MLB Today: Interleague Play Not Kind to NL
Does Joe Blanton put foreign substances on his ball? You be the judge…
The National League has shown some progress in recent seasons against the American League in Interleague play, but that all collapsed once again this year.
Since Interleague play began in 1997, the NL has emerged with a winning record just four times, and none at all since 2003.
But at least things seemed to be improving in recent years after the NL put up a .409 winning percentage in 2008 (its second worst ever). The following three seasons saw a progressive improvement in for the Senior Circuit (.452, .468, .480), but this year? Not so much. The NL’s winning percentage vs. the Junior Circuit plummeted again to .437, third lowest ever.
What’s the dealio with the NL’s inability to beat the AL consistently? Any theories?
- There are plenty of reasons the Phillies’ run of NL East supremacy is in serious danger this year. Exhibit A: Shane Victorino. We expected him to be a top 15 outfielder, but he hasn’t even ranked among the top 25 at his position and in terms of hitters on the team that are falling short of expectations, Victorino is near the top of the list. He had a crappy start, picked it up in May, but is just 20-for-80 in June, and that’s not good enough. Victorino’s been completely healthy this season and his batting eye has been nearly as good as it was last year, but his BA has fallen off the table. It will be interesting to see if the Phils do opt to go the seller route; if so, Victorino is a prime candidate to be dealt. As for his Fantasy value, it’s unlikely Victorino’s BABIP will remain as low as it’s been so far this season (.260), so he makes for a solid buy low target.
- Not surprisingly, Robinson Cano was our top ranked second baseman heading into the season, but for most of the season he hasn’t played up to that billing. Well, that’s all changing now and he’s soaring back up the charts with a bullet. Cano is still only hitting .164 with runners in scoring position, but six of his 17 homers have been launched in the past eight games and he’s bumped his BA over .300.
- Back to the Phillies, one of the more pleasant surprises they’ve had has to be the performance of Joe Blanton. We ranked him 130th among starting pitchers heading into the season, but he’s performed at a top 60 level which gives him more Fantasy value than we anticipated. He’s been quite inconsistent lately, which makes it tough to use him, but Monday night he was on his game (seven innings, seven hits, three runs – two earned – one walk, eight strikeouts) to win his third straight decision. Okay, so it was only the Pirates and he did surrender his 17th homer over the past nine starts after only giving up only one in his first six starts, but Blanton still earned his seventh W, and that’s a useful total. His hit rates have been quite good in June and the fact that he’s been healthy enough this season to already make 15 starts has been a bonus. As long as the dingers are solo blasts it won’t completely tank Blanton’s value, so consider him a solid NL-only option and a low-end option in mixed leagues.