AL has all the tools for World Series supremacy
By Rick Hummel

Chicago White Sox players celebrate
(The Dallas Morning News, Louis DeLuca/AP)

Eight is enough for baseball's National League, which is undergoing its worst battering since 1947-53, when the American League won seven straight World Series, six by the New York Yankees.

In the past two World Series, the National League in the form of the Cardinals and Houston Astros has lost eight straight games to the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox. Since 1997, the American League has won eight straight All-Star Games.

Sometimes, these matters are just cyclical. Other times, there are reasons.

For instance, the American League appears to have more Latin American stars. Latin American players have about one-quarter of the roster spots in the majors.

The National League has Albert Pujols, Andruw Jones, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Lee, Carlos Delgado, Rafael Furcal and Bobby Abreu. But the American League has a few more, what with David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, Johan Santana, Vladimir Guerrero, Jhonny Peralta, Alex Rodriguez (born in Miami), Alfonso Soriano, Victor Martinez, Jorge Cantu (117 RBI for Tampa Bay), Mariano Rivera and Placido Polanco.

In the under-30 group for position players, the National League has Pujols, Jones, Furcal, Cabrera, Adam Dunn, Lee, David Wright, Chase Utley and Jason Bay. Again, the American League has more, with Cantu, Guerrero, Tejada, Ortiz, Paul Konerko, Peralta, Martinez, Travis Hafner, Carl Crawford, Mark Teixeira, Bobby Crosby and Grady Sizemore.

In the under-30 group for pitchers, there appears to be more balance. The National League has Dontrelle Willis, Mark Prior, Roy Oswalt, Chris Capuano, Mark Mulder, Ben Sheets, Brett Myers, Jake Peavy, Adam Eaton, Brad Lidge, Carlos Zambrano and Josh Beckett. The American League has Santana, John Lackey, Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Jake Westbrook, Jeremy Bonderman, Rich Harden, Danny Haren, Scott Kazmir, Roy Halladay and Freddy Garcia.

Granted, the American League has the two highest payrolls in baseball in the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, but this year's champion White Sox were well down the line at around $69 million.

The American League has won seven of the last 10 World Series and 10 of the last 14. Fourteen is a significant number because that is the number of consecutive division championships the Atlanta Braves have won. The Braves most often have been the National League's best team but less often have been in the World Series. Atlanta has been in the World Series only once in the last nine, and they lost in four straight games to the Yankees in 1999.

This year, the Astros clearly weren't the best team in the National League, and clearly, the White Sox were the best team in the American League, which had five of the six teams in the majors with more than 90 wins. Any team that can be shut out 17 times (three more than any other team) in the regular season as the Astros were can't be all that good.

Houston was a much better club a year ago when the Cardinals beat the Astros in seven games in the National League Championship Series. This year, the Astros had Andy Pettitte, who was hurt last October, but they didn't have Beltran, Jeff Kent and a healthy Jeff Bagwell on offense.

The White Sox and the Astros tied a record by becoming the seventh and eighth different teams to play in the World Series in the past four years. This had happened only three times before in 101 World Series.

From 1983-86, the matchups were Baltimore-Philadelphia, Detroit-San Diego, St. Louis-Kansas City and Boston-NY Mets. From 1945-48, it was Detroit-Cubs, St. Louis-Red Sox, Yankees-Brooklyn and Cleveland-Boston Braves. From 1918-21, the pairings were Red Sox-Cubs, Cincinnati-White Sox, Cleveland-Brooklyn and NY Giants-Yankees.

In the past four years, the World Series has had Anaheim-San Francisco, Florida-Yankees, Red Sox-St. Louis and White Sox- Astros.

So, in projecting for the 2006 World Series, the best chances for a record-setting ninth and 10th different teams over a five-year span are Cleveland in the American League and Atlanta in the National.