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Thread: John Dewan: NL Hitters & AL Hitters are equal

  1. #1
    Smells Like Teen Spirit jmcclain19's Avatar
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    Apr 2004

    John Dewan: NL Hitters & AL Hitters are equal

    John Dewan of Baseball Info Solutions makes an interesting point in his weekly "Stat of the Week" email that was sent out this morning.

    Seems like this is a no-brainer stat at first glance- but over the last several seasons it has become somewhat of an accepted truth that the NL is inferior talent wise.

    Which league hits better (if you exclude the number-nine slot)?

    John Dewan's Stat of the Week™
    March 21, 2007

    Answer: They're virtually identical.

    Here are the numbers for 2006:

    Lineup Slots 1 through 8 OPS (On-base Plus Slugging percentage)

    American League: .788
    National League: .789

    What it comes down to then is that the effect of the American League using the DH shows itself pretty much entirely in the number-nine slot.

    Lineup Slot 9 OPS

    American League: .672
    National League: .500

    Pitchers hitting is the primary reason for the low National League figure, of course, but they aren't batting as often as you might expect. The number-nine slot came to the plate a total of 10,033 times in the NL in 2006. NL pitchers had 5,684 plate appearances last year (regardless of lineup slot). That means that pinch-hitters (and double-switches) accounted for nearly half the plate appearances in the NL ninth slot. When I first saw this number I was surprised, but I scanned a few boxscores and saw that it was not uncommon for an NL starting pitcher to bat twice and then have pinch hitters bat once or twice more later in the game.

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  3. #2
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    Guelph, ON

    Re: John Dewan: NL Hitters & AL Hitters are equal

    That OPS comparison doesn't talk about the quality of the hitters unless you are fixing the quality of pitching as equal as well. If the quality of pitchers in the AL is also better, you could easily have better talent across the board and have equal OPS numbers. Heck, what's the league OPS 1-8 for the southern league or the PCL? If it's higher, does that mean they have better hitters?
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  4. #3
    Member redsrule2500's Avatar
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    Mar 2001
    Cincinnati, OH

    Re: John Dewan: NL Hitters & AL Hitters are equal

    Shouldn't they take all the position players, rather than the 'top 8'???
    Go Reds!
    Baseball Bliss
    “I’m a normal guy blessed with the ability to hit a baseball.” - Sean Casey

  5. #4
    Member PickOff's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    Washington, DC

    Re: John Dewan: NL Hitters & AL Hitters are equal

    When I first saw this I thought they would only be using the interleague games as a barometer - (not including the 9 slot), because of RedsManRicks point. You have to attempt to equalize the pitching as well. Usless stats as reported above.
    Thank goodness for baseball.

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