This past weekend saw rematches from both 2012 League Championship Series. The New York Yankees squared off with the Detroit Tigers on the AL side and the San Francisco Giants battled the St. Louis Cardinals in National League action. I thought about the fact that if you ranked these four clubs right now, it would be Giants 1, Cards 2, Tigers 3 and Yanks at 4. It also reminded about something that I have believed the last two seasons and now is something that should be very obvious to fans of baseball.
The best teams are in the National League.
Now I know some of you out there will refer to the fact that the American League has been dominant when the two leagues go head-to-head during the regular season. The record in 2012 was 142 wins for the AL and 110 for the NL marking the ninth straight season that the Junior Circuit has prevailed. It is a very convincing argument. However, I look at the games on the biggest stage which would be the All Star Game and the World Series. The last I looked, the National League has won three straight contests and has crowned four of the past five champions. Last season, as the final four teams met for the right to go to the Fall Classic, I stated that whoever won the NLCS would become the World Champions. The Giants fought back from a 3-1 deficit against the defending WS Champion Redbirds and won the series. From there, it was a breeze as San Fran won four straight against Detroit. In fact, I would argue that the Tigers were the fifth-best team in MLB behind the Giants, the Cards, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals. I think those four still rank ahead of Detroit and the Los Angeles Angels if a “power poll” was to be conducted today. Although the two AL teams have better lineups, their overall pitching depth pales in comparison to their NL counterparts, particularly when it comes to the bullpen. All you have to do is compare the closers for each team and you see a great disparity particularly with the Tigers.
The other side can argue there is better overall depth in the American League. I am not sure I buy that. For example, compare the following small market teams: the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe made significant improvements in the offseason compared to the Brew Crew. However, Milwaukee finished over .500 for the second year in a row and has one of baseball’s most potent offenses. Sorry, I’ll take my chances on the Brewers being better. You might have a stronger case for the Kansas City Royals when compared to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Both franchises have endured rotten season after rotten season over the past 20 years and seem to have turned a corner. Pittsburgh has been slightly better the last two seasons and has the best single player (Andrew McCutchen) on either team. Finally, the AL gets the Houston Astros. who will improve greatly over their 107 loss season of a year ago but will bring down the overall depth of the American League.
Maybe the perception of American League superiority changes during the 2013 season. If the National League wins the season interleague series, then there will be no doubt. What is more certain is that come the end of October, a team from the National League will be your World Series Champions.
Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at http://venomstrikes.com