As soon as Ryan Dempster was traded to the Texas Rangers last week, the questions began.
How would a career National League pitcher fare in the American League with its stronger lineups and designated hitters? For that matter, how would Dempster handle pitching at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, one of the best hitters ballparks in the majors, according to park factors?
Dempster did nothing to quiet those concerns in his first start for the Rangers on Aug. 2. Facing the Los Angeles, an AL West division rival, he allowed eight runs and nine hits in less than five innings. Dempster also served up two home runs in his new home launching pad.
The next night, Anibal Sanchez made his AL debut for the Detroit Tigers. Unfortunately for him, it came against the Toronto Blue Jays, one of the highest-scoring lineups in baseball. The Blue Jays welcomed Sanchez to the AL with five runs and eight hits—three of them home runs—in six innings of work.
Didn't the Rangers and Tigers get the memo on NL pitchers transitioning to the AL? It doesn't go well.
But is this really true or simply a perception that's grown over time into an assumption? Do National League pitchers get crushed when they come over to the American League? Does it happen to every one of them or have a few found success?
Let's take a look at some recent cases and see if we can draw any conclusions.