A reoccurring question in baseball that is being raised more and more frequently is: Should the National League adopt a Designated Hitter? A few writers from the Game Haus got together to discuss their opinions.
Absolutely not. Being able to watch a pitcher come through in the clutch and dash opponents fans hopes at the same time is a dream come true. Nothing was better than watching Jake Arrieta hit a three-run homer off of Madison Bumgarner in game three of the 2016 NLCS. In 2014, Bumgarner had one of the best playoff runs for a pitcher of all time. To see him bested at the plate by a pitcher made the home run that more remarkable. If the MLB makes the switch to the DH, then we will never be able to see opportunities like these again.
I understand the argument, that pitchers cannot hit and most often ruin rallies. And I also understand adding the DH allows for another player to start. J.D. Martinez is a prime example of a DH helping lead his team to the playoffs. But more often than not, adding an extra slugger does not pan out. Adam Dunn is a prime example. Over his 14 year career Dunn hit 462 home runs, averaging 33 a year. At the same time, he struck out 2,379 times, averaging 169.9 strikeouts a year. At the end of his career, he was the DH for the Chicago White Sox and it did not work out for either side due to his increasing number of strikeouts.
With the addition of the DH, the entire flow of the game is changed. Every team will have an extra slugger and baseball will be more long ball oriented. I am a huge fan of small ball, from sacrifice bunts, to hit and runs and stolen bases. I am used to watching baseball being played where players attempt to score anyway possible and not just relying on home runs. But the addition of the DH will add an extra hitter who will strikeout more due to trying to homer on every pitch. -Max Rayman
Call me a baseball purist of some sorts, but the National League does not need the DH (I also didn’t want instant replay in baseball,). There is just something about the potential match-up issues that NL managers face day in and day out that, in this writers’ eyes, help make the game better.
I get why people suggest getting the DH into the National League. Fans feel that getting another offensive bat in the lineup will lead to increased run production and more wins. The higher-ups in baseball want increased run production to help intrigue younger fans who more than likely find the game “boring” and bring more people into their stadiums.
With that being said, just because there is a more heavy-handed bat in the lineup instead of a pitcher, that does not mean more runs get scored. Not every DH is going to produce like J.D. Martinez. Besides, who doesn’t like seeing a pitcher drive in runs on his own to help his own cause? Just ask the St. Louis Cardinals, who rotation has five home runs and 20 RBI’s, both tops in the National League, and a slash line of .139/.161/.214, third best in the National League.– Michael Packard
Since the designated hitter became a position in the American League in 1973, AL teams tend to have better offenses. The idea of the NL adding a designated hitter is a touchy subject for most fans and rightfully so.
The biggest argument is if it is worth teams surrendering what most think of as a free out. Out of 57 pitchers with more than 30 at-bats in 2018, only seven have an average above .200. Of those seven with an average above .200, only two pitchers, Max Scherzer and German Marquez, have what would be an acceptable average at .271 and .306. Carlos Martinez at .242 can try and make an argument for himself but it is average at best.
This excludes Reds’ slugging reliever Michael Lorenzen who only has 23 at-bats, but Lorenzen and his four home runs will not be included in this argument because he often gets his at-bats through pinch-hit appearances.
Fans do not want to watch someone step up to the plate with the equivalent of a wet newspaper in their hands, when they could have someone with the potential to send balls to the seats. The naysayers of the designated hitter in the NL often propose their argument in the form of the tradition of the game. But is maintaining the tradition of the game worth a team having one less roster spot for an offensive boost to their lineup?
As a fan that loves tradition, having the NL adopt the designated hitter would be a tough pill to swallow. The strategy that comes with knowing when and who to pinch hit and then the right pitcher come in to get a hold is exciting. The AL uses far fewer pinch hitters because they do not have to plan for that.
There are also certain pitchers like Scherzer, Marquez, Martinez, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner that do bring a sense of thrill to the game when they step up to the plate.
But as a fan of an NL team, I would like to see them have that same advantage that AL teams have by adding a player like Nelson Cruz. Changing the tradition of Major League Baseball will take some time to get used to, but it would be the right move to level the playing field, and in a sport that claims to be slow and lacking a level of excitement, getting rid of pitchers hitting could increase viewership.
As long as they do not make the rule change until after Bartolo Colon retires.– Zac Stone
Some of the best players baseball history have been designated hitters. Players like Frank Thomas, David Ortiz, Jim Thome and Eddie Murray have all spent time in the DH spot. Pitchers should be paid to pitch as designated hitters are paid to hit. Yes, some DH’s do have field positions, but most are confined to first base due to their lack of speed or fielding skills.
Many contest that pitchers hitting isn’t a problem as many pitchers were some of the best hitters in their high school draft class, however, looking into MLB pitchers hitting performances in 2018 doesn’t help their case. Through June 7 pitchers accounted for more than 1,900 plate appearances and produced a slash line of .115/.146/.150. That is a wRC+ of -23.
Let’s stop pretending that pitchers can hit. Sure, it can be exciting when a pitcher comes through with a base hit, but fans don’t seem to realize how rare that is. I am not only advocating for the American League to keep the designated hitter, I am advocating for the National League to ditch pitchers batting and adopt the DH spot. -Brennan Frawley
Feature Image From USA Today FTW.