:38 PM (#3224021)
Well, okay, but all of this is arguing around the fringy edges, accounting for marginal differentials, when the overall evidence for AL superiority is large and stark. You might be right, but, well, so what?

because I don't think I'm arguing the edges, I think I'm arguing for respect more than anything. I do not think that the best teams in the AL are better than the best teams in the NL, I think the interleague argument greatly colors peoples perception of the difference in quality and if people are going to bring it into the equation then they should attempt to present it in a more accurate light.

People see the massive winning percentage difference and start with the assumption that that is the true difference, and I don't for a second think that is the case, especially on the upper level, I admit that the Yankees are the most talented team in baseball, (and contrary to Red Sox fans, it is pretty clear their offense is significantly more talented)

and maybe I'm arguing for mean instead of average or whatever, but I just feel that there is a belief that the AL is massively superior(people in the past were arguing 10 games difference with the primary piece of evidence being interleague play---heck from a stat point of view, we've changed our view on how important defense is, the break even point on stolen bases, and I think that interleague play needs to be cleared up before it's used as the most damning piece of evidence---I don't have a problem with the players jumping from league to league studies--at least not as much)
   165. Steve Treder Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:46 PM (#3224031)
because I don't think I'm arguing the edges

I think you are. This is suggested by your repeated acknowledgment that the AL overall is indeed superior; if acknowledging that and then saying, "but, but" isn't arguing around the edges, I don't know what is.

I think I'm arguing for respect more than anything.

On this point we agree, as your argument comes across as more emotional than rational. And having the handle of "cardsfanboy" doesn't help in that regard. :-)

Look, I'm as staunch an NL fan as there is. I don't like it one bit that the league I follow and root for is currently presenting an inferior standard of play. But the facts are what they are, and in this case they're compelling.
   166. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:47 PM (#3224034)
My claim was that the AL in general has been better than the NL, which is amply supported by the interleague record over several seasons. Your claim was that there are various reasons for the discrepancy, but the best teams in the NL are equal to the best teams in the AL. You gave no clear evidence for the claim. I posted numbers that contradict your contention, albeit in a small sample size. I'm sure the comparison can be done more rigorously, and I invite you to present a larger and more balanced sample that shows the equivalence you claim.

well until my fears about what I consider to be obvious advantages to interleague play are allayed, I don't think there is a good way to compare the quality of teams.

I can't even think of a way to try and show quality because of the DH. I mean the world series is the only time the teams are allowed to customize their lineup for a short series, and there just isn't large enough evidence there to prove anything. I'm not saying it's unproveable but that everything I can even remotely come up with is just a lot more work than I'm willing and is still full of noise.
   167. Kirby Kyle Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:55 PM (#3224040)
I can't even think of a way to try and show quality because of the DH. I mean the world series is the only time the teams are allowed to customize their lineup for a short series, and there just isn't large enough evidence there to prove anything. I'm not saying it's unproveable but that everything I can even remotely come up with is just a lot more work than I'm willing and is still full of noise.

Noise is random. You're arguing for bias, and proposing the DH as a source of bias that is potentially overwhelming, but we really can't be sure, and it's awfully difficult to study, isn't it? I don't blame you. If I had the task to show equivalence between the leagues, I'd want to discard interleague play as well, whether in small samples or large ones.
   168. McCoy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 09:57 PM (#3224044)
Is anybody arguing that the AL isn't the better league? I think the question is by how much and if that is the question then what cardsfanboy is asking isn't out there on the fringes or an attempt to obfuscate the question. The guy has already said the AL is superior folks.
   169. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 10:02 PM (#3224048)
Noise is random. You're arguing for bias, and proposing the DH as a source of bias that is potentially overwhelming, but we really can't be sure, and it's awfully difficult to study, isn't it? I don't blame you. If I had the task to show equivalence between the leagues, I'd want to discard interleague play as well, whether in small samples or large ones.

I have no purpose to show equivalency, I've pretty much acknowledged that the AL is somewhat better on average. My point is that there is no real difference between the top teams from both leagues.(outside of the Yankees maybe)

I'm pretty sure that it is somewhat possible to show the difference that a DH brings, but I don't know of a way to show that the best teams are equal. (I can think of a couple of ways to start but not sure how to finish and it's not really an automated task)
   170. dave h Posted: June 18, 2009 at 10:02 PM (#3224050)
This discussion has gotten a bit silly, but it's worth repeating the home/road splits posted by Eric J above:

2008: NL 56-70 home, 47-79 away
2007: NL 61-65 home, 54-72 away
2006: NL 58-68 home, 40-86 away

In 378 games, the NL is 28 games under .500 at home. The overall home field advantage in interleague is a bit more than in intraleague. That's the maximum margin of the AL's rules advantage, and it's likely smaller because it also includes the NL rules advantage in their parks.
   171. Brad B Posted: June 18, 2009 at 10:03 PM (#3224051)
If the NL is weaker as a whole than the AL, but the top teams are just as good, then the top NL teams should have better records than the top AL teams by virtue of playing against weaker competition (I'm reiterating a previous point). For the last 3 years at least (all that I was ambitious enough to look at) that is decidedly not the case.
2006 standings
2007 standings
2008 standings

The NL is weaker, period, from top to bottom. All the evidence that we have points towards that, and no evidence points towards NL superiority, at least not that has been presented here (or that I've seen elsewhere). I don't think the gap is really so great that the Royals would have been contenders every year in the NL, but I do think that it's fair to say that the best NL team would've finished 3rd or 4th in the AL East every year for the last several years.
   172. Steve Treder Posted: June 18, 2009 at 10:09 PM (#3224056)
The NL is weaker, period, from top to bottom. All the evidence that we have points towards that, and no evidence points towards NL superiority, at least not that has been presented here (or that I've seen elsewhere).

Absolutely.

I don't think the gap is really so great that the Royals would have been contenders every year in the NL, but I do think that it's fair to say that the best NL team would've finished 3rd or 4th in the AL East every year for the last several years.

The latter point is debatable, but if that's a debatable point, then the fact of a difference in the quality of each league's best teams isn't debatable.
   173. Kirby Kyle Posted: June 18, 2009 at 10:14 PM (#3224060)
My point is that there is no real difference between the top teams from both leagues.

Right. You've presented no evidence for that point that I've seen, only refuted evidence that shows the contrary. Again, if you want to convince anyone of the comparable quality of the best teams in both leagues without doing any work to support it, you'll have a hard time.
   174. McCoy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 10:17 PM (#3224062)
but I do think that it's fair to say that the best NL team would've finished 3rd or 4th in the AL East every year for the last several years.

Considering that the AL East routinely has two teams winning oodles of games that isn't really a riveting point. Two teams in the AL East does not make the AL though and secondly those two teams (Bos and NY) have resources so far out of whack with the rest of the league that it makes the statement even more pointless.

If Boston and NYY move to the NL and Pittsburgh and Washington move over to the AL how much superior is the AL? If we just remove Bos and NYY are much superior is the AL? In otherwords how much the AL's superiority is based on the talent that is on these two teams?
   175. villageidiom Posted: June 18, 2009 at 10:23 PM (#3224069)
117 117 116 108 105

125 114 _97 _96 _95

These are the MLB career ERA+s of the current starting rotation for Boston and St. Louis. Care to guess which line is which?

The contention was that "a lot of the NL contenders struggle to field 3 decent SPs". The St. Louis rotation you named bears this out, unless you make the contention that how they are pitching now represents who these pitchers really are. And, frankly, I don't know how, other than convenience, you could interpret the original contention in such a way as to think that refutes it.
   176. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 18, 2009 at 10:23 PM (#3224070)
Considering that the AL East routinely has two teams winning oodles of games that isn't really a riveting point. Two teams in the AL East does not make the AL though and secondly those two teams (Bos and NY) have resources so far out of whack with the rest of the league that it makes the statement even more pointless.


True for the latter team, less so for the former. The Red Sox are closer to the the Mets/Dodgers/Cubs class than they are to the Yankees. They still have a huge advantage over most of baseball, but they're not some behemoth compared to the NL's biggest boys.

If Boston and NYY move to the NL and Pittsburgh and Washington move over to the AL how much superior is the AL? If we just remove Bos and NYY are much superior is the AL? In otherwords how much the AL's superiority is based on the talent that is on these two teams?



Sure, trading two of the best teams in a league for two of the worst teams in the other will have a significant impact. But it's likely that teams'
efforts to keep up with the Yankees/Red Sox is as vital to driving the difference between the leagues as the actual talents of those two teams.

I think a more interesting what-if is what would have happened if the Jays had spent the last decade in the National League.
   177. villageidiom Posted: June 18, 2009 at 10:26 PM (#3224073)
I don't think the gap is really so great that the Royals would have been contenders every year in the NL


WHO IS SAYING THIS? Why is everyone - OK, cardsfanboy and you - arguing against a point nobody here is making? Are you really that insecure?
   178. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 10:31 PM (#3224078)
If the NL is weaker as a whole than the AL, but the top teams are just as good, then the top NL teams should have better records than the top AL teams by virtue of playing against weaker competition (I'm reiterating a previous point). For the last 3 years at least (all that I was ambitious enough to look at) that is decidedly not the case.
2006 standings
2007 standings
2008 standings

The NL is weaker, period, from top to bottom. All the evidence that we have points towards that, and no evidence points towards NL superiority, at least not that has been presented here (or that I've seen elsewhere). I don't think the gap is really so great that the Royals would have been contenders every year in the NL, but I do think that it's fair to say that the best NL team would've finished 3rd or 4th in the AL East every year for the last several years.


I saw this the first time, ignored it then, but ok, I'll play along.

Why? with unbalanced schedule, interleague play, homefield advantage etc. I just don't get the argument.
I understand the basic logic, and if teams played equal schedules then I can understand the argument. Also you are then breaking it down to smaller series. The Giants are 11-9(10-5 prior to this year) against the Cardinals the past three seasons. have winning records against the blue jays, rangers, yankees, and Indians in that time. When you start parsing things down into smaller series there is luck of the draw (getting Lincecum instead of bad Zito) randomness etc.

baseball is not like other sports where the better team wins 70% of the time. (or whatever outrageous number). Heck small samples again, but since 2006 the Nationals have played the Orioles the most of any interleague team and have a 11-10 record against them.
   179. McCoy Posted: June 18, 2009 at 10:36 PM (#3224082)
WHO IS SAYING THIS?

Well, there was an entire thread devoted to the Royals a day or so ago. Two the Royals have a great interleague record. Interleague record is supposed to be reflective of the true talent of each league. The Royals record is part of the overall interleague record if the Royals' record isn't truly reflective of the difference between the Royals and their opposition then their results are altering the overall record.

Are you really that insecure?
How many times does somebody have to say the AL is better?


The Red Sox are closer to the the Mets/Dodgers/Cubs class than they are to the Yankees


But that says more about the Yankees than it does about the Red Sox.
   180. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: June 18, 2009 at 11:19 PM (#3224101)
The overall home field advantage in interleague is a bit more than in intraleague.

Actually, it's slightly smaller than home-field advantage has been in NL-only games over the last three years. Regardless, if I'm doing the numbers correctly, the error in a 378-game sample on roughly a 9% home-field advantage is about .025, so the sample isn't big enough to tell if there's a difference between normal HFA and interleague HFA.
   181. dave h Posted: June 18, 2009 at 11:58 PM (#3224198)
I thought overall HFA was .530/.470 but I stand corrected.
   182. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: June 19, 2009 at 12:07 AM (#3224213)
I thought overall HFA was .530/.470 but I stand corrected.

It might be - I was only looking at a 3-year sample. Again, the difference between .530/.470 and .545/.455 isn't significant over 378 games.
   183. Chris Dial Posted: June 19, 2009 at 01:04 AM (#3224314)
If the two leagues did in fact have two separate, but equal pools of players to choose from, then the greater number of teams in the NL would mean that the average NL team was worse because the talent was spread more thinly. But that's not the case, there are in fact 30 teams competing (or not, in the case of the draft) for players out of a single player pool
Of the bottom 50% of players in MLB, how many play in the NL and how many in the AL? The NL? Wow, that league must have some issues. How many of those players play for the Red Sox and Yankees (excluding Ortiz)? None? So talent isn't like ####### 2nd grade kickball and evenly distributed, and having more players in one league means more bad players in one league.

Stunning.
   184. Chris Dial Posted: June 19, 2009 at 01:14 AM (#3224323)
The comprehensive analysis of the aggregate performance of all players changing leagues provides rather compelling evidence that the AL has been the stronger league over most of the 2000s. The primary advantage appears to be in pitching.
There's no link here, indicating this is merely and anecdote, which, as you note, "don't cut it". Link please. Also, you should be chiding the previous post for his anecdotal evidence of Ibanez.

Brad provides the link to a three year old study that shows that the AL gained some enormous runs when Adrian Beltre switched from the NL and his 143 RC to the AL and his 73 RC. There's too much taint in that study. Beltre was never that good.
   185. Chris Dial Posted: June 19, 2009 at 01:15 AM (#3224325)
Over the past three-plus years, the Rockies have played .607 ball, a 98-win pace, against the American League, but .481 against the NL, for a 78-win pace. If only they'd switch leagues, they'd have couple more pennants.
Oh, the OUTRAGE!@
   186. Chris Dial Posted: June 19, 2009 at 01:34 AM (#3224343)
Can you really argue that there is an NL team that has close to the talent of NYY, Bos and TB?
Yes. The Mets are as good as those teams (with Reyes and Delgado). As GOOD. Their players are just as good. Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Church, Delgado, are as good as the Yankees (hell, better). Tex helps the Yankees here.

Rotation? Santana and Pelfrey are terrific. The Yankees said Fernando Nieve is awesome.

The last three years (07-09, assuming that's the years the Rays are "good"), the Mets haven't played the Rays, and are 10-8 (.555) against the Red Sox and Yankees.

And they would be 11-7 (.611) if not for one of the worst ####### plays in the history of baseball
   187. Chris Dial Posted: June 19, 2009 at 01:36 AM (#3224345)
If the NL is weaker as a whole than the AL, but the top teams are just as good, then the top NL teams should have better records than the top AL teams by virtue of playing against weaker competition (I'm reiterating a previous point).
This is nonsense.
   188. Nineto Lezcano needs to get his shit together (CW) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 01:53 AM (#3224367)
The top 50 NL hitters (as ranked by OPS, minimum 1000 PA) from 2005-2008 had a group OPS of .902, compared to a group OPS of .881 in Interleague games.

The top 50 AL hitters (as ranked by OPS, minimum 1000 PA) from 2005-2008 had a group OPS of .868, compared to a group OPS of .936 in Interleague games.
   189. Chris Dial Posted: June 19, 2009 at 02:13 AM (#3224395)
Over the past three-plus years, the Rockies have played .607 ball, a 98-win pace, against the American League, but .481 against the NL, for a 78-win pace. If only they'd switch leagues, they'd have couple more pennants.
   190. Tripon Posted: June 19, 2009 at 02:22 AM (#3224404)
I'd be in favor of moving the Rockies to the AL.
   191. Srul Itza Posted: June 19, 2009 at 02:53 AM (#3224423)
I think I'm arguing for respect more than anything

Ah, Midwestern Inferiority Complex Syndrome. Now I understand.

having more players in one league means more bad players in one league.


having more players in one league means more good players in one league

having more players in one league means more players in one league
   192. Chris Dial Posted: June 19, 2009 at 03:00 AM (#3224428)
Absolutely, and if talent were evenly distributed that particular argument would hold water; it isn't so it doesn't.
   193. konaforever Posted: June 19, 2009 at 03:06 AM (#3224436)
Absolutely, and if talent were evenly distributed that particular argument would hold water; it isn't so it doesn't.


What exactly are you arguing? Each team in each league is free to chose from the same pool. Having more teams in one league doesn't affect this.

The fact that talent isn't even distributed between the two leagues has nothing to do with the number of teams in each, but the choices that each team made in each league, which is their own doing.
   194. Chris Dial Posted: June 19, 2009 at 03:11 AM (#3224442)
Of course it matters. Ownership is who they are.
   195. Tripon Posted: June 19, 2009 at 03:12 AM (#3224443)


What exactly are you arguing? Each team in each league is free to chose from the same pool. Having more teams in one league doesn't affect this.

The fact that talent isn't even distributed between the two leagues has nothing to do with the number of teams in each, but the choices that each team made in each league, which is their own doing.


That's a bit of a misnomer isn't it? The draft severely limits a team's chance of signing a player. Its not as if the Red Sox or the Cubs had a chance to draft Evan Longoria. So the talent pool isn't the same for everyone.
   196. Chris Dial Posted: June 19, 2009 at 03:14 AM (#3224446)
97    117
114    110
116    135
136    115
132    120
123    129
115    137
126    125
136    116 
This is wins. Which league is better? Either? Neither? Due to the closeness of each year (15% or so), and no pattern (I can discern), I'd say they are approximately equal, and these differences are due to just randomness.
   197. Nineto Lezcano needs to get his shit together (CW) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 03:15 AM (#3224451)
97 117
114 110
116 135
136 115
132 120
123 129
115 137
126 125
136 116
This is wins. Which league is better? Either? Neither? Due to the closeness of each year (15% or so), and no pattern (I can discern), I'd say they are approximately equal, and these differences are due to just randomness.


2006    154    98
2007    137    115
2008    149    103 


Left that out.
   198. konaforever Posted: June 19, 2009 at 03:20 AM (#3224454)
That's a bit of a misnomer isn't it? The draft severely limits a team's chance of signing a player. Its not as if the Red Sox or the Cubs had a chance to draft Evan Longoria. So the talent pool isn't the same for everyone.


That's a different matter. That's at a team level; not a league level. My point is the number of teams in each league has nothing to do with the skew of talent. Obviously each team is contrained in their choices due to draft position and money, but that has nothing to do with the league they're in.
   199. Chris Dial Posted: June 19, 2009 at 03:24 AM (#3224459)
Left that out.
I'm getting there. The AL had a good year (or two), like Brady Anderson. Didn't make Brady Anderson better than Frank Thomas in general.
   200. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: June 19, 2009 at 03:32 AM (#3224475)
Arguments we should ignore:
1. One team's record is awesome, so the other league sucks.
2. There are different numbers of teams in the leagues-->????-->Whatever I want it to mean
3. If I eliminate large sections of the data in such a way that it completely changes the data, then analyze it and it changes the outcome, I can go with that outcome.
4. If I use the stats of players up through June of only this year, it supports my point.

Worthwhile:
1. Large sample size aggregates of W/L and MLE data between the leagues.
2. Pointing out that the unbalanced schedule might have a non-negligible effect one way or the other.
3. Considering the affect of home field rules.
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