AL vs NL: Difference and Comparison

The main sport played by Americans is Baseball, they don’t engage in any game as they like to take an interest in Baseball. It is played as entertainment and as professional as well.

To promote this, there was a league made for this sport the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs. Then, later on, another league was formed named American League.

But till now, there are only these two main leagues of baseball in the United States and Canada, and due to this, both of them can be very confusing. To understand what these leagues are, the following are all differences, along with other information.

Key Takeaways

  1. AL uses the designated hitter rule, allowing a player to hit in place of the pitcher, while NL requires pitchers to hit for themselves.
  2. AL games tend to have higher-scoring games due to the designated hitter, whereas NL games feature more strategic plays and lower scores.
  3. The different rules in AL and NL create unique playing styles, with AL focusing on offense and NL emphasizing pitching and defense.

AL vs NL

AL, which means the American League, is a baseball league that allows a designated hitter to bat in place of the pitcher. NL, which means the National League, is a baseball league which does not allow for the use of a designated hitter to bat in place of the pitcher.

AL vs NL

American League is among the two major leagues of baseball. It used to have 14 numbers of teams, but after 2012, it had 15 teams. It was founded on 28 January 1901 by Ban Johnson. Designated Hitter is allowed in the American League.

It was developed from a minor league. Pitchers in the American League do not bat. It is based on power, the epitome of the home run. National League is the first major league of baseball in the United States and Canada.

There were 16 teams earlier, but now it has 15 teams. It was founded on 2 February 1876. Designated Hitter is not allowed in this league, and therefore, pitchers in the National League can bat. It has three divisions. It is mainly based on pitching and offensive runs.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAmerican LeagueNational League
Formed in19011876
DH allowanceAllowsDo not allow
Based onPower, and focus on home runs.Pitching and emphasis on offensive runs.
Number of teams (before 2012)1416
UmpireAbove catcher’s headOver the inside shoulder of the catcher.

What is AL?

American League was developed from the Western League and founded in early 1901 by Ban Johnson. A player batting in the place of the pitcher is allowed in this league, and that is called a designated hitter.

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DH is not used for any other position in the game. It can be replaced by someone who has not entered the game yet.

On average, more runs are achieved in the American League for this reason. The umpire during the match under the American League has to watch over the head of the catcher.

Earlier, this league had fewer teams, but later, in 2012, one team from the national league transferred to the American league, making it equal to the national league.

Matches are more focused on power and home runs in the American League. The following are the teams in American League:

  • Boston Red Sox
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Los Angeles 
  • Houston Astros
  • Tampa Bay Rays
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Oakland Athletics 
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Texas Rangers
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Seattle Mariners
  • New York Yankees

What is NL?

National League is the oldest league in the United States and Canada, founded in 1876. It is also called Senior Circuit. There were more teams earlier than today due to one shift by a team; it now has 15 teams as a member. 

Five teams from this league at the end of the season go to win the national league championship in the postseason.

In this, the player plays in the field, not on the pitch; this means that the designated hitter is not allowed in this; therefore, it is behind in making average runs as compared to the American League. This league focuses on offensive runs.

The umpire in this league does not focus on the head of the catcher but on the shoulder of the catcher. The following are the teams in the National League:

  • Atlanta Braves
  • Florida Marlins
  • New York Mets
  • Philadelphia Phillies
  • Washington Nationals
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • St. Louis Cardinals
  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Colorado Rockies
  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • San Diego Padres
  • San Francisco Giants

Main Differences Between AL and NL

  1. The difference between the American League and the National League is in the year they were formed, the American League was formed after the National League, the American League was formed in 1901, and the National League was formed in 1876.
  2. Both of the teams have 30 players in total, but this does not mean both had an equal number of teams from the start. National League had a number of teams, it had a total of 16 members/teams, while the American League had fewer members or teams, as it had only 14 team members till 2012. After that, the Houston Astros made the shift.
  3. Another important difference in both of the leagues is that neither of them permits designated hitters, which means any player that bats in place of a pitcher. This is allowed or permitted in the American League, while it is not allowed in the National League.
  4. Both of these leagues focus on different aspects of the game. American League is more focused on the power of the game; the epitome of the league is on home runs, whereas the National League is more based on the orientation of pitching and emphasis on offensive runs by the team.
  5. The umpire in both leagues has to watch over the pitched ball in flight. But when it comes to watching the part of the catcher, in the American League the umpire stares or focuses above the catcher’s head, while in the National League, he focuses on the inside shoulder of the catcher.
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Last Updated : 10 September, 2023

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10 thoughts on “AL vs NL: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The rivalry between AL and NL brings a compelling depth to every baseball game. It’s a testament to the sport’s multifaceted nature.

  2. Baseball’s division between AL and NL creates a sense of exclusivity that enriches the sport’s dynamics. It’s a balance of power and strategy.

  3. I’m impressed by how these leagues have maintained their distinct characteristics over the years. It speaks to the passion and tradition of the sport.

  4. It’s amusing how the umpires have different positions in the two leagues – above the catcher’s head and over the inside shoulder of the catcher. Quite a contrast!

  5. It’s wonderful to see how the US has created such a unique game with different playing styles for the two leagues. Baseball fans are in for a treat!

  6. Thank you for highlighting the differences and historical details between the American League and National League. Understanding their unique styles is crucial for every baseball enthusiast.

  7. Why does baseball even have designated hitters? It seems to take away the strategic aspects of the game. AL’s focus on power is overstated.

  8. The detailed comparison of AL and NL is incredibly informative. This is a must-read for anyone delving into the world of professional baseball.


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