Thursday, May 31, 2007

NL vs. AL Pitchers and the Impact of the DH

I recently took a look at the performance of all NL and AL pitchers since the DH was implemented in the 1973 season. The goal was to see what kind of impact the DH had on pitching performance and how much better a pitcher moving from the AL to the NL could be expected to perform.

Since 1973:

League:_____IPs________BB/9 ____ K/9

American:__620,715.3 __ 3.38 ___ 5.56

National:___598,515.7__ 3.33____5.98

So, NL pitchers have struck out around half a batter more per nine innings than their AL counterparts, which of course is largely the result of NL pitchers getting to face the opposing hitter, rather than the DH.

I think the switch in leagues is something that should definitely be considered when acquiring starting pitching. American League teams expecting the same level of performance from a former NL pitchers may be in for a surprise. And, NL teams could reasonably expect improved performance from former AL pitchers. I think the effect is magnified for AL East pitchers, who had to face both the Yanks and BoSox, whose competitive spending continues to create MLB's version of the Cold War.

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