It was a spring night on April 25; a perfect night for baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals were playing the Milwaukee Brewers during a young baseball season. Hopes were abound for both teams and their fan-bases when the unthinkable happened. During his first at-bat in the game, Cardinal ace Adam Wainwright buckled over with an apparent foot/ankle injury. After an MRI revealed an Achilles rupture it became clear to many people what needed to happen; the National League needs the designated hitter. It goes beyond protecting the pitcher and I’ll tell you why.
It’s Time for a National League Designated Hitter
Baseball needs to evolve.
Baseball purists will argue this point. To young fans that didn’t grow up on the sport like some of us did, baseball is boring; pure and simple. You could argue that having the pitcher bat requires a better use of strategy and bench players, but the fact of the matter is that it’s boring for the casual fan. Who would you rather see hit, David Ortiz or Jon Lester?
Fans like to see big numbers and the long ball. The new golden era of pitchers would look a lot different if hurlers across the league had to deal with another big bat in every lineup instead of a fellow pitcher with 30 career hits.
It provides less of a risk to pitchers.
I already covered this in the opening but it deserves to be talked about again. One has to wonder how significantly different the historically great NL Central would’ve looked this year had Wainwright not blown his Achilles just a few starts into the season. There was absolutely no reason for him to be up at the plate besides the fact that the rules told him he had to be.
Pitchers should do one thing, pitch. When you look at someone like Lester, it’s painfully obvious that he doesn’t belong up at the plate. Why add risk to injury for someone like that?
It takes away the AL advantage.
I know when AL teams play in NL parks the pitchers have to hit, but I don’t really consider that an advantage for the National League. When you look at the flip side and teams have players like Ortiz or Victor Cruz waiting on the bench strictly to hit, it’s a huge advantage for the American League ball clubs. Most AL teams have a guy that can hit 20 or more home runs; not all National League teams have players like Kyle Schwarber who can slide into the DH spot and become and immediate impact player.
It’s time for changes in baseball. Pete Rose needs to be allowed back, the pace of the game needs to be picked up, and the National League needs the designated hitter. People would argue that Wainwright’s injury was a freak incident and they aren’t wrong, but why risk it? We’ve talked about these changes for years now, and the time has finally come to start a real dialogue about them. It’s time to take the first step towards bringing baseball into the future. It’s time to take the first step to make it America’s favorite pastime once again.