2012 All-Star Game: 5 Reasons the NL Has Now Regained Control of MLB
With Tuesday night’s 8-0 victory in the MLB All-Star game, the National League beat the American League for much more than World Series home-field advantage.
This resounding victory clearly demonstrated that the NL has, once again, become the dominant force in baseball.
They got it done both with the bats and on the mound, with eight different batters contributing hits and 11 pitchers combining for the shutout. It was a true team effort, one that should have left their AL counterparts greatly concerned for their All-Star future.
While MLB goes through great pains to remind fans that this game “counts,” it is important in the way it sets the tone for the rest of the season. Especially given how poorly they perform seemingly every season during interleague play, the NL teams need the boost of confidence that comes with such a strong victory.
By drubbing the AL in a “home game” for the Junior Circuit, the NL earned itself a great victory in its battle for MLB supremacy.
Here are five central reasons we can point to when examining how the NL regained control of MLB.
Three of the Last Four World Series Champs
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With the St. Louis Cardinals (2011), San Francisco Giants (2010) and Philadelphia Phillies (2008) responsible for taking three of the last four World Series, the National League has the advantage in the only statistic that ultimately matters: championships.
While American League fans will make a big point out of their league’s record in interleague play (406-350 over the last three seasons), the teams that win in the playoffs are the ones people truly remember.
If it means more hardware for the Senior Circuit, the NL teams will gladly keep up their losing ways in interleague play.
Three Straight All-Star Game Victories
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The NL has simply dominated the last three All-Star games, winning by a combined score of 16-2. It hasn’t mattered whether they’ve been on the road or at home. Two of the wins came away from NL parks, with only one game being played at home (at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field).
The NL has been convincing with both its bats and its pitching, outpacing their AL counterparts in both categories. The Midsummer Classic is the only objective measure we have of the best the two leagues have to offer. And given their run of success, the NL has proven that its best are superior to that of the AL.
More Top Players
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With the defection of top-tier players such as Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols to the AL, one would think that the overall ranking of top-flight talent would skew heavily toward the Junior Circuit. However, a look at the NL reveals that what they may lack in big names, they make up for in big-time production.
Ryan Braun, Joey Votto and Andrew McCutchen are arguably three of the brightest young stars in baseball. Though playing in relative obscurity, they are players who have put up equally impressive numbers as their more heralded counterparts from the American League.
Just because these players do not have the big endorsements does not make them inferior players. When looking at the numbers, they often look better than many of their AL brethren.
More Balanced Attack
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With all of its recent success, the NL has shown that the idea of “small ball” is not quite dead and buried. With no DH, NL baseball has become a brand almost entirely separate from the AL style of play.
By winning twice in AL parks in 2012 and 2010, and once in a NL park in 2011, the NL has proven that it can beat the AL in either of the environments.
The balance of the NL’s offense has regularly gotten the best of the AL’s more power-oriented game, favoring the skill sets of the young and athletic players that make up the next generation of MLB stars.
More Top-Tier Young Talent
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In addition to the heralded Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw, the NL possesses a wealth of young talent.
Players like the Astros’ Jose Altuve, the Cubs’ Bryan LaHair and the Diamondbacks’ Wade Miley have all emerged as All-Star-caliber players ready to contribute for the long haul.
While the AL certainly has young talent on their side as well, the NL’s rising stars are both more plentiful and younger. This likely means that not only can we expect to see the NL succeed in the short term, but also for many years going forward.