Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Major League Baseball (MLB) Inter-league 2017

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.

So far this year AL teams are 161-140 against NL opponents or 53.5% including a 5th straight all-star game triumph. 53.5% this year is below the long-term average over the past decade of AL domination. 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 53.5% 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 54.7% of all matches -- regular season, all-star and World Series

Nevertheless, over this 14-year period of AL dominance the NL is actually ahead 7-6 in World Series (WS) victories. However, over a longer period, the AL representative has won 19 of the past 33 World Series. Even from 2004 on when the NL has 7 of 13 WS triumphs, the AL has won 36 of 69 WS matches or 52%. It just happens that the NL has had the good luck to distribute its WS match wins more efficiently. 

And, the AL has now won 17 of the last 20 all-star games to reach a decision and 23 of the last 29.  

The positive sign for the NL is that the AL's 53.7% 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 Cubs' success remains the exception in the NL. Until the analytic approach spreads throughout the NL, the theme for most NL management teams 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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