By Jesse Spector | | 3 mins
You Should Bet AL Even Before All-Star Game Lineups Unveiled
The American League has won the last six All-Star Games, 13 of the last 16, and 24 of the last 31. For an exhibition game that features different players every year, over more than three decades, that seems like it should not be possible, but it’s the reason that – even before this year’s All-Star rosters are announced – the Junior Circuit is a -117 MLB betting favorite in the Midsummer Classic.
It’s not that the American League has inherently better players, but it also isn’t a coincidence that this run of dominance follows a stretch in which the National League (listed at -105) won all but one All-Star Game from 1963-82, with just the slightest bit of parity in between – a 3-2 edge for the NL from 1983-87.
DH Long-Term Edge for AL
The designated hitter was introduced to American League baseball in 1973, right in the middle of the NL’s stretch of owning the All-Star Game. The shift in the balance of power in the game wasn’t immediate because it took time for the game to adjust, with American League pitchers becoming better suited for the challenge of an All-Star Game by never having the crutch of a pitcher’s spot to work their way through lineups.
At the same time that American League pitchers had to get better to dominate opposing lineups, the Junior Circuit’s pool of hitters became deeper. The National League All-Star team never could have suited up Edgar Martinez or David Ortiz, obviously, but the presence of the DH also has allowed American League teams to put older or injury-prone sluggers on their roster, knowing that even if they played a position regularly, there would be a spot there to provide what’s sometimes termed a half day off.
It’s not dissimilar to a roulette wheel that keeps coming up red. Probability does not mean that it’s going to eventually hit black if there is some kind of structural imbalance, and that’s just what the designated hitter rule is. The comparison to casino action is only heightened by the All-Star Game having hit “0” with the tie in 2002.
AL Looks to Continue Dominance
Does any of it guarantee the American League extending its streak on July 9 in Cleveland? Of course not. It’s still one game, on one night, with the most talented players in baseball on opposing sides – each league currently features five spots on the top 10 list for wins above replacement.
But it’s the reason that the baseball futures betting odds are what they are even before starters -- to be announced Thursday -- and the rest of the rosters are revealed. If you’re already feeling like the American League will have an edge once the rosters come out, then this is the time to get a wager down on the reigning All-Star champs.