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Wednesday, April 13, 2011
What's ailing the American League?

By Jeremy Lundblad

Today’s Trivia: Hank Aaron made his major-league debut 57 years ago today. Since then, who are the three players with the most home runs in the American League?

Let’s take a look at some odd trends in league-wide splits. A big question emerges: What’s going on with American League offenses?

• Non-pitchers in the National League are hitting .267, while the American League is hitting .247 (entering Wednesday).

• The big difference is at home. American League teams are hitting almost the same at home (.246) as on the road (.247). National League teams are substantially better at home (.271) than on the road (.251).

• Is it a difficulty adjusting to playing under the lights? American League teams are hitting .237 at night compared to .256 during the day.

• American League left fielders have combined to hit .217 with a .628 OPS. Both of those are the lowest for a position in either league. Six American League teams are hitting .200 or worse in left, with the Angels (.106) worst of all.

• Last season, American League outfielders combined to hit .270 with a .761 OPS. This season? A batting average of .234 with a .669 OPS.

• Oddly, the lowest OPS for a National League position is first base (.723). That would be the fourth best OPS for an American League position. In fact, four American League spots have a sub-.700 OPS.

• There’s an interesting age gap in American League pitching. Those who are season age 30 or younger combine for a 3.73 ERA. Those older than that combine for a 5.06 ERA.

Key Matchup: Kevin Youkilis is hitting just .182 on the season, but the cure isn’t likely to be James Shields. Youkilis is 3-for-31 (.097) with 10 strikeouts against Shields in the regular season. It’s worth noting that he’s 3-for-6 with a home run against Shields in postseason play.

This Date in Baseball History
1954: Henry Aaron made his major league debut

1963: Pete Rose got his first major league hit

1984: Pete Rose got his 4,000th hit, a double off Philadelphia pitcher Jerry Koosman

2009: Chicago's Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko reached 300 career home runs in consecutive at-bats. They became the first teammates to hit century milestone home runs of at least 300 in the same game.

Trivia Answer: Since Aaron’s debut, no one has more home runs in the AL than Alex Rodriguez (616). The next two are Harmon Killebrew (573) and Reggie Jackson (562).