Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Major League Baseball (MLB) Inter-league 2017 Recap

The surest outcome in sports was that American League (AL) teams would win the majority of inter-league matches against their National League (NL) opponents in 2017.

The AL's superiority over many years told us that Houston was the better team and would win World Series (WS) game 7 even visiting Chavez Ravine. The AL representative has won 20 of the past 34 World Series

In 2017 AL teams finished 165-143 against NL opponents or 53.57% including a 5th straight AL all-star game triumph and the 7 WS matches. 53.57% in 2017 was below the long-term average over the 14 years of AL domination of inter-league play. Before and after the all-star break, AL teams fell into a 13-33 slump that started with a 2-10 stretch and ended with a 1-10 tailspin. It's interesting that even a 53.57% season-long average can include a 1-10 slide or 9% over 11 matches just as tails can come up 10 out of 11 times once in a blue moon even with a fair coin flip.

The AL has been the superior league by far for more than a decade. 2017 marks the AL's 14th consecutive triumph over the NL starting with 2004. Over the full period of dominance from 2004 on, the AL has won 54.66% of all matches -- regular season, all-star and World Series

Nevertheless, over this 14-year period of AL dominance the NL and AL are tied 7-7 in World Series triumphs. However, over this period, the AL has won 40 of 76 WS matches or 52.6%. The NL has had the good luck to distribute its WS match wins efficiently enough to end up tied 7-7. 

Another indicator of the AL's long-term dominance is the fact that the AL has won 17 of the last 20 all-star games to reach a decision and 23 of the last 29.  

The only positive sign for the NL is that the AL's 53.7% inter-league average (including All-Star and World Series matches) from 2010-17 is below the 55.9% average from 2004 through 2009. 

And, with the NY Mets, Chicago Cubs and LA Dodgers now run by AL-analytics-alumunae, the years of NL inferiority may be numbered. The Cubs were the best team in either league in 2016 and were 19-8 in their regular season and World Series matches against AL teams. The Dodgers were 19-10 against AL opposition in 2017 including 7 WS matches. 

The Cubs and Dodgers remain the exception in the NL. Until the analytic approach spreads throughout the NL, the theme for NL management as a whole will continue to be the Scarecrow's song from the Wizard of Oz: "If I only had a brain." 

Interesting piece at the All-Star break suggesting that the NL had indeed closed the gap with the AL in the first half of 2017.

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