Keep the DH out of the National League

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says that the movement to add the Designated Hitter to the National League is gaining momentum and could arrive as early as the 2017 season.

We can’t think of anything that would be worse for the game of baseball.

Proponents of the DH will tell you why it’s better, but they’re completely wrong. The DH is so much more than just allowing teams to substitute a hitter for a pitcher – it takes away vital strategy from a game that is almost literally a chess match with human pieces.  Baseball is completely unique from other sports when it comes to substitutions.  If a player leaves the game for any reason, they can’t come back in – that’s just the rule. The designated hitter already breaks that rule by technically subbing out the pitcher in the lineup, but allowing him to remain in the game.  In a sport where every substitution in the field comes with a corresponding change to your lineup – the DH rule sticks out like a sore thumb.

This isn’t about allowing teams to substitute a .300 hitter in place of a pitcher who might struggle to hit .150 on the year – it’s about making changes to the core strategy of the game.  Every player has strengths and weaknesses – some are great fielders but struggle at the plate – some are great hitters but tend to be a liability on defense. Late in the game coaches are faced with the decision to leave a poor defensive player in the lineup because you might need his bat – or to sub them out because you have the lead and would prefer the stronger defender.

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Specific to pitching, let’s say your team is down 1-0 in the 7th inning with a great opportunity to score. Your pitcher has been lights out (except for that one run) and you feel they can go deeper in the game – but you don’t want to squander this chance at tying or even taking the lead. Do you sub your pitcher for a pinch hitter, or leave him in and hope you can find another chance to score in the next two innings?  In the National League, this is a decision that managers face pretty regularly – in the American League, not so much.

Reddit user Gyro88 summed it up perfectly.

The two halves of the game no longer mesh. Different guys take the field compared to who batted in the top half of the inning, which is a very un-baseball-like thing to have happen. Pitching changes become asynchronous with lineup construction. You have two unrelated aspects of the game: a pitching staff, and everyone else. The pitcher becomes foreign to the game — a guy who comes in to throw whenever the other team is hitting, surrounded by a bunch of baseball players.

If you’re a fan of the DH, why stop there? Why not have a designated fielder – a defensive specialist who doesn’t bat in the lineup that can take the place of someone whose glove is below average? It sounds ridiculous right? Well that’s how fans of the National League feel about the DH.  We can only hope that when the time comes, enough people vote to keep the Designated Hitter out of the National League.

About Aaron Garcia

Aaron is an avid sports fan who passionately follows the NFL, NBA and MLB, in addition to NCAA Sports. He is an Arizona State University grad who loves the Dodgers and the Patriots.

One comment

  1. I don’t think your point of view holds up unless you apply it to both leagues. The AL already has a DH and there was no argument presented here as to why that needs to be reverted. Both leagues should have the same rules, pure and simple. If you want to keep DH out of the NL, then propose to remove it from the AL too.

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