"Now, what is this site about, how Joe Torre ruined pitchers' arms? Is that it?"
-Michael Kay, August 18, 2009

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Enough of Interleague Play

I've always enjoyed Interleague Play for some reason. I've enjoyed watching the Yankees travel to new places. I enjoyed watched new faces play the Yankees for a few days.

Never again.

Subway Series? It's bored me since 2000.

Yankees/Pirates? This isn't 1960.

Yankees/Brewers? They should boycott them for leaving the American League.

Yankees/Dodgers? They left New York, therefore they hate America.

The Yankees, as well as every other American League team, should not be put at a disadvantage during the regular season. Their pitchers aren't used to batting and running the bases like the National League pitchers are. They shouldn't have to change their routines and training schedules to take batting practice while they're trying to prepare to face new hitters.

Enough is enough. They Yankees face the Mets as much as they face some of their other American League opponents. Is that fair? Didn't think so.


Anonymous said...

Calm down dude. Wang's injury didn't happen because Al pitchers don't know how to run bases. It was just a freak injury. Did you see any other AL pitchers get hurt running the bases yet this season in interleague play? Wang (and every other Yankee pitcher) ran like crazy in Spring Training. This guy is perfectly capable of running in a straight line from Point A to Point B. But unfortunately he experienced a freak injury today in the midst of that. It happens. It isn't much different from ARod or Jeter straining a quad while running to first base, and obviously those guys run the bases all the time. It's just a freak injury.

And contrary to what these YES commentators will tell you, the AL actually has the overall advantage in interleague play.

In the NL ballpark the NL team has a slight advantage because their pitchers can handle batting better than AL pitchers can. But keep in mind that independent of all that, NL pitchers still stink at hitting, even if it is a little better than the AL pitchers ability to hit. Micah Owings is the exception, not the rule.

The AL teams have a much bigger advantage in their ballpark because the DH is used. In the AL the DH is often one of the best hitters on the team - Ortiz, Giambi, Hafner, Bradley, Thomas, Vlad, Thome, Cust, etc. Their only job is to hit the ball, so they are usually pretty potent hitters. Whereas in the NL, they have to plug a bench guy in the lineup as a DH, or they switch a regular player into the DH spot and put a bench guy in the field. The end result is that a lesser bat is forced to hit. The reason these guys are on the bench is usually because they are the 9th or 10th best hitters on the team and aren't good enough to crack the lineup under typical NL rules.

So what do you think gives the bigger advantage? The difference between Roy Oswalt's and Mike Mussina's hitting ability is much smaller than the difference between say Jason Giambi and Omar Infante's hitting ability. The AL has a much bigger advantage.

And if you don't believe me, here are some AVG/OBP/SLG stats for the last couple of years:

2007 NL pitchers hit .145/.177/.188
2007 AL pitchers hit .145/.178/.177

2006 NL pitchers hit .131/.166/.175
2006 AL pitchers hit .119/.148/.168

2005 NL pitchers hit .149/.181/.189
2005 AL pitchers hit .118/.141/.173

And at the start of today,
2008 NL pitchers hit .142/.181/.179
2008 AL pitchers hit .162/.204/.174

The bottom line is that both groups of players are awful at hitting. The NL pitchers are generally a little better, but they are still horrible.

It is a little trickier to compare the DH stats across both league. Like I said earlier, some NL teams will move a regular guy like Lance Berkman over to DH in the AL ballpark and start a scrub off the bench in the field. And it's that scrub who is really the extra player that is being used due to interleague play, not the guy at the DH spot. Generally speaking, this scrub is not a very good hitter. American league DH's like Ortiz, Giambi, Thome, Hafner, Cust, etc are much better at hitting than these backup players. The difference is much more than whatever difference exists in the hitting ability of pitchers in each league.

Now if you dislike interleague play that's cool. But please don't base your dislike for interleague play on the false assumption that the AL is at a big disadvantage, because it is simply not true.

Andrew Fletcher said...

I know Wang probably knows how to run the bases. My point is that under normal circumstances, he wouldn't have to and this freak injury wouldn't have occurred.

When I was referring to a disadvantage, I didn't really mean ability-wise. I know most pitches as a whole can't hit a lick. I feel that the disadvantage comes in their preparation, as they have to take batting and bunting practice as well as having to prepare for different hitters.

I feel that they should just get rid of this portion of the schedule, but they never will for money reasons. Attendance sky-rockets when the Yankees or Red Sox come to a place for the first time.

Thanks for the thoughtful response.

Anonymous said...

Hey, sorry if I sounded like a condescending know-it-all in that previous post. I just read it over and realized that I really came off like a jerk.

I can't argue at all with your criticisms that Wang's injury wouldn't have happened and that pitchers shouldn't have to change their preparation patterns for interleague play. And your totally right about the money issue. Baseball will not get rid of interleague play anytime soon.

My biggest gripe against interleague play is that some teams have easier schedules than others. For example this season the Yankees have a pretty easy schedule (Padres, Pirates, Reds, Astros, Mets, Mets) whereas the Blue Jays have a pretty tough schedule (Phillies, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Reds, Braves).

Oh also I think your Michael Kay drinking game is hilarious. This interleague discussion reminds me of an annoying Kay-ism - his idea that NL ballparks should allow the DH and AL ballparks should have pitchers hit during interleague play. He mentions this in like every interleague game to the point where I want to punch him in the face to make the torture end.

Andrew Fletcher said...

No need to apologize. I didn't take offense at all.

Regarding the schedule, there's really no way around it because every team can't face each other. I believe the Yankees have the best Interleague record, and this is around the time where the Yankees usually get on a run to get their season going. Luck of the draw, I guess, but I'd rather have them face relevant competition (their division and potential wild-card contenders).

And yeah, Kay needs to stop with that nonsense. Good thing no one will ever, EVER listen to him.

raven said...

Wang and every other Yankee pitcher ran like crazy in Spring Training, but they did not run around the bases.

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