Why the AL Rules Baseball

DH rule, new stadiums, better drafting all contribute to AL dominance
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2008 1:30 PM CDT
Oakland Athletics' Frank Thomas (35), once a football player, became an average first baseman before blossoming in his slot as designated hitter, something that could only happen in the AL.   (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
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(Newser) – The American League is just flat out better than the National League, writes Darren Everson in the Wall Street Journal. The AL has had a lock on All-Star games for a decade, has won 11 of the last 16 World Series, and it dominates interleague play. Why the disparity? Everson explains that it's a combination of factors such as the DH rule, a flood of new talent and new stadiums, better drafting, and just plain luck.

It's no secret that the designated hitter position, which allows defense-challenged sluggers to thrive in the AL, has helped, but that alone doesn't explain things. An unusually strong batch of young talent ended up in the AL in the '80s and '90s for various reasons, and a spate of new (and smaller) stadiums in the younger league allowed them to thrive. Add in "a series of disastrous trades and free-agent signings by NL teams and a tradition of innovation in the AL," and the NL never had a chance, says Everson.