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.
Apr 19, 2015, 9:25 PM EDT
Fans, be warned: Bryce Harper will stare you down until you do the right thing.
Apr 19, 2015, 8:35 PM EDT
Who can stop Nelson Cruz?
Apr 19, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT
Travis d’Arnaud suffered a fractured hand in Sunday’s game against the Marlins, so the Mets promoted prospect Kevin Plawecki.
Apr 19, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT
More Athletics/Royals drama unfolded on Sunday.
Apr 19, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT
White Sox pitching prospect Carlos Rodon is expected to be promoted on Monday.
Apr 19, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
A’s right-hander Jesse Hahn made an early exit from his start Saturday against the Royals with a blister on his pitching hand and it sounds like he may miss a turn in Oakland’s rotation.
Apr 19, 2015, 4:53 PM EDT
“Counting games in St. Louis since the start of the 2003 season, the Reds are 3-29-2 in series against the Cardinals.”
Apr 19, 2015, 4:17 PM EDT
The 26-year-old d’Arnaud had a terrific second half last season for New York and he was off to a very promising start in 2015, hitting .317/.356/.537 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 11 games played.
Apr 19, 2015, 4:01 PM EDT
Brutal news here for the NL East-leading Mets.
Apr 19, 2015, 3:34 PM EDT
Jon Lester appears to have found a solution for his problems making throws to first base …
Apr 19, 2015, 2:52 PM EDT
And why should it?
Apr 19, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT
There’s so much gold in this new Red Bull spot for Cubs rookie third baseman Kris Bryant …
Apr 19, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
Puig, who boasts an .886 through 34 plate appearances, is considered day-to-day.
Apr 19, 2015, 12:41 PM EDT
Carrasco was lucky to avoid a serious injury. These reschedulings seem to be completely precautionary.
Apr 19, 2015, 11:57 AM EDT
Span underwent surgery for a sports hernia in December and then needed a followup procedure for a core muscle injury in early March.
Apr 19, 2015, 11:04 AM EDT
It’s been a rough first couple of weeks for the 2015 Giants, who sit in last place in the National League West with a record of 4-9 and a -21 run differential. But they got to do some celebrating Saturday night …
Apr 19, 2015, 10:18 AM EDT
This will be the first start for Richards since he tore the patellar tendon in his left knee last August in Boston.
Apr 19, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT
Jason Heyward hit his first home run as a member of the Cardinals on Saturday in St. Louis …
Apr 19, 2015, 8:33 AM EDT
Mark down seven straight wins for the Mets, who will try for a four-game Citi Field sweep of the Marlins on Sunday afternoon behind staff ace Matt Harvey.
Apr 18, 2015, 11:26 PM EDT
Grant Balfour was designated for assignment following a disastrous Saturday night against the Yankees.
- Five Royals ejected in Sunday’s series finale against the Athletics 44
- White Sox will promote Carlos Rodon on Monday 12
- Another one bites the dust: Mets lose young catcher Travis d’Arnaud to fractured right hand 10
- National League GM says Phillies’ asking price for Cole Hamels hasn’t dropped “one bit” 12
- Giants receive their 2014 World Series championship rings 20
- Angels activate Garrett Richards for Sunday debut 2
- Settling the Score: Saturday’s results 38
- Video: Watch Kris Bryant get his first major league hit and RBI 12
- The Commissioner’s Office thinks that the Angels could indeed go after Josh Hamilton under his contract (153)
- “Why Ted Cruz is like the Atlanta Braves” (150)
- “We no longer need the terrorists. We’re now so good at terrorizing ourselves.” (143)
- Another argument in favor of making the DH universal (127)
- When it comes to Josh Hamilton, Arte Moreno is a craven opportunist, not a “smart businessman” (116)