Jan 2, 2013, 11:07 AM EDT
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.
Mar 27, 2015, 4:40 PM EDT
Drabek was once a top prospect and the Blue Jays acquired him from the Phillies in the Roy Halladay trade.
Mar 27, 2015, 4:13 PM EDT
The Rule 5 pick had a decent shot of making the Mariners’ pen out of camp.
Mar 27, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT
Should we be taking the rebuilt White Sox seriously as contenders?
Mar 27, 2015, 2:34 PM EDT
Verlander has continued to struggle this spring.
Mar 27, 2015, 2:01 PM EDT
There is only one reason a player should be tested for drugs as often as David Ortiz claims he has been: a previous positive test.
Mar 27, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT
Thanks to his mid-90s fastball and fantastic strikeout totals Salazar was a popular breakout pick for 2015.
Mar 27, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
No word on “yicketty.”
Mar 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
The Braves had one of the stranger off-seasons, both adding and subtracting players while also attempting to rebuild. How bad will they be in 2015?
Mar 27, 2015, 11:28 AM EDT
So far so good in Tanaka’s attempt to avoid Tommy John surgery.
Mar 27, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT
Good intentions are never enough.
Mar 27, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
Howie Kendrick’s replacement.
Mar 27, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Ludwick signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers in early February and it would have paid $1.75 million if he made the team at age 36.
Mar 27, 2015, 9:39 AM EDT
But it probably doesn’t matter because a reinstated Rose would be pretty limited to begin with.
Mar 27, 2015, 9:14 AM EDT
And 15 MLB teams are now worth at least $1 billion, according to Forbes.
Mar 27, 2015, 8:42 AM EDT
Dave Righetti thinks it may have to do with weight training.
Mar 27, 2015, 7:47 AM EDT
Kudos to Epstein for a good answer. Kudos to Schilling for a couple of more probing questions.
Mar 26, 2015, 11:02 PM EDT
In a first-person essay for The Player’s Tribune, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz came out swinging against his critics.
Mar 26, 2015, 9:50 PM EDT
The Mets are keeping an eye on the Dodgers and Rockies as they look to replace Josh Edgin.
Mar 26, 2015, 9:10 PM EDT
Are they ready to contend?
Mar 26, 2015, 8:29 PM EDT
Robertson signed a four-year, $46 million deal with the White Sox over the winter to be their new closer.
- 2015 Preview: Chicago White Sox 5
- Did David Ortiz admit to more than he realized with his Players’ Tribune editorial? 44
- 2015 Preview: Atlanta Braves 12
- David Ortiz: “Nobody in MLB history has been tested for PEDs more than me” 107
- 2015 Preview: Chicago Cubs 14
- Unsigned 2014 No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken undergoes Tommy John surgery 56
- 2015 Preview: Seattle Mariners 15
- Cardinals add “OT” patch for Oscar Taveras 76
- College baseball player cut after making offensive tweet about Mo’ne Davis (115)
- Ex-Cardinals outfielder Curt Ford was assaulted in St. Louis and told to “go back to Ferguson” (115)
- David Ortiz: “Nobody in MLB history has been tested for PEDs more than me” (108)
- Mo’ne Davis says college ballplayer who wrote an offensive tweet about her deserves a second chance (88)
- Rob Manfred says it would be hard to reinstate Pete Rose in a limited way (83)