Sunday, January 30, 2005

AL vs. NL this offseason

So the major free agent signings are over (though Pedro Astacio's still available). How did the leagues do relative to each other? I seem to remember in last year's offseason there was a mini-exodus of the top hitters from the NL to the AL, with the pitching not changing much -- Schilling and Clemens sort of cancelled each other out. And it sure seemed, to me at least, that the AL was the far better league -- the Feared Cardinals got swept, and probably would've lost to the Yankees or the Angels as well, from what we saw. So what happened this year? Beltran and Clemens stayed put in their leagues, but many of the other major FA's switched leagues (plus there were a number of cross-league trades):

From the NL to the AL: Big Unit, Beltre, Sexson, Sosa, Finley, Wells, Clement, Pavano, Wright
From the AL to the NL: Pedro, Lowe, Glaus, Delgado, Lieber, Offerman

(there are others, Womack/Lima/Loaiza/Milwood/Pierzinski/Renteria/etc, but whatever.)

On balance, I say the AL continued to get a bit better. Hitters probably, pitchers maybe. What's interesting is ALL those pitchers named left or joined the Red Sox or Yankees.

On the topic of comparing leagues, two more points:

1) AL didn't pummel the NL in interleague...won the season by just 2 games. And that's all thanks to none other than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who posted an obscene 15-3 record. Which is really, really weird. (It's worth mentioning that interleague games happened while St. Louis was never losing, and the soon-to-be-World Champion Red Sox were in their prolonged slump, which may have played a role in the closeness of the IL games.)

2) Seems all three major sports feel dominated by one league: baseball and the AL, football and the AFC, and basketball and the West. There are exceptions of course: the Eagles, last year's Pistons, etc., but I don't remember all the sports ever feeling this imbalanced.

4 comments:

  1. I think Jesse had things going on - one a statement that the AL was the far better league and the second attempting to analyze player movement. I'll ignore the AL is better comment and look at movements.

    Okay, so I attempted to analyze the comings and going between the two leagues to see who got better. My first gut was that I agreed with Jesse that the AL got better, but then I think after some detailed analysis, I actually am thinking it was the NL that improved. The major catalyst of my decision making process was that after analyzing the Free Agent signings (as best I could with the Elias Bureau's rankings of player), I remembered I was not including trades.

    Another note - the Elias sports rankings are averages of the last two years, so they may be a bit skewed from our conventional thoughts (i.e., Beltre is not ranked as high as you would think and Magglio Ordonez is ranked higher than you would think, but maybe, just maybe they balance each other out).

    And the two trades that tilted the scales to the NL - Mulder and Hudson.

    I do not have all the Elias numbers, but this is the way I have it broken down.

    To NL

    Delgado ( number 1 first baseman/OF)
    Hudson (number 2 starting pitcher)
    Pedro (number 3 starting pitcher)
    Mulder(number 5 starting pitcher)
    Vazquez (number 11 starting pitcher)
    Loaiza (number 14 starting pitcher)
    Lieber (number 38 starting pitcher)
    Lowe (number 25 starting pitcher)
    Glaus (ranked 41st 2B/SS/3B but obviously due to injury)
    Eckstein (26th best 2b/SS/3B)
    Guzman (28th best 2b/SS/3B)

    Via trade
    Carlos Lee (13th best OF)
    Jose Guillen (14the best OF)

    That is a lot of talent going to the NL.

    Coming to the AL


    Beltre (number 3 3B, number 4 among 2B, SS and 3B)
    Sexson (number 34 1b/OF)
    Renteria (number 1 SS, number 4 among 2B, SS and 3B)
    Sosa (number 15)
    Finley (number 20)
    RJ (Number 10 pitcher - low win total this year and missed half of last year))
    Wells (number 15 starting pitcher)
    Clement (number 35 starting pitcher)
    Pavano (number 14 starting pitcher)
    Wright (number 40 starting pitcher)
    Millwood (number 20 starting pitcher)
    Joes Lima (number 51 starting pitcher)
    Hermanson (number 43 relief pitcher)
    Steve Kline (number 26 reliever)

    trade/non tender
    Aj Perzynski (Number 1 catcher)

    The rankings are a bit off (i.e., seem low) for the NL-AL guys because of some injuries and the fact that some of these guys are had monster 2004 seasons. But on the whole, I am now leaning toward the ML having gotten more talent.

    And Okay, I may have missed a guy or two (Joe Randa and Jose Valentine, who I was to lazy to go back and look up).
    Nut I guess I would have to say that I know believe more talent went to the NL than the AL. I mean 4 of the top 5 pitchers changed leagues and 6 of the top 11 -and the best 1B.

    I agree the rankings are skewed - RJ is probably one of the two or three best, Beltre is no worse than 3rd (Lowell or Rolen in case you were wondering), but still I think the NL had a better off season.

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  2. Damn, forgot all about Hudson and Mulder. So yeah, NL certainly got better in terms of pitching (assuming Hudson, Mulder, and Lowe return to form). But look at the hitters going to the NL: Delgado, and...uh, Glaus. Then Eckstein. Whereas some big names -- some with big comeback potential -- left the NL for the AL.

    Man, those 2-year rankings are sketchy. Vazquez and Loaiza right behind RJ? Whoever compiled that list better not stop RJ in the street with a question.

    Dave, do you disagree about my AL/NL comparison? I think it was just for this season, but we may be in for a long-term trend in terms of who goes where... despite the DH, many power hitters may stay in the NL because of the tiny parks. And a real split between flyball or groundball pitchers going to the AL or NL, respectively. Especially as statistics become more and more dominant and players want statistical details on how they would do in a particular park, etc.

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  3. Well I was going to do an analysis of the AL vs. NL, but I kind of ran out of time this AM. I'll have to do some analysis of that tonight. I agree the AL appears to be the better league, but before I make that blanket statement, want to look at two things in more detail - the middle/bottom dwellers relative to each league as well as park affects. I'm not sure that the power hitters will stay in NL parks (there are some good pitchers parks there as well (LA, Pac Bell, SD, Florida).

    Completely agree on the Elias #'s - Vazquez and Loaiza get credit for making all their starts.

    Although as for the hitters coming to the AL - I agree there are quite a few of them, but I would be willing to bet that two among the four (Beltre, Sexson, Sosa and Finley) will be a disappointment for their new team - relative to their $$. I hear what your saying, but I just think the NL advances in pitching far outweigh the offense.

    Stay tuned for my AL vs NL performance comparison.

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