Difference Wiki

American League vs. National League: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 16, 2024
American League (AL) and National League (NL) are two separate leagues within Major League Baseball in the United States, differing mainly in rules and historical origins.

Key Differences

The American League, established in 1901, introduced the designated hitter (DH) rule, where a player bats in place of the pitcher. The National League, founded in 1876, adheres to traditional rules where pitchers also bat.
Teams in the American League often have a different strategic approach due to the DH rule, focusing more on offensive play. National League teams strategize under the premise that pitchers will bat, affecting game dynamics and player usage.
The American League consists of 15 teams divided into three divisions. Similarly, the National League also has 15 teams split into three divisions, with each league having its own set of teams and geographical distinctions.
The winners of the American League and National League face off in the World Series, the championship series of Major League Baseball. This series highlights the distinctive playing styles and strategies of both leagues.
Historically, the American League and National League operated independently until merging under the MLB umbrella. Despite the merger, both leagues maintain unique identities and rules.

Comparison Chart



Designated Hitter

Uses designated hitter rule
No designated hitter; pitchers bat


15 teams, divided into 3 divisions
15 teams, divided into 3 divisions

Strategic Approach

Focus on offensive play due to DH rule
Traditional strategy with pitchers batting

World Series

Competes against NL in World Series
Faces AL in World Series

American League and National League Definitions

American League

DH Rule League.
In the American League, the designated hitter rule applies.

National League

15 Team League.
There are 15 teams in the National League.

American League

15 Teams.
The American League comprises 15 teams.

National League

No DH Rule.
National League games don't use the designated hitter rule.

American League

World Series Participant.
An American League team will play in the World Series.

National League

Oldest MLB League.
The National League is the oldest division in Major League Baseball.

American League

1901 Origin.
The American League was established in 1901.

National League

1876 Founding.
The National League was founded in 1876.

American League

Baseball League.
The American League is one of the two main leagues in MLB.

National League

World Series Contender.
A National League team competes in the World Series.


Does the American League use the DH rule?

Yes, the AL employs the designated hitter rule.

What is the American League?

It's one of the two major leagues in MLB, established in 1901.

What is the National League?

The oldest of the two major MLB leagues, founded in 1876.

Do National League pitchers bat?

Yes, NL pitchers take their turn at batting.

Are the rules different in the AL and NL?

Yes, mainly regarding the use of the designated hitter.

How many teams are in the American League?

There are 15 teams in the AL.

When did the AL and NL merge?

They merged under the MLB umbrella but maintain separate identities.

Can teams switch between the AL and NL?

It's rare and typically involves league reorganization.

Is the American League older than the National League?

No, the NL is older, established in 1876.

What's unique about American League games?

The use of a designated hitter adds a tactical element.

How are teams divided in the American League?

The AL is divided into East, Central, and West divisions.

What divisions are in the National League?

The NL has East, Central, and West divisions.

Which league has more World Series wins?

This varies over time, with both leagues having periods of dominance.

What historical differences exist between the leagues?

They originated independently, with different philosophies and rules.

Do fans prefer one league over the other?

Fan preference often depends on regional and team loyalties.

How many teams are in the National League?

The NL also comprises 15 teams.

Who plays in the World Series?

Winners of the AL and NL face off in the World Series.

Do National League games have a different pace?

Yes, often faster due to the pitcher batting.

How does the DH rule affect AL strategy?

It allows for a more offensive strategy in the AL.

Are there joint events for AL and NL teams?

Yes, like the All-Star Game and interleague play.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons