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I’m no fan of the DH, but pitchers batting has got to go

Jan 2, 2013, 11:07 AM EDT

Justin Verlander

Anna Hiatt argues for the DH to expand to the NL.  We all know the parameters of this argument by now and have engaged in it many times, so allow me to offer up my opinion on the matter in a way that attempts to eschew the religious war vibe of this time-worn debate.

I am an NL partisan. I have been since I started following the Braves in the mid-1980s. I’m not a fanatic about it, and it matters far less now than it did back before interleague play, realignment and new ballpark construction blurred the distinctions between the leagues, but I still remain an NL guy. And part of that is, yes, I like pitchers batting.

I like pitchers hitting for the same reasons I like medium-rare steaks, pale-skinned brunettes, Batman, bourbon and a lot of regrettable 1980s synth pop: personal taste. These things just strike me the right way and make me feel just so. It’s not an objective thing. Many people are vegetarians, many gentlemen prefer blondes, like Superman, hate hard liquor and would rather die than be subjected to Human League’s “Don’t you want me.” They have their tastes and I have mine, and there is nothing more obnoxious than someone telling you that your subjective tastes are somehow, objectively, wrong, so I live and let live when this kind of stuff comes up and I hope they feel the same way.

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that, though I prefer pitchers batting, I don’t believe the National League’s rules in this regard are objectively better. Indeed, when I take my personal preferences out of the equation and look at the matter rationally, I cannot escape the logic of the DH in today’s game and the futility of pitchers batting.

The game is not played by all-around ballplayers anymore. Pitchers are just dreadful at hitting and, increasingly, are unable to even bunt particularly well. The strategy and gamesmanship my NL friends like to talk up is rather contrived when one thinks about it. Really, these machinations are more about the avoidance of pitchers batting than taking advantage of it. The whole dance in which managers spend so much energy to optimize minor matchups, often costing them their best pitchers and best hitters runs counter to the idea of my best nine playing your best nine and let’s see who wins.

And it’s not like this will get better. If anything, it will only get worse. In the absence of any expectation for pitchers to hit before reaching the NL combined with the absence of any financial pressures that might make adding a specialist to the roster problematic, there is nothing that will incentivize teams to make their pitchers better hitters. It makes no real sense to have pitchers batting now.  We certainly wouldn’t set it up that way if we were starting from scratch today.

I think baseball will, eventually, expand the DH to the National League. It probably won’t be because one side of the great DH debate concedes defeat and the change is made for the greater good of the sport itself. Actually, I figure it will come as a result of some collective bargaining thing, in which the players give up something to the owners in exchange for 15 more high-paying roster spots. But it will happen. Probably within the next decade on the outside.

And when it happens I will be a little sad. But ultimately I must conclude that pitchers hitting is a lot like player-managers, automats, ornate bank lobbies, milkmen, drive-ins and any other number of 19th/20th century things which tickled my fancy. They were cool. I kinda miss them. But they are an artifact of history and today there is no logical reason to have them, even if it seemed natural and logical to have them once upon a time.

170 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Ben - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    This is why Stephen Strasburg is awesome–he had a 108 wRC+ in 2012. Yeah, in 56 PAs, but whatever, dude hit .277/.333/.426. My Twins would be desperate for a hitter of his caliber.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      I doubt they’d say you couldn’t use your pitcher to bat — you just wouldn’t have to, but not every pitcher can hit…and it’s painful to watch. (See pic above. Thanks, Craig.)

      • Detroit Michael - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:52 AM

        It would be very rare for a manager to choose to have a pitcher hit instead of using someone else as the DH though, based on what happened in the American League. Stuff like that only happened in the AL during 1973-93 (i) late in the game when the DH had to take the field, often due to an injury (ii) a line-up card mix up and (iii) if the manager is Billy Martin.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:55 AM

        Well, I wouldn’t be for doing it, but I was trying to make Ben feel better. It would be kind of funny if teams knew that if they played the Twins, they’d face the batter since he wasn’t worse than anyone else on the team.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:07 PM

        *pitcher

        edit function!

      • indaburg - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:08 PM

        Michael, it also happened to the Rays in 2009. Maddon put Sonnanstine, the starting pitcher into the starting lineup due to a lineup error that cost the Rays the DH spot. It was the first time since the 70s that a starting pitcher appeared in the starting nine. Of course, Sonnanstine hit for a double and an RBI, and the Rays won the game because it’s Maddon..

      • indaburg - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:12 PM

        Sorry, Michael. Just noticed that you listed line up error. Note to self: blogging while cardo-ing significantly decreases reading comprehension.

  2. chill1184 - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Im no fan of the DH either but I agree that its going to come sooner or later. The line between the NL and AL has been slowly chipped away; the league presidents are just figure heads with no real power, the possibility of inter-league play all throughout the season instead of one month, etc.

    • albertmn - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      Possibility of interleague all year? Um, with the Astros switching to the AL, it is a sure thing, not a possibility.

      • chill1184 - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:33 AM

        My mistake, I wasnt sure if it was confirmed or not

      • mrfloydpink - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:53 AM

        It’s not so much a question of “confirmed” as it is mathematical necessity, because 7 AL games + 7 NL games leaves 1 AL team and 1 NL team.

      • mrchainbluelightning - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:05 PM

        I love seeing the thumbs down for mathematical facts and certainty.

  3. kirkvanhouten - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    My opinion on it is very simple:

    I like that every player has to play both sides of the ball (at least in the NL). There aren’t different players for defense and offense, and I don’t think pitchers should get a pass because so many of them are so helpless about it.

    I’ve heard the argument (but can’t seem to find the article at the moment, forgive me), that the helplessness of modern pitchers at the play plate may be attributable to the DH in the minors robbing them of any opportunities to do anything at all as a hitter.

    • kirkvanhouten - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      EDIT:

      …well, probably not. OPS of pitchers in:
      2010: .347
      2000: .376
      1990: .344
      1980: .389
      1970: .380
      1960: .383

      So…yeah. Probably not the fault of the DH in the minors. I herby retract my 2nd paragraph.

  4. El Bravo - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Boo your logic! Pie still reigns supreme either way, so whatever. Happy 2013 HBT!

    • historiophiliac - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      Bread pudding!

      (Someone is working on getting on the naughty list already this year.)

  5. Carl Hancock - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    The day the NL adopts the DH will be a sad sad day. I greatly prefer not having the DH. I know it’s inevitable, but I wish that wasn’t the case.

  6. DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    I do not agree it will happen – right or worng – for the simple reason that NL owners would have to pony up the pay for a very expensive position. It is currently the highest paid postion in baseball at 6.7 Mil a year. Typically speaking, that DH role would be filled on the roster by a utility player earning about a Million or so. Owners wil not want that

    • paperlions - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:54 PM

      Why do people think:

      1) That DHs are paid a lot. In general, they aren’t. Last year there were 6 guys classified as a DH that were paid more than $3.5M.

      Michael Young, who wasn’t signed as a DH
      Ortiz
      Dunn
      Hafner
      Martinez, who could still catch and play 1B when signed
      Butler

      That’s it. Essentially, there were 4 guys from the 14 teams with high salaries signed specifically to fill the role of DH. Most teams will probably just use cheap guys that have no natural position or that are blocked by someone else on the team.

      2) That this would mean an increase in payroll. Teams would still have the same amount of money to spend, they might just allocate it differently. The AL doesn’t have higher salaries because the DH, they have higher salaries because they have more teams in large markets that are run better than the NL does.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:58 PM

        “Designated hitters became the highest-paid position in 2011, making an average salary of $9.32 million. The second-best compensated players were first basemen, who earned an average of $8.89 million. The average DH salary climbed nearly $2 million, from $7.43 million in 2010.”

        http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20111205&content_id=26096930&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

      • paperlions - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:20 PM

        The problem with your theory is that you act like there will suddenly be a lot of viable DH candidates worth spending a lot of money on just because there are 15 more DH spots. There won’t be. There will be exactly as many great hitters that can’t field worthy of expensive contracts as there are now. Also, noting the list above (which were the only 6 guys being paid more than $3.5 as DHs last year), teams have realized that there is little value to be gained by putting a lot of money into players with restricted skill sets. Just like most teams don’t spend a lot on closers (because they really aren’t that hard to replace), teams won’t spend that much on DHs…they’ll just move a guy that can’t field to that spot instead of watching him butcher LF or 1B.

        All it is going to do is move money around the diamond, it won’t result in more money being spent.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:08 PM

        “The problem with your theory”

        Uhhhh…..the DH has been the highest paid position for many years, that is not a “theory”.

        And while Michael Young may not have been signed as a DH, so what? You don’t think AL clubs factor that in when signing deals, i.e if his defense goes south he can DH?

        The DH extends careers. Players at the end of there careers earn more.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 2, 2013 at 3:29 PM

        I’m not sure what you mean there, Delaware. I think Jim Thome and Johnny Damon made less as DH’s than they did playing positions earlier in their careers.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 2, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        @hist – I am not saying it is impossible to find a low priced DH, and sure, you can get a few more miles out of a Damon or Thome for the same price that say, Ross Gload would cost you off the bench. But even Damon and Thome could not play a full DH season once they got down to the 1-2 mil range.

        I am just going by the averages – which is also what an owner is going to do. The DH is one of the highest paid positions on average year in and year out. IMO, a NL owner is going to look at that say they don’t want to take on the extra cost

  7. conjecture101 - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    It’s not subjective. Any true baseball fan objectively believes ptichers should hit. If they don’t objectively believe that, they’re not a true baseball fan. Simple as that.

    • yahmule - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      That’s simple, alright.

      • conjecture101 - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:41 AM

        Actually baseball was once a relatively simple game, until sabermatricians like you got involved with it.

      • paperlions - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:56 PM

        That’s like saying physics was simple until people understood it better thanks to advances in technology. Baseball hasn’t changed, just the ability understand how outcomes and skills contribute to winning.

      • tuberippin - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        The only thing that is simple is this troll’s mind.

      • warpd - Jan 2, 2013 at 8:16 PM

        The Earth was flat once, now it’s round.

    • albertmn - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:34 AM

      This true baseball fan thinks no one that can’t hit should be put in a spot to have to hit, whether it is a pitcher or Chone Figgins.

      • conjecture101 - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:40 AM

        Actually you couldn’t be more wrong, objectively speaking of course.

    • nategearhart - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      I have no idea if you’re kidding, but assuming you’re not…as a baseball fan, I much prefer to watch people who are good at baseball play baseball. Pitchers are bad, very bad at hitting; it’s not entertaining to watch.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:53 AM

        Why stop there? Let’s rotate and make every man take a turn pitching!

      • conjecture101 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:52 PM

        I couldn’t care less what you prefer to watch Nate.

      • nategearhart - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:53 PM

        And I don’t care what you prefer. But your “not a true baseball fan” blathering is pretty obnoxious.

      • bh192012 - Jan 2, 2013 at 3:02 PM

        I think you’re on to something historiophiliac, why not have every player rotate through every position. In a 162 game season and 25 man roster, no single player could do a single position more than ~6 times. Who doesn’t want to see David Ortiz play shortstop?

      • historiophiliac - Jan 2, 2013 at 3:33 PM

        I think some people missed my sarcasm font, but, really, King Felix’s talent as a catcher is going to WASTE!!!!! Why would you pay top dollar for someone who can’t play every position? The only pure baseball is Pee-Wee where everyone takes a turn at each spot.

    • Matt Hunter - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      “objectively believes” is so great.

      • conjecture101 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:57 PM

        Thanks Mr Intellectual, Now go back to typing in your mothers basement.

      • tuberippin - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:53 PM

        “‘Objective’ … you keep using this word … I don’t think it means what you think it means”

      • raysfan1 - Jan 3, 2013 at 12:10 AM

        Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!

      • nbjays - Jan 3, 2013 at 7:31 AM

        Inconceivable!

    • mrchainbluelightning - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      So you are going to stop watching baseball when pitchers are no long hitting right? And not be missed in the slightest, and then refer to yourself as a “true baseball fan”?

      • conjecture101 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        If you could read, you’d know I didn’t say that. But since you can’t I recommend 1st grade.

    • madhatternalice - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:27 PM
    • bigmeechy74 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      Wow 2 good troll comments back to back. Nice trolling, troll.

      • conjecture101 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:51 PM

        At least i have an original name. Bum.

    • cur68 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:04 PM

      So lets see…
      1) a non-logic argument presented as logic
      2) ad hominem attacks when questioned
      3) no sense of humour
      4) probably likes pie
      5) smells of elderberries

      Hmmmm….adds nothing to the discussion. Has no class. Isn’t funny. Yeah, you can go. No one will miss you.

      • conjecture101 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:06 PM

        Appreciate that!

  8. stex52 - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    The problem is self-inflicted. Once the DH was put into the AL, then colleges and minor league teams adopted it also. Cause-effect is that DH brought in the inability of pitchers to hit at all; not vice-versa.

    It’s too late to fix the problem. You are right; we will see the elimination of NL-style ball in the next few years. Don’t like it, but it’s a done deal.

    At least we will still have brunettes in the world.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:26 AM

      On behalf of brunettes, you’re welcome.

    • Detroit Michael - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:56 AM

      Pitchers’ ability to hit has been steadily declining anyway. Another poster included data above that refutes your hypothesis.

      • stex52 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:25 PM

        Not really. Note that performance has declined by over 10%. And it is certainly true that a pitcher can start in the Majors now who has not held a bat in anger for several years.

      • stex52 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:33 PM

        Besides, note the numbers below for 1930. Probably comes closer to confirming my hypothesis.

  9. bsbiz - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    But… But…

    But think about all the bunts that will be sacrificed!!

    • paperlions - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      See….that right there….that wins the argument.

      I was kind of DH agnostic…you just made me 100% pro-DH with that one revelation.

  10. personalspaceinvader - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Nice article, Craig. I like the suggestion that pitchers hitting may be a thing of the past but also fear for that kind of thinking going forward.

    How would you feel if poor fielders never had to play the field? Meaning multiple designated hitters?

    What if, to ensure the safety of pitchers, they are made to stand behind a cage like in the home run derby?

    What happens when someone suggests the game is too long and waring on players, so they add a time limit?

    Part of the appeal of baseball are these time worn traditions. I don’t like this bastardization of the sport one bit, but I suppose that kind of thinking goes along with the “religious war”/”fanatic” type stuff you mentioned.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      The difference between the DH and the things you mention is that baseball has been using the DH for 40 years in half the league (way more than half if you count the minors). At some point that becomes tradition too.

      Introducing “designated fielders” would be a totally different and unprecedented thing.

      • yahmule - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:35 AM

        Charles O. Finley proposed rule changes that designated fielders on a large scale. Also, smaller lineups that were composed of just the best hitters on each team. He had a better chance of getting orange baseballs off the ground.

    • mrchainbluelightning - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      Scare tactics and taking examples to extremes in an attempt to halt common sense and progress is the mark of the frightened and dull witted.

      • personalspaceinvader - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:39 PM

        Scare tactics? I’m contemplating the changing landscape of the game.

        Craig says all these things are unprecedented, but everything was unprecedented once.

      • paperlions - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        You are contemplating things that 1) are not natural derivatives of a DH rule, and 2) that have no chance of occurring. These are DH slippery slope arguments….and for all the bluster about them, slippery slopes simply do not manifest. They are scare tactics, nothing more.

  11. heyblueyoustink - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    The DH system is like kissing your own sister for alot of National League fanbases. I hope I never get to see it, I like the strategy element of the pitcher at the plate over some guy who otherwise has very little to no skill when it comes to playing the game other than when he has a bat in his hands.

    • albertmn - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      Please explain how a good hitter than doesn’t field well is any different from a good pitcher that can’t hit well. Both only do half of the game well. Personally, I think your argument refutes itself.

    • paperlions - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      Oddly enough, if a guy is great at hitting and is horrible at fielding, we call him a HOFer. If a guy is great at fielding and horrible at hitting, we call him a utility player (or Brendan Ryan).

      • nbjays - Jan 3, 2013 at 7:37 AM

        But what if said “utility player” is also “scrappy”?

    • anxovies - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:52 PM

      Dear heyblueyoustink,

      What’s wrong with kissing your own sister?

      Yours Truly,
      NASCAR Fan

  12. youcantpredictbaseball - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    “The game is not played by all-around ballplayers anymore.”

    It never was. In 1930, MLB collectively hit .296/.356/.435/.790. (the NL hit over .300 as a whole). For comparison, the AL in 2000 had a .792 OPS. I couldn’t find the split broken down by position, but there were 15 pitchers to get 100 PAs, and they collectively hit .232/.258/.318/.576.

    • kirkvanhouten - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:34 AM

      Though .232/.258/.318 is still terrible, it’s still much better than the .148/.184/.192 mark NL pitchers hit in 2000.

  13. steveflack - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    I’d rather the DH go away than be implemented MLB-wide, but there’s no chance of the Union letting that happen. But I’d rather there just be uniformity among the league most of all. It’s like what if the Eastern Conference of the NBA having a 3 point shot, but not the West. It’s just awkward. Quirky, yes, but awkward.

  14. historiophiliac - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    FYI, Craig, in honor of Torii Hunter, I broke out a little Depeche Mode over the holiday.

  15. SOBEIT - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    The micro aspect of baseball has gotten out of control. If the logic is that pitchers are not that good as a whole in hitting, could the same argument be made for the other positions. We have players who are very good hitters but cannot play defense. Then we have great defensive players who cannot hit…which is the majority of players in our minor leagues. How many talented prospects do you have in your system who are wizards with the glove and have great speed on the bases and in the field, but will never see a day in the pros because they bat .200 or less or can’t hit a specific type of pitch and are abused by pitchers who can spot the pitch.

    So why not go to a format like football and have defensive specialists and offensive specialists. Let’s just destroy the original game of baseball and just call it something else completely. I don’t understand the obsession by the pro leagues to change the game in such drastic ways. And I don’t agree with the argument that we put so much money into pitchers as justification to specialize the position across both leagues. The value of a defensive player increases with the ability to hit. Being able to do successfully do multiple things on the field has value. Let’s go even further and just eliminate the need for base running and have base running specialists so that we don’t injure our star hitters and have a runner on base all the time who has speed and can steal, but if given the chance, couldn’t hit a bowling ball with a bat. Stop the insanity!

    There is a special aspect to the game for a NL manager to put the right people in the right situations. Take your ace out for a hitter or keep him in and roll the dice to get another inning or two. The elation when your pitchers makes great contact and gets a hit or executes the bunt to perfection.

    If you like one style of play, you have a whole league (AL or NL) to follow with those characteristics. But if you make the whole sport into AL style ball, you disenfranchise half the fans from the style of play they consider special.

    • tigerprez - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:04 PM

      It’s true. You could have eight defensive wizards and nine DH mashers. But why even have nine, since that number is just a vestige of a bygone era? You could get away with as few as four (three on the bases, one in the batter’s box). That way Jim Thome could bat nine or ten times a game and we’d never have to deal with the indignity and being offended by watching a poor hitter swing a bat.

  16. greymares - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    the only way i would except a hitter for the pitcher is to go to a 2 platoon sport and bat for all the fielders.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:58 AM

      So, football then.

  17. abaird2012 - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    I have often wondered: why do pitchers necessarily have to be lousy hitters? As a group, they certainly have enough spare time during the season to take a little batting practice. I tend to think it’s all about expectation — nobody expects them to hit well, so they have no motivation to confound that expectation. If I were a pitcher, I’d exploit any natural talent I might have for hitting to increase my marketability, if nothing else.. It may be an era of specialization, but I would still guess that the more things a player can do well, the better a price he’s gonna fetch. Plus, then when your arm blows out you can look for DH work in that other league.

    • kiwicricket - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:56 AM

      That is actually exactly what a number of cricketers have done over the past decade. Their marginal bowling and fielding (pitching/fielding in this case) was being substituted by teams for a similar player, but with better fielding/batting attributes. They had no other option but to adapt and enhance their skill set in order to survive in that level of sport.

      There is no reason why pitchers can’t enhance their skills in both fielding and hitting.

    • stex52 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      Agreed. No reason they can’t hit, except they aren’t expected to.

    • scatterbrian - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      Do you realize how insanely difficult it is to hit major league pitching? Top prospects flame out all the time either because they can’t make the adjustments in the minors, or they get to the big club and are completely over-matched. Pitchers taking a little BP during the season isn’t going to help them all that much. I understand you’re most likely thinking pitchers need to only perform at something like a replacement level, but even that is a high expectation.

  18. macjacmccoy - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    Wow Craig I finally agree with you on something, Paled skinned Brunettes .

  19. sparty0n - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    I’d like to see a year by year trend for pitchers since the DH was implemented. I suspect it would be impacted by long tenured AL pitchers moving to the NL and batting for the 1st time in years whereas prior to the rule change, changing leagues didnt impact a pitcher’s ABs.

  20. Stiller43 - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    Pitchers are part of the team. Pitchers should hit. The “incentive” should be either self-motivated (who wants to be embarassed each time up?), or it can be money (if everyhing else is equal, i’d pay more for the better hitter).

    I think thats enough for motivation, and i like the managers having to manage those aspects of the game. I kinda think, in the nl, it seperates team who has managers who make better decisions and the better hitting pitchers…

    But i wouldnt feel like somebody kicked my dog if they did switch it to the dh…i just like the pitchers batting more.

    • 18thstreet - Jan 2, 2013 at 4:00 PM

      There’s just no enough pitchers getting enough plate appearances to warrant paying them for their hitting skills. You know how many got 200 PAs over the last three seasons (combined)? Thirteen.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=p&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=200&type=8&season=2012&month=0&season1=2010&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0

      No one is paying a pitcher for that. No one.

      • jarathen - Jan 3, 2013 at 8:06 AM

        This is the real reason. People wring their hands about having a defensive dynamo sitting on the pine during the offensive half of the inning, but a regular player will still get 400+ PA’s every season. Only workhorse starters will get half of that, and no one is going to ask a guy with a sore arm to take a few hours of batting practice every day between starts.

        It’s not a matter of skill, though watching pitchers hit is awful and terrible and more than a little sad (really – those players look helpless, awkward, out of place, and often annoyed).. It’s a matter of opportunity. We hear all the time about how hitters need to develop a rhythm against live pitching, about how being jerked in and out of a lineup makes it hard for them to stay focused. Why would a guy playing once every five games ever become all that good offensively?

  21. tigerprez - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Honestly, I’d much rather go with eight hitters in the lineup than add a DH. If someone like David Ortiz is such a terrible fielder that the risk of him playing firstbase (!) is greater than the potential benefit he provides with his bat, he probably should hang up the spikes. He stopped being a ballplayer awhile ago.

    Really, why stop at one DH? It’s not too hard to extend the logic that if pitchers shouldn’t have to hit because they are generally poor hitters, then neither should shortstops and catchers that can’t flail their way to a .600 OPS. Why not just have nine DHs and nine fielding specialists? That way every lineup could have nine Jim Thomes and every field could have nine John McDonalds. Wouldn’t the caliber of both offense and defense be undeniably better by every conceivable measure?

    Or we could just kill the DH and have eight players in the lineup who are mobile enough not to snap in half when they have to do anything but swing a baseball bat.

  22. pascalswager42 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    Thomas Dolby, Martin Gore, and Robert Smith all approve of this post.

  23. tc4306 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    You must yearn for the long ago days of the Dodgers when Don Drysdale was one of their better pinch hitters. My personal preference is for the DH. I’d rather spend my coin on a 6-5 game than on a 2-1 game. My only logical reason for supporting a change to the DH concerns the health of American League pitchers. These guys don’t take batting practice, many of them have never hit in any league and for pitchers on AL teams to have to hit in NL parks puts them at risk. There is zero plus to having you $15m/yer pitcher get a broken hand (or worse) because he does not know how to properly turn away from the inside heat.

    • 18thstreet - Jan 2, 2013 at 4:03 PM

      http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=p&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=200&type=8&season=2012&month=0&season1=2010&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0

      Don Drysdale had 25 career plate appearances as a pinch hitter. Twenty-five. His OPS in those situations was under .500. Five singles, two walks. No extra-base hits. Man, it must have been something to see if THAT was one of the better pinch hitters available.

  24. koufaxmitzvah - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Shortstops used to not hit with the best of them. DH the shortstop position. One dimensional speedy guys who can stop a hard hit grounder behind second. Why bat that guy 8th or 9th especially if that player can’t top the Mendoza line?

    Catchers used to not hit either. Up until Mike Piazza popped up, we had been waiting for the next Johnny Bench to come around. But wait a minute…. JB finished his career as a 3rd baseman. Obviously, the great Bench knew that he was wasting his talents catching. That being said, catchers are at best 2nd pitchers– framing pitches, dealing with umpires, throwing out base stealers.

    It doesn’t stop with pitchers, Craig. Lots of one-dimensional losers litter lineups across America every single goshdang day.

    • kirkvanhouten - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      “Catchers used to not hit either. Up until Mike Piazza popped up, we had been waiting for the next Johnny Bench to come around.”

      Carlton Fisk
      Gary Carter
      Lance Parrish
      Ted Simmons
      Darrell Porter
      Mickey Tettleton
      Darren Daulton

      …all pretty excellent hitters if I do recall. As for “waiting for the next Johnny Bench”…well, Johnny Bench is probably the greatest all around catcher of all time. Meaning you could wait around for 100 years and not get another catcher whose going to be the best defensive catcher in the game to an arsenal that includes 40 home runs a year.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:28 PM

        What I like about the Internet is how one can use sarcasm and have a response that claims “You can’t be serious!”

        Here’s an idea: Take a look at the batting averages of starters throughout the league, and then replace all the players who hit below what you consider to be efficient batting for sake of a batter who does not field, and then call your team really up to date or whatever the excuse is for ramrodding the DH down the NL fanbases’ throats.

        I’m so glad folks are dead serious about restructuring baseball for the sake of…. whom? Oh yeah. Folks who just can’t stand seing a pitcher hit. The Horror!

      • kirkvanhouten - Jan 2, 2013 at 3:55 PM

        “What I like about the Internet is how one can use sarcasm and have a response that claims “You can’t be serious!””

        Yeah, it’s strange how words written on a screen aren’t narrated in the reader’s head the same it was yours. Astounding how computers aren’t magical that way….

      • nbjays - Jan 3, 2013 at 7:44 AM

        …which only reinforces the need for a dedicated “Sarcasm Font”… seriously!

  25. cackalackyank - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Well here is my logic on the DH. While the NL owners would not want to pony up the extra 6 mil a year per DH there comes to my mind an arguement that would get them over it in a hurry. I remember a game the Mets played (when they were good) back in the ’80’s. David Cone came up to bat at Candlestick Park…and promptly got nailed on the pinky finger of his pitching hand, and missed a nice chunk of the season. Now just imagine for a minute that you are an owner paying a guy say 20 million+ a year to PITCH and he misses half a season because of some idiotic thing like that. Also, another fine example that comes to my mind is the beginning of Chen Min Wang’s demise as an effective pitcher after a injury running the bases in an interleague game in Houston. It will reach a point where instead of a few freak occurrences you will see a couple prime pitchers from NL teams get hurt in the same season, doing something they are not really paid to do, or trained to do anymore. Then the interest in purity of the game will evaporate in favor of the economic reality of paying a guy 6 mil to extend his career at the plate in order to protect your 20+ mil a year ace from a really stupid injury at the plate or on the bases.

    • davidpom50 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      But that’s not really that different than, say, Matt Kemp (who gets paid $20 million per year to HIT) missing a big chunk of time because he ran into the wall playing centerfield, a task at which he is at best mediocre, and by some measures quite terrible. It’s, to my mind, a part of the game. Like Craig says, this is personal opinon, but I like players playing both ways. I even like the old timey two-way football players that you NEVER see any more. Doesn’t mean I like football any less the way it’s played now, though.

      • cackalackyank - Jan 2, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        It is actually totally different…an owner pays Matt Kemp to play the outfield and hit…no owner is going to pay Greinke for what can do with a bat.

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