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The DH doesn’t slow the game down

Apr 24, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

David Ortiz Reuters Reuters

As I’ve stated several times in the past, I have am generally anti-DH for personal and subjective reasons, but I accept that it makes more logical sense for both leagues to have the DH. And I think it’ll happen eventually, my personal and subjective opinions notwithstanding.

To the extent people want to argue about it on objective, as opposed to subjective grounds, however, here’s a new data point for your consideration: the DH does not cause the games to go longer in any appreciable way. Carl Bialik of FiveThirtyEight looks at the data, and it’s pretty interesting.

You may now post 100 comments in which you try to disguise your personal preferences regarding the DH as objective criteria. I’ll start: it has been scientifically proven that liking the DH causes most cancers. Period.

  1. nymets4ever - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Uhh…I’ve never heard anyone complaining about the DH “slowing the game down,” only that it takes away from some of the game’s finer strategies.

    • recoveringcubsfan - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      I also have never seen this argument made before. Who thinks this? I have to assume that for anyone to go to the trouble of adding up all the data, there has to be more than just one guy who believes the DH has some effect on the length of games. But yeah, never heard this before and it sounds pretty stupid to begin with.

      • nymets4ever - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        Yup. What makes it even funnier is that Craig and his minions love dismissing every comment they don’t like as a “strawman.” Well, I’ve never seen a bigger strawman than this nonexistent argument of the DH prolonging games too much. Haha

      • dan1111 - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:11 AM

        The author is investigating his own prior speculation that the DH may lengthen the game. He doesn’t claim it’s a widespread argument. Neither does Craig, technically, although the post sort of implies that people are making the argument.

        That said, at least somebody else has made this claim: Rob Dibble.

        “If MLB officials are serious about speeding up games, they should realize that having weak-hitting pitchers bat three or four times a game would definitely move games along.”

      • kevinbnyc - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        Reading is so much more difficult than being an anonymous dick on the internet.

  2. dan1111 - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    It is interesting that the DH doesn’t make the game longer. Scoring more runs should increase the length of the game, but on the other hand, the NL style of play encourages more pitching changes.

    Personally, I like the status quo. There is no other sport I know of that has two different sets of rules, with slightly different styles of play, within the same organization. It makes baseball more interesting and idiosyncratic.

    • dan1111 - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      Interestingly, the author thought American League games would be longer because the DH encourages more pitching changes. I don’t quite understand this. It’s not like you have to do a double switch every time you bring in a new reliever. And NL pitchers often get taken out of the game because their spot is up in the lineup.

      • yankeesfanlen - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        Tell that to Tony LaRussa, may his baseball genius rest in peace.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      If the NL adopted the DH, I would be really sad at not being able to make fun of their pitchers’ bunting anymore. 😦 Then again, it would elevate the bunt not to be tainted by pitcher AB’s anymore. I don’t know that I want to live in a baseball world where we must respect the bunt though. It’s like taking jelly beans seriously as a candy.

      • unclemosesgreen - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        Agreed, it would be like taking bread pudding seriously as an alternative to cake.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        Honey, bread pudding is not for sport.

      • unclemosesgreen - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        Neither is that crazy-eyes tiger. Scared of him. Or her. As the case may be.

      • unclemosesgreen - Apr 27, 2014 at 8:00 PM

        Half a mile from the county fair
        And the rain keep pourin’ down
        Me & Billy standin’ there
        With a silver half a crown
        Hands are full of fishin’ rod
        With the tackle on our backs
        We just stood there gettin’ wet
        With our backs against the fence

        Oh the water
        Oh-oh the water
        Oh the water
        Hope it don’t rain all day

    • yahmule - Apr 24, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      I like it, too. I also like people who say, “you can’t have it in one league and not the other,” in a direct refutation of 41 years of empirical evidence.

      • dan1111 - Apr 24, 2014 at 6:01 PM


  3. yankeesfanlen - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    Having a pitcher stand like a dope in the batters box looking at three strikes whiz by him takes longer.
    Hence play the game the right (Universe) way. What else you gonna do for four hours anyway?

    • recoveringcubsfan - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      Ah, but when a pitcher gets a hit it is either the most sublime or the most heartrending thing in the game, depending on which team he plays for. I quite enjoy pitchers who hit; it’s like buying a lottery ticket: low risk, unlikely but very high potential reward. The game, in my opinion, is poorer without that feature.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:54 AM

        Pitcher hits are interesting only for their novelty. There is nothing inherently more valuable or satisfying about them aside from that. Fetishizing it is akin to seeing runs scored on wild pitches as more thrilling than those earned on standard plays.

    • koufaxmitzvah - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      AJ Burnett had 3 hits in his start at Dodgers Stadium. Cole Hamels went 1-2 yesterday and Zack Greinke responded with a 7th inning double of his own.

      Give a pitcher a bat with a purpose and some drive to get stuff done, and they will make themselves more complete players.

      Of course, we can just dumb everybody down and say that they should never, ever try to extend themselves or learn to do something new. That’s always fun.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:02 PM

        Long live the Renaissance Man! The Renaissance Man is dead.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 24, 2014 at 8:23 PM

        Pitchers had incentives to hit for decades. They just stopped hitting well as they were in the lineup less frequently.

    • norcalfrog - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      Geez…you should be watching the phils/dodgers games… AJ Burnett 3 for 3, Greinke with a double and scored a valuable run after it looked like he was coming out, Lee had a hit, and Hamels last night as well. I am thinking a few position guys could only wish it were them.

      • yankeesfanlen - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:00 AM

        Finally found a use for AJ.

      • chadjones27 - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:42 PM

        (Accidentally hit “report comment”)

        yankeesanlen, if he wasn’t gimping around the basepaths due a hernia, I’d take Burnett off the bench instead of Galvis

  4. ezthinking - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Studies have shown that there is a .99 correlation between that those who advocate pitchers hitting and persons who have a diet based upon eating jackalopes for breakfast.

  5. dparker713 - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    Objectively, its more logical to have each player on both offense and defense as opposed to having 1 offensive and 1 defensive specialist and 8 two way players. So it would make more logical sense to abolish the DH from both leagues.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:16 PM

      How is it logical to treat a guy with specialized duties the same as fielders? And put him at risk of injury when he cannot be replaced by a utility guy?

      • tbird05 - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        There was a time when duties weren’t so special.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        Are you going to make everyone rotate positions again?

      • tbird05 - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        Sure am…just like the damn Chinese fire drill!

      • historiophiliac - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        Good luck to you then.

      • paperlions - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        You mean, like Cabrera? His specialized duty is to hit the ball. He can’t run or field…why treat him like a fielder? Those duties just get him hurt and affect his ability to hit.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:29 PM

        That’s why he’s at 1B.

      • paperlions - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:36 PM

        I’m on board with hitterwannabefielderball just to get rid of all of the dumb double switches and alleged “strategy” in the NL around the pitcher’s spot in the lineup….it just gives Matheny too many chances to demonstrate that he has no idea what he’s doing….at least he looks purty doing it.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        He’s aight.

  6. thedoubleentandres - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Dh’ing means we would never get to see Bartolo Colon swinging for the fences with his helmet falling off everytime. I am against it for this very reason.

  7. yankeesfanlen - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    • moogro - Apr 24, 2014 at 4:00 PM

  8. tbird05 - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    And here I thought quitting the cigs and booze would make me more likely to not develop cancer. Thank God all I really needed to do was hate the DH.

  9. American of African Descent - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    Watching professional pitchers try to get out professional hitters is much more entertaining than watching a professional pitcher go after (on average) the functional equivalent of a AAA hitter.

    While there may have been “strategy” once upon a time—when starters went eight and nine innings regularly—with respect to pitchers hitting, the modern game doesn’t play that way.

    • tbird05 - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      Yeah, but chicks dig the strategic bunt!

      • historiophiliac - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        She was just trying not to hurt your feelings.

      • tbird05 - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:02 PM


  10. deepstblu - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Even if the DH did result in longer games, the increase in offense would be worth it in many people’s minds. The objections are to fiddling with batting gloves, stepping out after every pitch, pitchers working at the pace of an arthritic tortoise…things that slow the game down without producing action or tension. In my youth I attended a couple of windblown slugfests at Wrigley, and even though those games ran seriously long nobody was complaining about the time.

  11. happytwinsfan - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    keep the DH but modify the rule so that if the pitcher hits a batter he has to bat the next time the DH spot comes up ??

  12. chadjones27 - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    “but I accept that it makes more logical sense for both leagues to have the DH ”

    Wouldn’t it also make logical sense for both leagues to NOT have a DH? Then both leagues are playing the same rules.

  13. wjarvis - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    I’m not a huge fan of the DH, but I know it’s not going anywhere. I think it will be modified eventually so both leagues have the same rules. Personally I’d like to have 1 of 2 options.

    Option 1: Have a coin flip before every game where the manager of the team that wins the flip chooses whether to use a DH or have the pitchers hit. This way every team has the same rules to consider when setting up their roster, but doesn’t eliminate the rules of either league.

    Option 2: A team can designate a hitter for a pitcher, but when the pitcher comes out of the game so does that hitter and the hitter cannot be moved to another position. Part of this rule would also be that you can’t substitute the hitter without removing the pitcher. This eliminates pitchers having to hit, but also maintains some strategy both in game and in determining the lineup.

    • chadjones27 - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      Interesting options but I don’t like the coin flip idea at all.
      And Option 2, you would have to increase the rosters and have more DH’s. If, for instance, a manager needs to use 3 pitchers in top of the inning, when the bottom of that inning comes up, are 2 batters wasted without ever coming to the plate? Way too confusing.

      • wjarvis - Apr 24, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        Your right that when teams are required to designate the hitter would have a big impact on the rule. Likely if a rule like option 2 was put in place you wouldn’t have to choose whether you want to designate a hitter or not until the pitchers spot came up in the lineup. So once you’re into relief pitchers you essentially are choosing a pinch hitter, who has the potential to bat again if the pitcher stays in the game. If the pitcher is never going to bat you don’t need to designate a hitter for them and the current roster size would be sufficient.

        It’s not that much more complicated then the current designated hitter rule it you actually read all of rule 6.10 and all of the substitution rules associated with it.

  14. chunkala - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Wow, some truly terrible statistical analysis presented here.
    The writer assumes all factors are the same (I.e. carry the same weight). He doesn’t account for better hitters, pitchers, etc.
    If you truly want to determine if having a DH lengthens games then all you have to do is add up the time at bat for the DHs and minus the time at bat for the pitchers and the players that replace the pitcher thru the game.

  15. yahmule - Apr 24, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    The Twins started Kurt Suzuki @ DH the other day. Are you telling me you would rather see him hit than Zack Grienke?

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