After 252 interleague games, we have a final tally for 2012: AL 142, NL 110. That's a .563 winning percentage for the AL, which translates to a 91-win pace over a 162-game season. The AL has now taken the NL's lunch money in interleague play for nine consecutive seasons.
Here's what the AL's yearly winning percentage has looked like since the start of interleague play:
Overall, the AL has won at a .525 clip since 1997, going 2079-1883. Since the winning streak started in 2004, the AL's record is 1246-1020 (.550). The NL actually narrowed the gap for three consecutive seasons from 2009-11, but the AL lengthened its lead this year, possibly as a result of importing more talent over the offseason.
Several reasons have been proposed for the AL's recent run of success—this summary by Justin Inaz is a couple years old, but it still pretty much covers it. Regardless of the factors responsible for the 21st-century swing toward the AL, league strength is cyclical, and neither league is inherently superior, at least to the extent that the AL has been lately. The NL outclassed the AL over the first seven seasons of interleague, and it will again. We're just not sure when.*
*Though dumping the Astros on the AL next year won't hurt.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now
AL teams have FIVE of the top 6 payrolls. Yes, also 5 of the top 10 if you slice it that way. But look at the difference between AL teams and NL teams (even excluding the Yankees). Boston and Philly are a wash, but the next 3 teams spend a lot more than the NL counterparts. Hell, even further down the ladder: the lowly Minnesota Twins spent more than the New York Mets ($94m vs. $93m).
As for the second question: Tom Tango wrote something about that recently. NL pitchers hit significantly better than AL pitchers, most likely because they get so much more practice.