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You don’t have to love the designated hitter, but you do have to acknowledge its existence

Jan 8, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT

Frank Thomas

I don’t love the DH — I have an irrational, subjective preference for pitchers batting — but I do accept that it exists. Heck, I even think — when I’m not being irrational and subjective — that it’d be better for baseball to make the DH uniform across the leagues. I’ve argued that much in the past.

But even if you’re not as willing to subvert you own religious beliefs as I am, don’t you at least have to acknowledge the DH’s existence? An existence that has lasted longer than almost everyone who votes for the Hall of Fame has been covering baseball? Not if you’re Paul Daugherty you don’t. Here’s his take on Frank Thomas’ Hall of Fame candidacy:

Thomas is close. But some of his highly impressive numbers came as a DH, and he played for a very long time. Great career? Yeah. HOF career? Eh.

He goes on:

 DH is NOT a position. It’s a hybrid creation, used by half of MLB.How many lifetime NL guys might be in the Hall had they been traded in their dotage to the American League, where all they had to do was rake?

And if me auntie was a man she’d be me uncle.

The DH was created in 1973. That was 15 years before Daugherty began covering sports in Cincinnati and certainly includes the vast majority of his baseball-watching life. It’s more established and ingrained than the ninth-inning-only closer. It has existed longer than integrated baseball had existed at the time the DH was adopted. It’s not new-fangled. It’s not experimental. And as the exploits of Paul Molitor, David Ortiz, Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas show, it’s not some silly and obscure footnote to what happens on a baseball field.

I think one of the worst things about Hall of Fame voters is when they impose their own arbitrary standards into the analysis. But it’s way worse for them to do this by importing their own arbitrary rules to the game of baseball itself like Daugherty is here.

108 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. schuch10 - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    I can’t believe someone with a HOF vote uses such ridiculous criteria… He must not have voted for any RP. I feel bad for Mariano when 2018 comes. These made up positions…

  2. paperlions - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    The voter attitudes toward the DH are really weird. Many that don’t vote for Edgar probably would if he was a horrible 1B the last 1/2 of his career instead of a DH, which is stupid. Many of the guys that think Thomas is slam dunk will ignore the fact that he was mostly a DH while holding it against Martinez. There is no logical consistency to the approach of many voters. Most voters appear to completely ignore defense even at SS and catcher.

    Trammel was just as a valuable a player as Jeter because he was a good hitter and a good fielder (instead of a very good hitter and a crappy fielder), voters are ignoring both good and bad defense in their narratives about those players. There is a fundamental lack of critical thinking ability in the electorate.

    • raysfan1 - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      Actually, as shown with the anti-DH bias, they aren’t ignoring defense. Instead they are treating it like a binary information bit. In their world, playing bad defense is okay, but not playing defense is not. If anything, it is even more illogical than if they truly did ignore defense altogether.

      • paperlions - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:07 AM

        Yeah, it is far worse than just ignorance. It is completely categorical and arbitrary. Just because a guy was a below average defender doesn’t mean his defense was as bad as a horrible defender, and just because a guy was a good defender does not mean he was a fantastic defender……but you get people treating defense the same for guys that were very different in defensive quality, which doesn’t happen as much for hitting or base running. Yes, Vizquel was a good SS, but he was not in the same league as Ozzie. Yes, McGwire was a below average defender, but he was no where near the butcher in the field that Thomas was (interesting stat to demonstrate how much of a DH Thomas really was, he had about 1200 more plate appearance than he had defensive innings played….McGwire had about twice as many defensive innings played as plate appearances).

      • Craptastics9 - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:40 AM

        And yet in the crazy world of the HOF 3rd baseman, you have to be elite at both hitting and fielding. They pass over players that were one or the other all the time.

    • 4cornersfan - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      Yeah, that 27 point difference in career batting average and 1000 hits are evened out by the fact that Trammel was a half-step quicker and maybe saved three or four runs a year more.

      • paperlions - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        First, context is important. Trammel’s career was during a low run environment, whereas Jeter has played his career during a high run environment. Second, Trammel was much more than 1/2 step better than Jeter. 30 pts of OBP is about 18 extra times on base/year. It is not hard at all to imagine that Trammel’s defense (which was FAR superior to Jeter’s) took away that many base runners per year.

  3. chip56 - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    Now this I have a real problem with. DH (and relief pitcher) are both recognized positions by the league and a voter has no place saying that (s)he is going to take it upon him or herself to say that they don’t count.

    I have this same problem with voters discounting kickers in the NFL Hall of Fame.

    • Craptastics9 - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      Like Bill James says, either it’s an elite HOF or you judge people by the folks voted in before the poeple currently considered.
      Lee Smith was the saves leader at the time he retired…that means that at the time he retired he was the greatest 9th inning man of all time (at that specific moment in time). He was better than any other contemporary in his job…people that watched baseball during his career understood that if Lee Smith came in for the 9th with a lead, his team was going to win most of the time.
      He was respected and feared during his career…he was acknowledged as the best at his job for a good portion of his career. His job may be a big pile of BS, but when you think of relievers from his era, you immediately get a picture of Lee Smith coming to the mound. And the time-frame of you thinking that spans many years. Don Mattingly was the picture of a 1Bman for 4 or 5 yrs…not a HOFer….Lee Smith was the picture of a shut-down reliever for a good 8-10 years.

      • Craptastics9 - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        Look at it this way…the HOF isn’t necessarily for you, it’s for people 20, 50, 100 years down the road to know what baseball was like during the time-frame you were a fan…who during your era would you ilke future baseball fans to revere? Why do I know about Arky Vaughan? Because he’s a HOFer. You may hate the steroid era, but if you care about baseball, you might want fans 50 years in the future to know that, in his time, we all respected Barry Bonds’ skills as a baseball player. You can put another plaque describing the era,and that it may or may not have been tainted by steroids, but to not recognize him as one of the best baseball players ever is a crime. Even if he did steroids before testing began, it wasn’t against the rules of baseball at the time he did it. And he probably didn’t do it before he proved himself a hall of famer anyway (first player to 400 Hr, 400 SB before his head grew to an obscene size). But the real BS of it all is that MLB was celebrating the obvious abuse of steroids when they were running the “Chicks love the long-ball” advertisements during the steriods era!

      • chip56 - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:05 PM

        The problem Lee Smith has is not only do some people discredit the save, but in the time since he retired two guys emerged who were more dominant at the same job (Hoffman and Rivera). So Smith doesn’t get compared to his contemporaries, or the guys who came before him, he gets compared to guys who came after him. Which is fairly unique in its insanity. I can’t imagine anyone saying “Sure Frank Thomas was a great hitter, but since he’s retired Miguel Cabrera has become so much better than Thomas was.”

  4. skids003 - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    I’m about to the point I wish the NL would adopt it, just so both leagues would be uniform. It can keep an aging player who can still hit (especially catchers) in the league longer. That’s why I’m a little surprised the Union don’t push it.

    • Craptastics9 - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

      Watching a pitcher hit is pitiful….and anyone that thinks it adds strategy to the game is an idiot…the reason we (as baseball fans) can second guess any NL manager is because we all realize the strategy in any situation when a pitcher comes to bat; 1) no-one on, (on average) flail helplessly at a pitch and hit .150 2) anyone is on base and there is less than 2 outs, try to sacrifice at an equally bad pace. 3) before the 6th inning, runner on, two outs, hit a sad .150 rate. 4) Runner on in a close game after the 6th, pinch hit and probably 20% of the time, double switch! How exciting! If you ask me either have the DH in both leagues or have an 8 batter line-up without the pitcher batting in both leagues….but anyone that would rather see a pitcher bat in the second inning instead of even the world worn Vernon Wells is smoking some good stuff. Heck, I’d rather see Yuniesky Betancourt at the plate than 95% of the pitchers in both leagues. And the whole “You have to worry about getting HBP if you are in the National League” is BS since pitchers almost never hit the other pitcher after a HBP in the National League. That’s just my two cents….

      • Craptastics9 - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:28 AM

        So to my thumbs down, you actually like seeing pitchers bat? WHY?

      • Old Gator - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        Because they’re complete ballplayers. Because this isn’t football. Because they inject an element of strategy, and pathos, into a ballgame. Because an unending cycle of mammoth hunters swinging clubs, without the drama imposed by decisions like “he’s throwing a great game but we’re a run down in the eighth with a guy at third,” which gives the game added tension, is monotonous; because the pitcher getting an unexpected hit is a tonic surprise factor that you lose in designatedhitterball; because a designatedhitterball game has no rhythm to it.

        Because otherwise it’s also pretty pathetic to know the guy at bat is a washed-up gimp who’s only still in the game from the waist up. Because a guy who can hit but isn’t a great defender can now afford not even to bother working on his defense. Because defensive liabilities also cause additional strategic drama. Because praying that a ball doesn’t get hit towards your first baseman adds tension and anticipation to a game that dissolves into the flattened texturelessness of designatedhitterball when that guy only needs to heft his nates from the bench to swing.

      • Old Gator - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        Oh yes – and because pitchers who throw at guys and then have to bat have to think again about what they’re doing. Otherwise, it’d make sense for the opposing pitcher to make a point of throwing at the DH, right? I’d be OK with that. Aim for the knees – they’re probably already stuck together with bubble gum and duct tape if he’s a DH anyway.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        First of all, OG, you do not hit from the waist up. Secondly, it is hardly true that the best hitters are/were muscle-bound cretins. Why is it that people assume that hitting is random bashing and there is no mental part of it? Why would hitting require less discipline than fielding? I thought pitcher v. batter duels were certainly considered mental games as well as physical contests. *That* is exciting. Maybe you think designatedhitterball has no rhythm, but pitchers bunting lacks soul.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        But they aren’t complete! Maybe a handful of them give a rat’s ass about hitting. Going up there and waiving at three pitches does not make one a complete player.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        There are two reasons you got so many thumbs down. One is that HBT has a lot of visitors who can’t type. The other is that you argued that anyone who disagrees with your position is an idiot. That’s not very nice or very true.

        I’m a DH proponent and agree that watching most pitchers hit is no fun. But I also recognize that it’s merely a personal preference. I’m not prepared to call Old Gator an idiot because he prefers pitcherhitterball.

        I also enjoy watching Big Papi being forced to break in a new first baseman’s glove for interleague play, and hold my breath every time a ball is hit anywhere near him.

      • Old Gator - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        Histy – yes, I know that. It was a metaphor for their uselessness at half of the game. As far as whether pitchers give a rat’s ass about hitting, when you’ve taken a survey of all the NL pitchers and can demonstrate that by any other means than pulling it out of your backside, I’ll take that assertion seriously. And craptastic – apt name – yes it does add strategy and anyone who claims it doesn’t is either delusional or an…um…well, a moron (I don’t want to call you an idiot merely for having the temerity to disagree with me; I do want to call you a moron for making such an utterly moronic statement, though). Watch a manager try to compensate for pulling an effective pitcher with a late inning double switch some time. That’s called s-t-r-a-t-e-g-y, even if you’re too dense to admit it. Should you argue that there are double switches in designatedhitterball, yes, there are, but those same double switches also occur in real baseball. Double switches caused or occasioned by a pitching change, however, only occur in real baseball. Ergo, the pitcher hitting does indeed require more strategy. Turn it upside down, inside out or, in the immortal words of Robert Morse in A Guide for the Married Man, deny, deny deny. Doesn’t matter. There it still is.

        And Kevin, Buddha love ya, “complete” doesn’t necessarily mean “good at it.” A pitcher who’s a lousy hitter is still playing all facets of his game. A DH is spending half of his game picking splinters out of his nates.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        *pitcherwannabehitter ball

        FTFY, unclemo.

      • mtr75 - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:37 PM

        So you say “anyone that thinks it adds strategy to the game is an idiot” and then go on to give 4 specific examples of how it… adds strategy to the game. So basically you’re calling yourself an idiot.

        And by the way, it doesn’t ADD anything at all. It’s how baseball was for the first 100+ years of its existence. What was ADDED was the DH.

      • louderthanwords1 - Jan 8, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        To say it doesn’t add strategy actually just makes you an idiot Craptastic. For example say its the 7th inning 2 outs and the team on the field is up 3-2 but the pitcher just walked 2 straight batters. In the AL a team can bring in a reliever without worrying about where the pitcher is coming up to hit but in the NL let’s say he is due up 2nd in the coming inning. Do you let him pitch thru it? Do you bring in a reliever for 1 batter knowing you will pinch hit for him? Do you do a double switch? If you do a double switch are you now pulling someone off the field who is a superior defender to the player you bring in the game?

        You can say you don’t like pitchers hitting but to say it doesn’t add strategy to the game and to call people idiots who say it does just shows a lack of thinking on your part.

      • illuminancer - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:31 PM

        I like seeing pitchers bat because

        …if I wanted to see one set of guys play defense and another set play offense I’d watch football.

        …I like that there’s a difference between leagues, and that you use different strategies depending on where you’re playing. I’m not a fan of interleague play, but if you’re going to have it, there should be a distinction–or just divide the country into 3 10-team divisions and call it a day.

        …if we let someone hit for the pitcher, why stop there? Why not hit for the shortstop who’s in there for his glove? Or maybe have designated fielders to sub in for the power hitters who play right field with the grace of your average water buffalo? Instead of celebrating catchers who can also hit, just have a DH for every defensively strong/weak hitting catcher?


        * Matt Cain going to the plate in the 8th inning of a perfect game and swinging at a pitch and running out a grounder when no one would have blamed him for standing there with the bat on his shoulder.

        * Madison Bumgarner getting his first home run of the year before Brandon Belt–and giving Belt a hard time about it.

        * Santiago Casilla at bat = EPIC

        and always, always:

        * Barry Zito getting an RBI hit off Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the 2012 WS was a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

  5. sfm073 - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    Just put the dh in both leagues already, I don’t like it but it’s inevitable.

    • Craptastics9 - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      In some ways, the DH rule has as much strategy involved as the pitcher batting, it’s just in the line-up given at the start of the game….Some teams (like the 2001 Mets) have a good hitting catcher that they DH. Since the back-up C is now the actual catcher, they are spreading themselves thin….if the catcher gets hurt and they have to make the DH the catcher, they lose the DH for the remainder of the game.

      • Craptastics9 - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:34 AM

        I think an 8 man line-up makes the most sense….it would allow another multi-use player on the bench.

      • Old Gator - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:50 PM

        Go back and look at what you just wrote. “In some ways, the DH rule has as much strategy involved as the pitcher batting, it’s just in the line-up given at the start of the game.” Uh-huh. Because in real baseball the lineup is given at the end of the game? Professor Irwin Corey makes more sense than that.

      • mtr75 - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:40 PM

        The DH rule has no strategy at all. Zero. I mean sure, if you pinch run for the DH you lose it for the rest of the game (I believe that’s how it works, I hate AL baseball), but there’s no strategy to saying “Steroid User A will be hitting 4th today” in the Boston lineup.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        Do you think that managers don’t adjust batting strategies for the guys ahead of the DH in the lineup specifically because they are in front of a DH (with so many outs & guys on base already or whatever at that point)? That is strategy too. Hello.

      • Old Gator - Jan 8, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        Hi there! Again, managers adjust lineups to account for who’s in them in both leagues. That they happen to have half a ballplayer in the batting order in one league makes his presence there no less an issue to reckon with than having a whole one in the other does. It’s still not “added strategy.” When a designatedhitterball manager gets to the home eighth or ninth down a run or two and his pitcher’s doing well, he doesn’t have to strategize about removing him. He really doesn’t have to do anything unless he needs to make a lefty/righty batting change in response to a new pitcher coming in – though, once again, that’s true in both leagues. A real baseball manager does have to start flipping switches and yanking chains late in a tight game.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        OG, I was replying specifically to mtr who stated that using a DH did not involve strategy. I’m glad to see that you agree that this is untrue — and holds for both leagues. I will add though, that AL managers can also make late inning changes like you describe (Detroit did so in the playoffs both in using Quintin Berry to pinch run and Little Sexy Fire to replace Jholtin’ Jhonny for defense.). The difference is in that they don’t have to make these changes to compensate for the pitcher’s crappy batting. For both leagues, there is a weak spot that must be adjusted for often and this is one of the reasons I don’t think the NL should be forced to accept the DH. To each his own. I prefer not to watch pitchers flail. It’s dumb and unnecessary. It’s like a zit on a pretty face to me. But we can agree to disagree on that.

    • yahmule - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      No, it isn’t. The DH started shortly after I began watching baseball. For all I know, my old man had the game on when Blomberg took his his initial DH swings. For all that time, people have said to me, “Well, we can’t have it in one league and not the other,” which has been demonstrably untrue for over four decades.

  6. unclemosesgreen - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    It’s hard to tell unless you follow a writer whether they are just seeking attention through random acts of trollery, as all too often seems to be the case. But in an organization as large as the BBWAA, you are also going to have people who have serious operating system defects which prevent them from using logic. You’ll have otherwise reasonable people with large blind spots. You’ll even get excellent writers who decline rapidly near the latter stages of the aging process (sadly this group appears to include Murray Chass.)

    I invite you all to share in a moment of empathy for Chass. His fastball used to be one of the best in the business. When he lost 15 mph, he couldn’t adjust to get guys out, and he has no other viable way to make a living. That must suck.

  7. bunkerhillbob - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    If David Ortiz shouldn’t be allowed in the HOF because he’s not a great fielder, then most pitchers should not be in it, either, because they can’t hit at the big-league level and, aren’t they supposed to be good at all aspects of the game to be in the HOF? Also, isn’t hitting a pitched ball considered to be about the most difficult thing to do in all sports? Isn’t closing out a game something only certain individuals can do? Catch-up, people.

    • mtr75 - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      “Also, isn’t hitting a pitched ball considered to be about the most difficult thing to do in all sports?”

      Um, no.

  8. chacochicken - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    The DH? Come on, all they are doing is hitting. We all know how easy it is to crush major league pitching. Defense is the category we all really care about.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:00 AM

      Chicks dig the unassisted triple play.

      • indaburg - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        Yes, we do.

      • natstowngreg - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        If you say so.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:14 AM

        Not gonna lie. That was the day I fell for Tulo and yeah, I watched it over and over again. I’m not ashamed.

      • chacochicken - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        Mickey Morandini, babe magnet

    • unclemosesgreen - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      Chaco’s on a higher plane. He knows the true Triple Crown is comprised of plus/minus, UZR and dWAR. All hail Ozzie Smith!

      • 18thstreet - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:08 PM

        Shortstop is NOT a real position. First base, second base, third base. These are real place and real baseball players are responsible for defending them. Shortstop isn’t even responsible for a base. It’s just a made-up position that stands between two real positions.

        Think of it this way: if Ozzie Smith were a complete ballplayer, he would have hit more homers. And saved a few games as a closer.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        I totally agree with everything you said. Look at the way Joe Maddon moves that glorified utility slob around the infield. He knows what they’re really worth.

        They should be renamed “DG’s”, Designated Glovers. Then we’ll see how many of these banjo-hitting Rizzuto wannabe’s get into the HOF!!

  9. Marty McKee - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Reds fans are well aware of Daugherty’s stupidity. He’s a member of the small-but-vocal “Votto sucks because he doesn’t drive in enough runs” brigade. ‘Nuff said.

    • wpjohnson - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      Daugherty is a fan of traditional baseball. You, Marty, apparently are not. Baseball is the greatest sport because of its consistency through the decades. The DH is designed for those who, rather than understanding the true nuances of baseball, must be entertained to keep their attention. It is much like those who read and those who must play video games. DH fans are part of the latter group. Now, all can give me the thumbs down but it won’t change the truth.

      • tc4306 - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:04 AM

        This is not worth a “thumbs down”
        It is worth a comment. And the comment is…
        “You are a complete and utter moron.”

      • paperlions - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:12 AM

        How traditional?

        When there was no such thing as a walk? When it took 6 balls to walk? How about when over-hand pitching was illegal? Or when curve balls were illegal? You are a fan of soaking runners, of course….and of course, this must mean white men only. That must be it. Thomas is the wrong color to be in the HOF because TRADITION!

      • raysfan1 - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:17 AM

        Although my favorite team is in the AL and thus uses the DH, I prefer the NL style of pitchers hitting. However, the DH has now been used in the AL for 40 years. It is now itself part of the tradition of baseball. Regardless, it’s completely defensible to insist on a higher standard for HoF inclusion of such a specialized role on a team; however, it is also completely irrational to dismiss an entire category of player out of hand just because one doesn’t like that position.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:23 AM

        If paperlions made an argument FOR the DH, I have died and gone to Heaven.

      • paperlions - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        All indications are that the DH is coming to the NL, probably at the next vote in 2016. I kind of wish we already had it. Having Craig at 1B and Adams at DH would be pretty sweet.

      • Paul White - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        Apparently you are blind to the many jarring inconsistencies in baseball’s history, like differing season length, differing distances between the mound and home plate, differing heights of the mound, differing skin color of the players, differing usage of starters vs relievers, the fluctuations of in-game strategy, differing types of ball used, differing types of bat used, airplane travel, night games, roster size, farm systems, free agency and on and on and on.

        But yeah, keep on believing it’s the DH that changed the game as we know it.

      • 18thstreet - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:10 PM

        Damn those fans who like to be entertained.

        If you really liked baseball, you’d be bored by it.

  10. wpjohnson - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    I recognize the existence of typhoid fever. The DH is equally an abomination. Anyone elected to the Hall who was primarily a DH should get a half plaque.

    • cohnjusack - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      Ohh, this sounds fun.

      So, do Luis Aparicio lose a portion of the offensive half of their plaques since so much of their value came from defense? Or does the defensive half fill in that missing plaque-gap?

      Because, if so, then the point of a DH in the hall is that their offensive is good enough to fill the entire value their lack of any defense leaves.

      • Old Gator - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:23 AM

        There’s a big difference between from what aspect of his game a player’s value derives and a player who had no defensive aspect at all, I think.

      • wpjohnson - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:32 AM

        Your spin must keep you dizzy. You must write speeches for Obama.

      • cohnjusack - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        There’s a big difference between from what aspect of his game a player’s value derives and a player who had no defensive aspect at all, I think.

        I’ll add emphasis for additional context here.

        “Because, if so, then the point of a DH in the hall is that their offensive is good enough to fill the entire value their lack of any defense leaves.”

      • stex52 - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        No, no WP, we dealt with this yesterday. No political trolling until after the HOF announcement at 2 PM. One set of puffery at a time.

        BTW, I don’t like the DH either, but stop putting it terms of “old is good; new is bad.” You make us all sound like the old farts we are.

      • Old Gator - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:47 PM

        I don’t think it’s a matter of old versus new. The contemporaneity of the DH sucks as well.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:37 AM

      Anyone elected to the Hall who was primarily a DH should get a half plaque.

      At least you are consistent, considering you don’t think Frank Thomas belongs in the HoF.

      • wpjohnson - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        Baseball is a two way game. Sitting on your butt and getting up only to bat four or five times a game is not a baseball player in the classic sense. Of course, modern thought seems to lack class and tradition.

      • cohnjusack - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:55 PM

        Of course, modern thought seems to lack class and tradition.

        True. There is so much less spike-sharpening, spitballing and prohibiting African-Americans from playing as there was in the classy old days.

    • natstowngreg - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:51 AM

      I’ve raised this question before. How do you compare an excellent hitter who didn’t play a defensive position, against an excellent hitter who played a defensive position badly? Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby have been cited often as examples of great hitters, but defensive liabilities.

      Here’s what the anti-DH on the HOF argument seems to be. You can get in for excellent hitting, as long as you played a defensive position. Doesn’t matter all that much how well you played the defensive position.

      Should it matter? IMHO, if your hitting was excellent enough, defense can be a secondary consideration. Likewise, someone can get in primaruily for defensive excellence. So, was Frank Thomas’ hitting excellent enough? I think it was.

  11. cohnjusack - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    Just acknowledge it as a part of the defensive spectrum. The amount of expected offensive production based upon defensive positional importance goes C-SS-2B-CF-3B-RF-LF-1B-DH

    Offensive expectations for a HOF DH need to be a little bit higher than what you’d have for HOF 1st baseman. I think Martinez and Thomas would fir that criteria even if they both didn’t spend a significant amount of time in an actual position. It shouldn’t be that complicated, we figured it out for every other position (except center field, as Jim Edmonds will note bitterly as he likely falls off the hall of fame ballot).

  12. natstowngreg - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    Unlike Craig, I have an irrational and subjective preference that MLB pitchers not bat. Not as long as most pitchers, and their teams, don’t take batting seriously. I was traumatized as a young baseball fan by announcers talking about a “good-hitting pitchers” who were hitting .100 or less. When the International League experimented with the DH in 1969, I took to it immediately.

    Daugherty has a point about the DH’s history. The AL created it to generate more offense and excitement and fan interest and revenues. Also, it came from a time when the AL and NL were still somewhat separate entities under the Commissioner of Baseball. Each had its own administration, umpires, baseball, and a few rules of its own. For example, each league had its own rule on curfews, to call games when they lasted too late. Now, the AL and NL are basically conferences of one league, Major League Baseball. Eacept for the DH. Daugherty errs, of course, in saying that all this means the DH is not a position.

    I’m sympathetic to the argument that the NL should adopt the DH to make things uniform, but disagree. IMHO, which rule to use should be based on the merits. It should be obvious where I come down on the merits.

    Finally, about the baseball writers’ thought processes. The lack of logic and critical thinking isn’t common to baseball writers. It’s common to the entire human race. Yes, it’s fair to single out baseball writers here. After all, the entire entertaining (though often unimportant and nonsensical) debate over selecting people for a baseball museum is about the selectors’ thought processes. Just wanted to put this in a little perspective.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM


      • natstowngreg - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:54 AM

        Can I get an Amen from the chorus?! :)

        Just trying to apply a little critical thinking and logic. Yeah, on a blog?

      • Old Gator - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:25 PM

        Hey – Charlie fell down!

    • indaburg - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      “Unlike Craig, I have an irrational and subjective preference that MLB pitchers not bat. Not as long as most pitchers, and their teams, don’t take batting seriously.”

      This actually sounds quite rational.

  13. pastabelly - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    DHs should get in based on difference they made for their team, which is no different from any other player. Frank Thomas made a huge difference. David Ortiz is still doing it and has been a major differentiating factor in three WS championships (more than anyone not wearing pinstripes). Not sure about everyones tests for making it, but this one falls into “you know it (HOF) when you see it”. Still there are many who won’t vote for Thomas and probably more who won’t vote for the one they call Big Papi.

  14. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    I love when people complain that players “played for a long time” like that’s a bad thing. These are usually the same morons who say if Don Mattingly played for a few more years he would be a hall of famer. Make up your damn minds!

    • dcarroll73 - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      Nice comment, scoutsays… Even worse are those who say Munson’s career was too short since he fecklessly failed to play because he was dead. For those who claim that Thurman wasn’t HoF anyway, please take a look at the JAWS ranking for catchers on baseball ref. Among non-HoFcatchers, only Rodriquez, Piazza and Simmons outrank him. Pudge should get in, and both Piazza and Simmons SHOULD already be in the Hall.

  15. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    Of course a DH can hit his way into the HoF. I think their hitting must be held to a higher standard, as they not only fail to contribute defensively but also restrict the team’s flexibility in terms of alternate defensive alignments. Most full-time DH’s however are worth it.

    My only problem with the DH-HoF conversation is the idea that we should compare DH’s to other DHs and elect the best of that limited and flawed group. We should instead compare DHs to ALL OTHER BATTERS, ding them a bit (or a lot) for their lack of defensive contribution, and see how they stack up.

    • 18thstreet - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      Ted Williams failed to contribute defensively. Does that bother you?

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 9, 2014 at 9:04 AM

        Perfect example. It is safe to say he was sufficiently ahead of the pack with the bat to qualify for enshrinement regardless of his defensive capabilities.

        When I think about the candidacy of someone like David Ortiz, I don’t compare him to other DHs of his era (Adam Dunn? Travis Hafner? etc) but to ALL other hitters. He still rates very well, probably a top 5-10% guy. So if his hitting is top 5-10%, he should still slot behind any of his peers who are out there playing a defensive position adequately. Does being near the bottom of the top 10% qualify a guy for Cooperstown?

        (cavaet: I did not look up any stats for this becvause I don’t care that much. If Ortiz is significantly better than a top 5-10% hitter, please let me know. I think the point remains valid, even if the example is imperfect)

      • 18thstreet - Jan 9, 2014 at 10:36 AM

        Among the things that bother me with the voters’ preferences is that so many of them don’t care about defense AT ALL — except in the case of the designated hitters. Jim Rice was a lousy choice for the Hall of Fame, but his defense wasn’t held against him (at least not enough!). And then you have a player like Scott Rolen whose defensive value is impressive and so many voters (and fans) utterly reject the idea that Scott Rolen could EVER be considered a Hall of Famer.

        I’m all in favor of considering a player’s defensive contributions, just like I favor considering his baserunning, his leadership, his character, his clutch performances — in other words, the whole player. It bothers me that DHs are singled out as ineligible when other players are not being graded on the same scale.

        Without looking it up, I don’t see Ortiz as a Hall of Famer. But I do think he measures up well with, say, Jim Rice and wouldn’t make the place worse. I think Edgar Martinez has an impressive case. I would have voted for him in the past, but with this crowded ballot, I think he falls out of consideration for me. (An aside: I don’t see the 10-vote limit as a bad thing, but that’s a minority viewpoint in these parts.)

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:05 PM

        I agree. I do think DHs should be eligible. I just don’t like the idea of comparing DHs to other DHs as an evaluation tool.

        I think WAR in both formats has some sort of accounting for position (value added for SS, value subtracted for LF) which dings DHs the most as a starting point. Of course, fielders can erode their own value through poor play, but they should at least start out with the benefit of the doubt.

  16. tfbuckfutter - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    I’m going to post this in every DH argument….

    A pitchers job is to pitch, field and hit in the ideal world of anti-DH arguers.

    Every other player only has to field and hit.

    So if you think the pitcher isn’t doing enough, than I suggest that positional players aren’t doing enough. They should have to pitch too.

    In fact, relief pitchers in the NL rarely hit. So they also are only playing 2/3 of the game. Perhaps we eliminate bullpens and if a pitcher can’t do his job completely, from out 1 to out 27, then a positional player has to come in and pitch. THINK OF THE STRATEGY! Plus, you’ll have the added value of a positional player who may be mediocre at batting and/or fielding but gets to keep his position because of the value he brings on the mound.

    Of course, the positional player who relieves the pitcher will also have to have played in the current game. THINK OF THE STRATEGY! “Do we bring our SS in to pitch and replace him in the field for the last third of the game, or do we bring in our right fielder? He’s not as good a pitcher, but his replacement is better than the replacement shortstop.”


    • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      I see it: the WS is on the line. Farrell gets sneaky and puts Ortiz in to pitch an intentional walk to Molina to confuse the Cards and then brings in Dempster to face Kozma! Brilliant.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:41 PM

        Hey, maybe Ortiz is an amazing pitcher.

        Who knows? He’s never tried.

        He could be a slimmer Sabathia. With a less stupid hat. (I mean the way he wears it….and the logo).

      • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:50 PM

        It would be funny if he worked quickly.

  17. yahmule - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    Am I the only weirdo who likes having the DH in one league and not in the other? I think the differentiation between the leagues adds to the charm of the game.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:34 AM

      Nope, I like it. I am very in favor of the DH, but I like that the leagues have their differences. It adds to the competition between leagues…of course, I know the norm now is not to have allegiance to a league (which would make my grandpa really sad). I like tweeking OG’s nose about it. :)

      • unclemosesgreen - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:26 PM

        It’s dangerous to tweak a gator in the nose. It’s not for the faint of heart. That’s why I keep my views on pitcherhitterball to myself.

    • mtr75 - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      I like it in the sense that I’m not forced to watch 4+ hour games with half the strategy. The day they bring the DH to the NL is the day I start watching a loooooooooooooooooooot less baseball.

  18. dowhatifeellike - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Edgar not being in is a travesty. Career .300/.400/.500 guy with a .933 OPS. 68.3 career WAR. One of the best hitters I’ve been alive to witness.

    If we’re going to hold not fielding against designated hitters, it’s only fair to hold not hitting against pitchers. What a double standard. It’s not like he came into the league as a guy who can’t field. He played over 500 games at 3B early in his career. Yes, he was below average defensively. No, he wasn’t so bad that he wouldn’t have stayed at 3B if there wasn’t a DH rule.

  19. extavernmouse - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    I’ll admit to a little bias as a Mariners fan. But I’d go as far as to say that Edgar should be in the Hall because he was the best DH of his generation and probably all-time. He’s the kind of player who should be in because he’s a landmark in the sport’s history. And, for all the people who think Jack Morris should be in because of the World Series game, I’d point out The Double, which may well have saved baseball in Seattle.

  20. jonrox - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    Everyone in Cincinnati knows that “Doc” is a professional troll. In 2013, he argued that Brandon Phillips was the Reds first half MVP.

  21. billybawl - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    If there had been no DH, any team would have found room for Edgar Martinez somewhere on the field. Same for other elite hitters. Even if we assume (I don’t) they all would have stunk in the field, they would be considered for the HOF on the basis of their hitting alone.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      So, by extension, the DH has improved defense in the field by making room for a better defender by removing strong hitters-weak fielders from the field. Thus, the defense you watch is better now that we have a DH and they don’t have to keep these guys out there.

    • 18thstreet - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      David Ortiz is a better defensive first baseman than Mo Vaughn ever was, and Mo won an MVP as a first baseman.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jan 8, 2014 at 2:18 PM


        Mo Vaughn had quick feet for such a big guy. There’s no comparison. He could get in a crow hop or two to the ball whereas Big Papi has classic “fall-down range.”

        If you’re talking about Big Mo after his knees went and he couldn’t DH (Mets) then it’s a draw.

  22. yordo - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    Actually, I’m still not convinced that the DH exists. I was waiting for Craig to present a reasonable argument, but alas.

  23. antiphillysports - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    The BBWA vote isn’t for whether or not they agree with the DH, their vote is for if the player is one of the best players of all time, which Frank Thomas would qualify for as one of the best DH/hitters of all time. Edgar Martinez too should be in.

    Whether you disagree or agree with the DH rule isn’t the argument… the fact is the DH is a real thing that has been around for 40 years and Frank Thomas and Edgar Martinez are two of/if not the the best to ever play that position and should be inducted into the Hall of Fame no question.

  24. raysfan1 - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    For those who don’t feel DHs should be in the HoF, here’s a little thought experiment:
    If Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas played for NL teams, what would have happened?

    There is a correct answer and here it is: they’d have been just as awesome offensively. They’d have started at 1B for there respective teams because there offensive production would have far outweighed their defensive shortcomings. They’d both be shoo-in Hall of Famers and nobody would debate their merits just because they were ham fisted with the glove.

    Now, since they played in the AL, what should they have done? Demand to hurt their team’s defense by playing in the field instead of taking advantage of a position that utilized their strength–offense–while negating their liability on defense? Can not those who don’t like the DH see the utter absurdity of the argument that says they should not be enshrined?

    • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      Essentially, some of the best hitters in an entire league would be omitted because their teams made use of a rule that improved the team overall. It’s like penalizing pitchers for not having enough complete games after the introduction of relievers.

      • Old Gator - Jan 8, 2014 at 2:46 PM

        Big difference between improving the team in a tactical sense and dumbing down the game in a strategic sense.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 8, 2014 at 2:56 PM

        It doesn’t make it dumber any more than relievers do. Not everyone is a baseball polymath, OG. The game would be much smaller if they were the only ones who got to play.

        I will concede, however, that it was fun to watch His Heterochromianess get an (unintentional) RBI.

  25. pastabelly - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    Every level of baseball, from college to all pro levels now has the DH. At one time, when the NL and AL were run separately, different rules made some sense. Different rules no longer make sense, especially with interleague play. I have to think the main reason for the NL owners and fans wanting to maintain their status quo is that they don’t want to “lose” on this. When it’s league vs league, arguments aren’t rational. It’s just the dislike of change. Rules changes that hurt offense don’t make sense in any sport in the world of economics and competitive tv dollars. Well, time for me to get off my pulpit.

    • mtr75 - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      This is the most perplexing part of the pro-DH argument: that those of us who are against the DH coming to the NL are against change. You do realize that the change was the introduction of the DH, right? The NL is how baseball has been played since it was begun. It wasn’t until 100 years after the invention of the game that the DH was introduced. The DH is the gimmick here, not having pitchers hit. I have absolutely no problem with the DH in the AL, but I have a huge problem with people trying to force it on fans of National League baseball.

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