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Monday, April 27, 2015

Pitchers batting is dumb and the DH should be universal | HardballTalk

Watching pitchers hit is like watching the bathing suit competition in a senior citizen beauty pageant.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 27, 2015 at 08:43 AM | 402 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: designated hitters, rules of play

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   101. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:05 PM (#4941255)
Except that people on the anti-DH side make specious arguments, such as "the double switch is hard." Yes, I'm sure Joe Madden is cowering in fear now that he's in the NL and has to execute double switches.


The words "double switch" have been used three times in this thread; by you, by you and then by you.

I like pitchers hitting. If you are looking for a reason, sorry I can't give you a good one, I just like it as a part of the game.

If the DH were instituted in the NL tomorrow, there would be no discernible impact on attendance or ratings. None.


What is your basis for this? There is not a lot of data here but the Astros saw increased attendance in year one and year two of being in the AL. By contrast the Brewers saw a big jump shifting to the NL. I would guess that was more strike fatigue going away than anything else but in either case I don't think we have near enough information to confidently say either/or is going to make/break ratings and attendance.
   102. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:09 PM (#4941261)
Hitting is measured objectively. DHs can do it. Pitchers can't. We have the numbers there to back that up.


We also have objective numbers that say that there are some players who can't field a lick, but that doesn't necessarily imply that MLB needs to institute a Designated Fielder to keep players like Delmon Young from sullying the game with their inferior glove skills. Billy Butler runs like a man who's pushing a mid-size sedan with the parking brake on, and home-to-first times are about as quantifiable as it gets, but you aren't calling for a Designated Runner to cover for his weakness in that area.

The mere fact that a large player-to-player skill disparity in one area of the game exists does not necessarily imply that corrective action is needed, or that the specific corrective action you suggest is the optimal one. You're trying to make a special pleading for the DH, and you're trying to hide it under a big dropcloth with the words "Science!" and "Efficiency!" written on the front.

(You're also starting from the position that a baseball game with a smaller hitter-to-hitter skill gap in its lineups is objectively better than a baseball game with a larger one, and not really justifying that position, either.)
   103. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:10 PM (#4941263)
The point is not that pro-DH folks are trying to tell anti-DH folks that what they like is not valid. It's that what they like is not the best arrangement.

Except it is the best arrangement. Every other arrangement is an artificial construct, with no principle supporting it. This has been explained.
   104. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:11 PM (#4941264)
I refuse to believe that.


And yet it is true, whether you choose to believe it or not.
   105. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:12 PM (#4941265)
You require data sets showing that "we are now, after six months of baseball, required to play 3-4 games for the World Series title either (a) without one of our key players; or (b) with a key player who doesn't normally field, as per the rules of our league, to don a glove and play?" Or data which shows that an NL team getting a bonus batter in the World Series doesn't help them compared to an AL team?


Considering the general, also misstated, belief that the DH is a competitive advantage for AL teams, I think data showing your claim of unambiguity and unequivocalness is quite necessary, yes.
   106. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:12 PM (#4941266)
If the DH were instituted in the NL tomorrow, there would be no discernible impact on attendance or ratings. None.


Then why should the NL institute the DH?

Anti-DH people are flat earthers here, insisting that X is true when everyone else knows that X is false.


We're not debating an objective truth here. There are essentially no facts in dispute in this entire thread. Pitchers are very, very bad hitters. The number of NL fans who would stop watching DH baseball is very, very small.

The argument is entirely about subjective aesthetic preferences as summarized perfectly by SoSH in comment #20. In an aesthetic debate, "I like A more than B" is a perfectly reasonable take and is certainly not "wrong" in the way one who believes the Earth is flat is wrong.
   107. Craig Calcaterra Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:14 PM (#4941268)
The mere fact that a large player-to-player skill disparity in one area of the game exists does not necessarily imply that corrective action is needed, or that the specific corrective action you suggest is the optimal one. You're trying to make a special pleading for the DH, and you're trying to hide it under a big dropcloth with the words "Science!" and "Efficiency!" written on the front.


There is no running/fielding skill gap among position players anywhere close to that between pitchers batting and DHs batting. And if there is such a gap . . . we make them DHs. You are offering up the umpteenth example of the slippery slope argument here. And ignoring the fact that we have had 42 years of the DH across multiple professional leagues without anyone inside the game of baseball advocating that we expand the concept to Designated Fielders or ghost runners or whatever the hell imaginary horrible you can come up with.

"Special pleading." Please. You're acting like the DH was invented six months ago and requires some justification for its lack of disruptiveness separate and apart than four decades of track record.
   108. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:14 PM (#4941269)
Jim and Ray, just on this thread.

Ray is Ray. I don't view Jim's comments as being particularly strident.
   109. Hank Gillette Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:14 PM (#4941270)
The follow on question to that train of thought is why should we make middle infielders and centerfielders not named "Mike Trout" hit? The skill set required to be a world class defender up the middle, or truth be told, a world class defender at *any* position, is completely different from the skill set required to hit. So why combine the two jobs at all? Much like pitchers, SS's are sui generis when it comes to their defensive abilities.


No pitcher ever lost his job because he could not hit (except arguably Babe Ruth). A position player who hits like the average pitch is relegated to utility duty.

It would be a totally different game, but there would be a certain appeal to being able to place your best 9 defenders and 9 best hitters in the game. They would have to expand the roster, of course. Would offense go up or down?

Was there wailing and gnashing of teeth when football moved away from the two-way player? I remember when college football tried to stem the tide by ruling that only two players could be substituted between plays unless the clock was stopped. Notre Dame for one, would have the team throw a pass out of bounds so that they could get their offensive lineup in the game. This was circa 1964, IIRC.
   110. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:17 PM (#4941273)
Was there wailing and gnashing of teeth when football moved away from the two-way player?


Yes.
   111. Craig Calcaterra Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:17 PM (#4941275)
And yet it is true, whether you choose to believe it or not.


If you would rather watch any pitcher bat than one of the best hitters in the past several decades bat, then we are speaking such totally different languages that there's no point in continuing.

Personally, I watch baseball to see good baseball players perform at a high level. If that's not your bag, enjoy.
   112. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:20 PM (#4941280)
There is no running/fielding skill gap among position players anywhere close to that between pitchers batting and DHs batting.

If you're talking about pure skill, as opposed to resulting value, then I'm not sure I agree with this.
   113. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:31 PM (#4941291)
We have numerous people, on this site, who have claimed that they will not watch at all or watch less baseball if the DH is implemented in the National League. I'm assuming Vlad, Lisa, Bunyon and others who have said those very things aren't the only ones in the world who hold that position. Since I don't just assume they're lying,


I don't assume that they're lying; I assume they're deluding themselves. Or at least the vast majority of the people who declare this are; I can't tell you which ones are which.

The idea that Chris who has devoted so much of his time and energy to baseball would abandon it over this issue is fanciful. Same for the others. But, well, maybe.

On a broader note I suspect you'd have a tiny percentage of fans throw a hissy fit and leave the game forever. Some would throw a hissy fit and leave the game for a week. Others wouldn't leave it at all. The effect would be negligible.

People vowed to stop watching over steroids, too.


   114. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:32 PM (#4941292)
Craig,

It is a religious matter for some people. Put another way you can't reason people out of a position they didn't reason themselves into.

And thanks for stopping by and chatting. For the record it is cool when folks like you show up to discuss their articles. It makes this place better.
   115. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:33 PM (#4941293)
There is no running/fielding skill gap among position players anywhere close to that between pitchers batting and DHs batting.


That depends what you mean by "close", doesn't it?

According to this piece from 2013, the slowest player in baseball that year was Welington Castillo, who averaged 4.84 seconds from home to first. In March of this year, Billy Hamilton was clocked at 3.3 seconds over that same distance. I think most people would consider a player who is 45% worse at a task than another player to be operating at a pretty significant skill gap.

Similarly, if you look at last year's UZR numbers, it wasn't at all unusual for there to be a skill gap of 30+ runs in defensive value between the best everyday player at a position and the worst. See here for shortstops, and here for left fielders, and so forth. That's pretty close to the value gap between 500 PA of 2014 Pedro Alvarez and 500 PA of 2014 Gerrit Cole.

And if there is such a gap . . . we make them DHs.


Well, the AL does, anyway. But if MLB wants to address the situation somehow, the DH may or may not be the most effective means of doing so. Its only real advantage over the other two approaches is that of incumbency (upon which I would assume you place little to no value, given the way you denigrated it as an anti-DH argument).

"Special pleading." Please. You're acting like the DH was invented six months ago and requires some justification for its lack of disruptiveness separate and apart than four decades of track record.


If you're going to go to the trouble to make sweeping and disruptive changes to the fundamental structure of baseball, shouldn't you look into whether the current approach is the best one before moving forward? That would seem to be the reasoned approach.
   116. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:36 PM (#4941297)
Personally, I watch baseball to see good baseball players perform at a high level. If that's not your bag, enjoy.


That's my bag. If you'd rather watch the best baseball players in the world play something that isn't baseball, then you enjoy that.
   117. Baldrick Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:37 PM (#4941298)
Just trying to wrap my mind around the 'would rather watch any pitcher bat than Edgar Martinez' comment.

Presumably that's only true if Edgar is DHing on the day. If he is playing first, you'd rather watch him hit than the pitcher, right? Or do you just really like watching people struggle to hit because it satisfied you to know that the game is so difficult on one side of the equation that it's worth playing guys with no discernible skill on the other side?

I'm not asking that in an effort to be snarky. I'm genuinely trying to understand.
   118. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:37 PM (#4941299)

The point is not that pro-DH folks are trying to tell anti-DH folks that what they like is not valid. It's that what they like is not the best arrangement. Which is a fair point to make in a pursuit that actually lends itself to objective measure. The sort of objective measure that this very website was set up to explore and talk about all of those years ago.


The point of baseball is not to be objectively measured. The point for players is to win. The point of the institution "MLB" is to entertain. I'm less entertained by AL ball than NL ball. Thus, if the NL becomes the AL, I will be less entertained. If MLB makes a business decision that they're ahead losing me but gaining, presumably, >1 other, then they'll make it and we'll all deal with it.



If you would rather watch any pitcher bat than one of the best hitters in the past several decades bat, then we are speaking such totally different languages that there's no point in continuing.


If we're watching batting practice, obviously everyone would rather watch Edgar. But baseball isn't a series of plate appearances we can keep track of and later analyze. It's a ####### game. Most of the time, I want to see great players doing great things. But wrinkles make it much more interesting. Deciding when to PH for a pitcher is interesting (it's not hard, Ray - though, as you've often noted, a lot of managers suck at it). Can a pitcher be decent enough with the bat to get a bunt down, or put a ball in play, or work a walk are interesting events. The idea that things you aren't great at are to be avoided is terrible. I don't want to always just see robotic parts inserted in the game.


Which, as we NLers have said, is why now is fine. I can watch the NL. Ray (and Jim, and Craig and all you other so progressive dudes who disdain the pitcher batting) can watch the AL. I'm not sure anyone is clamoring for the AL to ditch the DH. But you all think we should be fine with the DH coming to the NL. More than fine, we should feel liberated. You don't even respect us enough to believe us if we say, I'd rather watch a game in which the pitcher bats than one in which he doesn't. You insult us and then mock us if we were respond.
   119. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:38 PM (#4941300)
We also have objective numbers that say that there are some players who can't field a lick, but that doesn't necessarily imply that MLB needs to institute a Designated Fielder to keep players like Delmon Young from sullying the game with their inferior glove skills. Billy Butler runs like a man who's pushing a mid-size sedan with the parking brake on, and home-to-first times are about as quantifiable as it gets, but you aren't calling for a Designated Runner to cover for his weakness in that area.


Both of these arguments are easily demolished. There is no fielder who drops 100% of fly balls or boots 100% of grounders. That's the proper analogy to pitchers hitting.

There is no base runner who simply cannot move around the bases. None. Not Butler, nor Ortiz, not anyone. That's the proper analogy to pitchers hitting.
   120. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:39 PM (#4941302)
If he is playing first, you'd rather watch him hit than the pitcher, right?


Yeah, that's fine.
   121. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:39 PM (#4941303)
The idea that Chris who has devoted so much of his time and energy to baseball would abandon it over this issue is fanciful. Same for the others. But, well, maybe.


And Walt would never leave BTF.

What's the upside to universal adoption of the DH (for MLB, not for you personally). Does it create new fans? Increase revenues? Hard to see how, given there's already many nightly options for pro-DHers and it's been here 40 years and it would be a really hard argument to make that the AL is more successful than the NL in terms of overall revenue generation (if you simply look at the shared markets, the NL typically outperforms the AL in all but one*).

But the potential downside, if some of these people follow through on their promises, is significant.
And remember, they don't have to abandon it completely. They simply have to consume less of it than they do now for MLB to feel it.

* Granted, that one is a big one.
   122. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:40 PM (#4941304)
That's essentially the same as the value gap between 500 PA of 2014 Pedro Alvarez and 500 PA of 2014 Gerrit Cole.

Actually, that's overstating the gap as pitchers don't get a collective 500 PA. I just pulled the 2014 Cubs and count 336 plate appearances by pitchers. Really, the only get about half the PA of an everyday position player.
   123. Craig Calcaterra Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:40 PM (#4941305)
If you'd rather watch the best baseball players in the world play something that isn't baseball, then you enjoy that.


And you got on me for claiming that people view this issue in religious terms? That's not a comment or an argument. It's a commandment. Baseball Shalt Not Be Played with a DH.
   124. Baldrick Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:40 PM (#4941307)
That's my bag. If you'd rather watch the best baseball players in the world play something that isn't baseball, then you enjoy that.

This is why people call you a fundamentalist.

This is almost literally a perfect example of fundamentalism. You believe that baseball means a specific, precise thing. And you are unwilling to accept that alternative perspective even COUNT, much less deserve your attention.

I'm not trying to say you need to accept the DH. I'm happy with it being split across the leagues. But your position IS a fundamentalist one.
   125. Shredder Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:42 PM (#4941309)
Billy Hamilton was clocked at 3.3 seconds over that same distance. I think most people would consider a player who is 45% worse at a task than another player to be operating at a pretty significant skill gap.
Running fast isn't really a skill, it's an ability that can't really be altered much through practice and repetition. It's certainly not a skill the way pitching, hitting, and fielding are skills.
   126. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:42 PM (#4941310)
And Walt would never leave BTF.


This comment would be relevant to the discussion if it were relevant to the discussion.
   127. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:43 PM (#4941311)
There is no running/fielding skill gap among position players anywhere close to that between pitchers batting and DHs batting. And if there is such a gap . . . we make them DHs. You are offering up the umpteenth example of the slippery slope argument here. And ignoring the fact that we have had 42 years of the DH across multiple professional leagues without anyone inside the game of baseball advocating that we expand the concept to Designated Fielders or ghost runners or whatever the hell imaginary horrible you can come up with.

That's the "it offends the spreadsheets" argument, but it isn't the relevant one. In point of fact, in many actual baseball games pitchers have had better hitting performances than even mega-superstar full-time hitters. In contrast, Yadier Molina has virtually never had a better baserunning game than Rickey! (*)(save for the times Rickey! didn't get on base, in which he would have had a better baserunning game).

Personally, I watch baseball to see good baseball players perform at a high level. If that's not your bag, enjoy.

No you don't, or else you'd support designated baserunners and fielders. And in the games you see Clayton Kershaw both pitch and hit, you see an excellent baseball player perform at a very high level. No one says, "Oh, I'm not going to watch Matt Harvey pitch today, because I'll have to see him hit."

(*) Or any mega-superstar baserunner.
   128. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:43 PM (#4941312)
And teams ignore how David Ortiz and Prince Fielder run the bases.


Not if their base running compared to league average were as bad as the average pitcher hitting. If Fielder or Ortiz were so slow that they would routinely get thrown out at second on a single to center, their career would be over. But Jon Lester of the career 0.022 OPS just got a $155 mil contract.
   129. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:45 PM (#4941315)
Presumably that's only true if Edgar is DHing on the day. If he is playing first, you'd rather watch him hit than the pitcher, right?


It's worth noting that in a DH-less world, the M's merely park Edgar at first and hope (and
probably get close to*) the best. He was a DH because it was the most sensible place to employ him.

* Most, if not all of his injuries were suffered on offense, IIRC. And first is generally a pretty safe spot on the diamond, the occasional Derrek Lee gruesomeness excepted.

This comment would be relevant to the discussion if it were relevant to the discussion.


People sometimes do give up (perhaps just temporarily in Walt's case, I hope) things that they have otherwise devoted a great amount of time and energy to, and for reasons that you might not agree with. So, yes, it bears some similarities to the topic at hand.
   130. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:45 PM (#4941316)
There is no fielder who drops 100% of fly balls or boots 100% of grounders. That's the proper analogy to pitchers hitting.


Among pitchers with 30+ PA last year, there were a grand total of zero who went hitless.

So much for your "proper analogy".
   131. Stevey Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:49 PM (#4941320)
Similarly, if you look at last year's UZR numbers, it wasn't at all unusual for there to be a skill gap of 30+ runs in defensive value between the best everyday player at a position and the worst. See here for shortstops, and here for left fielders, and so forth. That's pretty close to the value gap between 500 PA of 2014 Pedro Alvarez and 500 PA of 2014 Gerrit Cole.


2014 Pedro Alvarez was a 101 OPS+, pretty much league average, and most certainly not the top end of the hitting spectrum. The difference between McCutchen, who's actually a good candidate to use for the top end of the spectrum, and just Alvarez - the average hitter, was about 50 runs in 2014, almost doubling that difference between fielders. The skill gap between hitters and pitchers hitting is supremely wider than the best and worst fielders and the best and worst baserunners.
   132. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:50 PM (#4941321)
Personally, I watch baseball to see good baseball players perform at a high level. If that's not your bag, enjoy.

No you don't, or else you'd support designated baserunners and fielders. And in the games you see Clayton Kershaw both pitch and hit, you see an excellent baseball player perform at a very high level. No one says, "Oh, I'm not going to watch Matt Harvey pitch today, because I'll have to see him hit."


Or, also as I said in the other thread, we'd have a league with two teams. Under current rules, we could do it with rosters of 20.

Why the hell do I need to watch the 317th best hitter hit? I don't do that in tennis.
   133. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:50 PM (#4941322)
Among pitchers with 30+ PA last year, there were a grand total of zero who went hitless.

So much for your "proper analogy".


My proper analogy stands. Pitchers could go hitless for 300 PA and keep their jobs. I give you Scuffy Moehler, a pitcher who was a bad pitcher for the last several years of his career and yet kept getting innings despite him being a sub-.200 OPS hitter.
   134. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:50 PM (#4941323)

I'm not trying to say you need to accept the DH. I'm happy with it being split across the leagues.


Cool. Get your fellow travelers to disarm and we're all good.
   135. Jeltzandini Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:50 PM (#4941324)
There is no running/fielding skill gap among position players anywhere close to that between pitchers batting and DHs batting.


Only because fielding includes hard jobs like SS and easy jobs like 1B. The David Ortiz-Andrelton Simmons gap at SS fielding would easily be as great as the David Ortiz-Cole Hamels gap at hitting.

No pitcher ever lost his job because he could not hit


No good pitcher. Surely the odd roster decision between two mediocre pitchers fighting for the last spot must have been decided in some part on one guy being able to hit a little.


   136. Hank Gillette Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:52 PM (#4941325)
People vowed to stop watching over steroids, too.


And the strikes. And the outrageous salaries. Other things too, I would imagine.
   137. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:53 PM (#4941327)
FWIW, since we've had DH discussions roughly a billion times before, I recommend that people check out the BA link I posted way upthread.

Kiko's 106 is pretty good (again, I'm pro-DH, though I also enjoy watching pitchers hit).
   138. ronh Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:55 PM (#4941328)
Traditionalists were saying we shouldn't have replay review of ump calls. Did any of them quit watching baseball when replay was expanded?
   139. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:55 PM (#4941329)
And you got on me for claiming that people view this issue in religious terms? That's not a comment or an argument. It's a commandment. Baseball Shalt Not Be Played with a DH.


Baseball's 50/50 split between run creation and run prevention is one of its most fundamental characteristics. The use of balls and bats, the existence of fixed paths and boundaries, and the lack of a time limit are the only other things I can think of that are similarly core principles of baseball on a purely definitional level.

So it's not a matter of "thou shalt not" as some kind of weird moral hangup as much as it is that you can't change the core essence of the thing without making it into something else. That other thing might be good or bad on its own merits, of course, but that's a separate issue.
   140. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:55 PM (#4941330)
If the DH were instituted in the NL tomorrow, there would be no discernible impact on attendance or ratings. None.


If the DH were eliminated tomorrow, there would be no discernible impact on attendance or ratings.
   141. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:55 PM (#4941331)
No good pitcher. Surely the odd roster decision between two mediocre pitchers fighting for the last spot must have been decided in some part on one guy being able to hit a little.


I challenge you to find a single quote in the history of MLB where a GM, owner, or manager commented that a pitcher lost his job or roster spot because he could not hit.
   142. Baldrick Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:55 PM (#4941332)
If we're watching batting practice, obviously everyone would rather watch Edgar. But baseball isn't a series of plate appearances we can keep track of and later analyze. It's a ####### game. Most of the time, I want to see great players doing great things. But wrinkles make it much more interesting. Deciding when to PH for a pitcher is interesting (it's not hard, Ray - though, as you've often noted, a lot of managers suck at it). Can a pitcher be decent enough with the bat to get a bunt down, or put a ball in play, or work a walk are interesting events. The idea that things you aren't great at are to be avoided is terrible. I don't want to always just see robotic parts inserted in the game.

I hear what you're saying here, but...the slippery slope runs in both directions, right? Meaning: this logic could justify anything. Every plate appearance, the hitter has to roll a 20-sided die. If it comes up 1, he has to bat blindfolded. Once per game, the opposing manager is allowed to shoot spitballs at a player when he's trying to hit. Every third game, everyone has to bat from the opposite side of the plate (man, switch hitters will be instant all-stars if they impose this rule). Every team gets one game per month against little leaguers - and you only get a W if you score 1000 runs (it's interesting to see just how quickly they can get their 1000 runs).

Those are absurd examples. The only point is: you can manufacture interest out of virtually anything. And obviously, all games depend on the push and pull of skill vs. constraint. So the batting practice vs. game analogy is absolutely fair. We are clearly more excited by the skill of hitting when it's interacting with the opposing skill of pitching. And when the rules create restraints on both. So there isn't ever going to be a 'right' answer to this question. And the anti-DH folks are right to push back against the principle that we can objectively measure Goodness in a baseball game.

On the other hand, if we can acknowledge that there is a lot of joy in watching the Best (broadly defined) competing against the Best (again, broadly defined), then the philosophical position of the DH is also perfectly coherent. It's not about erasing all difficulties and constraints. It's about selecting one specific constraint that produce wildly disparate capabilities for an entire class of players, and providing a mechanism to boost the quality of the interaction in that specific case. The point being: the general value of Best v. Best = good is strong enough to overwhelm the competing general value responsibilities should be reciprocal. Basically: making pitchers hit requires taking a loss on the 'best v. best' issue, and the debate is about whether that's an acceptable loss.
   143. Shredder Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:56 PM (#4941333)
We also have objective numbers that say that there are some players who can't field a lick, but that doesn't necessarily imply that MLB needs to institute a Designated Fielder to keep players like Delmon Young from sullying the game with their inferior glove skills.
For all of the talk about "the strategy" involved in making pitchers hit, why would you make an argument like this that completely ignores the strategy of building a lineup? If a player is great fielder, but terrible hitter, a manager makes a decision to play that player or not based on that player's abilities balanced by his shortcomings. Position players are evaluated for playing time on their suite of abilities. And a terrible defender is still only going to have a few plays in the field in an average game.

Pitchers, on the other hand, are involved in every play when their team is in the field. You can't hide them, and because of that, no manager cares if his pitchers can hit. If someone who could pitch like Clayton Kershaw was a guaranteed worst case scenario every single time at the plate (a guaranteed strike out, except when he hits into double plays), he would still be on the bump every fifth day. Even a marginal 5th starter is NEVER EVER EVER* evaluated for playing time on his ability to hit. No manager ever says "I'm not sure Joe Schmoe can give us five innings without allowing six or seven runs, but those two plate appearances he may get make it a good gamble." It's ridiculous to make such a comparison between position players and pitchers.

*OK, maybe in like a 16 inning game or something, but whatever.
   144. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:56 PM (#4941334)
I'd rather watch a pitcher hit than I would any DH, even Edgar Martinez.


I refuse to believe that.


Yet you have the temerity to call other people "fundamentalists?"
   145. ronh Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:58 PM (#4941336)
I bet majority if not all of pro DH posters are from NL cities. Is anybody that grew up watching AL DHs in their hometown wanting to drop them?
   146. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:59 PM (#4941338)
My proper analogy stands. Pitchers could go hitless for 300 PA and keep their jobs. I give you Scuffy Moehler, a pitcher who was a bad pitcher for the last several years of his career and yet kept getting innings despite him being a sub-.200 OPS hitter.


So your evidence that a pitcher could go hitless for more than 300 PA and keep his job is a pitcher who didn't go hitless for 300 PA? A pitcher who spent the first half of his career in the DH league not practicing hitting, at that?

Good to know. I'll take that under advisement.
   147. Stevey Posted: April 27, 2015 at 12:59 PM (#4941339)
Surely the odd roster decision between two mediocre pitchers fighting for the last spot must have been decided in some part on one guy being able to hit a little.




Yeah, ok.


I'm sympathetic to NL fans wanting to keep their preferred form of baseball, but there's a lot of ridiculous arguments instead of just "I like it because I like it"
   148. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:00 PM (#4941342)
I don't assume that they're lying; I assume they're deluding themselves


Lisa has been a Braves fan since the Astros went to the AL. So what you assume has little bearing on the facts.
   149. Rennie's Tenet Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:01 PM (#4941343)
Does anyone really think that in 50 years there will be Baseball League that plays with a DH, and Baseball Union that does not? Does anyone think that Baseball Union will win out? I preferred when baseball had the pitcher batting, but those days are are gone, and "baseball" today means the DH. When you get down to bottom, the cold fact is that there's not a single person anywhere on this planet who will do anything more strenuous than bang on a keyboard to convince some unspecified league somewhere to get rid of the DH, and that means it's well past time to move on.
   150. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:02 PM (#4941345)
It is a religious matter for some people. Put another way you can't reason people out of a position they didn't reason themselves into.


For example, you can't reason Ray or Craig away from their anti-NL bias. As stated above, there are no arguments on the empirical facts here. Pitchers can't hit. Yet DH proponents seem to think that anyone who don't agree with them and their One True God of Baseball Light should be tied to the stake and burnt alive.
   151. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:03 PM (#4941347)
So your evidence that a pitcher could go hitless for more than 300 PA and keep his job is a pitcher who didn't go hitless for 300 PA?


So to be clear, you are arguing that teams select pitchers and make roster and playing time decisions based at least in some part on the batting skill of the pitcher.

Is that really what you are arguing? I want to be clear.
   152. salvomania Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:03 PM (#4941348)
If you would rather watch any pitcher bat than one of the best hitters in the past several decades bat, then we are speaking such totally different languages that there's no point in continuing.


Would you rather watch an all-star game every day---where every player was the best one or two at his position---or watch a normal game every day, in which the typical lineup has a few really good players, a few OK players, and a few not-great players? I'd prefer the latter, and not because I don't enjoy watching great players perform.

I like the pitcher hitting both because it does, often enough (for me), result in something interesting happening and because it undeniably adds a strategic component to the game that is lacking with the DH.
   153. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:04 PM (#4941349)
2014 Pedro Alvarez was a 101 OPS+, pretty much league average, and most certainly not the top end of the hitting spectrum.


Gerrit Cole isn't the best-hitting pitcher in MLB, either. I chose that example because a) it's two guys from the team that I follow and b) if the NL were playing under the DH this year, Pedro is probably the guy who'd be filling the role.
   154. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:05 PM (#4941350)
Is anybody that grew up watching AL DHs in their hometown wanting to drop them?


SugarBear is a Tigers fan who grew up in the early days of the DH rule (as he mentioned earlier in this thread). I grew up an Orioles fan of the same era and grew up pro-DH, but warmed to pitcher hitting since I've lived on the North Side of Chicago (my preference is actually the status quo - DH's for some, pitcher hitting for others).
   155. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:06 PM (#4941351)
Is anybody that grew up watching AL DHs in their hometown wanting to drop them?

Me. I commented on this above. The National League rules and game are better and lead to a better game, better roster construction, more strategic decision, less beer leaguishness.

   156. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:06 PM (#4941352)
So to be clear, you are arguing that teams select pitchers and make roster and playing time decisions based at least in some part on the batting skill of the pitcher.


Where did I say that?
   157. Lord Palmerston Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:09 PM (#4941355)
I refuse to believe that.


True fact: some of my fondest baseball memories are of pitchers getting hits, precisely because of how memorable they were. Like the time Adam Wainwright hit a home run as a relief pitcher his rookie year. Or Clayton Kershaw hitting a homer to break a scoreless tie on opening day when he was also pitching a gem.

I also say that because I find the DH so disagreeable I'd rather see a pitcher strike out than a DH get a hit.
   158. Jeltzandini Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:09 PM (#4941356)
I'm sympathetic to NL fans wanting to keep their preferred form of baseball, but there's a lot of ridiculous arguments instead of just "I like it because I like it"


Merely arguing against the "no pitcher ever" assertion. There have been many thousands of roster decisions in the history of MLB. Some of them are between two members of the vast Replacement Level Army, and would come down to small perceived differences in ability. My guess is the number of times that pitcher hitting played a part in that decision is greater than zero. I'm sure it's very small, and the substantial point of "no pitcher ever" is true.
   159. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:09 PM (#4941357)
Where did I say that?


It has to be the logical conclusion of your comments.

When you say 2+2 I conclude you said 4. If you say you didn't say 4 then you don't understand the implications of your arguments.
   160. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:10 PM (#4941359)
True fact: some of my fondest baseball memories are of pitchers getting hits, precisely because of how memorable they were. Like the time Adam Wainwright hit a home run as a relief pitcher his rookie year. Or Clayton Kershaw hitting a homer to break a scoreless tie on opening day when he was also pitching a gem.

As Jason mentioned, Colon's early-season RBIs have already gained cultish status around NYC. Who wanted to see him do that? Pretty much everyone who saw it.
   161. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:11 PM (#4941360)

On the other hand, if we can acknowledge that there is a lot of joy in watching the Best (broadly defined) competing against the Best (again, broadly defined), then the philosophical position of the DH is also perfectly coherent. It's not about erasing all difficulties and constraints. It's about selecting one specific constraint that produce wildly disparate capabilities for an entire class of players, and providing a mechanism to boost the quality of the interaction in that specific case. The point being: the general value of Best v. Best = good is strong enough to overwhelm the competing general value responsibilities should be reciprocal. Basically: making pitchers hit requires taking a loss on the 'best v. best' issue, and the debate is about whether that's an acceptable loss.


So why, then, do we require fielders and hitters to balance? Why not select the best fielders to field, the best hitters to hit and the best pitchers to pitch? We could even allow designated base runners to sub in to run the bases. We'd always have the very best against the very best. It would be a much more heightened athletic competition. As a game, though, it would suck. It would be a series of weightlifting or 100m sprints. There would be no strategy, no overcoming odds, no point. Once we're 20 or so games into a season we'd know who was the best, the rest could be extrapolated. Lovely.
   162. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:13 PM (#4941363)
It has to be the logical conclusion of your comments.

When you say 2+2 I conclude you said 4. If you say you didn't say 4 then you don't understand the implications of your arguments.


No, that's your strawman. Your side is the one saying that if a skill isn't selected for, the player should be excused from executing it.(*) No one over here is using or has used the flip side as an affirmative positive. It doesn't matter whether teams care about how well pitchers hit. Pitchers still should have to hit.

(*) And they're saying that only for hitting, not for baserunning, which teams also completely ignore for some players.
   163. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:13 PM (#4941365)
I bet majority if not all of pro DH posters are from NL cities. Is anybody that grew up watching AL DHs in their hometown wanting to drop them?


I'm the fan of an AL team who grew up watching a different AL team play baseball (and rooting for that team to lose every damn game).

If forced to choose between the two, I'd rather have no DH than the universal application. But, I'd rather have what we have now than uniformity. I have no desire to strip Craig and Ray of their preferred option, even though they're hell bent on doing it to others.

I preferred when baseball had the pitcher batting, but those days are are gone, and "baseball" today means the DH. When you get down to bottom, the cold fact is that there's not a single person anywhere on this planet who will do anything more strenuous than bang on a keyboard to convince some unspecified league somewhere to get rid of the DH, and that means it's well past time to move on.


Why? What is the reason we have to move on?

   164. Craig Calcaterra Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:15 PM (#4941368)
Baseball's 50/50 split between run creation and run prevention is one of its most fundamental characteristics.


That has not been universal for 42 years. If it's so fundamental a characteristic, it would remain inviolate or else its alteration would've brought ruin. Neither has occurred.


The use of balls and bats, the existence of fixed paths and boundaries, and the lack of a time limit are the only other things I can think of that are similarly core principles of baseball on a purely definitional level.


The fixed distance between home plate and the pitching rubber used to be 45 feet. There weren't fixed outfield boundaries or automatic home runs for several decades.
   165. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:17 PM (#4941370)
Does anyone really think that in 50 years there will be Baseball League that plays with a DH, and Baseball Union that does not? Does anyone think that Baseball Union will win out? I preferred when baseball had the pitcher batting, but those days are are gone, and "baseball" today means the DH. When you get down to bottom, the cold fact is that there's not a single person anywhere on this planet who will do anything more strenuous than bang on a keyboard to convince some unspecified league somewhere to get rid of the DH, and that means it's well past time to move on.

No, I doubt by 2020 there is a baseball league anywhere in the world that doesn't have the DH. The DH side won. That doesn't mean I have to like it or be happy about it.

And, no, I won't go argue with anyone or protest or do anything other than watch less baseball. Care a little less about baseball. Type on Jim's site a little less often. Extrapolating, yes, I can see a time when I don't watch baseball anymore. I've watched less and less over the years anyway - when the game was slow pitch softball it was less interesting; once keeping up with the game meant keeping up with which player was under PED suspicion has made it less interesting; watching guys who think adjusting their gloves between each pitches is entertaining has made it less interesting; needing earplugs to go to games has made it less entertaining.

Basically, I'm getting older and the world is changing. I'd like to think I'm progressive enough to not fight that tooth and nail. But, be clear, not fighting it doesn't mean I'll stay on the bus. The world is filled with entertaining and interesting events and fields of play/study. In some of them, the bloggers are even worth reading. I'll go play there if my childhood pastimes change past my liking.
   166. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:20 PM (#4941373)
It has to be the logical conclusion of your comments.


Not under any logic with which I'm familiar, no.

That said, pitchers' hitting does sometimes play a role in decision-making regarding roster spots and playing time. It's unusual, but it does happen. For example, Micah Owings had 48 career PA as a pinch hitter (and put up a .736 OPS in those PA).
   167. dlf Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:22 PM (#4941375)
Is anybody that grew up watching AL DHs in their hometown wanting to drop them?


Me. I grew up with Tony Oliva and others DHing. I moved to the TV area of an NL team as a teenager. I prefer the latter.

Personally, I watch baseball to see good baseball players perform at a high level. If that's not your bag, enjoy.


Baseball is a game played under a series of completely arbitrary rules. The existence of those rules determines the way the game is played to a tremendous degree. Eliminating the 2 strike foul rule, changing the height of the mound by a couple of inches or the distance of the fences by a few feet, the number of players on the roster, and the like would completely change the entertainment before us. Some may argue for those changes, some would argue against them. But the existence of arbitrary rules is essential to the game itself.

The concept of 9 on 9, to me, is more aesthetically pleasing than otherwise. I like well rounded players and have personally always preferred to watch a Mike Schmidt to a Reggie Jackson, a Ken Griffey to a Frank Thomas, or an Andrew McCutchen to a David Ortiz. Is it arbitrary? Of course. To me, the former are the best baseball players in the world; the latter are great hitters. Just like I'd rather watch a golf match than a long drive contest.

Beyond that, I think the DH has exacerbated trends that I don't like regarding style of play. Take 'n rake is more likely when a team has one-dimensional players; small ball when the lineup has enough jackrabbits. Adding a DH, while not necessarily doing so, tends to add the former rather than the latter. Similarly, I prefer a lower scoring environment instead of a higher one; obviously the DH moves the needle toward the latter.

The idea that this is based solely on a blind devotion to history, is unthinking, or is supporting an inferior brand of entertainment is, frankly, offensive. Pro and con DH amounts to nothing more than aesthetic choice. An author who denies this is being either dishonest or, to be blunt, stupid.

   168. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:24 PM (#4941378)
I'd like to think I'm progressive enough to not fight that tooth and nail. But, be clear, not fighting it doesn't mean I'll stay on the bus. The world is filled with entertaining and interesting events and fields of play/study. In some of them, the bloggers are even worth reading. I'll go play there if my childhood pastimes change past my liking.

The DH isn't progress, it's regression. It wasn't a rule change to improve the rules.(*) It was put in place by half the sport to fix a short-term problem that would have fixed itself.

No one is served by the tendency to label everything current, "progress." Many things that happen as time unfolds are in fact progress, many things aren't.

(*) And it doesn't improve the rules.

   169. Baldrick Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:25 PM (#4941380)
So why, then, do we require fielders and hitters to balance? Why not select the best fielders to field, the best hitters to hit and the best pitchers to pitch? We could even allow designated base runners to sub in to run the bases. We'd always have the very best against the very best. It would be a much more heightened athletic competition. As a game, though, it would suck. It would be a series of weightlifting or 100m sprints. There would be no strategy, no overcoming odds, no point. Once we're 20 or so games into a season we'd know who was the best, the rest could be extrapolated. Lovely.

The answer was contained in the section that you quoted.

Baseball is only fun because there are competing values involved. That's what makes it a complex game instead of a simple athletic activity. One principle that imbues it with value is the idea of seeing the best compete with the best. But it has to be balanced against a different principle that demands a variety of tasks. We want to see people selected for their capability to perform the entire package of responsibilities. And we accept weaknesses at some elements in order to compensate for strengths at others.

In my opinion, it's a bad idea to treat either of those principles as 100% absolute. Baseball would be worse if we only saw the best hitters against the best fielders with the best pitchers and the best runners and best so forth. But it would also be worse if we demanded that everyone pitch. The point is to find a balance in the middle.

The gameness of baseball provides a powerful and (I think) unbeatable argument against designated fielders and runners and the like. But it's not because there is nothing lost there. It's just that the loss is more than acceptable. We accept the necessity watching Adam Dunn field in order to experience the joy of watching a total package player. The constraints on fielding ability constructed by the prioritization on hitting produce high-quality but imperfect fielders. And we enjoy it.

The point is that this balance is quite a bit different with pitchers trying to hit. Sufficiently so that the loss in quality of performance starts to overwhelm the joy from watching limited players attempt highly skilled tasks.

Basically: slippery slopes are stupid, almost always. Because they assume that you are obligated to choose sides and then wage all-out war against the opposition in every debate. So I guess it's not tremendously surprising that they're very difficult to kill in polarized debates. But honestly, NO ONE thinks designated fielders make sense, and it's because even the pro-DH side accepts the basic logic of the anti-DH position. And vice versa. They just strike the balance differently. Which is why this whole conversation is often very silly.
   170. TomNY Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:26 PM (#4941381)
Because there are limits to how many roster spots a team can have? We have 42 years of experience showing us that one extra guy is not disruptive to a team, roster construction or team finances. We are not going to see any club want to go to 35-man rosters.

More fundamentally, because pitcher hitting is leaps and bounds worse than any other position player hitting. There are tons of all-star and league average hitters at every position. None at pitcher. It's a pretty obvious stopping point.


So we are Luddites for not liking the DH but you can't get your mind around expanding a roster to 35 players? That seems silly.

   171. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:26 PM (#4941382)
I have no desire to strip Craig and Ray of their preferred option, even though they're hell bent on doing it to others.


Not sure why you keep trotting this canard out. Posting a few words on an obscure baseball website means I'm "hell bent" on taking the DH away from others? Sorry, but that doesn't follow.

(And it's not "from others," either; as previously noted, I watch NL games too, and interleague games played under NL rules. It's not like I'm advocating the banishment of NHL games from tv when I don't watch hockey.)
   172. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:29 PM (#4941383)
That said, pitchers' hitting does sometimes play a role in decision-making regarding roster spots and playing time. It's unusual, but it does happen. For example, Micah Owings had 48 career PA as a pinch hitter (and put up a .736 OPS in those PA).


And yet, despite a career 121 OPS+ after his first 3 years, he lost his job due to consecutive sub 80 ERA+ seasons. As bad as his pitching was, his hitting gave him positive WAR those two years, +0.3 and + 0.4. Teammate Homer Bailey pitched about the same number of innings as Owings did in 2009, and had a combined WAR of +0.2. But since Bailey was the better pitcher though a far worse hitter (-58 OPS+), he stayed in the rotation and Owings was reduced to a curiosity.
   173. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:29 PM (#4941385)
The idea that this is based solely on a blind devotion to history, is unthinking, or is supporting an inferior brand of entertainment is, frankly, offensive. Pro and con DH amounts to nothing more than aesthetic choice. An author who denies this is being either dishonest or, to be blunt, stupid.

And what are the more rich arguments? The ones offered up very well by dlf (*), and the various other appeals ... or "WAAAAA, I don't want to have to watch pitchers hit, it's stupid"?

(*) With the slight exception of Reggie Jackson, who in his heyday was an excellent player in all phases.
   174. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:30 PM (#4941386)
Not sure why you keep trotting this canard out. Posting a few words on an obscure baseball website means I'm "hell bent" on taking the DH away from others? Sorry, but that doesn't follow.


Craig wrote an entire article to NBC.com arguing explicitly for the implementation of the DH in the NL, and doing so in pretty hardline "fundamentalist" language. You are correct that your bully pulpit is much smaller than his, but you argue your preferred aesthetics as if you were defining the most fundamental of moral rules a society must live by. Part of it, for you, is "just Ray being Ray," but nonetheless, you do it here.
   175. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:30 PM (#4941387)
That has not been universal for 42 years.


Only if you believe that games played with the DH are baseball, which is a premise with which, as we have already established, I disagree.

The fixed distance between home plate and the pitching rubber used to be 45 feet. There weren't fixed outfield boundaries or automatic home runs for several decades.


When I say that boundaries are fundamental to the game, I am speaking about the existence of boundaries as a characteristic, and not the precise positioning or arrangement of such. Even in the earliest days, baseball had areas that were considered in or out of play. Similarly, when I say "fixed paths", I mean that baserunners are required to proceed to various fixed points (i.e. the bases).
   176. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:34 PM (#4941389)
Basically: slippery slopes are stupid, almost always. Because they assume that you are obligated to choose sides and then wage all-out war against the opposition in every debate. So I guess it's not tremendously surprising that they're very difficult to kill in polarized debates. But honestly, NO ONE thinks designated fielders make sense, and it's because even the pro-DH side accepts the basic logic of the anti-DH position. And vice versa. They just strike the balance differently. Which is why this whole conversation is often very silly.

It's not silly at all. Yes, we're all just sitting around an internet chat. But there are men in suits out there who would very much like to put the DH in all baseball. It will most likely happen. It's not just a thought experiment.

And 45 years ago, people thought the DH was dumb. Here we are about to lose the last league that doesn't use it. The idea that other DHs couldn't be added is not silly. Though I generally agree with you about the value of slippery slope arguments.
   177. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:35 PM (#4941390)
(And it's not "from others," either; as previously noted, I watch NL games too, and interleague games played under NL rules. It's not like I'm advocating the banishment of NHL games from tv when I don't watch hockey.)


It doesn't matter whether you watch some NL games. There are people who prefer watching pitcher's hit. If you had your way, they wouldn't have that option.* That's what I wrote, because that describes your position. Whether you're hell-bent on it or merely hell-leaning is beside the point.

* In MLB I guess. You might be more ambivalent on whether Japan follows suit.

   178. Random Transaction Generator Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:35 PM (#4941391)
The OPS for MLB pitchers in 2014 was .306

The next worst regular position OPS was SS, and it was .678.

If any player did any other job in baseball as bad a pitcher does with a bat (in comparison to the rest of the league at that same job), they wouldn't be in major league baseball, and probably wouldn't be in minor league baseball much longer, either.

If a player ran half as fast as the next slowest player, or fielded only half as many balls as the next worst fielder, they'd be done.
There really is no other task that a player does on the field that would be acceptable if it was done as poorly as a pitcher hitting.

   179. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:35 PM (#4941392)
We accept the necessity watching Adam Dunn field in order to experience the joy of watching a total package player. The constraints on fielding ability constructed by the prioritization on hitting produce high-quality but imperfect fielders. And we enjoy it.

The point is that this balance is quite a bit different with pitchers trying to hit.


No, it isn't. Watching David Ortiz or Prince Fielder (*) run the bases is no "better" than watching Clayton Kershaw hit.

As to your other point, even in "two-platoon" baseball, you'd still have plenty of players playing "both ways," thus there would be no deprivation. There's no inherent reason we have to watch Adam Dunn parade oafishly around the field and basepaths to be able to see Andrew McCutchon both hit and play CF.

(*) Or the quintessential American League DH beer leaguer, Jack Cust -- though he at least occasionally entertained with his resolute awfulness.
   180. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:37 PM (#4941396)
There really is no other task that a player does on the field that would be acceptable if it was done as poorly as a pitcher hitting.

And they can only do that because they provide so much value in their other part of the game. It isn't an argument that they shouldn't hit. It's an argument that they're no good at it. Which everyone agrees with.
   181. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:38 PM (#4941397)
The OPS for MLB pitchers in 2014 was .306

The next worst regular position OPS was SS, and it was .678.


Yours is the spreadsheet protest. The real beef is with a spreadsheet that shows an aggregate OPS for a position of .306, with the next worse .678.(*) However, not everyone takes the offense certain people take to the spreadsheets looking amiss after everything is tallied up.

If people really can't bear to watch pitchers hit, they should be able to easily come up with reasons distinct from the spreadsheets, because watching pitchers hit isn't the same thing as watching the spreadsheets tally.

(*) Otherwise, people would talk about ... you know ... pitchers
   182. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:39 PM (#4941402)
Clearly people who dislike the DH are more strident in their hatred than people who dislike pitchers hitting. This is what we would expect based on human psychology: people get more emotional about things being taken away than about an equivalent thing being given to them ("loss aversion"). But a lot of us out there don't like seeing pitchers hitting! It's not people wanting things to be more efficient, it's people who get annoyed when a rally is interrupted by an automatic out, and people who feel embarrassed watching a pitcher waste everyone's time trying to make sure he strikes out instead of hitting into a double play. I can't make any promises, of course, but I feel like I would watch more Phillies games if they didn't include these depressing pitcher at-bats where the outcome is predictably futile. And even when the pitcher does reach base, it's not because he tried particularly hard to do so. The manager expected him to make an out. In the average regular season game you don't see a guy hitting .080 using a surprise drag bunt or something to maximize the chances of reaching base. It's just boring.

And there must be casual sports fans out there who would be marginally more comfortable watching baseball if it didn't include these comedy-of-awkwardness moments five times a game. Certainly my wife occasionally notices that in the games I watch, one of the hitters seems to have no idea how to hit the ball, and she doesn't find it entertaining, she generally observes that it turns an opportunity to score runs into an opportunity to accomplish nothing.

It's like in the NFL, if you were driving down the field and every 10th play you had to bring in the punter to play quarterback, because back in the days of George Blanda punters were qualified to play quarterback. It sounds like fun, but actually what the punter would do is hand off to a running back, and everyone knows he would hand off to the running back, so the running back would gain zero yards, and it would not be fun.
   183. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:41 PM (#4941405)
The main problem with slippery slope arguments is that the person making it is essentially conceding the point being debated. "A might be ok, but it could lead to B, C, or D!" But the only thing at issue is A, and if you concede that you find it acceptable, the argument is over.
   184. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:41 PM (#4941406)
And yet, despite a career 121 OPS+ after his first 3 years, he lost his job due to consecutive sub 80 ERA+ seasons. As bad as his pitching was, his hitting gave him positive WAR those two years, +0.3 and + 0.4. Teammate Homer Bailey pitched about the same number of innings as Owings did in 2009, and had a combined WAR of +0.2. But since Bailey was the better pitcher though a far worse hitter (-58 OPS+), he stayed in the rotation and Owings was reduced to a curiosity.


No, he got non-tendered because a) he used up his cheap pre-arb years and b) he started having health problems.

The Reds' preference for Bailey over Owings was a function of several things, none of which had to do with hitting. First, Bailey had exceptional stuff, and the Reds (correctly) believed that he was on the verge of a breakout. Second, Bailey's peripherals were much better than his raw ERA, so B-R's WAR substantially under-estimates his ability in that season. Third, Bailey was healthy, and Owings was not. Fourth, Bailey had been a high-profile first-round pick a few years earlier, so even if he weren't enough of a better bet as a pitcher to more than make up for the offensive gap between the two (which, again, he was), it would have been very embarassing for the Reds to cut the cord with him.
   185. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:43 PM (#4941409)
And there must be casual sports fans out there who would be marginally more comfortable watching baseball if it didn't include these comedy-of-awkwardness moments five times a game.


There are. They play out at least seven times nightly. If AL ball was really a superior consumer product, that should be evident in attendance or TV ratings.

Do the numbers support that? It doesn't seem like it, but I don't know for sure.
   186. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:44 PM (#4941410)
But a lot of us out there don't like seeing pitchers hitting!


You have a pool of 15 teams per night where you don't have to.
   187. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:44 PM (#4941411)
it's people who get annoyed when a rally is interrupted by an automatic out,

Well, watch some baseball. It isn't an automatic out. And teams/pitchers who treat it as such should be punished.

The main problem with slippery slope arguments is that the person making it is essentially conceding the point being debated. "A might be ok, but it could lead to B, C, or D!" But the only thing at issue is A, and if you concede that you find it acceptable, the argument is over.

I think you've identified why I'm making slippery slope arguments here. I have, pretty much, conceded that the debate is over. The NL will have a DH within a few years. I'm not saying "A is ok", I'm saying "A is happening".
   188. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:45 PM (#4941413)
These DH threads really bring out the best in people.
   189. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:45 PM (#4941414)
As for QB/P I would never argue the P should be brought in to QB. I would love to see a world where QBs had to be the punter. Would make the game much more interesting.
   190. Shredder Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:45 PM (#4941415)
For all of the talk about balance and symmetry, why isn't anyone arguing that players should be asked to do nearly everything? Why not cut rosters in half? Little League teams do OK with just 12-14 players. Sometimes a guy plays third base, sometimes he pitches, sometimes he catches. I mean, if you really want to be pure about it, why set aside an entire class of players as simply pitchers?
   191. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:45 PM (#4941416)
As to your other point, even in "two-platoon" baseball, you'd still have plenty of players playing "both ways," thus there would be no deprivation.


I doubt this would be true. I suspect in a true two-platoon baseball world, the vast majority of "designated fielders" would be guys not currently in MLB. If you were to completely eliminate the requirement of being able to hit major-league pitching, I would be surprised if you couldn't find 250 people in the Western Hemisphere who were better defensive outfielders than Andrew McCutchen.
   192. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:47 PM (#4941418)
The Reds' preference for Bailey over Owings was a function of several things, none of which had to do with hitting.


That's precisely the point! Despite similar overall value, the better pitcher stayed in the rotation while the superior hitter moved to the pen and became a curiosity: A mop up man who can occasionally pinch hit. Despite a 110 OPS+, he went from 19 starts and 58 PA to 0 starts and 14 PA. And the guy with the -58 OPS+ went from 20 starts to 19.
   193. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:47 PM (#4941419)
I think you've identified why I'm making slippery slope arguments here. I have, pretty much, conceded that the debate is over. The NL will have a DH within a few years. I'm not saying "A is ok", I'm saying "A is happening".

Fair enough.
   194. . Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:48 PM (#4941420)
The manager expected him to make an out. In the average regular season game you don't see a guy hitting .080 using a surprise drag bunt or something to maximize the chances of reaching base. It's just boring.

Reiterating: Carlos Zambrano, who played until 2012, had a higher career OPS+ than Johnnie LeMaster, who played SS for 12 years in the major leagues.
   195. bunyon Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:50 PM (#4941423)
These DH threads really bring out the best in people.

I think we should discuss this rule:


A DH can be used, but only if they're on PEDs and are registered republicans.
   196. Shredder Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:50 PM (#4941425)
If people really can't bear to watch pitchers hit, they should be able to easily come up with reasons distinct from the spreadsheets, because watching pitchers hit isn't the same thing as watching the spreadsheets tally.
You're missing the real argument. It's not about spreadsheets tallies. It's about what those tallies support, which is that pitchers are simply not evaluated one whit on their ability to hit. It simply is not a factor. It has absolutely no impact on their job security. The numbers simply back that position up.
   197. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:50 PM (#4941426)
There are. They play out at least seven times nightly. If AL ball was really a superior consumer product, that should be evident in attendance or TV ratings.

Do the numbers support that? It doesn't seem like it, but I don't know for sure.


I doubt it. I also doubt that the numbers support a claim that NL ball is more appealing. Therefore we must conclude that the 20 people in this thread who care are the only people who care.
   198. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:50 PM (#4941428)
Well, good thing every pitcher hits like Zambrano then.
   199. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:51 PM (#4941431)
I feel like I would watch more Phillies games if they didn't include these depressing pitcher at-bats where the outcome is predictably futile.


So just to be clear - you think that the at-bats where Phillies position players hit aren't "depressing" and "predictably futile", and you'd like to see more of them?

If there's one lesson to be taken from this thread, it's that there's no accounting for taste.

It's like in the NFL, if you were driving down the field and every 10th play you had to bring in the punter to play quarterback, because back in the days of George Blanda punters were qualified to play quarterback. It sounds like fun, but actually what the punter would do is hand off to a running back, and everyone knows he would hand off to the running back, so the running back would gain zero yards, and it would not be fun.


I've never seen a punter play quarterback, but I have seen a quarterback punt, and it was tremendously entertaining.
   200. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 27, 2015 at 01:52 PM (#4941434)

I can see myself now, in a nursing home, in 2065, shedding a single tear as Addison Russell, Jr., the last two-way player, announces his retirement, leaving every team in the majors sending nine batters out to hit and a different nine fielders out to field. Sigh.

And then you'll go watch the swimsuit competition in the senior citizen beauty pageant. (Does such a thing even exist? I'm quite afraid to Google that at work, or elsewhere...)
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