The relative parity in the American League may tempt some folks to assume that it means mediocrity as well. Don't you believe it, though, because as Darren Everson of the Wall Street Journal notes this morning, the AL continues to be the far tougher league:
Even though the NL's Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series last season, the AL -- which has dominated interleague games the past four seasons -- still appears to be the stronger, deeper league. This is reflected in the performance thus far of players who have switched leagues during the offseason.
A month into the season, most of the new AL players are experiencing a dramatic decline in performance versus their NL statistics last season, including Los Angeles Angels reliever Brian Fuentes and Oakland Athletics outfielder Matt Holliday, teammates last year with the Colorado Rockies. Before last night, Mr. Fuentes's ERA (7.88) was up a full five runs versus last season, despite moving from hitter-friendly Coors Field. Mr. Holliday was bound to be hurt by leaving Coors, but his .638 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) in road games this season is significantly worse than his .892 road mark last year.
I'm an NL guy, so this stuff pains me to some degree, but the numbers, as they say, are the numbers. Interleague play will, as always, tell us a lot more about the relative strengths of the leagues than this anecdotal stuff does, but at this point the burden seems to be squarely on NL supporters to make the case that things aren't continuing on the way have for the past several years in this regard.