Looks Like The National League Is About To Adopt the Designated Hitter

Looks Like The National League Is About To Adopt the Designated Hitter

by Joe DeMayo February 06, 2019 0 Comments

Yesterday there were a bunch of proposed rules that were posted by Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic which a few would really change the game of baseball.

There is one rule that is a real hot button topic that me simply tweeting about garnered a ton of conversation among #MetsTwitter and whoever else that follows me. That is the seemingly inevitable rule change that the designated hitter will be universal and be a part of both the American League and National League. I posted a tweet in support of this movement and I was absolutely astounded how many were opposed to it.

I get there is always going to be two sides to an argument, but the fans in my mentions were probably at least 80% against it and I am going to try to paint some reasons why it is a good idea for baseball, and at the end I will tie it in to how amazing it would be for this Mets team as it is constructed.

There is almost no chance that the DH will be in the NL for the 2019 season as Andy Martino reported. Spring Training starts in a week and I can’t imagine MLB just flipping the switch like that. However the watch is on from 2020 onward until it eventually happens. I think we all know it will happen, but that doesn’t stop the debate as to whether it’s good or bad.

The DH was instituted in 1973 for the American League only. If you remember back then the American League and the National League were truly separate except facing each other in the World Series. They even had separate umpires! In my opinion once Interleague play for the 1997 season that should’ve started the momentum for the DH coming over to the NL. That was 22 years ago! There should be uniform rules in baseball, and the DH is well beyond the “experimental” stage, as its existence has been almost 50 years. In every other major sport the entire sport has uniform rules and to me there is no reason at all why MLB shouldn’t be uniform as well. A lot of people have told me then the AL should scrap the DH and the NL way should be the way baseball is, but reality is the game wants to produce more offense, not less. 

The obvious benefit would be eliminating essentially an automatic out from the lineup. Pitchers hit .115 with a .144 on base percentage last year which obviously is not good. The fun of the couple home runs hit a year by a pitcher certainly does not outweigh the negative that it has on the lineup. The #8 hitter in NL lineups are significantly impacted by the guy behind them and it limits their ability to produce which more or less makes it a 7 person lineup. How often are #8 hitters walked to get to the pitcher who then gets out? How often do #8 hitters simply get no pitches to see? It’s a near daily occurrence. The cool stuff the pitchers do at the plate is a very infrequent occurrence.

Another thing I saw a lot of being said is “it removes strategy from the game”. I mean, yes it takes out a small handful of double switches a year, removes wasting outs on sacrifice bunts because pitchers can’t hit. It does allow pitchers to pitch longer into games as they are not forced out for pinch hitters in tight situations. I honestly don’t see any negative in removing those things from the game. We complain that starters don’t pitch long enough into games, but then you take out Zack Wheeler who’s dominating giving up 1 run on 84 pitches because you are down 1-0. If you have a DH, you can let Wheeler pitch that extra inning or two and pull him when he’s truly ready to come out.

Pitchers have enough injury risk on their normal job on the mound, and there is compounded injury risk when you take into account running the bases. I know you are laughing as you read that line, but what would have Chien-Ming Wang’s career been had he not gotten badly hurt running the bases? Masahiro Tanaka pulled both of his hamstrings running the bases in an NL game. Oh and let’s not forget the major scare that we had with Jacob deGrom swinging the bat last year. It is adding unnecessary risk on guys who already are enduring an extreme amount of injury risk while pitching.

It also adds some flexibility on your roster where you can get more guys in the lineup each day at different spots. A lot of teams use the DH as a versatile piece to give guys “half days off” by DH’ing them and being able to play another hitter in the lineup. Wouldn’t it be nice on a given day that you want Robinson Cano to not be in the field, and instead of him being off he gets to just hit and you slot Jeff McNeil at 2nd for the day?

I also was tweeted quite a few times that it would be “ruining” the baseball that they knew and loved. I get it, it would be different than what you were used to, but the game is routinely changing in many ways. This would be just getting the entire league on the same playing field and I think fans would quickly adjust and be perfectly happy with this style of play. There is always going to be strategy in the game as more rules come into place, more analytics and more ways to try to get a competitive advantage over your opponents. Practically wasted at bats and double switches doesn’t qualify as big time strategy in the modern evolving baseball game. I get it that people will miss the old school style NL game, but I hope you got some perspective here and at least consider it as a possible positive. Don’t be afraid of change. If Cooperstown accepted Edgar Martinez, a DH into the Hall of Fame I think it’s time for the NL to adopt the rule.

Now let’s talk about our New York Mets. They are a team that likely can use the DH as much as anyone else in the NL. Peter Alonso, who I rated as my #1 Mets prospect last week here on The 7 Line is coming with questionable defensive skills, with many scouts thinking he would be perfect to be a DH. If there was a DH you could split time with him between 1st base and DH. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, part of the reason that the Mets were willing to take on the 5 years remaining on Robinson Cano’s contract was there is internal belief that the DH would be coming and it would help mitigate some of the issues that would come at the back end of the contract, but could also open up the opportunity to play someone else at 2ndwhether that would be a Jed Lowrie or Jeff McNeil. Let’s not forget about Yoenis Cespedes who is coming off double heel surgery, and the Mets believe he will come back in a big way once he’s healthy. I have some doubts if he’ll be able to handle outfield ever again, but they’ll have to try. How nice would it be to just have him walk up, slam home runs and then go back to the dugout? Having the DH would give this Mets team so much flexibility if it were to be brought into existence by the 2020 season.

The DH is coming and I know some people will simply never embrace it and that’s OK. There are legitimate reasons why the DH will give us a more enjoyable game to watch on a day to day basis without these automatic outs who you pray once in a while run into one.

The game is changing, and a good start would be to uniform the rules. I think that’s a good thing.




Joe DeMayo
Joe DeMayo

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T7L contributing blogger - Follow Joe on Twitter




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