Major League Baseball announced Wednesday that there could be many potential rule changes applied to both the American and National Leagues. One of these potential rule changes is adding the universal designated hitter (also referred to as “DH”). This would take pitchers out of NL lineups and replace them with a hitter of the manager’s choice.
The AL implemented the DH in 1973, but the NL has always stayed away from it until now. This has been one of the most frequently talked about topics over the years. So let’s take a look at why the the universal designated hitter would be bad for MLB.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 6, 2019
The Universal Designated Hitter Would be Bad for the MLB
This is the first and main reason the designated hitter should not be added to the National League. Rule 1.01 in the official Major League Baseball rule-book states “Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each…” This rule has remained static for decades in the NL, and when you add a DH to the lineup, teams are technically playing with ten players. This new universal DH rule would break this first objective as well as disrupt baseball’s historical significance.
It Takes Strategy Out Of The Game
Many fans of the game believe watching pitchers hit is a boring part of baseball and dread for the ninth spot in the lineup to be on deck. But when pitchers are a part of the lineup, it adds much needed strategy to the game. It’s like Tom Verducci wrote: “If you like the DH, you like checkers. If you like NL style baseball, you like chess. Baseball without the DH is a better, more strategic game. Why tick off half your fan base and tell them you can’t have chess any more and you must like checkers?”
Managers must manage their bench and decide when to pinch-hit for their pitcher. At times a pitcher could be performing well but the team is struggling to score runs, so the manager will have to make a decision whether to substitute his pitcher for a player off the bench for a chance to breakthrough with some runs, or decide to leave his dealing pitcher in. Another example would be if a teams bullpen is depleted, the manager could decide to leave his pitcher in the game to bat even if it means risking a chance to score. These type of managerial decisions make the game of baseball much more exciting.
Another important strategy that is used when pitchers bat is bunting. Bunting is becoming obsolete in this era of baseball with everyone trying to swing for the fences. Although bunting adds a refreshing strategy to the game of baseball, it will become even more obsolete if the MLB decides to add the universal DH.
Pitchers Can Hit
Most people who are anti-DH will point out players like Ivan Nova who has a career .042 batting average and 92 strikeouts in 144 at-bats. There are certainly many pitchers who cannot hit, but there are also plenty that can. Including the most notable like Madison Bumgarner who has clubbed 17 homers in ten big-league seasons, Michael Lorenzen who launched 4 home-runs last season, and Yovani Gallardo who has hit 12 homers in his career. These guys are not sluggers by any means, but they can definitely handle the bat.
Just ask Brandon Woodruff if pitchers can hit. He took future Hall-of-Famer Clayton Kershaw deep in game one of the 2018 NLCS.
And let’s not forget about Bartolo Colon who hit one of the most memorable home runs in recent memory.
The sad fact is MLB commissioner Rob Manfred will probably implement the universal DH in the next collective bargaining agreement in 2021. This will more than likely improve the NL offensively, but it will mean the very first objective in the Official Baseball rule book will be broken after decades. Additionally, it will take away a lot of the manager’s strategic decisions, and fans will miss out on the exciting moments such as Brandon Woodruff’s and Bartolo Colon’s home runs.
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