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Will the National League adopt the DH rule?

Mar 31, 2013, 10:05 PM EDT

White Sox's Dunn hits a fly ball against the Brewers during their MLB Cactus League spring training baseball game in Glendale Reuters

Bernie Miklasz seems to think so in his latest column.

The “tradition” argument is weak.

Why? The DH is now part of that tradition.

The DH is used in the minor leagues, the colleges, high schools, and right on down the line.

The NL is the oddball here.

Like it or not, the National League will adopt the DH rule. The day is coming; most baseball people think we’ll see the DH implemented within 10 years.

Miklasz makes a lot of well-thought-out points throughout the article, showing the imbalance caused by having separate rules for each league.

I have to say, though, from a personal perspective — I enjoy watching pitchers hit. Remember last year when Matt Cain and Cole Hamels homered off each other in the same inning? Never would’ve happened if the DH rule was in the National League.

By the way, if you’re looking for a counterpoint to Miklasz’s pro-DH article, Michael Baumann made a most compelling case.

  1. chip56 - Apr 1, 2013 at 6:42 AM

    Put the emotional arguments aside, if you want to know why the National League will never adopt the DH all you have to do is follow the money. How much money does the average DH make as compared to a bench player or relief pitcher? National League owners have no interest in paying the difference. That’s why, when the league wanted to put another team in the AL they had to go with the newest owner.

    By that same logic, the DH will never leave the game because the MLBPA won’t want to see a high paying job disappear.

    Having said that, 2013 represents the 40th year of the DH. Maybe it is time to stop whining about it.

    • paperlions - Apr 1, 2013 at 7:45 AM

      Teams don’t spend more money on their team because of the DH, they just re-distribute it. If a team has a high paid DH, then they’ll just have less money to spend on other positions.

      • pmcenroe - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:43 AM

        True, but teams generally sign free agents to be DHs rather than develop one in their own system(for obv. reasons) thus it tends to be a higher paid position than having a pre-arbitration player or one under team control for six years man the position.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:57 AM

        And yet still only a handful of AL teams have a dedicated DH making a ton of money, and fewer still signed that player with the intention of him being a DH.

      • chip56 - Apr 12, 2013 at 7:16 PM

        Not always the case.

  2. stevequinn - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    There’s an acronym that puts the DH debate into perspective: MLBPA

    NL fans, get ready for the DH.

  3. tomtravis76 - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    I like being able to watch the two different leagues, but with interleague play now every series, it is about time to pick one set of rules. It is professional sports,playng for one championship.

    Nobody would stand for it if the NBA’s western conference played with the 3pt line and the eastern conference did not. If in the NFL the AFC used instant replay like the NCAA game and the NFC were limited to coaches challenge red flags.

  4. stex52 - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    The one set of rules argument will win. I’m not a fan of the DH, but it’s happening. That’s how they play in college and the minor leagues. Just a matter of time.

    • Kevin S. - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      Joe Torre was just on Mike and Mike saying basically that.

  5. spudchukar - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    Over my dead body!

  6. toreup - Apr 1, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    in 2012 the AL scored 10,088 runs, for an average of 720.6 runs per team, each team averaging 4.45 runs a game.

    in the sane year the NL scored 10,929 runs for an average of 683.1per team, each team averaging 4.22 runs per game.
    so if you were a fan of an arena league team you would enjoy roughly an extra run a week.

    so, DH pros:
    *one extra run a week
    *don’t have to watch pitchers bat
    *keeps players with minor injuries in the lineup
    and DH cons:
    *strategy removal
    *thinning of career statistic pool
    * allows players who don’t know how to use a glove to play
    *gives teams with the DH an advantage in interleague play

    for me, 1 run a week is not worth the cons

    • Kevin S. - Apr 1, 2013 at 10:08 AM

      The first con is overrated, the second con doesn’t make any sense, the third con ignores the fact that we already allow tons of pitchers who don’t know how to use a bat to play and the fourth con goes away once we universalize the DH. Next?

      • toreup - Apr 2, 2013 at 9:55 AM

        Overrated by who? I do not enjoy AL baseball. Joe Torre is a great manager in the AL. That should tell you all you need to know. I”m not going to go into the details here, I’m sure you’ve heard them all before, but no, it is not overrated. It is very real.

        The second doesn’t make any sense? lol. I love people like that. “I don’t get it, therefore it doesn’t matter!!!111one” Basically, if you see pro #3, you will see and understand that a player can get his AB’s, and rack up statistics, even though he is not actually playing in the game. Therefore, this player has an advantage to rack up statistics that players in the 40’s, 50′, et al and in the NL did not get the chance to rack up. In turn putting more, less able, players among the career statistic leaders. Robin Yount is a great example.

        The difference with pitchers is that they do play. Both in the field, and at the plate. Their arms are so valuable that a team has to deal with (strategy!) their bats in the lineup. In the post DH world, players that can mash are going to be so valuable for their bat, that teams will have to deal with (strategy!!!) his glove in the field. The PA doesn’t really need to worry about this anyhow, as it’s not going to be the Victor Martinez’s of the world that lose their job. His bat is too valuable. It’ll be the Ramon Santiago’s and the Matt Tuiasosopo’s of the world that will be looking for work. Their defense is not so good as to outweigh their offensive futility.

        Well, it actually will go away when we do away with the DH once and for all.

        It was a gimmick to bring people into the seats. That’s a fact. People are coming to watch baseball in droves and it’s not to see that extra run a week. Get rid of it now and it’s something we can all sit around with our grandkids and laugh about how stupid it was.

  7. spudchukar - Apr 1, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Our society has become specialized. Over-specialized some might argue. What the DH, takes away is the necessity of being a complete player. Sacrifice, another arcane term in present day society, should be appreciated, but is now deemed irrelevant. Together, they combine to illustrate, how adoption of the DH can be rationalized. Perhaps, I should throw in titillation.

    Those who argue they cannot stand watching pitcher’s hit just don’t get it, and probably never will. It is the futility that makes it so great. The “how can you walk a pitcher in that situation”, or “how can we allow a .120 hitter to beat us” is an intriguing part of the game.

    More runs, really? We have lowered the mound, brought in the fences, and bettered the bats. Baseball isn’t better with more runs, just more glamorous, and the titillation only works for those who want it to more resemble the less desirable games like football and basketball.

    I want the complete player to be championed. I want the team who inserts the oafish, slugger to be punished by his lumbering play in the outfield or first base. Baseball isn’t about “Hitters”, designated or not. It is about perfecting the art of playing, and that art is a complex, multi-skilled, thought-inducing, ever-learning process.

    I am sure modern art critics could find fault with some aspects of the Mona Lisa. If they were modern day baseball fans instead, they would be calling for the alterations to be made.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 1, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      You won’t find a bigger fan of generalism than me — I promise. But, the fact of the matter is that some people are just a lot better at one thing than another, and not capitalizing on those strengths is stupid. You can refuse to do it, but other teams that want to win will and then you will suffer the consequences. That’s just the way it is.

      Also, get off your high horse about the futility is great thing. There’s nothing intriguing about humiliating pitchers at the plate. No one wants to change the Mona Lisa — they just put it in a museum where it belongs.

      • spudchukar - Apr 1, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        Humiliating? If unsuccessful trips to the plate should render oneself to humiliation, then baseball players are one humble breed.

        As to the “high horse”, I will ride it as often as I damn well please.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 1, 2013 at 1:58 PM

        .180 hitters *are* a humble breed — or really, just sad.

    • nbjays - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:27 AM

      “What the DH, takes away is the necessity of being a complete player.”

      Really? A pitcher ineptly wielding the bat like an old lady trying to swat a bee with a broom handle is a “complete player”?

      Tell you what, you find me a good pitcher with a half-way decent batting line and well talk seriously about “complete players”.

      The top hitting pitcher in the NL last year (minimum 60 PA) was the Reds’ Mike Leake, with a batting line of .295/.306/.443, not bad for a pitcher. But since he went 8-9 with a 4.58 ERA, it appears he should be hitting but not pitching. The only other everyday pitcher with a winning record AND a good line was Stephen Strasberg, who hit .277/.333/.426 in 53 PA, or a blistering 13 hits. This places him squarely on a par with the Mariners’ great slugger, Kyle Seager… (who??)

      Until pitchers can take batting seriously enough to even be mediocre at it, don’t talk to me about “complete players”. The myth of the pitcher who can hit ended with Babe Ruth, who, once he found he could hit so well, stopped being a pitcher.

      Or, put another way, most designated hitters can field much better than most NL pitchers can hit, putting them above NL pitchers on the “complete player” scale.

      • spudchukar - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:27 AM

        Wrong, wrong, so many ways wrong! There are more good hitting pitchers, relatively speaking, than there are good hitting DH’s. If you want ineptitude, check out the DH stats, embarrassing.

        And no most DHs are DHs, because they suck in the field.

        Plus you fail to comprehend the “complete player”. You conflate it into a 5 tool player, which there are few of, then justify the DH use, cause a 5 tool guy is so rare. We are talking about matters of degrees here, and an honest assessment should recognize that.

      • kingmaniii - Aug 10, 2013 at 10:47 PM

        “Or, put another way, most designated hitters can field much better than most NL pitchers can hit, putting them above NL pitchers on the “complete player” scale.”

        Hell, most designated hitters can field much better than most NL pitchers can FIELD.

  8. hitdog042 - Apr 1, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    I have no problem with whatever they chose. It won’t stop anyone from being a fan. Personally I don’t want to see a .175 hitting pitcher hit. Too many times u see the 8th hitter walked to face the P. is that strategy or is that dull baseball? I’m an American League guy though so I’m admittedly biased. DH no doubt makes managing a little easier for the AL eliminating the double switches and managing a bullpen being easier. I get that. But I like the AL rules.

  9. DJ MC - Apr 1, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    I just want to mention that despite my arguments pro-DH, I watched Kershaw hit his homer to lead off the eighth and break the scoreless tie, and it was pretty cool to watch.

    Of course, that’s also an example of the problem: it was cool to watch because it was extraordinarily unlikely to happen. Despite coming up in an organization where the club knew he would have to hit eventually, he has a career .326 OPS and it was his first major-league home run in ~330 PAs.

    Even the National League doesn’t take pitchers hitting seriously, so honestly, why should anyone else?

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