NL All-Stars vs AL All-Stars




Last year, the National League snapped a 14-year regular-season streak of being beaten up by its little brother, going 158-142 in interleague play (not counting the World Series, which went the AL’s way). For the first time since 2003, the Senior Circuit was the superior league. It was also, in most respects, the more entertaining one.
Last year’s AL had no notable upsets; the four preseason favorites made it to the playoffs without too much trouble. The A’s exceeded expectations, but they weren’t without their preseason supporters, and they didn’t top any teams that were widely considered contenders. The Indians ran away with the Central (which was the second-weakest division ever), the Red Sox held a fairly commanding lead down the stretch in the East, and although the A’s and the Mariners made the West closer than it looked this time last year, the Astros were never in serious trouble. One of the AL’s only sources of September suspense was the Orioles’ and Royals’ race to the bottom.
The NL, meanwhile, had a huge upset in the East and an unprecedented two tiebreakers, thanks to season-long dogfights in the West, Central, and wild-card race that required more than 162 contests to settle. Since last season, many NL teams have been busy upgrading their rosters, while a lot of AL teams have stood pat, either secure in their status as playoff locks or resigned to waiting till next year. As a result, it’s looking like the NL is easily baseball’s best hope for a riveting 2019.
In the AL, Yankees–Red Sox remains a heavyweight bout, albeit between two teams that will likely qualify for the postseason in one way or another. The Astros still seem to have a stranglehold on the West, and the Indians, even after a largely inactive offseason, still look like titans in the Central. The fight for the second wild card offers at least a little intrigue, but besides that, the biggest team-level questions in the AL are whether every other AL Central clubcombined could beat the Indians or whether the Royals can bring back the ’80sen route to what’s likely to be a fourth- or fifth-place finish. It seems almost certain—or as certain as the outcome of a six-month season can be in mid-March—that most of the AL’s pennant races will have run their course before the final leg of the regular season, leaving plenty of time for teams to play out the string.
Compare that to the considerable uncertainty in the NL, the locus of much of the winter’s activity. Even with the Machado-equipped Padres on the rise and the Rockies retaining most of the team that challenged Los Angeles last year, the Dodgers, according to FanGraphs’ projected standings, are sitting atop a 12-game theoretical cushion as they pursue their seventh consecutive division title and third consecutive pennant. In the Central and East, though, there’s little daylight between the best teams.

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