Baseballistic
All Things Baseball

Is Interleague Play Fair?

Interleague play has been a part of Major League Baseball for ten seasons now, and while it often goes unnoticed, the American League annually dominates the National League. This year, it’s hard not to notice the American League beating-up on the National League, because the AL is winning almost twice the number of games that the National League is.

The reason for this is not hard to notice at all. When games are played at American League stadiums, both the NL and the AL teams use a designated hitter, and pitchers do not hit. In the case of the NL, the designated hitter is just a regular bench player; usually someone batting around .250 with 5-8HRs and 20-25RBI. The National League teams don’t have extra power hitters that can be put in the lineup, because they have no reason to spend money on a player who will only be important in 20 games. The American League teams however, use designated hitters in every game, so players like David Ortiz, Jason Giambi, Travis Hafner, or Jim Thome are in the lineup, in addition to the other starters. BIG ADVANTAGE AMERICAN LEAGUE.

When the games are played at National League stadiums, the NL teams use their “normal” lineup, with the pitcher batting last. The American League teams lose their DH (although some, such as David Ortiz, Jim Thome, or Giambi can play 1st base and stay in the lineup). The hitting-inexperienced AL pitchers are almost a certain out at the bottom of the order. On the bench however, the American League has a BIG advantage, because having a guy like Travis Hafner, Frank Thomas, or Paul Konerko who can come in to pinch-hit when you need a run, helps much more than having a bench player. SLIGHT ADVANTAGE AMERICAN LEAGUE.

The American League has the advantage no matter where the game is played, before the contest even starts! Did Bud Selig and the inventors of Interleague play overlook this inequality? It certainly seems that way. And Selig has made yet another big mistake related to this: home-field advantage in the World Series is determined by the All-Star game. The American League team always has the advantage in the All-Star game (as is evidenced by the thrashing the AL has given the NL the past couple of years).

I enjoy Interleague play; I love the All-Star game, but something MUST be done to make these parts of Major League Baseball more even. Unfortunately, short of prohibiting the DH altogether, or installing the DH in the National League, I don’t see a solution to this problem. That means until Bud Selig wakes up, stops being so naive, or hands over his job as commissioner to someone who’s more pro-active, very little is likely to be done. In other words, we can look forward to the AL dominating the NL for many years to come.

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2 Responses to “Is Interleague Play Fair?”

  1. Yes, this has been extremely evident, especially here in Detroit. Where the Tigers were largely unable to beat potential AL playoff foes like the Yankees, Red Sox, and White Sox, they have been able to sweep teams like the Cardinals and Rockets, two of the NL’s heavyweights from what I understand.

  2. On the last point you made — something absolutely HAS to be done, otherwise National League teams have nearly no chance in the World Series, unless they have a stacked line-up like the Mets do, for example. I would suggest taking the DH out of the game completely. You should not be able to only participate in only the hitting part of baseball, and not have to play in the field. That’s what irks me about guys like Frank Thomas and Travis Hafner; sure you can hit, but you look like a 2-year-old if you have to play first base. I’m a big fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, and we just can’t get anything going during interleague play, because of the damn DH (extra BIG bat) the American League teams have when we’re on the road. Like today for example, Travis Hafner had a pinch-hit grand slam — that’s just unfair, because he exited the game right after he hit the homerun. He should not be able to hit if he’s not able to play in the field.

    Thank you for raising this issue.


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