Comments on: AL (Dis)Advantage During Interleague Play This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: Thomas Tue, 29 Jun 2010 05:55:09 +0000 Just did some quick excel work from Fangraphs.

Unfortunately there are no interleague splits - but here's some food for thought.

AL DHs (season long stats): In 3971 PA, .244/.329/.407 (OPS .736), ISO .163, wOBA .322
NL DHs (interleague only): In 527 PA, .218/.288/.359 (OPS .648), ISO .142, wOBA .285

NL Pitchers (season long stats): In 2541 PA, .159/.177/.195 (OPS .372), ISO .036, wOBA .162
AL Pitchers (interleague only): In 309 PA, .105/.117/.120 (OPS .237), ISO .015, wOBA .104

I'm not sure if this data proves anything besides the fact that AL rosters clearly are designed to have a player DHing (.736 isn't a bad position-wide OPS, although less than I expected) while NL teams clearly have to deploy a bench player if they aren't giving a regular a day off.

Yes, NL pitchers suck less at batting than AL pitchers, but there has to be a lot of noise in those numbers, not to mention 309 PA is a tiny sample size (yes, 527 PA is a small sample size too, but that's almost a full season for some regulars)

By: Raphy Tue, 29 Jun 2010 04:52:17 +0000 Johnny, according to a study Sean mentioned in a Times article ( ) home field advantage is mainly attributable to field familiarity. Therefore it is not a surprise that it increases in inter-league play. It would be interesting to see if the advantage is not as increased among the "rival teams" that play each season.

By: Johnny Twisto Tue, 29 Jun 2010 04:40:47 +0000 Since 1997, home teams win 54.1% of the time.
In interleague games, home teams win 55.3% of the time.
The AL has won 52.3% of interleague games (1997-2003: 49.1%. 2004-2010: 55.3%)
AL teams win 57.5% of interleague home games. NL home teams win 53.0%.

So the average team wins 17.9% more often (54.1/45.9) at home than on the road, or 8.2 percentage points more often.
AL teams in interleague win 22.3% more often at home, or 10.5 percentage points
NL teams in interleague win 24.7% more often at home, or 10.5 percentage points.

It looks like home field advantage is increased in interleague, but neither league seems to gain a bigger home advantage. I welcome other interpretations of these numbers.

By: Evan Tue, 29 Jun 2010 04:12:42 +0000 Rob @31,

In terms of offensive contributions made by pitchers you must also factor in proficiency in executing sacrifice bunts as well as things like double play rate, frequency of moving runners up in non-sacrifice situations and strikeout rates. But I don't think there are huge differences in the hitting ability of pitchers in each league (because pitchers are signed based upon pitching ability, not hitting ability).

However there is another factor which gives each league an advantage in its home ballparks. Roster design. NL rosters should be designed with the assumption that the pitcher hits and the consequent increase in frequency of double switches and substitutions. Ideally this means that NL teams carry more players capable of playing multiple positions. The different rules also might affect decisions regarding the number of pitchers on the roster. Likewise AL teams should have rosters designed for an AL game where pinch hitters and double switches are less frequent. Bench players are more apt to be chosen based upon hitting ability or defensive ability at a position where a particular starter is deficient.

Flyingelbowsmash @33:

Pitchers are poor hitters relative to the rest of the league because they are selected entirely upon their defensive abilities, whereas position players are chosen primarily based upon hitting ability. Pitchers are superior hitters relative to the general population because they generally have superior hand eye coordination and strength, they also spend more time practicing and possess a greater understanding of pitching strategy than the general population.

By: Johnny Twisto Tue, 29 Jun 2010 04:12:09 +0000 The other way to tell which league is superior is by comparing the performances of players who move from league to league. Anyway, people have studied it, and to the extent we can be sure of such a thing, the AL has been a clearly superior league over the past several seasons. It's probably starting to even up a bit now.

By: Ed Tue, 29 Jun 2010 02:49:54 +0000 Evan makes a good point in saying that there is no way to tell whether the AL has an advantage or is just better. At least at the moment. If my memory serves me right, interleague play started in 1997, so there is 13 1/2 years of data. Is that enough to make a judgement. I don't think so. I would argue we should continue this discussion in 2023, and if the AL still has such a large edge, then I might be prepared to say they have an advantage, although if Charles is correct, that the disparity has only been for the past 6 years, we may already have enough evidence to say, the AL is just better -- right now.

It is not unusual in other sports, where all teams play by the same rules (what a concept!) for one conference to be much better for a time, only to have it swing back. Take the NBA for example. The East was buch better in the 90s, but the West was far superior in the last decade. Now that seems to be narrowing again.

Is it possible that:

1) by adding another regular, the DH forces owners to expend resources they might not otherwise spend, or
2) having to compete with the top teams causes teams to have to be better just to be "competitive" and so the effect snowballs. My team, the Brewers, have been praised for doing what it takes to become competitive (I know they're under .500, but let's say it's 2 years ago). But would that team be competitive in the AL East? Not unless Mark Antonosio opened is checkbook even wider.

I think 2 is more likely, but 1 is worth at least considering.

By: flyingelbowsmash Mon, 28 Jun 2010 23:11:21 +0000 If a pitcher (i.e. professional athlete) gets too gassed running 90 or 180 feet to pitch the next inning, he needs to get his arse in shape. I don't think that is too much to ask for from millionaire athletes. Why are pitchers such pathetic hitters? They grew up hitting at least to the HS varsity level and many beyond. Here is a funny Onion post about coaching hitting to pitchers,16883/

By: Tom Mon, 28 Jun 2010 20:13:21 +0000 There seems to be almost no difference between "hitting every fifth day" and "hitting twice a year". 2008 pitchers had a slight advantage in batting average, but almost none in on-base percentage. Which means they're making outs at relatively the same rate regardless if 30-odd extra hits wind up landing fair.

2008 AL pitchers: 325 PA, .118/.162/.150
2008 NL pitchers: 5578 PA, .140/.178/.177
2007 AL pitchers: 322 PA, .147/.178/.182
2007 NL pitchers: 5577 PA, .146/.177/.188
2006 AL pitchers: 317 PA, .125/.152/.176
2006 NL pitchers: 5648 PA, .132/.167/.175

The AL's advantage is that their roster translates better in to the NL game. The NL roster does not translate to the AL game. I'd be curious to see the W/L records split by AL vs. NL parks. I'd guess it's much closer to .500 in NL parks.

By: Rob Mon, 28 Jun 2010 19:49:58 +0000 The argument that the NL has any advantage in the NL parks seems ridiculous to me. The batting average for all NL pitchers in 2008 was roughly .140 while the AL pitchers went 31 for 274. That comes to a .113 batting average. If we assume that the NL and AL pitchers had roughly the same number of at bats, then that means the NL pitchers had 38 hits over that same span of time. Did those 7 extra hits for the NL really sway the outcome of those games? I doubt it.

By: Malcolm Mon, 28 Jun 2010 18:28:26 +0000 Let's be sure that when we say "AL" we mean to include all 14 teams in the AL, and not just the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. Get outside of the AL East and the majority of teams certainly are not strong 1-9 in their batting orders.