Skip to content

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. dondada10 - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    The National League is the odd ball? And the Mona Lisa is a doodling.

    • DJ MC - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      And Aristotle was right about the geocentric view of the universe because he was also there first.

      • tuberippin - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:47 PM

        I’m sorry, did you just compare scientific advances with baseball’s rulebook? When did the use of the designated hitter become a science? I did not know that we, as a society, have quantifiably proved that adopting the DH rule substantially increases the excitement, intensity, profitability, and/or overall enjoyment of a game.

      • DJ MC - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:56 PM

        The same basic human fears that lead to fighting against change in science lead to fighting against change in other aspects of the world.

      • tuberippin - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:58 PM

        I wouldn’t boil it down to such an oversimplification. Example: I am 100% for the use of instant replay, because I can see the plausible benefits. I am against the universal adoption of the DH, because I do not see the benefits.

      • DJ MC - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:09 PM

        You don’t see any benefits to the DH?

        What benefits are there to pitchers hitting beyond the basic “tradition” argument? The strategy argument is always overblown, because if there is a man on the pitcher is always going to bunt and unless the pitcher is still going strong they will get pinch-hit for later in a game. The pitcher batting leads to decreased offense and more “dead” spots in a lineup, which decreases interest and attendance, and makes the game easier for the pitchers on the mound.

        Back when the game was new and positions were essentially interchangeable and players were around the same skill level, you could have pitchers bat. Now, with specialization among players and especially the almost-segregation of the pitchers from the rest of the game, all it does is have a negative effect on the play of the game.

      • Old Gator - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:37 PM

        The “strategy” argument is only “overblown” for bores and idiots who think the dumbdown is the intellectual equivalent of an orgasm. Designatedhitterball is boring. It appeals to the same sort of people who would prefer a McDonald’s hamburger to a tureen of bouillabaisse.

      • badintent - Apr 1, 2013 at 2:53 AM

        You’re right. The Vatican wanted to kill Galileo because he told them they were teaching the wrong stuff. And he could prove it.

      • paperlions - Apr 1, 2013 at 7:48 AM

        Well then….MLB should just take the designated hitter to its natural conclusion. 8 defensive specialists, pitching specialists, and 9 hitting specialists….it’ll be like football, yea. I’m sure the MLBPA would be all for this, think of all the extra jobs.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 1, 2013 at 7:59 AM

        C’mon paper, you’re better than that reductio ad absurdum.

      • paperlions - Apr 1, 2013 at 11:03 AM

        No, I’m not. :-)

        We really aren’t too far from there not being people capable of being good hitters and good defensive SS or catchers….why not go ahead and allow DHs for those spots two….because that was really the argument for the DH in the first place (i.e. it is too hard to be good at both pitching and hitting so let’s just not have pitchers hit). Well, some pitchers can hit as well as many SS or catchers….why not extend the rule? There isn’t anything special about pitchers that doesn’t apply to players of other positions, is there?

      • Kevin S. - Apr 1, 2013 at 12:36 PM

        No, we’re not. If we imagined a scale the size of a football field with the wRC+ of each position plotted on it, you’d have the first basemen clustered around the back of one end zone, other positions working out to the ten yard line where the catchers would be clustered, then you would have all of the pitchers clustered at the back of the other end zone. Picture that, then try telling me there’s some kind of slippery slope with the DH.

    • bigleagues - Apr 1, 2013 at 12:00 AM

      Each time there is a post discussing the DH rule, the only thing that gets resolved around here is the fact that there are more NL fans who read and comment on HBT than there are AL fans.

      • dondada10 - Apr 1, 2013 at 12:02 AM

        So then we’re right! Yes!

      • historiophiliac - Apr 1, 2013 at 12:12 AM

        I’m gonna have to do some community organizing or something to up those AL readers.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 1, 2013 at 12:14 AM

        PS dondada:

        Booo!!!!

        /throws Amway samples

      • dondada10 - Apr 1, 2013 at 12:19 AM

        Is it Nutrilite?

      • kingmaniii - Aug 10, 2013 at 10:52 PM

        “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

        – George Carlin

    • chumthumper - Apr 1, 2013 at 12:27 AM

      Agree. Just because the DH is used in AL and at these other levels doesn’t make it right. The NL is the only one who gets it.

  2. chill1184 - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    I like seeing pitchers hit, call me old fashion (Im 28).

    • historiophiliac - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:08 PM

      Benjamin Buttons it is.

      • chill1184 - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:11 PM

        I dont follow

      • historiophiliac - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:19 PM

        You’re an old man in a young man’s body — like the character Benjamin Buttons. It’s from a Scott Fitzgerald story.

    • pensfan603 - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:25 AM

      im 16 and i love it, its alot better then watching some overpayed player who cant do anything but hit a baseball

      • Kevin S. - Apr 1, 2013 at 8:27 AM

        When it comes to hitting a baseball, it’s better watching a guy who can’t hit a baseball than it is watching a guy who can hit a baseball.

  3. butchhuskey - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:19 PM

    Call me a traditionalist but I also like having pitchers hit

    • tuberippin - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:23 PM

      Traditionalist

  4. gbpackfan1990 - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    How about taking the DH out of the AL?

  5. eagles512 - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    The DH is a joke.

  6. DonRSD - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    DH is the easy way out.
    Pitchers hitting actually make the game much more interesting/strategic.

    Please KEEP the NL as the “oddball”.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:09 PM

      It makes it LESS interesting. I don’t want to watch pitchers hit — or bunt. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • normcash - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:14 PM

      This argument, with all due respect, is really nonsense. The “interest” and “strategy”
      arises from requiring pitchers to do what few of them can do competently. If you think
      it’s interesting to watch nearly certain failure, well, to each his own. Most supporters of having
      pitchers bat do so because they think it’s intellectually fashionable. Like many intellectually
      fashionable ideas, it is also bad. The NL is the only league in organized baseball at any level
      anywhere in the world that makes pitchers bat. But, you see, it’s the rest of the world that’s out-of-step!

      OK you NL fetishists, start your “thumbs-down”!

      • dondada10 - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:59 PM

        Intellectually fashionable. Do you mind if I use that?

      • blacksables - Apr 1, 2013 at 6:16 AM

        The American League is the only league in the world that lets Derek Jeter field.

        I would much rather see Matt Cain take his swings than see Jeter go into the hole for a double play ball.

  7. greymares - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    The game of baseball was invented with 9 players taking the field and the same 9 players batting. Any variation is not BASEBALL

    • ezthinking - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:04 PM

      Original baseball had no called strikes and it took 9 balls to walk.

      http://www.baseball-almanac.com/rulechng.shtml

      • historiophiliac - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:24 PM

        Remember that awesome year when Old Hoss hit .230? That was so great. He will always be remembered for that. Why, that’s better than Brandon Inge’s 2012 numbers!

  8. nastyn8770 - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    The DH rule is bush. Besides that’s what separates the two leagues from one another. Personally I want to see the pitchers hit for themselves to help their own cause.

  9. tuberippin - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    I was not aware that there was a statute of limitations regarding how long something can be considered “tradition”. In particular, it’s aggravating because the focus should be on renovating major areas of the game, such as removing margins of error that are inherent with umpires, rather than something that isn’t a major issue to any person that follows the game in a voracious manner.

    The NL is the original MLB league and the doctrine of “tradition” certainly still applies to absolving itself of the designated hitter. I do not subscribe to the notion that the true fans of the game (i.e., not people who go to a game for the sake of doing something) feel that pitchers hitting (at the bottom of the lineup, no less) is a major impediment to the enjoyment of a ballgame. Like you mentioned, one of the more fun things to occur in a game is when a pitcher gets a clutch hit or hits a home run, unless it’s that time Brad Penny hit a grand slam and then messed up his back and was on the DL for most of the remainder of the year.

    Furthermore, what does the NL gain from implementing the DH besides a sense of continuity with the rest of the MLB? Fan attendance is not going to spike up because you’re getting one extra hitter in your lineup, so the fiscal incentive is low if it exists at all. Overall run scoring is not likely to see a drastic spike because there are fifteen or so new guys hitting every day (note how many terrible DHs have populated the AL in recent seasons). League-versus-league run scoring is not likely to change much either; the AL, upon adopting the DH rule, had the upper hand in run scoring totals from 1975-1997, but between 1998 and 2012 the NL has scored more runs than the AL, without the assistance of a DH. All the DH really serves to do is allow AL teams to have one guy hit in the lineup, would would otherwise either not be there or would be less valuable due to being a liability in the field for any number of reasons (age, lack of proficiency with the leather, injuries, a combination of those).

    I’d also like to point out that the NPB in Japan also has a similar structure, so this is not a universal agreement and it’s not as though the NL is the only league in the world that does not utilize a DH. The Pacific League has a DH, the Central League does not.

    • tuberippin - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:44 PM

      Lastly, if the MLB does in fact decide to force the NL to adopt the DH rule, I would like an answer as to why the DH is something that can be sacrificed in the name of “progress”, but things that continue to be perpetuated in the name of “tradition”, such as not having full instant replay or shaming but not actually doing much to curb PED usage (not that I particularly care if ballplayers take drugs to perform better, since it has a lengthy history in the game and in professional sports more generally), are not subject to the same sacrifice.

    • kingmaniii - Aug 10, 2013 at 11:04 PM

      “…the AL, upon adopting the DH rule, had the upper hand in run scoring totals from 1975-1997, but between 1998 and 2012 the NL has scored more runs than the AL, without the assistance of a DH.”
      That’s because the NL had more two more teams than the AL…

  10. carbydrash - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    Uggg, this would bum me out to no end.

    I like the difference between the leagues because….well, I’m used to it, that’s why. I enjoyed the strategy of having to deal with a .120 hitter that would come up every third inning and all that crap. I liked the notable difference between the leagues. Come on baseball, stop changing the things I love!

    This is also why I hate the wildcard, the Diamondbacks, Rays, Rockies, Marlins and interleague play.

    Get off my lawn.

    • baywatchboy - Apr 1, 2013 at 2:18 AM

      I couldn’t agree with this post any more. MLB does not care about tradition anymore and hasn’t for quite some time. Why is Houston in the AL? Why not just put the Brewers back where they belong. Bud Selig is the worst thing to happen to baseball in quite some time. If baseball cared about tradition, they would still have Cincinnati and Baltimore, and only those two teams, host Opening Day games. There would also be no inter-league games. Yes, I am one of those people who long for the days of two divisions and no Wild Card, but I am willing to accept some progress. You want a WC? Fine, have your WC with three divisions, but adding a second is asinine. I know, let’s make baseball like hockey and basketball and let half the teams make the playoffs.

      Baseball is becoming idiotic. With that said, yes, I order my full season on mlb.tv and am ready for the season to start on Monday when the Reds play.

      • nbjays - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:57 AM

        While you are at it, lets go all the way back to the glory days of the 1930s, when Major League baseball didn’t exist south of Washington or west of St. Louis, when players were in basically indentured servitude to their teams with no recourse, when the “national pastime” was played during daylight hours by whites only.

        /sarcasm

        Personally, I am sort of ambivalent about the DH; it has its pros and cons. I do agree that the “specialization” of pitchers and the fact that they don’t bat in the minors makes them woefully inept at plate when they finally get to the bigs (of course, there is the rare exception like Carlos Zambrano). Anti-DH “purists” like to tout NL baseball as 9 players vs 9 players (the way baseball was “meant to be”, and decry AL ball as 10 vs 10, but I tend to see NL baseball as 8 hitters vs 8 hitters, so to me, it is a moot point. On the pro side, it has extended the careers of some fine players who were/are very good hitters (Jim Thome) and will do the same for others (Derek Jeter).

        That said, I don’t see MLB standardizing the two leagues anytime soon, because, if nothing else, it would take away the main reason for American League fans and National League fans to bitch, whine and snipe at each other in ballparks, bars and forums such as this one.

  11. butchhuskey - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    Weird statistic cited in the article: “The American League is at a disadvantage in the World Series. The National League has won seven of the last 12 World Series. Is that a coincidence, a historical quirk?”

    That means that in the last 12 years the NL has won 7 and the AL has won 5. How does that prove that the AL is at a disadvantage? Doesn’t that prove that both leagues are evenly matched?

    • butchhuskey - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:08 PM

      I also forgot to mention that this is a bizarre cherry pick – What’s so significant about the last 12 years?

      • Kevin S. - Apr 1, 2013 at 7:07 AM

        Because it cuts out the Yankee dynasty, duh. There’s reasons for y’all to bow down and accept your DH overlords, but the NL having some kind of unfair advantage in a microscopic sample of World Series is not it.

  12. butchhuskey - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:48 PM

    I think the reason people dislike the DH is because it’s basically saying “Oh, you’re a pitcher who can’t hit very well? Well you don’t even have to worry about hitting because we have someone who can do that for you!”

    Or “Oh, you’re a bulky slugger who can’t field at any position? That’s ok, you’re only required to hit!”

    Many fans would prefer that all players are required to play both offense and defense, no matter how bad they are at either.

    • ezthinking - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:06 PM

      Let’s make all the position players pitch. It’s only fair.

      • butchhuskey - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:13 PM

        I realize that pitchers are a very specialized position, but no one is expecting them to be 40 home run hitters. Most pitchers use their at-bats to sacrifice bunt anyway, so I don’t think it’s ridiculous to ask them to at least attempt to hit.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:26 PM

        Or, you could just relieve them of the pretense (and us, the tedium).

  13. DJ MC - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:53 PM

    I would absolutely love to have a sport of baseball in which pitchers hit.

    However, we haven’t had a major league where pitchers have hit for about 110 years. Sure, they came to the plate and held a bat and occasionally swung (in a manner other than a bunt) and even more occasionally saw something good happen when they swung. However, when the outcome is and has been somewhere around the same as that of a random high-school player put in the same position calling it “hitting” is a stretch.

    That’s why I ultimately cannot support the idea of pitchers hitting. They bring down the level of competition. Pitchers simply aren’t given any real instruction in hitting; their other skills are (rightfully) viewed as far more important and worth concentrating on fully other than a couple swings in the cage on occasion. Any strategy argument is negated by the modern use of bullpens and the ubiquity of the sacrifice bunt from that position in the lineup.

    Pitchers hitting is a nice wish, but doesn’t help the game of baseball one bit.

  14. DJ MC - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    Also, it’s always interesting to hear managers and general managers and other people inside the sport complain about the DH when they are the ones who aren’t demanding that pitchers improve their batting to a minimum level (which they will do even for the best-fielding shortstops and catchers) as they grow through the organization and keep practicing once they reach the majors.

  15. firedustybaker - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    I hope the NL keeps the tradition alive by not having the DH. What I would like to see is every other year for interleague play switch it up with the DH in the National league parks and let the pitchers hit in the American league parks.

    I should add that by not having the DH probably costs my favorite team at least a few wins a year as my manager is Johnnie B. (Dusty) Baker, King of the Double Switches.

  16. Mark - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    The average NL Pitcher hit 129/162/167 this year. The average AL pitcher hit 118/142/129.

    If the major league average for pitchers hitting could come close to respectability – even a 500 OPS – it might be worth letting them hit. But as is it’s just painful to watch. There’s no extra strategy involved in with the pitcher either. In fact I’d probably argue there’s more strategy involved in the AL simply because you’ve got that extra hitter to deal with as opposed to just double switching or straight up pinch hitting like you would in the NL.

    I think the game is less interesting by allowing pitchers to hit, especially when they’re so horrific as a group as they are.

  17. Marty - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:46 PM

    A lot of wordy responses. I’m going to keep this simple:

    Argument against then DH – Vladimir Guererro, right field 2010 WS. He had no business playing at that level.

  18. tjg25 - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    Who in the hell can possibly enjoy watching a sub .200 “hitter”?

  19. dwrek5 - Apr 1, 2013 at 12:42 AM

    Why cant we leave it the way it is, everyone wins. I like the DH, but I also like a league without it. Baseball does weird stuff; manager wearing uni’s, players not fielding, etc. Thats we love it!

  20. mianfr - Apr 1, 2013 at 1:02 AM

    Hey, what if also once per game we pick a fan from the stands to bat for each team?

    Sure, it’s a lower quality batter whose only reason for being in the game has nothing to do with hitting, but adding that rule would just make managers have to manage harder to play around it. That’s just baseball.

  21. marshallnbrown - Apr 1, 2013 at 1:35 AM

    Personally I abhor the DH — it’s not B-A-S-E-B-A-L-L, it’s DH-Ball, Using the DH eliminates too much strategy from the game That being said, if the NL must abopt this pretentious “improvement,” tie it to the World Series: If the NL team wins, both leagues will forego the DH the nex season; if th AL team wins, both leagues will use the DH the next season. That way I have to buy tix or MLB.tv/Extra Innings only every other year. The DH is a boring “advance.”.

  22. marshallnbrown - Apr 1, 2013 at 1:37 AM

    Personally I abhor the DH — it’s not B-A-S-E-B-A-L-L, it’s DH-Ball, Using the DH eliminates too much strategy from the game That being said, if the NL must adopt this pretentious “improvement,” tie it to the World Series: If the NL team wins, both leagues will forego the DH the nex season; if the AL team wins, both leagues will use the DH the next season. That way I have to buy tix or MLB.tv/Extra Innings only every other year. The DH is a boring “advance.”.

  23. jessethegreat - Apr 1, 2013 at 1:46 AM

    One can see the positive in adopting the DH rule in the NL in making strategy line up with AL teams.

    One can also see the added benefit in extending older players with shrinking range while still being capable of hitting respectable numbers careers…. Therefore keeping the fan favorites and the fans excited to come to the park to see them chasing records (3000 hits, 500 hr etc) I believe this has added to the watering down of career statistics for many players who would have retired earlier than they did / do with the DH rule.

    I am a Yanks fan… So I clearly see the added benefit in us being able to give some of our aging guys an extra day off from fielding here and there…. But I also enjoy the strategy needed while pitchers are forced to hit.

    I would certainly miss the old double switch if the DH spread to the NL.

  24. noozehound - Apr 1, 2013 at 3:18 AM

    hey retards (dictionary version, not mental disability version) the world is progressing. Nobody wants to see pitchers dribble a ball to the 2nd baseman and force a double play. I’d rather watch 40 year old Jim Thome smash an upper decker. The NFL has evolved. Teams are passing and scoring more. The NHL changed rules to allow more scoring, and their viewership is WAY up. Baseball, being stuck on “tradition” is losing so much excitement that you’re not only not “America’s Pastime” but Americans don’t want to play the sport anymore. Latin players are the majority now. Weeeeee, so much fun.

    • harrysatchel - Apr 1, 2013 at 7:21 AM

      The only “upper decker” Jim Thome has a chance to accomplish will have to do with a friend’s toilet, because his days as an MLB player are numbered.

  25. DesertEagle1776 - Apr 1, 2013 at 3:50 AM

    I’m tired of people giving themselves an aneurysm over the DH especially when the science is in years ago… after all enhancements baseball has seen since the 70′s the self described purists still threaten to hang themselves if the DH becomes universal.

    If pitchers could actually bat like Major leaguers, then the DH rule wouldn’t be necessary now would it?

    In 1972, pitchers hit .146/.185/.184. In 2012, NL pitchers hit .129/.162/.167. Care to defend that one? If any position player were to produce those kind of numbers over the course of a full season, he would find himself in the minors for the foreseeable future.

    Another thing, I would rather the pitchers pitch for as long as they are effective and not removed from the game just because a batter is needed.

    I’m sure having the pitchers at the plate is tolerable in the days where I could buy tickets for seats behind home plate for $5 and the only concessions were hot dogs, popcorn, and peanuts. But if I am going to pay $200 for those same seats and pay through the nose on the various concessions in a range of cuisines, the least I could ask for is to see a couple of homers, a base hit that clears the bases, or a pitcher actually earning every out like they do in the AL and virtually everywhere else.

    I don’t know anyone that could tell me with a straight face that they pay however much for a ticket or an out of market game package just to watch ill-substantiated “strategy” of a double switch. There are competitive and economic benefits to having the DH and it should be universal.

    Besides, I favor geographic alignment as I’ve outlined on this small blog posting I’ve made a year ago.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

This was 'the perfect baseball game'
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. S. Kazmir (5493)
  2. G. Springer (3847)
  3. M. Machado (3151)
  4. B. Harper (2790)
  5. C. Kimbrel (2787)
  1. K. Uehara (2779)
  2. I. Davis (2665)
  3. D. Pedroia (2551)
  4. J. Chavez (2519)
  5. J. Reyes (2515)