The Americans planned for a specific type of naval combat with their battleships. This type of combat was battle fought between battle lines during daylight, in reasonably good weather, enabling very long ranges, and using aircraft spotting (at the time the doctrine more fully evolved circa the mid 1930s, radar was strictly experimental and only actually known by a very few persons at that). In such a scenario it was important that your battle line not ever be "out ranged". Hence the American designers designed with this type of scenario in mind with biases to long range. However, the realities of naval warfare changed, rendering the type of battle planned for unlikely to happen at all.
By 1942, air power meant that air battles were fought during the day, and surface action between surface combatants, including battleships, would be fought almost exclusively at night. Indeed after 1941 nine out of 10 naval surface battles would historically be fought at night. Night battles would invariably be fought at ranges of less than about 20,000 yards. Radar didn't change this. Radar can not identify with any certainty that what your shooting at is the target you want to be shooting at. Visual identification of the target is still required in just about every case.
The American battleship commander, Admiral Lee, declined chances for night battle late war
, waiting instead for the type of battle his ships were better designed for,...... that would never come. After the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, which he won, Lee still seemed shaken about what could have gone wrong:
Our battleships are neither designed nor armed for close ranged night actions with enemy light forces. A few minutes of intense fire, at short range, from secondary guns can, and did, render one of our new battleships deaf, dumb, blind, and impotent through the destruction of radar, radio, and fire control circuits.
Indeed, the American battleships had no specialized night optics, had rather poor star shells, and eyeballs invariably were blinded by their own super bright gun flashes. Weapons were optimized for long range battle during daylight, and the protection scheme was also biased to long range battle. They did have very good radars but that could not change the basic nature of night combat. American battleship sailors were not even trained for this type of combat. Lee pointed out this rather glaring oversight as one of the reasons he declined to risk a possible night battle during the Marianas battle.
For the type of battles actually fought during WWII only the Bismarck design had a protection scheme at least suited for this type of combat. Moreover, the offensive weapons with high velocity ballistics, a heavy middle artillery, and potentially high rates of fire, was also better for these types of surface combat.