Interleague Play by the numbers
Who came out on top in AL-NL sets that saw record attendance
If you match an American League team against a National League team, they will come.
Major League Baseball again had record-breaking total and average attendance for Interleague Play in 2008. A total of 8,893,312 fans attended Interleague games through Sunday, an average of 35,573. One Interleague game remains on July 10 as the makeup for a Yankees-Pirates rainout.
The average attendance for Interleague Play was up 15.9 percent over last year's 30,689. It's the third consecutive season in which Major League Baseball has established highs for Interleague Play and the fifth straight year that the total Interleague attendance has increased.
Since Interleague Play began in 1997, the AL-NL matchups have drawn 12.5 percent more fans than intraleague games. Over that span, Interleague Play has averaged 33,250 compared to 29,563 for intraleague games.
With the continued popularity of Interleague Play, Major League Baseball's cumulative attendance average of 31,687 is up 0.6 percent over the same date during the record-breaking 2007 season. At the current pace, MLB is on track for a fifth consecutive year of record overall attendance.
American League fans again have the most to smile about when they reflect on Interleague Play '08. The AL is 149-102 -- and much of that damage was inflicted by clubs in the AL Central.
The Minnesota Twins (14-4), Detroit Tigers (13-5) and Kansas City Royals (13-5) all cleaned up in Interleague Play. The AL Central was 58-32 overall, with four its five clubs going 12-6 or better. Eleven of the 14 clubs in the AL finished over .500 and only the Mets, Reds and Braves broke .500 from the NL.
The Twins earned the top Interleague record largely on the strength of their pitching staff. Minnesota had a 2.44 team ERA over those 18 Interleague games.
Nobody loves Interleague Play more than Cardinals infielder Aaron Miles. An Interleague hitting sensation coming into this season, Miles was right on cue with a Major League-leading .463 average.
After getting four hits against Tampa Bay in a 9-8 St. Louis win on May 17, Miles tried to explain his Interleague hitting prowess by saying that maybe American League teams don't pay a lot of attention to him in their scouting reports.
"They don't know me," Miles said. "Maybe I'm not on their radar."
Other Interleague standouts included Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox (36 hits); Jermaine Dye of the White Sox (eight homers, 23 RBIs); Mark Buehrle (4-0) of the White Sox; Andy Sonnanstine (4-0) of the Rays; A.J. Burnett (4-1) of the Blue Jays; Jair Jurrjens (0.00 ERA) of the Braves, George Sherrill (seven saves) of the Orioles and Joakim Soria (seven saves) of the Royals.
Two AL clubs which have historically fared well in Interleague Play kept that tradition going. The Yankees, with the best Interleague record at 123-86, finished 10-7 in '08. Oakland, at 123-89 all-time, went 10-8 this season.
The Florida Marlins went just 5-10 in Interleague Play this year, but still have the NL's best all-time Interleague record at 110-91.
Interleague Play's all-time statistical leaders include Albert Pujols, with a .350 batting average; Derek Jeter, with 278 hits; Jim Thome, with 55 home runs; Carlos Delgado, with 153 RBIs; Mike Mussina, with 21 wins; Johan Santana, with a 2.49 ERA and Mariano Rivera, with 55 saves.
Bob Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.