Why the American League Is Better than the National League?

The are several projection systems available to determine if AL and NL teams played each other who would win by looking at each player’s projections stats. I am going to keep it a little simpler than that here. USA Today has the team payrolls for the 2010 now available. Here is the average payroll for all the American and National League teams:

American League: $95.8 million
National League: $86.0 million

About $10 million extra dollars on the free agent market will get an AL team on average +2.5 WAR to be spread to its players.

Now what happens to the averages when the Yankees and their $206 million payroll are removed from the equation.

American League: $87.3 million
National League: $86.0 million

If the Yankees were to be removed from baseball completely, the two leagues would be more evenly matched up, at least with the amount of dollars spent on players in the major leagues.

There may be other reasons for some of the disparity – better General Managers and young talent in the AL – but again when the discussion gets around to winning in baseball, the Yankees are right in the middle of it.

We hoped you liked reading Why the American League Is Better than the National League? by Jeff Zimmerman!

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Jeff writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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rickie weeks
Guest
rickie weeks

There was an article on BP a while back that argued in addition to payroll differences, the NL having 2 more teams likely contributes to the talent disparity between leagues. Pretty sure the jist was more teams = less dense talent pool.

rickie weeks
Guest
rickie weeks

Don’t remember the author…

Matt
Guest
Matt

I am not sure that I understand that argument, because a team in the National League is competing with all 29 other teams for talent, not just National League teams, and the same is true for American League teams.

rickie weeks
Guest
rickie weeks

Yea, the way I phrased it doesn’t make much sense. The author had sound logic (and data) behind the theory, and it was an interesting read. I’ll have to find the article…

Tom B
Guest
Tom B

If it was the Al with the extra teams, then there would be a shortage of DH type players. Find that article if you can, because it makes no sense.

rickie weeks
Guest
rickie weeks

Article by Shawn Hoffman, title starts “Relative League Quality…” from this past October.

Basically, his argument that during the two periods of extended inequality (in number of teams) between leagues, the r-squared between league quality and number of teams is higher than the r-squared between quality and spending. He notes that since data is limited to two time periods it could be a massive coincidence, but concludes:

“all other things being equal, the league that has to employ more players should inevitably have a longer tail of talent. No matter how you look at it, it’s harder to field sixteen teams than fourteen. Add in that the American League teams have access to a slightly better talent pool (thanks to greater financial resources), and it actually makes a lot of sense that the AL has been so dominant.”

Jason B
Guest
Jason B

I’m like Matt, I’m just not sure I understand that argument. Teams are competing with all the other 29 ML teams for the same talent pool. Does it really matter if the teams are divided 15/15, 16/14, 20/10?

Now if the total number of teams were changing, that’s an argument I could see – it IS harder to field 30 teams with true major league talent than it is 20 or 25. But Boston isn’t competing with AL teams only for free agents and talent in the draft, they’re competing with the Mets, Phils, Cards, and Dodgers as well.