Difference Between AL and NL

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


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And 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 State 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.

AL vs NL

The difference between AL and NL is, AL stands for American League while NL stands for National League. Both of the leagues are old but if compared National League is older and was formed in 1876 and American League was formed later in 1901. Both of them had a different number of teams before 2012 (after that one team shifted to AL); American League has fewer while National League has more teams. The major difference between both leagues is the allowance of Designated Hitter or DH, which is allowed in the American League but not in National League, and due to this reason they also differ in terms of the number of runs averaged by teams, it is higher in American League and comparatively less in National League. Other than these they also differ in terms of the leagues based on and where the umpire focuses more on.

AL vs NL

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

It was developed from a minor league. Pitchers in American League do not bat. It is based on power, epitome on 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 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 Western League and founded in early 1901 in January by Ban Johnson. Player batting at the place of the pitcher is allowed in this league and that is called designated hitter.

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 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 has 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. 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 State and Canada of Baseball founded in 1876. It is also called Senior Circuit. There were more teams earlier than it has today due to one shift by a team; it has now 15 teams as a member. 

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

In this the player plays in the field, not in 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 the shoulder of the catcher. Following are the teams in 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 American League and National League is in the year they were formed, American League is formed after the National League, and American League was formed in 1901 while 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 starting. National League had number team, it had a total of 16 members/teams while American League had fewer members or teams, as it had only 14 team members till 2012 after that Houston Astros made the shift.
  3. Other important difference in both of the leagues is that both of them does not permits designated hitter, this means any player that bats in place of a pitcher. This is allowed or permitted in American League while it is not allowed in 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 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 on part of the catcher’s, in American League the umpire stare or focuses above the catcher’s head while in National League he focuses on the inside shoulder of the catcher.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2204311
  2. https://journals.lww.com/jclinrheum/fulltext/2009/06000/Management_of_Patients_With_Rheumatoid_Arthritis.13.aspx
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2012.06048.x
  4. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ssj/2/4/article-p314.xml
  5. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1007788303098
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