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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Miklasz: Get ready, the NL will adopt the DH

Fans get ready, there’s a train-wreck comin’
You don’t need no excess baggage, you just get on board

The “tradition” argument is weak.

Why? The DH is now part of that tradition.

The DH is used in the minor leagues, the colleges, high schools, and right on down the line.

The NL is the oddball here.

Like it or not, the National League will adopt the DH rule. The day is coming; most baseball people think we’ll see the DH implemented within 10 years.

Look at it this way, Cardinals fans: if the full-time DH comes to the NL in a few years, at least your team has brawny Matt Adams locked and loaded to fill the job. Or, depending on the Cardinals’ roster configuration at the time, Allen Craig could take over at DH. 

One day, many years from now, when Oscar Taveras is in his 30s and slowing down, he can finish his long and illustrious Cardinals career as one of baseball’s top designated hitters instead of leaving to sign a massive free-agent deal with the Angels.

Repoz Posted: March 31, 2013 at 01:23 PM | 158 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, history

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   101. Flynn Posted: April 01, 2013 at 06:18 PM (#4401515)
The DH people will need to remind me precisely how much more exciting it would be for a fat old guy to hit a home run in Chavez Ravine than Clayton Kershaw.
   102. Lassus Posted: April 01, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4401521)
Flynn beat me to it.

Clayton Kershaw renders NL DH arguments invalid.
   103. cmd600 Posted: April 01, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4401523)
The DH people will need to remind me precisely how much more exciting it would be for a fat old guy to hit a home run in Chavez Ravine than Clayton Kershaw.


How many logical fallacies can we count in just one post?

I'm assuming you don't want pro-DH guys to post in this thread every time they see a NL pitcher never bother to take the bat off his shoulder or square up for a bunt in a situation that wouldn't call for one except that the guy at the plate would be lucky to just put the bat on the ball.
   104. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 01, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4401536)
Indeed, something that happens 0.1% of the time is likely to be more exciting when it happens than something that happens 5% of the time.
   105. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 01, 2013 at 07:41 PM (#4401585)
If my favorite team had a starting pitcher worth protecting, I'd prefer just to skip his at-bats and let the worst bench bat take his place, no problem. If my favorite team had a starting pitcher worth protecting, I'd prefer just to skip his at-bats and let the worst bench bat take his place, no problem.


Then watch AL games. You generally have 6-7 nightly where you don't have to be exposed to the atrocity that is pitchers hitting. Others, however, like what it offers, whether that's a few more managerial options, or the surprise when a pitcher has a productive at bat or just the simple symmetry inherent to DH-free baseball.

I understand why that doesn't appeal to some folks. I'll never understand why some of those folks are so damn persistent in trying to take it away from the ones who do.

I'm guessing Wang's injury alone cost team(s) more money than the great boycott that would arise from the NL adopting the DH.


Wow, that would be a nifty job of changing the subject from your previously, unsupported point in favor of universal DHness. Alas, it isn't.

To be fair, I don't believe snappper's point that fielding a DH costs teams more money either. In fact, I think most, if not all, "The DH does this..." arguments are entirely speculative, and unlikely to be true.

The only thing I know with 100 percent certainty is that there is a substantial subset of fans (many of whom post on this site, and aren't just limited to Vlad and Lisa) who vehemently oppose the DH. They have made that abundantly clear (to the point that many of them may need professional help). How would they react if the DH was instituted in the NL? I don't know, but considering there hasn't been a single, verifiable advantage offered in support of such a move, I think baseball would be batshit insane to risk alienating that subset of fans.
   106. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 01, 2013 at 09:00 PM (#4401646)
Then watch AL games. You generally have 6-7 nightly where you don't have to be exposed to the atrocity that is pitchers hitting. Others, however, like what it offers, whether that's a few more managerial options, or the surprise when a pitcher has a productive at bat or just the simple symmetry inherent to DH-free baseball.

I understand why that doesn't appeal to some folks. I'll never understand why some of those folks are so damn persistent in trying to take it away from the ones who do.


Exactly. I'm an AL fan, I'd never notice if they changed, but why force it on everyone?

I'm guessing Wang's injury alone cost team(s) more money than the great boycott that would arise from the NL adopting the DH.

The Wang injury cost his team $0. The 2008 Yankees drew 4.2 million people. They finished 6 games out of the WC. Half a season of Wang wasn't making up 6 wins.

And on a overall MLB basis, injuries are completely neutral. It doesn't increase costs, they just promote minor leaguers.
   107. spycake Posted: April 01, 2013 at 09:01 PM (#4401648)
The only thing I know with 100 percent certainty is that there is a substantial subset of fans (many of whom post on this site, and aren't just limited to Vlad and Lisa) who vehemently oppose the DH. They have made that abundantly clear (to the point that many of them may need professional help). How would they react if the DH was instituted in the NL? I don't know, but considering there hasn't been a single, verifiable advantage offered in support of such a move, I think baseball would be batshit insane to risk alienating that subset of fans.

Are you afraid some of them might resort to violence? :)

There's also a subset of fans on this site who vehemently opposed season-long interleague play, the play-in game, the All-Star Game deciding home field in the World Series, any interleague play at all, the wild card, the three division format, and even the two division format, among other things. Some even regard the World Series as a meaningless exhibition. There's probably a lot of overlap between some of these groups and the anti-DH crowd. I suspect that MLB could weather a little more message board criticism from that lot.

For the record, I actually don't like the DH, and I don't mind the current setup. But I definitely see more upside (however marginal) than downside for MLB to make it universal, should they ever decide to pursue it. And season-long interleague might push them a little bit in that direction.
   108. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 01, 2013 at 09:27 PM (#4401676)
There's also a subset of fans on this site who vehemently opposed season-long interleague play, the play-in game, the All-Star Game deciding home field in the World Series, any interleague play at all, the wild card, the three division format, and even the two division format, among other things.


Yes*, yes, no, big yes, big yes, yes (only because it led to the former), too young, but probably would have been a yes.

But in each of those cases, there were demonstrable benefits to the game that accompanied the changes, primarily the promise of more money for the owners. But in the case of abolishing the DH, in this thread and others, there has not been a single, tangible benefit to the game that has been established. There has been a lot of rank speculation, none of which stands up to strong scrunity.

* Yes=SoSH being vehemently opposed to those changes.
   109. cardsfanboy Posted: April 01, 2013 at 09:47 PM (#4401689)
Yes*, yes, no, big yes, big yes, yes (only because it led to the former), too young, but probably would have been a yes.


I support almost all the changes made, but I can't support the DH in the NL. I've accepted it as an eventuality, although who knows when that will be, but it's not something I'm looking forward to. I just don't get the vehemently opposition to any of these changes. Yes it might be against your personal wishes of a perfect universe, but at the same time, there is no reason to raise your blood pressure to oppose any of these things. Fight for the status quo is ok, but once it happens, just roll with it.
   110. spycake Posted: April 01, 2013 at 09:48 PM (#4401692)
But in each of those cases, there were demonstrable benefits to the game that accompanied the changes, primarily the promise of more money for the owners.

There was big money for the owners in making the All-Star Game decide home field advantage in the World Series? This Time It Counts?

But in the case of abolishing the DH, in this thread and others, there has not been a single, tangible benefit to the game that has been established. There has been a lot of rank speculation, none of which stands up to strong scrunity.

Also, in the case of abolishing the DH, in this thread and others, there has not been a single, tangible detriment to the business of baseball that has been established. There has been a lot of rank speculation, none of which stands up to strong scrunity.

(Unless you really think "Internet fans I know complain in droves" is better than rank speculation or stands up to scrutiny as a valid reason owner shouldn't do this.)
   111. cardsfanboy Posted: April 01, 2013 at 10:00 PM (#4401699)
There was big money for the owners in making the All-Star Game decide home field advantage in the World Series? This Time It Counts?


Publicity wise, yes. In theory yes. In reality...not so much. They had screwed up with the tied all star game(for the life of me, I have never ever figured out why anyone got upset with that, but people are ####### idiots and will get upset over some of the stupidest things imaginable.)So to regain faith in the masses of idiots who got upset and took to complaining, they came up with an idea (which is no worse or better than the existing method) to tie it to the all star game. This way MLB can say "see, you ####### idiots who care about a meaningless exhibition game, we listen to you(just like we did with the Spiderman bases) and heard you and reacted with a plan to make sure you know that we won't take this meaningless game for granted again.

Also, in the case of abolishing the DH, in this thread and others, there has not been a single, tangible detriment to the business of baseball that has been established. There has been a lot of rank speculation, none of which stands up to strong scrunity.


Whether it's tangible or not, the creation of the DH in the AL was strictly a money move. The NL was beating the AL in revenue and attendance and the AL wanted to do something to improve that, they came upon this plan. Whether it worked or not is a different story.
   112. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 01, 2013 at 10:59 PM (#4401724)
Also, in the case of abolishing the DH, in this thread and others, there has not been a single, tangible detriment to the business of baseball that has been established. There has been a lot of rank speculation, none of which stands up to strong scrunity.

And there hasn't been a single, tangible benefit of the DH produced. Just rank speculation.
   113. SoSH U at work Posted: April 01, 2013 at 11:58 PM (#4401745)
Also, in the case of abolishing the DH, in this thread and others, there has not been a single, tangible detriment to the business of baseball that has been established. There has been a lot of rank speculation, none of which stands up to strong scrunity.


These are actual people, threatening to have less interest in the game if the change is made. They're not theoretical. You can choose to believe they're full of ####, but at least we know they exist, rather than the entirely manufactured reasoning without evidence that gets tossed around in support of an all-DH existence.

And I know, you will point to the cancelled World Series and the fact baseball has very healthy revenues as proof that no one ever walks away from the game. The flaw with that line of reasoning is it assumes that the growth baseball has enjoyed since 1994 was its limit. But we don't know that. The fact baseball has been able to overcome the 1994-95 idiocy and enjoy such healthy growth does not mean that even greater growth was not possible had that been avoided.

I have no doubt baseball will remain a popular form of entertainment for many years to come. I have no doubt that, given time, most of these anti-DH hardliners would return to the game, even if it takes some time. Baseball is, after all, ####### great.

But until someone provdes a concrete reason why it's in baseball's best interests to change, not some wildass speculation that has no logical foundation, then I'm going to continue to proclaim that alienating a percentage of the fanbase on a whim is a stupid ass way of doing business.

Oh, and FTR, I will concede the all-star game deciding HFA was probably not much of a money thing (though I think Bud hoped tying something to the outcome would spark renewed interest in the game itself), its implementation also didn't alienate anyone too much. It's impossible to be passionate about the previous method of deciding HFA in the series: taking the calendar year and dividing by 2.
   114. Bob T Posted: April 02, 2013 at 04:36 AM (#4401794)
My great-great grandfather stopped going to games when they got rid of the rule that called the batter out if the defense caught a foul ball on the first bounce.

Or he may have gotten cholera and died.

Or both.
   115. Flynn Posted: April 02, 2013 at 06:33 AM (#4401802)
113 - it might even be more simply explained as "The NL gets more fans year in year out, there is no groundswell from these fans for a DH (if anything there's a groundswell against it - I feel like being anti-DH is the key value in being a fan of the National League), why fix something that isn't broken?".
   116. bunyon Posted: April 02, 2013 at 09:09 AM (#4401833)
The logical argument for the DH in using Kershaw's HR is that a reasonable hitting pitcher is a competitive advantage in the NL. Simply saying teams don't exploit it, therefore it must not mean anything is a sentiment that would have rendered the entirety of sabermetrics void. Someone in 1985 could have said, no one cares about OBP, therefore it isn't important, just as easily.

I'm not going to go so far as to say I would "leave" the sport if the NL took the DH. But, really, I left the sport a long time ago. The artificial, and loud, experience of the ballpark keeps me away. The regular season doesn't mean nearly as much for the championship as it once did and, hence, I don't follow it as closely. I may well not have spent a dime on MLB last year except what I pay for internet and TV, which I would do anyway. So, they pretty much have lost me. If it garnered them a few new fans by bringing in the DH, it might make sense for them. I'm not clear, exactly, who these people are that would watch MLB if not for pitchers hitting but there may be some, I suppose. I assume an NL DH would be focus grouped to hell before being adopted.
   117. spycake Posted: April 02, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4401880)
I won't argue this any further, although I think it's worth noting that the two fans here most frequently cited as threatening less interest in a universal DH game are Lisa (Astros) and Vlad (Pirates). I suspect the quality of their hometown teams might be the greatest factor in such a threat/decision.
   118. Ron J2 Posted: April 02, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4401901)
#57 It's remarkable how many pitchers known as at least relatively good hitters have ended up in the AL.

Being able to hit a bit just isn't all that important.
   119. The Polish Sausage Racer Posted: April 02, 2013 at 12:23 PM (#4402007)
My wife is anti-DH, some kind "purity of the sport" argument, I guess. I am pro-DH---I absolutely hate the fact that whenever you get a rally going it's the damned pitcher coming up and the whole thing just dies in its tracks. Seriously, every nine outs you're treated to the Special Olympics; what the hell is enjoyable about that? I don't get the anti-DH fervor at all. The pitcher batting is just sad and pathetic and a waste of time. I suppose in a NASCAR/roman gladiator sense it would be entertaining if they threw at each others' heads, but they don't even do that.
   120. cardsfanboy Posted: April 02, 2013 at 12:29 PM (#4402011)
My wife is anti-DH, some kind "purity of the sport" argument, I guess. I am pro-DH---I absolutely hate the fact that whenever you get a rally going it's the damned pitcher coming up and the whole thing just dies in its tracks.


Which I find to be funny. Not to be too critical, but the truth of the matter is that the difference between the best hitter in baseball .333 average and a pitcher .150(or so average) is 2 hits per 10 at bats. And yes, a critical at bat is more often about batting average than it is about obp. It's not really that big of a difference for anyone to get worked up over.
   121. Poulanc Posted: April 02, 2013 at 01:12 PM (#4402048)
It's not really that big of a difference for anyone to get worked up over.


I think two extra hits every three games is a pretty significant difference.


EDIT: Not to mention the differences in OBP and SLG as well.
   122. SoSH U at work Posted: April 02, 2013 at 01:17 PM (#4402054)
I think two extra hits every three games is a pretty significant difference.


I do too, though the actual comparison should be between pitchers and No. 9 hitters in the AL, so the gap isn't quite as large as cfb's example (still pretty meaningful, IMO).
   123. eddieot Posted: April 02, 2013 at 01:20 PM (#4402059)
I'm an NL anti-DH guy but I think it's naive to think it's not coming. It will be couched in realignment tied to expansion, inevitably. MLB has been watering down league distinctions for more than a decade and the 15-15 schedule takes us one more huge step down this path. I will still watch baseball. I will not reign havoc or anger on anyone. But I will reminisce to my sons about Joe Blanton's first career HR coming in a World Series game 4, and they will look at me and catch each others' eyes and shake their heads wondering how I got so old.

Have I mentioned I miss the organ music too?
   124. SG Posted: April 02, 2013 at 01:21 PM (#4402063)
Do anti-DH people boycott their team's games in AL parks?
   125. cardsfanboy Posted: April 02, 2013 at 01:23 PM (#4402065)
I think two extra hits every three games is a pretty significant difference.


but it's not 2 extra hits every three games. Not in reference to the original comment where the guy was talking about a rally getting killed by the pitcher. That is probably two extra hits every 10 or so games. If that often. Pitchers don't bat in crucial situations after the 6th inning, and not every at bat is a crucial situation.

   126. bunyon Posted: April 02, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4402074)
Seriously, every nine outs you're treated to the Special Olympics

Yes, it's only the anti-DH folks who are hyperbolic.

Clayton Kershaw won the Special Olympics yesterday. Of course, he had a better AB than anyone on the other team, including the middle of the order, had.

Some pitchers are terrible hitters. Some would be perfectly serviceable 8 and 9 hitters in the AL.
   127. Rusty Priske Posted: April 02, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4402075)
I like the DH. I think baseball is a more entertaining game WITH the DH than WITHOUT it.


Having said that, I also prefer having the two leagues be different. I will be disappointed if the NL adopts the DH (though not as disappointed as I would be if the AL abolished it.)
   128. Poulanc Posted: April 02, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4402101)

Some pitchers are terrible hitters. Some would be perfectly serviceable 8 and 9 hitters in the AL.


I think it's safe to say that most pitchers are terrible hitters while a select few would be perfectly serviceable 8 and 9 hitters in the AL.

I'm pro-DH. If only for the fact that I don't think Ryan Hanigan should have as many intentional walks as Josh Hamilton. Over a quarter of the intentional walks last year in the NL were of the number 8 hitter. There were 213 fewer intentional walks in the AL than the NL. I'd think that almost the entire difference in leagues can be accounted for by looking at intentional passes when the pitcher's spot in the lineup is coming up next.
   129. base ball chick Posted: April 02, 2013 at 02:05 PM (#4402105)
75. spycake Posted: April 01, 2013 at 11:59 AM (#4400839)


And not to question the threat validity of Vlad or Lisa, but honestly: where are these baseball fans going to go if the NL adopts the DH? Are they going to join all the multitudes of fans turned off by the original DH rule, divisional playoffs, the strikes, realignment, the wild card, and interleague play? Because MLB seems to be doing just fine without that group.


- we are in fact, going to join the multitudes who left because of whatever reason. gone. because there will be no actual major league BASEBALL games. and i can say after watching the Opening Night game - and i watched because i always had a tradition of watching Opening Day game (if possible) that DH ball is beyond boring. i'd rather watch the pitcher bunt. and i prefer strategy to some shtty #9 hitter who is barely better than the pitcher.

77. Bob T Posted: April 01, 2013 at 12:09 PM (#4400855)
There's no other Major League Baseball to watch if you feel that a National League with a DH is unacceptable to you.


- that's the way things go. sometimes what you loved just vanishes. you can accept a shtty substitute or find something else to do. me, i'll find something else to do.

Are you going to go to the door of Bud Selig's office and ask to debate 95 theses about how baseball should be run? And they go found your own religion and/or baseball league?


- don't be silly
bud doesn't care about anything besides getting the most money for himself and his owners.
he was gonna put slogans on the bases, remember?

if i had the kind of hundreds of billion needed to start the BBC REAL Baseball League, i would have the kind of hundreds of billions that would be needed to put pressure on selig
   130. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 02, 2013 at 02:07 PM (#4402107)
And still no one has given a single substantive reason for the NL to adopt the DH.

The best we have so far is "Wahhhh, Chien-Ming Wang got hurt".
   131. cmd600 Posted: April 02, 2013 at 02:24 PM (#4402123)
Some pitchers are terrible hitters. Some would be perfectly serviceable 8 and 9 hitters in the AL.


Nice vague use of the word "some".

Last year, the total line for AL #9 hitters was .232/.292/.348, only two pitchers broke that OPS (50 PA min). Since 2010 (the year we saw a noticeable decline in offense), the lowest #9 hitter total was 2011 Minnesota's .539 OPS. In that same timeframe, 13 pitchers broke that OPS in a season (again 50 PAs). Two pitchers last year would have been a serviceable 9 hitter in the AL, and 13 in 3 years would not been the worst 9 hitter in the game. Sure, I guess that counts as "some".

Edit:

and i prefer strategy to some shtty #9 hitter who is barely better than the pitcher.


The difference between the AL #9 and the NL pitcher has been 160-180 points of OPS over the last few years. That's more than "barely better". And this idea of Dusty Baker, master strategist, demonstrating his craft is laughable at best. Sure, there's something interesting about having to go to your bench late in the game, but there's no deep strategy involved.
   132. spycake Posted: April 02, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4402131)
Snapper, knock it off. We all know it's ultimately a matter of personal opinion. Quit pretending like your opinion is somehow divine objective truth on this matter.

I'm probably in agreement with you and most others on this site about our personal DH preferences. I simply think the predictions of business doom for MLB if it adopted the universal DH are greatly exaggerated. That won't be a significant factor if/when MLB ever considers this.
   133. bunyon Posted: April 02, 2013 at 02:34 PM (#4402137)
So you're saying that the AL #9 hitter spends most of his time training to hit and yet can't manage better than 180 points of OPS above Special Olympians. What brilliant athletes they are. I best ensure I get to see them hit a lot.

Clearly, NL pitchers don't spend much time working on hitting. I think it is a flaw and would like to see players work on all aspects of their game. But, just as fat sluggers don't spend a lot of time with conditioning or working on fielding, the folks in charge have decided specialization is efficient.


If you only want to "see the best", you should favor a league of 2 teams, composed of the best 8 defenders at their positions who only play the field and the best 9 hitters in the game, who only hit. Each team will be allotted 6 pitchers because no one wants to see the scrubs at the back of the pen get important innings. Right?
   134. cmd600 Posted: April 02, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4402147)
I know this is a lost cause to convince anyone on either side, but you would think that we still wouldn't be rehashing the exact same strawmen that we built up over the previous 132 posts.
   135. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 02, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4402150)
But, just as fat sluggers don't spend a lot of time with conditioning or working on fielding, the folks in charge have decided specialization is efficient.


That would be because it is.

Whether it's best for the sport's effort to sell entertainment is what the argument is about.
   136. base ball chick Posted: April 02, 2013 at 02:49 PM (#4402153)
117. spycake Posted: April 02, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4401880)

I won't argue this any further, although I think it's worth noting that the two fans here most frequently cited as threatening less interest in a universal DH game are Lisa (Astros) and Vlad (Pirates). I suspect the quality of their hometown teams might be the greatest factor in such a threat/decision.


- well there boy, you wanna search the archives, you will find that i said the same thing back in 04/05 when my team was one of the 4 best teams in the NL. this is not exactly something new.

- and i actually DID refuse to watch any games played in a DH park.

as for pitchers getting hurt doing anything but pitching of fielding their position, it's so rare that i can only think of 3 guys in the past 15 years getting hurt - carlos hernandez diving back into first, andy pettitte straining something on a checked swing in 04 (and having to be out for the last 2 months of the season and an elcheapo owner which meant pete munro which meant no pennant) and wang. it's not a valid excuse
   137. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: April 02, 2013 at 03:23 PM (#4402196)
By the way, the Orioles opening day Designated Hitter is Steve Pearce, that renowned, fearsome slugger with the career OPS+ of 82.
   138. KT's Pot Arb Posted: April 02, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4402229)
I don't like the DH because I don't like un-necessary specialization, I prefer that players and pitchers both have to be athletes and their roles should require a wide range of physical skills, some of which can be improved through hard work. A starting pitcher can add value by being a better hitter and baserunner even if he can't throw 95 miles per hour. And it obviously makes for tougher managerial decisions and situations, which I like.

I don't want baseball to devolve to the point where we have designated fielders because the best hitters aren't great at fielding, the beauty of the sport is that most every athlete, no matter how great, has to compensate for his weaknesses in some aspect of the game (fielding, throwing, hitting, base-running) by excelling at other aspects. Even Albert Pujols can't play short or third acceptably enough to make it smart to play him there, despite his dazzling skills at first.

This is what made Trout's season so amazing. He was one of the best players in baseball at everything his position demanded. He fielded center as well as the best center-fielders, ran the bases as well as anyone in baseball has in years, hit for one of highest averages in baseball, walked as much as anyone, hit a ton of home runs. His arm is the one area where he fell short, but still to see a player so dominant in so many aspects of playing baseball against major leaguers at age 20, it was wonderful and rare and amazing.

The argument for the DH, and it's a good one, is that watching pitchers hit isn't as great as watching Pujols or Trout hit, you simply don't have the same level of expectations or excitement. But what you get in return is much more wonderful surprise when they come through. I love it when a manager has a pitcher so talented he can trusted to pinch hit, or substitute as a base runner, or even as a fielder when the team is in a pinch, and the DH makes it much less likely that managers will need to be that creative.

If it's simply a problem of not enough offense, there are other tools at MLB's disposal to increase offense, the strike zone for example. Even pitchers will hit more if the strike zone is shrunk, or the mound dropped, etc. I don't think the problem is not enough offense, too much offense can be worse than too little. No one wants games that go on so long that every hit, every lead change, and every managerial decision becomes less meaningful, and home runs become so commonplace that they are no longer special. But in the end the offense question is moot because scoring in the NL isn't that much lower than it is in the AL, and the games are just as exciting and interesting, but in slightly different ways.

My biggest problem with the DH is having two leagues with different rules. I love that baseball hasn't standardized park sizes, it adds unique and interesting context to games that doesn't lead to significant advantages for one team over another across the season. The Rockies can build a team for Coors field, but it still has to play half it's games on the road. To me the DH imposes a sudden, and possibly unbalanced rule change at the very end of the season that forces teams to play differently than the way they played almost all year long to get to the World Series. NL teams may not have a good DH type on their roster, or an AL team's best hitter might be a DH who didn't field all season long, but is suddenly forced to in the World Series. We shouldn't change the rules in the World Series of all places to significantly increase or decrease the strengths/weaknesses of the teams that got there.

I mostly want the rules rationalized between the leagues, and I'll hold my nose and support the DH if that's the only way to do it. Compromise is almost always the best solution, and here it is. The compromise is to modify the DH rule there were costs for using it instead of being an overwhelmingly positive strategic advantage. If the benefits of the DH were offset by costs so there is a balance where some teams/ managers would opt to not have a starting DH, or use it in unique ways that gives the manager more options in other ways, I think the DH would be palatable to both leagues.

I propose 2 new rules that could make the DH far more palatable to the NL, as well as make games better and more interesting.

1) If the DH is hitting for a starting player/pitcher, the team loses the DH when that player leaves the game.

This reduces some of the substantial advantage the DH brings, and using it for the starter means that when they are relieved, relievers either have to hit or be replaced just as in the NL, and teams would have to decide whether to move their DH to the field to keep them in the game after the starter leaves.

This rule alone would fall short because it doesn't create any benefit to not having a starting DH, and doesn't change how managers use the DH very much. The only strategy change example I can think of would be pretty rare, when the starting pitcher is as good or a better hitter than a position player, say the shortstop. By DHing for the SS during that pitcher's starts, the team can keep their DH in the lineup the entire game (as long as the SS doesn't get hurt) without being forced to move the DH into the field after the starter leave, and the pitcher is rewarded for his athleticism and work in the batting cage with more offensive support for his starts.

To balance the benefits even more, we need another rule, such as ...

2) If the DH is put in to hit for a substitute player/pitcher, the DH can stay till the end of the game, hitting for any players who substitute into that position

This provides an incentive for managers to save the DH for later in the game and use them in lots of creative ways.

a) A manager can save the DH when starting a good hitting pitcher, and put the DH in when the starter is relieved. This probably won't happen much because the benefit might be too small even with a good hitting starter, but there is another unique benefit the manager gets occasionally. If the game goes into extra innings, his DH gets to stay throughout while the other manager is stuck with pinch hitters if he wasted his DH on his starter.

b) If the team gets a strong lead early the manager can pull a no hit defensive specialist off the bench and DH for him the rest of the game to help hold the lead.

c) If the starter gets crushed, the manager can pull them early and put in a DH for the relief corp to have more offense for a comeback.

d) If a starting position player has a fluke injury in the early innings, again the manager can put in their best defensive replacement and use the DH to hit for them the rest of the game.

If the DH can be modified in the right way it would still be used most of the time, but not all of the time. The best hitting pitchers would still hit while bad hitting pitchers would rarely walk to the plate, game decisions would be more complex, strategies more unique based on lineups strengths, and games more interesting. If it can lead to both leagues using the DH under the same rules, and the World Series using regular season rules so the strengths and weaknesses of World Series teams remain the same as what got them there, I think it would be a huge improvement over our current situation.
   139. SG Posted: April 02, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4402233)
By the way, the Orioles opening day Designated Hitter is Steve Pearce, that renowned, fearsome slugger with the career OPS+ of 82.


137 tOPS+ vs. lefties.
   140. SoSH U at work Posted: April 02, 2013 at 04:13 PM (#4402261)
The Rockies can build a team for Coors field, but it still has to play half it's games on the road. To me the DH imposes a sudden, and possibly unbalanced rule change at the very end of the season that forces teams to play differently than the way they played almost all year long to get to the World Series.


I think a team built for a bandbox suddenly playing in the old Astrodome, for instance, would be at a far greater disadvantage competitively than anything the DH/pitcher hitting option presents (of course, the team built for the dome is at a disadvantage when the series shifts to the bandbox).

And which side is disadvantaged greater, the NL teams who have to employ someone used to pinch-hitting for the pitcher in that capacity for a full game or the AL pitchers who have to pick up a bat again for the first time since, well their last road interleague series or the last time they were throwing for an NL team? I don't think either is terribly meaningful to begin with, and when you throw in the fact that each team is forced to play by the other's rules an almost equal number of times, I think it's a non-issue.

You make adjustments in the playoffs. The DH/pitcher thing is just one more you have to make.
   141. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 02, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4402278)
Snapper, knock it off. We all know it's ultimately a matter of personal opinion. Quit pretending like your opinion is somehow divine objective truth on this matter.

I'm probably in agreement with you and most others on this site about our personal DH preferences. I simply think the predictions of business doom for MLB if it adopted the universal DH are greatly exaggerated. That won't be a significant factor if/when MLB ever considers this.


I watch a DH team, and it doesn't bother me. I wouldn't notice the change in the NL. I'm simply pointing out that no one has presented a cogent argument as to why MLB would want to make the switch?

Why is that some huge party foul, but the pro-DH absolutists claiming "no one will actually stop watching" is kosher?
   142. bunyon Posted: April 02, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4402280)

Whether it's best for the sport's effort to sell entertainment is what the argument is about.


Fine. I find it less entertaining. You find it more entertaining. There can't really be a definitive solution to this argument, can there?
   143. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:16 PM (#4402360)

Fine. I find it less entertaining. You find it more entertaining. There can't really be a definitive solution to this argument, can there?


Exactly. And as long as a significant amount of people find the DH less entertaining, why would MLB remove the option of DH-less baseball?

Why make your product less attractive to a chunk of your customers, unless there is a clear offsetting benefit?
   144. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:32 PM (#4402383)
Maybe we should just let each team decide whether to use the DH or not in its home games, providing each team has to declare before Spring Training whether or not it intends to use the DH in all its home games for the year.

I wonder how many teams would choose to use the DH if the option were given to them.
   145. Flynn Posted: April 02, 2013 at 06:13 PM (#4402438)
That would be pretty interesting indeed. The Rays are DHing Matt Joyce, right? Think they would opt not to use the DH to get Hafner, Ortiz and Encarnacion out of the lineup?
   146. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: April 02, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4402445)
137 tOPS+ vs. lefties.

0 for 4 today with 2 strikeouts, further lowering his already unimpressive career stats. The freaking pitcher could have just as easily done that badly.
   147. KT's Pot Arb Posted: April 02, 2013 at 07:55 PM (#4402506)

I think a team built for a bandbox suddenly playing in the old Astrodome, for instance, would be at a far greater disadvantage competitively than anything the DH/pitcher hitting option presents (of course, the team built for the dome is at a disadvantage when the series shifts to the bandbox).


But teams can change that by alterimg their home park, they can't control whether the DH is used.

Adjustments shouldn't extend to contesting the world championship under different rules than the team played under during the regular season, regardless of which team it favors.


Maybe we should just let each team decide whether to use the DH or not in its home games, providing each team has to declare before Spring Training whether or not it intends to use the DH in all its home games for the year.


This rule is actually perfect if teams can change their selection on a day to day basis. It forces teams to be more balanced, they cant rely too heavily one one dimensional specialist hitters. if you have a great DH be prepared to play him in the field or bench him while on the road. Now no one can be a truely valuable DH without being able to field a position passably.

Add that rule to my #1 rule (#2 was too easy to game I decided) and we are good to go to merge league rules. We'd see about half the games with a DH, half without. And the games with the DH would see them mostly out of the game by the 6th inning. Managers will spin their wheels on ways to maximize the value of their DH, and minimize the value of their opponents DH, its gonna be great.
   148. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 02, 2013 at 08:18 PM (#4402535)
But teams can change that by alterimg their home park, they can't control whether the DH is used.


And?

Adjustments shouldn't extend to contesting the world championship under different rules than the team played under during the regular season, regardless of which team it favors.


That's just an opinion. But unless you can show where one league is fundamentally disadvantaged by having to play under these different grounds rules, I don't find it a particularly compelling one. The game is played in ballparks with differing dimensions in the outfield, differing amounts of foul territory, differing surfaces, at differing altitudes and climates, and occasional differing ground rules. Hell, one ballpark's got a damn hill in the outfield. The idea that this one difference _ something that despite having existed for 40-plus years, we still don't have any idea which league it benefits when it is used/taken away _ can't possibly continue strikes me as pretty silly.

I think the fact that AL teams that are playoff bound must consider letting their starting pitchers take some BP toward the end of the season in anticipation of a WS berth is a good thing. As is the idea that NL teams must figure out who might be used as a DH if they make it, or suffer the Dustonian consequences for their failure to do so. To me, these things don't weaken the WS, but strengthen it. As long as the rules governing the game apply equally to both teams when the game starts, I don't see the harm in having league-specific rules. Rather, I think it makes things more interesting.
   149. spycake Posted: April 02, 2013 at 09:31 PM (#4402627)
And as long as a significant amount of people find the DH less entertaining, why would MLB remove the option of DH-less baseball?

Feel free to share your evidence that shows a "significant" number of people feel so strongly about this. Hopefully it's not just extrapolating based on a BBTF sample, because we have proven time and again we're absolutely bonkos around here.

Actually, given how MLB has consistently steamrolled over BBTF preferences on a wide variety of issues, it's probably a safe bet that any BBTF consensus is not an opinion shared by the population at large, and certainly not by most sources of MLB revenue.
   150. Harvey Berkman Posted: April 02, 2013 at 09:45 PM (#4402643)
And there hasn't been a single, tangible benefit of the DH produced. Just rank speculation.


Edgar Martinez
   151. KT's Pot Arb Posted: April 02, 2013 at 10:47 PM (#4402733)
Sure, no way could Edgar have ever played first.
   152. CrosbyBird Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:27 AM (#4402863)
The only thing I know with 100 percent certainty is that there is a substantial subset of fans (many of whom post on this site, and aren't just limited to Vlad and Lisa) who vehemently oppose the DH.

I believe people who actually say they won't watch baseball anymore (like Lisa) if there's nothing but DH-ball to watch. I just don't get how it's worth giving up baseball for; the sport is too great for that to keep me away.

Don't get me wrong; I hate the DH for two main reasons: it increases offense (which has a number of unpleasant ripple effects: game length, fewer close games and more blowouts in a higher run-scoring environment, devaluation of speed which in my opinion objectively reduces excitement, etc.); and because it is aesthetically unpleasant to disrupt the symmetry of the sport (which I think is part of baseball's charm).

I agree with the idea that strategy is reduced as well but I have to acknowledge that most decisions regarding whether the pitcher tries to hit, bunt, or is substituted for are pretty much automatic. (Although my intuition is that strategy is relatively more important in a lower run-scoring environment.)

So if you ask me to respond emotionally, I think the DH is an abomination. Logically, it's just a series of minor changes that I have to recognize are a matter of personal preference.
   153. Baldrick Posted: April 03, 2013 at 03:01 AM (#4402872)
I don't see what's complicated about this. *If* MLB were to make this change, it would be because they think that over time people will spend more money on baseball in a world without pitchers hitting. The anger about the change, in this world, would fade relatively quickly. And the general enjoyment of the game would increase because people like watching players who are really good do things more than they like watching players who are bad.

I'm not saying that IS in fact the case. I have no idea if that is actually true. I'm just saying that this is the argument that MLB would rely on were they to institute the change.

Why does Facebook keep adding new features even though a bunch of people on the internet complain about them ruining their experience with the product? It's because they think that their engineers and product-managers have a better grasp on what will be popular two years from now than the stated wishes of the people who use Facebook. And, for the most part, they are right.

People like what they know, but there is a LOT of evidence that it takes very little time for them to become accustomed to a new normal. It's quite possible that people genuinely do think that they hate the DH and it would ruin their enjoyment of the game without that actually being true. People are often a terrible judge of their own long-term desires.
   154. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 03, 2013 at 04:01 AM (#4402874)
I'm not going to go so far as to say I would "leave" the sport if the NL took the DH. But, really, I left the sport a long time ago. The artificial, and loud, experience of the ballpark keeps me away.


Likewise. Surely there are more of us.

I'm sort of amazed at how completely contrary to the pastoral nature and pacing of the game the current ballpark experience is. The video I've seen of Japanese baseball seems even more deranged than what goes on in our parks. It looks like ####### football in the stands over there.
   155. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 03, 2013 at 06:27 AM (#4402880)
And, for the most part, they are right.


Actually, are they right? I haven't used Facebook for a couple of years (after a brief foray into it--it just wasn't adding anything useful to my life, though I get why other people use it), so I don't know how it is now, but do people go on using Facebook because they like the changes or because they don't really have a choice if they want a product (a) that works anything like the Facebook they're used to and (b) is used by all the same people who they use Facebook to communicate with? Facebook can do whatever it decides to do and not lose any market share, because its users don't have anywhere else to go. How in the world would its engineers or anyone else ever be able to tell what the public thought of the changes by measuring usage rates?
   156. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 03:23 PM (#4408642)
.
   157. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 03:24 PM (#4408643)
I'm late to the party here but I sign on to Joe Sheehan's thoughts in a recent newsletter of his, wherein he wrote, in part:

No one alive has ever seen a time when pitchers' batting was anything but an afterthought. Very few people alive have ever heard stories from their elders about such a time. The evolution of pitchers' hitting was set in motion when, some time during the Pierce Administration, an enterprising young man decided that if he was going to stand 45 feet away from a guy with a stick, he was going to defend himself with more than just his wits. He was going to try and make the batter's job a little bit harder. Once he did that, he separated his job from that of everyone else on the field. It didn't take until 1973 for that to be clear. It didn't even take until 1873.

...The designated hitter didn't come about for these reasons so much as it did for a desperate attempt to raise run scoring, and with it attendance, during a fallow period for both. ...Whatever its origin story or development, the designated hitter was and is the necessary adaptation to the selection process that gave us a class of players that, in the final year before the DH came into being, hit .146/.184/.184, for an OPS+ of 11.

Humans don't have tails any longer because we don't swing from tree branches any longer. We moved to the ground when the monkeys did not, we learned to walk upright and, over time, our tails went away. For pitchers, bats are tails. They learned a skill set that separated them from the other monkeys on the field, and the skills they did not need went away. The "nine players" argument that underpins the anti-DH position is, because of this, invalid. Pitchers are fundamentally a different class of player from the other eight on the diamond. Different rules apply to them. They're compensated differently. They're handled, within games and on rosters, differently. And they cannot, as a class, hit well enough to be asked to do so in a major-league setting. Their attempts to do so are an embarrassing anachronism not as of 2013, not as of 1973, but as of your great-great-great-grandparents' baseball.

   158. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 03:52 PM (#4408680)
You know what would be fun? Not that any level of serious baseball would ever do this, you understand, and it would horribly fail as an idea for a hundred reasons, but... it would be fun to watch. It would be fun--at least I would find it entertaining--if a baseball team were forced to rotate its players every defensive inning, including the pitcher.
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