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Loving the National League's young talent

Hunter Martin

Lately, the big events have been going the National League's way. After years of utter domination in the All-Star Game and modest domination in the World Series, the American League's lost the last three of each; that's a six-event losing streak and it sure seems like the National League has more young talent. Add all that up and ... well, here's The New York Post and Joel Sherman:

The sport should be proud and excited about the amount of under-25 talent that has emerged in the past few years. And the American League certainly has not been blanked when it can offer up Manny Machado and Mike Trout. However, in a world of a preponderance of evidence, it is hard to ignore that the young talent is currently flowing at a greater rate into the NL, which, by the way, has won the past three World Series and All-Star Games already.

It would take a lot of luck to win three straight World Series and All-Star Games. But doesn't that evidence crumble beneath the weight of this evidence?

- In 2010, the American League teams won 53 percent of their games against the National League.

- In 2011, the American League won 52 percent of their games against the National League.

- Hey, those were close! True. But in 2012, the American League won 56 percent of their games against the National League.

Yes, yes ... but what about this year, with all these exciting young National Leaguers! This year, those pesky American Leaguers have won 53 percent of their games against the National League. Granted, it's not a huge edge at this point. But the Americans now stand an excellent chance of running their streak to an entire decade. And those interleague standings tell us more, I think, than six jewel events over the last three seasons.

Which isn't to suggest the National League's young talent doesn't look more impressive, right now. More from Sherman:

When the All-Star rosters were announced July 6, just four of the AL’s 35 reps (it was 35 because Clay Buchholz and Jesse Crain were named, then replaced immediately due to injury) were 25 or under. Meanwhile, 12 of the NL’s 33 were 25 or under, and that included Washington’s Bryce Harper and Miami’s Jose Fernandez, both of whom are 20 and the two youngest active players...

--snip--

You don’t think the All-Star teams are representative of a general trend? OK, how about this: Five rookies are qualified for the ERA title — all are from the NL. And that doesn’t count an NL rookie contingent of Zack Wheeler, Gerrit Cole, Michael Wacha, Jonathan Pettibone, Stephen Fife, Tony Cigrani and Tyler Skaggs who have provided interesting calling cards this year.

The National League's young pitchers, as Sherman points out, have been particularly impressive this season. Meanwhile, the American League can counter with ... Well, we've got a few. Chris Sale, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, and a bunch of other guys who are having pretty good seasons. Here, let me check something ... Okay, now I'm starting to come around. There are only 19 pitchers 25 or younger who have enough innings to qualify for the ERA title this season, and only six of them are American Leaguers. That's not a lot.

On the other hand, if it were just three more it would be almost half. Before we go too nuts here, we should consider the possibility that it's just been a bad half-season for American League youngsters. Last year, 14 pitchers wound up pitching enough innings to qualify, and exactly half were American Leaguers. The National Leaguers' dominance this season is really due to the rookies, and while good-pitching rookies are uncommon, they're also unpredictable and injury-prone.

The balance of power between the leagues was bound to shift eventually, if only because the world is too dynamic to remain static forever. But I'm not quite convinced the tide has turned; call me when the National League can beat the American League over the course of a whole season. Consistently.

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