Are AL teams 'smarter' than NL?

January, 5, 2010
1/05/10
5:58
PM ET
Let's please stop arguing about the American League vs. the National League. The American League is just a whole lot better. Get over it.

The open question is why, and FanGraphs' Matt Klassen wonders if there's a management gap.

Klaasen's top five general managers: Andrew Friedman (AL), Theo Epstein (AL), Billy Beane (AL), Jack Zduriencik (AL), Doug Melvin (NL).

Klaasen's bottom five: Dayton Moore (AL), Omar Minaya (NL), Ed Wade (NL), Ned Colletti (NL), Brian Sabean (NL).

Klaasen's big finish:


    The NL only has one of the best GMs (and again, there were other candidates in the AL that could have taken his place), and all but one of the worst. One or two changes would not alter the overall point: front office excellence seems slant heavily toward the American League, and the opposite of excellence toward the National League. Neither the selections nor the “method” employed are definitive, but I do think there is something here.


Well, yes...But (there's always a but) I have, with the passing of years, become less eager to pin everything that a franchise does on the general manager. Between the vagaries of luck and the whims of meddlesome owners and their factotums, many GMs don't simply walk around the office doing whatever they like. If you want to trade your veteran for a couple of prospects and your owner says you can't ... well, you don't. And then the writers kill you when the veteran hurts his back and the farm system is barren.

This is why I've never come up with lists like this. Or if I have, at some point, I will now publicly renounce them. That said, this "GM gap" -- or if you prefer, "organizational competence gap" -- isn't exactly new news. Look at the lists. Most of those general managers have been in place for some years.

The biggest reason for the American League's dominance is the most obvious reason: American League teams spend more money than National League teams. But the second-biggest reason is American League teams operate with more intelligence than National League teams. And while that remains mostly a guess, it's a guess, like many guesses, that could be empirically tested.

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