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.
May 19, 2013, 4:23 PM EDT
Logan Morrison is finally making steady progress in his recovery from September 2012 knee surgery. According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, the Marlins first baseman is scheduled to begin playing in minor league rehab games on Monday with the High-A Jupiter Hammerheads. He’s spent the past week-plus taking at-bats in games at extended…
May 19, 2013, 3:35 PM EDT
Veteran right-hander Roy Oswalt should be back in the major leagues at some point in early-to-mid June. According to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, Oswalt allowed just one hit — a leadoff bunt — over five innings Saturday in an outing at extended spring training against a group of Brewers minor leaguers. He struck out nine…
May 19, 2013, 2:42 PM EDT
The Phillies might, yet again, be without starting catcher Carlos Ruiz for an extended period of time. Ruiz was lifted from Sunday afternoon’s game against the Reds after straining his right hamstring while running the bases in the bottom of the second inning. Ruiz will presumably be placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday, and…
May 19, 2013, 1:59 PM EDT
From Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post: Right fielder/first baseman Michael Cuddyer said he is feeling much better after receiving a shot Tuesday to relieve the stiffness and soreness in his neck. He resumed baseball activities Saturday — throwing and hitting in the cage — and said he’ll be ready to come off the disabled…
May 19, 2013, 1:10 PM EDT
Tom Singer of MLB.com reports that the Pirates have scratched center fielder Andrew McCutchen from their starting lineup for Sunday’s series finale against the Astros because of soreness in his right knee. Starling Marte will slide over to center, Travis Snider will play left field and Garrett Jones will get the start in right. Gaby…
May 19, 2013, 12:21 PM EDT
As first reported by beat writer Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers have activated infielder Mark Ellis from the 15-day disabled list. Tim Federowicz was optioned to the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque to open up a roster spot. Ellis is in the Dodgers’ starting lineup on Sunday afternoon against the Braves,…
May 19, 2013, 11:36 AM EDT
From MLB.com’s Evan Drellich comes word that Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew is out of the starting lineup again on Sunday against the Twins due to lingering discomfort in his lower back. Pedro Ciriaco will get the start in his place. Drew also sat out of Saturday’s game, but he is not believed to be…
May 19, 2013, 10:58 AM EDT
Ike Davis went 0-for-4 in the Mets’ loss to the Cubs on Saturday and is batting just .156/.238/.359 in 39 total games this season. But the Mets’ decision-makers still aren’t ready to do anything drastic. Despite some reports to the contrary, Davis was assured Saturday by Mets general manager Sandy Alderson that a demotion to…
May 19, 2013, 9:40 AM EDT
The Rays confirmed late Saturday that 23-year-old right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who was acquired from the Royals this winter in the James Shields trade, will make his debut for Tampa Bay in Monday afternoon’s series opener against the Blue Jays. This from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Odorizzi is filling for staff ace David…
May 19, 2013, 8:54 AM EDT
Because the Cardinals have been just as hot and currently hold the top spot in the National League Central standings, the Reds’ run of success over the past couple of weeks has flown somewhat under the radar. Cincinnati was at it again on Saturday evening at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, routing the host Phillies by…
May 18, 2013, 11:55 PM EDT
It was not a matter of “if”, but “when”. All good things must come to an end. And other cliches. Today, the Orioles finally lost a game when leading after seven innings for the first time in 110 games, per ESPN Stats & Info. The Orioles led 6-4 over the Rays heading into the ninth. Closer…
May 18, 2013, 11:25 PM EDT
Even at the age of 37 and less than a year separated from an Achilles injury, David Ortiz can still hit with the best of them. The slugger entered tonight’s game against the Twins with a .999 OPS, including five home runs and 23 RBI in 98 trips to the plate. Since joining the club…
May 18, 2013, 11:00 PM EDT
The Athletics designated first baseman Daric Barton for assignment earlier today as the 27-year-old was carrying a sluggish .143 average through 23 plate appearances. On the other side of the country, the Mets have just about hit their tipping point with Ike Davis as D.J. Short pointed out earlier. Davis is hitting .156 with 46…
May 18, 2013, 10:15 PM EDT
The Evan Gattis story keeps on getting better. With the Braves struggling to put together any kind of offensive threat against Dodgers starter Chris Capuano, trailing 1-0 heading into the eighth, Evan Gattis provided a pinch-hit two-run home run against reliever Kenley Jansen to give the Braves the 2-1 lead and eventually the win. A…
May 18, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT
J.A. Happ was hit on the head with a Desmond Jennings line drive on May 7, suffering a minor skull fracture. While falling to the ground, Happ twisted his knee, and it is the latter injury that is causing him to progress slowly as the lefty has yet to pitch off a mound. Manager John…
May 18, 2013, 9:00 PM EDT
With Franklin Gutierrez working his way back into playing shape after landing on the DL with a strained right hamstring, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times suggests Endy Chavez could be the odd man out to create room on the roster. Chavez has a .288 on-base percentage and .310 slugging percentage. Meanwhile, Jason Bay and…
May 18, 2013, 8:30 PM EDT
Padres lefty Cory Luebke has suffered a setback in his quest to return from Tommy John surgery, stopping his throwing program for the second time in 2013 according to MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Luebke posted a 2.61 ERA in five starts last year before landing on the DL in late April and undergoing TJ surgery in…
May 18, 2013, 7:55 PM EDT
The Braves just received some bad news on reliever Eric O’Flaherty, as the lefty was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. Losing O’Flaherty means the Braves have just one left-hander in the bullpen in Luis Avilan. As a result, the Braves signed Joe Beimel to a minor league contract per Tim…
May 18, 2013, 7:19 PM EDT
If you needed a reminder that Joey Votto is the best pure hitter in baseball, you got one this evening as the Reds defeated the Phillies 10-0. Joey Votto came to the plate six times and reached base all six times, including a two-run home run in the top of the ninth that served as…
May 18, 2013, 6:45 PM EDT
Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia had two uncharacteristically bad starts against the Rockies and Brewers recently, surrendering five and six runs, respectively. Garcia dealt with shoulder issues last year and they may be to blame for his recent adversity as well. The Cardinals have placed him on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain,…