Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Monday, December 07, 2020

Report: MLB informs teams to plan for no universal DH in 2021

It seems some things will return to normal in Major League Baseball next season.

MLB instructed clubs in a memo last week to operate under the assumption that there won’t be a designated hitter in the National League during the 2021 campaign, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports.

No final decision has been made, and “few will complain if the league and union reach agreement to the contrary,” Rosenthal adds.

Some teams, including the San Francisco Giants, have already approached the offseason as though there won’t be a DH in the NL next season.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 07, 2020 at 11:56 AM | 53 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: designated hitter

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. JRVJ Posted: December 07, 2020 at 08:12 PM (#5992979)
Why is this a surprise?

It's a bargaining chip between MLB and MLBPA. Both parties are using that chip for other purposes, and if htey can't reach an agreement, then there'll be no DH in the NL in 2021..... It's sad, but that's how it goes.
   2. Lassus Posted: December 07, 2020 at 08:24 PM (#5992982)
Sad?
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: December 07, 2020 at 08:36 PM (#5992985)

Sad?



Yes, not the adjective I'd use.
   4. Dog on the sidewalk has an ugly bracelet Posted: December 07, 2020 at 08:45 PM (#5992986)
Poor Dom Smith.
   5. JRVJ Posted: December 07, 2020 at 09:29 PM (#5992992)
I find it sad.

YMMV.
   6. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 07, 2020 at 09:40 PM (#5992994)
Baseball's back!
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 07, 2020 at 09:47 PM (#5992996)
Yay! As a life long AL fan, the DH sucks.
   8. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 07, 2020 at 09:49 PM (#5992998)
true strategy has returned.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: December 07, 2020 at 09:54 PM (#5993001)
Yay! As a life long AL fan, the DH sucks.


I'm a lifelong AL fan who prefers no DH. But what I really prefer is the option. If you don't like the DH, then watch AL games. I've never understood the perceived need to take away a version of the game that is preferred by many of its fans. It seems like a really bad business decision.
   10. Snowboy Posted: December 07, 2020 at 10:24 PM (#5993015)
Gawd. Just when they finally made a step forward, and it was finally done...they might bring back pitcher hitting?
FFS.
   11. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 08, 2020 at 12:53 AM (#5993028)
It's a bargaining chip between MLB and MLBPA. Both parties are using that chip for other purposes, and if htey can't reach an agreement, then there'll be no DH in the NL in 2021..... It's sad, but that's how it goes.


So owners offer the DH in exchange for a 16 team playoff and if no deal is reached, neither happens? That sounds pretty great to me!
   12. Rally Posted: December 08, 2020 at 07:45 AM (#5993037)
I find it sad that the only thing stopping a universal DH is an inability for the owners and players to agree on what else gets thrown into the deal. I'd feel much better if one of the parties was violently opposed to the DH, so I could root for that party.
   13. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 08, 2020 at 09:03 AM (#5993040)
As long as I live I will never understand why the DH evokes such passion on both sides. Either way is fine, it is still baseball, but I am not going to convince either side.
   14. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: December 08, 2020 at 10:56 AM (#5993058)
it is still baseball


Not if there's a DH playing.
   15. McCoy Posted: December 08, 2020 at 11:00 AM (#5993059)
More offense is better than less offense.
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 08, 2020 at 11:12 AM (#5993060)
More offense is better than less offense.

No. Silly ball sucked. A pitcher with a 4.50 ERA should not be good. We want balance. ~4.5 R/G/team is optimal. Today's scoring level are just fine. We just need fewer HR and Ks, and more BIP.
   17. McCoy Posted: December 08, 2020 at 11:26 AM (#5993065)
Baseball is a business and business was good.
   18. Adam Starblind Posted: December 08, 2020 at 11:43 AM (#5993069)
Poor Dom Smith.


The Mets should just trade him. He's valuable as a first basement, but his value is significantly eroded when they stick him in left field. They're not going to trade Alonso at this point. Without checking who needs an upgrade at first base, I assume they could get a good return for Smith (they should at least be shopping him).
   19. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 08, 2020 at 12:19 PM (#5993077)
Not if there's a DH playing.


Precisely.
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 08, 2020 at 12:44 PM (#5993084)
Baseball is a business and business was good.

Not nearly as good as in the 2010-19 period. Revenue in 2019 was TRIPLE that of the silly ball era. Loria paid $158M for the Marlins in 2002, and sold them a couple of years ago for $1.2B.
   21. jmurph Posted: December 08, 2020 at 02:51 PM (#5993132)
Loria paid $158M for the Marlins in 2002, and sold them a couple of years ago for $1.2B.

A trend across sports.

   22. jmurph Posted: December 08, 2020 at 03:02 PM (#5993133)
I don't feel particularly strong about the universal DH, though I think they should do it. But it seems like the vociferously anti-DH crowd should at least acknowledge that pitchers and teams haven't taken pitcher hitting seriously for decades. I, too, would prefer all 9 positions to play both ways, in theory, but that's not actually happening in the NL even though they are asked to take at-bats. They don't hit in the minors, they mostly don't hit in college, there's no actual attempt to train these guys as professional hitters at any point in the development chain.
   23. Rally Posted: December 08, 2020 at 03:05 PM (#5993134)
Fine with me if we can ban the DH in the minors and let them get some development in.
   24. jmurph Posted: December 08, 2020 at 03:07 PM (#5993138)
Fine with me if we can ban the DH in the minors and let them get some development in.

I think that's at least an argument! You'd have to go further back, though.

And even all that said, pitcher hitting quality was trending down for decades before the AL DH, too, it's just not something anyone has taken seriously for a very long time.
   25. Rally Posted: December 08, 2020 at 03:13 PM (#5993141)
Pitchers may not actually be getting worse at bat. Could just be that pitching quality has improved and as batters they are a constant. It’s an interesting avenue of research, and one that goes away forever with a universal DH. The fact that most pitchers suck at the plate doesn’t bother me, just makes me appreciate the Bumgarners and Greinkes who can swing a bit.
   26. jmurph Posted: December 08, 2020 at 03:20 PM (#5993143)
Pitchers may not actually be getting worse at bat. Could just be that pitching quality has improved and as batters they are a constant.

I guess that's possible, but given the declining amount of time spent actually practicing it, it seems like a fair assumption. In either case, the actual batting performance has indeed declined. The number of PAs have declined, even in the NL, etc.
   27. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 08, 2020 at 03:25 PM (#5993145)
I don't feel particularly strong about the universal DH, though I think they should do it. But it seems like the vociferously anti-DH crowd should at least acknowledge that pitchers and teams haven't taken pitcher hitting seriously for decades.


I've said for years that pitcher hitting is one of the big exploitable inefficiencies in player development. Short of getting better players (which every GM should be trying to do anyways), you're unlikely to just be able to add 100 points of OPS to a position on your team. But proper pitcher training and NL teams could likely accomplish that with only a little effort.
   28. jmurph Posted: December 08, 2020 at 03:30 PM (#5993153)
But proper pitcher training and NL teams could likely accomplish that with only a little effort.

Maybe a little effort:
“We did ask him if he could hit, and he said, ‘I cannot hit,’” Duane Kuiper reported on the radio as Suarez squared away. “I said, ‘Well, why not?’ and he said, ‘Well, I haven’t hit since the eighth grade. … Where I’m from, if you were a pitcher, they didn’t let you hit.’”
   29. Ron J Posted: December 08, 2020 at 03:38 PM (#5993158)
#23 Interesting to note that there was a time the Reds did not permit their minor league teams to use the DH -- presumably to get an edge at the major league level. Didn't work out that way.

Best I can tell a pitcher's hitting in the minors is irrelevant to making the majors so there's no incentive to put substantial time into it.
   30. Adam Starblind Posted: December 08, 2020 at 03:58 PM (#5993169)
Best I can tell a pitcher's hitting in the minors is irrelevant to making the majors so there's no incentive to put substantial time into it.


Which is too bad, because a pitcher who can hit even like a 70s shortstop can actually tack on some WAR, since they are measured against pitchers who hit like pitchers.
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: December 08, 2020 at 04:05 PM (#5993173)
as pointed in another thread, a guy like Earl Wilson can add nearly 1.5 war to his numbers simply by being a great hitting pitcher.
   32. Walt Davis Posted: December 08, 2020 at 04:07 PM (#5993175)
Remember minor-leaguers are casual, seasonal employees ... nobody's paying carnies to spend time working on their bookkeeping skills either. :-)
   33. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 08, 2020 at 04:36 PM (#5993183)
It's a bargaining chip between MLB and MLBPA. Both parties are using that chip for other purposes, and if htey can't reach an agreement, then there'll be no DH in the NL in 2021..... It's sad, but that's how it goes.
Yep. Regardless of one's position on the merits of the DH, "We both want this...so what are you willing to give up to make it happen?" isn't exactly a good-faith negotiating tactic on either side.
   34. villageidiom Posted: December 08, 2020 at 05:53 PM (#5993204)
Just for the sake of discussion, which of the following DH rules would you prefer?

1. A team can elect to start the game with one designated hitter, who bats in place of the pitcher. However, if the pitcher is removed from the game the team loses the DH unless they also replace the designated hitter at the same time. In the case of multiple pitching changes in one inning, the team must also make corresponding changes to the DH each time.

2. A team can use a designated hitter to bat in place of ANY one defensive player. If they are using designated hitters for multiple defensive positions they must designate the defensive player for which each DH is batting. If any of the DHs later take a defensive position, the team loses use of the DH rule for all positions, and for each DH they must decide whether to have the DH replace the fielder at their position (and continue to bat) or the fielder replaces the DH in the lineup (and remain in the field).

3. Same as the current DH rule in the AL, except that the DH must bat 9th in the lineup.

4. Same as the current DH rule in the AL, except that a team cannot use the same player as a DH in consecutive games.
   35. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 08, 2020 at 05:58 PM (#5993207)
[1] It would put a real cost on not having SP go deep.
   36. cardsfanboy Posted: December 08, 2020 at 06:10 PM (#5993211)
Just for the sake of discussion, which of the following DH rules would you prefer?

1. A team can elect to start the game with one designated hitter, who bats in place of the pitcher. However, if the pitcher is removed from the game the team loses the DH unless they also replace the designated hitter at the same time. In the case of multiple pitching changes in one inning, the team must also make corresponding changes to the DH each time.

2. A team can use a designated hitter to bat in place of ANY one defensive player. If they are using designated hitters for multiple defensive positions they must designate the defensive player for which each DH is batting. If any of the DHs later take a defensive position, the team loses use of the DH rule for all positions, and for each DH they must decide whether to have the DH replace the fielder at their position (and continue to bat) or the fielder replaces the DH in the lineup (and remain in the field).

3. Same as the current DH rule in the AL, except that the DH must bat 9th in the lineup.

4. Same as the current DH rule in the AL, except that a team cannot use the same player as a DH in consecutive games.


I'm a fan of both 1 and 2... 2 basically supercede 1 as most team would make it the pitcher who has the DH.

In the NL starting pitchers bat, while the team has to find pinch hitters for the later innings, that is most akin to baseball I know it, making the DH locked into playing time equivalent to the player he is replacing keeps much of the same strategy going forward (although I have to assume that the DH has the option to enter the game as a defensive replacement in any and all situations)

3 and 4 both sound like they are trying to hard to be clever.
   37. cardsfanboy Posted: December 08, 2020 at 06:13 PM (#5993212)
The drawback Villageidiom about your proposal is that the only decent hitters among pitchers is the starting pitchers, none of which are actually good, but there is a wide range in quality there. And there are going to be a handful of pitchers who want to bat, but the best hitting pitcher is still inferior to the worst hitting shortstop.

Ultimately I like the basic rule being 1. The home team gets to determine before the series starts which, if any games in the series will use the DH. So if you have a pitcher who likes to bat, you suck up to him to keep him happy. But I have no problem with also bringing in rule 1 into the equation for those games where the pitcher doesn't bat.
   38. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 08, 2020 at 06:14 PM (#5993213)
Ultimately I like the basic rule being 1. The home team gets to determine before the series starts which, if any games in the series will use the DH. So if you have a pitcher who likes to bat, you suck up to him to keep him happy. But I have no problem with also bringing in rule 1 into the equation for those games where the pitcher doesn't bat.

Excellent ideas.
   39. Ron J Posted: December 08, 2020 at 06:15 PM (#5993214)
#31 Except simply is the wrong word. It's not simple to hit professional pitching. At if you're not starting from a fairly high base it's going to take a lot of work to get to be in the same general range as Wilson.

Even (maybe particularly) the converted position players have no real incentive to put the time in. Teams have demonstrated basically forever that if you can pitch you'll make the majors and I can't think of any pitcher who's made the majors because of his hitting ability (that is promoted over a slightly more talented pitcher).

Not to say that a good hitting pitcher doesn't have real value. Though I found it an interesting commentary on the perceived value of pitcher's hitting that many good hitting pitchers have ended up in the AL.
   40. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: December 08, 2020 at 06:44 PM (#5993218)
Fine with me if we can ban the DH in the minors and let them get some development in.


What's remarkable is that, as far as I know, the National League has for a while now (except in 2020) been the only competitive adult baseball league in the U.S. that never uses a DH. Are there others I'm not aware of?
   41. Brian C Posted: December 08, 2020 at 11:35 PM (#5993253)
I like pitchers hitting but that ship has sailed. If starting pitchers were still routinely going 7+ innings a game, I'd be very set against the NL DH. But that's not the world we live in, pitchers rarely get more than 2 PA per team in a game, and now the only reason anyone even cares is for the novelty of an occasional pitcher who actually doesn't completely suck at the plate.

So I guess what I'm getting around to is that I think the "it's not REAL baseball" folks are kinda sorta posturing ... purism for the sake of purism. I can sympathize - I'm a Cubs fan who loved watching Carlos Zambrano hit - but I just don't see an argument that pitchers batting isn't an obsolete idea.
   42. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 09, 2020 at 10:22 AM (#5993300)
So I guess what I'm getting around to is that I think the "it's not REAL baseball" folks are kinda sorta posturing ... purism for the sake of purism. I can sympathize - I'm a Cubs fan who loved watching Carlos Zambrano hit - but I just don't see an argument that pitchers batting isn't an obsolete idea.

I think obsolete is a bad word choice. If the league requires pitchers to hit, it's not obsolete. Punters in football suck at tackling, but their team doesn't get a designated tackler.
   43. Rally Posted: December 09, 2020 at 10:54 AM (#5993309)
Certainly since the 1990s and the crazy offense levels I've always liked the pitchers hitting just as a slight curb on offense. If the teams are scoring 7 runs a game and everybody in the lineup is a homerun threat, then it only seems fair to give the pitcher one weak hitter to face every turn through the lineup. Pitchers in the 1960s often had 3 or more non-threats - the opposing pitcher, the shortstop, and maybe the second baseman.

From a standpoint of what the game needs - does it need more offense? There was a strong case for the DH in 1973. I think there was a strong case for removing it when sillyball came about (sorry Edgar, but he could have played 1B). Last year teams scored 4.65 runs per game. Historically that's not extreme, but a little higher than average. In 2019 it was 4.83. We are definitely not in an offense-starved era with or without the DH, so I see no compelling reason why baseball needs it.
   44. jmurph Posted: December 09, 2020 at 11:00 AM (#5993312)
I don't personally see any need to increase offense, I see the DH as an acknowledgement of the reality that we haven't actually asked pitchers to take hitting seriously for longer than any of us have been alive. There are literally people in this thread who have as much or more experience facing high school pitching or above as rookie MLB starting pitchers do.
   45. The Mighty Quintana Posted: December 09, 2020 at 12:58 PM (#5993347)
Yeah, I used to enjoy then "viva la difference" of the two leagues, but with a year off from any hitting/bunting, can we really expect the pitchers to still have any chance?
   46. Rally Posted: December 09, 2020 at 01:20 PM (#5993356)
I don't see how it would be any different than an AL pitcher signing with an NL team. Certainly from 1973 to whatever year (97?) interleague started, but even with interleague play the AL pitchers bat maybe 5 times a year. Not much different from zero.

Just to pick one example, Max Scherzer is a better hitter than most pitchers. He hit .226 in 53 AB in 2009. Then traded to the Tigers, he had one hit in 13 AB over 5 years. The Nationals signed him and he hits .217 in his first year back, .199 over 5 years.

as pointed in another thread, a guy like Earl Wilson can add nearly 1.5 war to his numbers simply by being a great hitting pitcher.


I'd say the cap is about 1 WAR now, simply because pitchers don't stay in the game as long.
   47. SoSH U at work Posted: December 09, 2020 at 01:45 PM (#5993365)
I don't see how it would be any different than an AL pitcher signing with an NL team.


Jon Lester. He was hitless in 43 AB with Boston and Oakland. Then he tacked on 30 more hitless ABs when he got to Chicago. Since then, he's been your pretty typical pitcher at the plate, putting up positive oWAR in two of the last three seasons.
   48. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 09, 2020 at 02:05 PM (#5993376)
Tom Glavine and Mike Hampton both added about 7 WAR to their career numbers as a hitter. Greinke, 5 WAR. These 5-7 WAR are eminently more entertaining and satisfying that 5-7 WAR from a DH.
   49. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 09, 2020 at 02:20 PM (#5993381)
Teams have demonstrated basically forever that if you can pitch you'll make the majors


Let's say some forward-looking team starts drafting, developing, promoting, and paying pitchers as much for their hitting as their pitching (WAR for WAR, of course). They will win more games for less money, as those players and skills are undervalued. Other teams will copy them, the draft stock and salaries of pitchers who can hit will rise, and it will become de rigeur.

It certainly could happen, it isn't some kind of pipe dream.

I imagine a similar argument in the 1960s. "What if we put in better hitters at shortstop?" "That's silly, shortstops can't hit. Besides, they need to practice their fielding, they don't have time to learn to hit. And in any case, none of these youngsters learn how to hit at the lower levels, it's hopeless."
   50. jmurph Posted: December 09, 2020 at 02:32 PM (#5993384)
But shortstops were hitting at the lower levels back then, they were just doing it relatively poorly compared to their peers at other positions. Pitchers are literally not hitting at lower levels now, including college, even high school. It's not very similar.
   51. Rally Posted: December 09, 2020 at 02:34 PM (#5993386)
My gut reaction is that the trade offs would not be worth it, if you're sacrificing any run prevention to get a better hitting pitcher in there. A pitcher's value is just so imbalanced. Most of the pitchers on your team are never going to have a meaningful AB anyway. More than half of them are relievers, and in a non-DH league you always pinch hit or double switch when the reliever is due to bat, unless the score is so lopsided that it doesn't matter anyway.

Below the MLB level, a lot of the pitchers were good hitters the last time they did that, either in HS or college. But most of the ones drafted are not going to be good enough to make the big leagues anyway. Would you take a pitcher with an 8% chance to make it over one with a 10% chance if the first guy was a better hitter in high school?
   52. McCoy Posted: December 09, 2020 at 08:36 PM (#5993466)
Re 50. Sometimes at lower levels your pitcher can be one of your better hitters and he'll p lay even when he's not pitching.

I believe high schools allow for the designated hitter to bat for any designated further.
   53. McCoy Posted: December 09, 2020 at 08:39 PM (#5993467)
In terms of selecting for good hitting pitchers there's no payoff. They don't stay in the game long enough to make it work.

Managers aren't going to want a reliever to stay in long enough to bat and managers are going to care more about a starter getting people out than being a better hitter than the average pitcher.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Kiko Sakata
for his generous support.

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogLast-place New York Yankees off to worst 15-game start since 1997
(3 - 1:23am, Apr 19)
Last: The importance of being Ernest Riles

NewsblogEmpty Stadium Sports Will Be Really Weird
(12737 - 1:21am, Apr 19)
Last: Srul Itza At Home

NewsblogYahoo Sports Braves' Sean Kazmar Jr. makes it back to MLB after 12 years in minor league
(1 - 12:21am, Apr 19)
Last: Cooper Nielson

NewsblogNew York Yankees' Jay Bruce to retire after Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays
(17 - 12:17am, Apr 19)
Last: Perry

NewsblogOMNICHATTER for the weekend of April 17-18, 2021
(54 - 10:16pm, Apr 18)
Last: Brian C

NewsblogPete Rose to sell picks for baseball, other sports through website
(43 - 9:50pm, Apr 18)
Last: Greg Pope

NewsblogMinnesota Twins, Timberwolves postpone games in wake of police shooting of Daunte Wright
(264 - 9:08pm, Apr 18)
Last: "bothsidesism" word 57i66135

NewsblogBlindsided Joe Girardi mum on player's sudden decision to take leave from team
(8 - 8:07pm, Apr 18)
Last: vortex of dissipation

NewsblogOT - Soccer Thread - Spring is in the Air
(152 - 7:48pm, Apr 18)
Last: AuntBea odeurs de parfum de distance sociale

NewsblogHow Fernando drew thousands of extra fans
(22 - 7:35pm, Apr 18)
Last: AndrewJ

NewsblogMLB salary down 4.8% in 2 years; top 100 earn half
(16 - 5:01pm, Apr 18)
Last: John Northey

NewsblogWhy the Cubs' awful offense could trigger full rebuild if downward trend continues this summer
(23 - 1:12pm, Apr 18)
Last: Brian C

NewsblogNBA 2020 Season kick-off thread
(2692 - 11:14pm, Apr 17)
Last: "bothsidesism" word 57i66135

NewsblogThe Athletic: Communication failures, poor decisions and messy breakups: How it all went wrong for the Colorado Rockies [$]
(79 - 11:03pm, Apr 17)
Last: Lowry Seasoning Salt

NewsblogIn the minors, a major change as the Atlantic League plans to move the mound back a foot
(84 - 10:23pm, Apr 17)
Last: Lowry Seasoning Salt

Page rendered in 0.4317 seconds
48 querie(s) executed