I’ll start right off the bat and let everyone know that I like having a DH. When I go to ball games, I don’t want to see the pitcher hit; it’s usually painful, awkward, and a guaranteed out. Who wants to see that? Let’s be honest: the only pitcher who is a joy to watch hit is Bartolo Colon, and that’s because it’s always a funny at bat. Watching him swing a bat is something that always brightens my day.
This morning it was reveled that Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright will most likely be missing the entire season with an Achilles injury he sustained while getting out of the batter’s box. He was running to first on a pop fly and tweaked something, which ended up being worse than most had figured. He’s getting an MRI on Monday, but the conclusion seems foregone. Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer said this injury should get MLB talking about having a designated hitter in both leagues, something I agree with 100%.
Earlier this year, Arizona Diamondback rookie Archie Bradley got his first hit in his first big-league at bat. Pretty impressive, right? It was impressive until he got picked off at first for basically being a zombie on the bases, not paying attention to the pitcher. Cool, you got a hit, but you still got an out. These kind of things happen to pitchers all the time. They are slow on the base paths, don’t make aggressive slides, and are only good for bunting. It’s harsh, but true. I don’t want my starting pitcher to get hurt because he is far less replaceable than a position player. Injuries happen all the time in baseball, but having a DH can prevent a good many pitching injuries.
Now, there are plenty of pitchers who are actually pretty good hitters. Madison Bumgarner is a solid hitter, as is Zack Greinke. Lots of pitchers also enjoy hitting. Scherzer said he likes to take hacks and prepare for at bats, but understands that no one wants to see him hit. I think there are tons of good reasons to have a DH:
1) No more hurt pitchers. If they must get hurt, I’d rather they get hurt on the mound.
2) No more “easy outs”. Pitchers in the American League have to work a smidge harder because they don’t get guaranteed outs. You don’t get to look at the line up and smile because you only have to work to two position players in the next inning. You actually have to do what your team is paying you $15 million to do: get potentially difficult outs. You’re not getting paid more money than God to get easy outs. If you are making fat stacks, I want you to earn your worth, dammit!
3) No need to take pitchers out early. How often have you seen a pitcher in a groove, but pulled out of the game early because the manager wanted to use a pinch-hitter to try and get some offense going? How dumb is that? You shouldn’t have to pull your pitcher out of the game early to try and get some runs! With a DH, pitchers can go deeper into games and you don’t have to burn through your bullpen unless it’s one of those games where everyone is having a collective brain fart. It’s crazy how many bullpen pitchers a manager uses, just because his spot to bat is coming up. I think I’ve seen maybe one or two relief pitchers ever go up to the plate. In the NL, being a relief pitcher is a Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am kinda deal, isn’t it? Perhaps relief pitchers could go a little longer and you long-relief guy could go a more innings if they didn’t have to bat.
4) Use the DH to rotate players. Got a guy who has a hot bat but needs a day off? Put him as the DH! Take him out of the field for a day and just have him hit. Managers in the AL do this all the time when they need to rest some of their players. Just because you have a DH position does not mean you have to have the same person hitting there all the time. People like David Ortiz and Victor Martinez, who play there exclusively, are rare. Give your guys a partial day off and keep them more rested.
5) More offense!!!! It’s a pitcher’s paradise these days, with teams scoring fewer runs. We have fewer power hitters these days and offense is down all across baseball. It might not help much, but having a DH could potentially increase a team’s run supply. Unlike pitchers, a DH has the power to change the game with the swing of his bat. For real though, when it comes to hitting, you always hear me say “Aww crap, it’s Big Papi!” I don’t think I’ve ever said “Crap, Clayton Kershaw is batting!” Seeing a pitcher hit does not exactly draw fear in anyone…
If you ask me, I think it is inevitable that the DH will come to the NL. Pitchers are too valuable these days to risk getting injured swinging the bat. There are some injuries that you cannot prevent, but you can prevent injuries sustained while batting. Will Wainwright’s injury change the system? Probably not, but it sure is sparking a conversation.