There are signs of a power shift between the once mighty bats of the AL and the upstart NL, paced by Chase Utley and others.
Once in a while, I’ll check the league leaders and today I was struck by how far ahead Chase Utley was of Carlos Quinten, the current AL leader in home runs with 8. Utley has 13. So I did a little more digging, clicked Hardball Times and came up with some advanced findings. Utley leads baseball in runs created with 35. No surprise there. However, you need to go down 11 spots before running into the AL leader in the same category, Kevin Youkilis with 27. It’s the same for gross productive average, in which Utley ranks third in baseball with .379. The AL leader, Tampa’s Eric Hinske, ranks 9th overall with .328. Last season, the AL placed four sluggers – Alex Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Pena and David Ortiz – in the top five in GPA, and four of the top six in RC.
NL pitching appears stronger this season, too. In the prevented runs created category, only four AL pitchers place among the top pitchers before Cole Hamels, who ranks 16th overall. Cincinnati’s Edinson Volquez leads baseball with 36.
Two conclusions. First, with interleague play just around the corner, you have to like the National League’s chances. Second, Chase Utley is setting an early pace for MVP.