A Designated Hitter in the NL? Just Say No!

By
Updated: June 19, 2013
Adam Wainwright Bunt

There have been recent grumblings in Major League Baseball that in a few years we could see the National League adopt the DH or Designated Hitter rule that is being used in the American League. I for one think it is a terrible idea that could ruin the uniqueness that Major League Baseball has brought to the table and that so many people know and enjoy.

Now to set the record straight I am not one of those old school fans that despise the DH rule and that it should be scrapped and that it ruined baseball and blah, blah, yada, yada etc. No, I actually like the DH rule and like the fact that it is in one league and not the other. For those who do not know what the rule is, here is the definition from baseball-reference.com – “The Designated Hitter, commonly referred to as DH, is a player in the batting order to hit only but not play defense. He hits in place of the pitcher.”  The NL does not have the DH rule, which means the pitcher must take his turn at bat.

I have always liked the idea of one league having the DH rule and the other league not having it. It makes the game exciting on both ends and brings in a lot of skill and strategy especially in the National League, mainly because pitchers are far from the best batters in the game. As regular readers might know, I grew up a Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays fan and saw both teams play in their homes as a kid. I knew the rules were different and really enjoyed seeing both leagues in action.

One of the reasons why the DH rule could be in effect soon is the fact that the Houston Astros now play in the American League making it an even 15 teams in both leagues, but because baseball is a league where teams play almost every day of the week, there are more games that pit NL and AL teams against each other.  This used to be called “inter league games”, which were played for a few weeks in June, or May, but now it will happen regularly this year. Again, I really enjoyed the interleague games and thought it brought something different to the table for baseball. No other major league sport in North America has a rule like this; the only difference in the other leagues is East and West.

Another reason why they would like to add the DH in the NL is for more players to keep their jobs in baseball.  Many players are forced to retire because their defensive skills begin declining and the 162 game-a-year grind really starts to hurt take its toll. So the DH is a way for some of the big sluggers to extend their careers and still hit the ball with minimal fielding required. The age of big batters going to first is also declining, because now a lot of the first basemen have skill like Joey Votto. Obviously if the DH was in the NL players like Vladimir Guerrero, Jason Giambi, Jim Thome could probably still play because there was still power in their swings.

The thing is, although the great sluggers who knew how to hit the cover off the ball might get a job, it would also make the NL really boring, because it would be the same as the AL. At that point you would not need to have two different leagues, why not just put all the teams in one league and have 8 teams make the playoffs or something like that – doesn’t that sound fun.

Baseball is more than a game about hitting, pitching and catching; it is about strategy and using your brain to beat the other team. Sometimes a bunt can go a long way too, it is not just about the homeruns (although seeing them is quite fun) but its fun to have no DH here and there too – it makes strategy in baseball more important that ever. I really hope the league does not make the NL adopt the DH, because not only will the MLB lose some of its uniqueness it could also becoming a bit more boring and that is not what this league needs now that its popularity is actually going up.

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Photo Credit: vimeo.com, cc

6 Comments

  1. Doc

    June 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    “especially in the National League, mainly because pitchers are far from the best batters in the game.”

    You just summed up the best reason for the NL to use the DH rule, right there.

    Think about it not from the fans perspective, but from the players/teams perspective. If you’re the Dodgers, you have one of the most dominant pitchers in the NL, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has a 1.84 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP this season. His batting average? .191. If I’m the Dodgers, I don’t want Kershaw hitting, EVER. I want him focused on doing one thing, and one thing only, throwing strikes and shutting down the other team.

    Baseball is more than a game about hitting, pitching and catching; it is about strategy and using your brain to beat the other team. Sometimes a bunt can go a long way too, it is not just about the homeruns.

    True, but for every “we need to advance the runner” situation that calls for a perfect bunt (1 a game, maybe?) there are dozen and dozens of at bats where a normal hit would serve you much better.

    I’m all for uniqueness in baseball, and I’m a purest by no means, but I could care less if a pitcher hits. It adds very little to my enjoyment.

    • Ben Kerr

      June 19, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      I’m on the other side of the fence.

      As a Cardinals fan, I enjoy the strategy that comes with using your bench, when to pull a pitcher and when not to, when to pull a double switch, when to do a million different things in the game that are required by the National League style that don’t happen in the American League. The chess match that managing becomes in working around that pitcher spot is intriguing to me.

      • Aaron White

        June 21, 2013 at 12:16 am

        Exactly! As a Brewers fan, even i loved watching Tony LaRussa manage those kinds of situations, which he always seemed to do well.
        I don’t like the idea of a DH in the NL. I too enjoy the strategy that comes with figuring out what to do when you really need a run, but your pitcher is doing well, or your other guy’s just not quite warm.
        It’s a nice element that would be sorely missed.

    • Garth

      June 19, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      The idea is that working around your pitcher being a poor hitter just adds to the strategy required to successfully score runs. The DH to me seems like a cop-out for a league which decided they were tired of dealing with the pitcher slot and play a power hitter instead. Chicks dig the long ball but baseball is about strategy. Nobody ever tried to replace rooks with queens in chess…

  2. Randy

    June 20, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Ummm. Jason Giambi still DOES play.

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