Should MLB get rid of the designated hitter? | The Tylt
Should MLB get rid of the designated hitter?
The designated hitter has been a sore subject for many baseball fans. A nationwide shouting match erupted this winter when there were rumblings that the DH might expand into the National League.
Purists don't like a lineup spot being taken up by a player who comes off the bench without playing on the field. Others love the offensive spark the designated hitters provide and want to see it expanded to the National League. Should the MLB kill the designated hitter or expand it?
There is no other professional sports league that changes its rules between divisions. Baseball is the only professional sport that has that dubious distinction. The designated hitter is a black eye for a once pure game. MLB has no reason to sully lineups with a player who only hits, and doesn't bother to play defense.
Pitchers, who used to be an easy out, are now generating offense themselves. When Noah Syndergaard is healthy, he can swing the sticks, earning a respectable .624 OPS. He's not the only one, neither. Jason Vargas, Zach Greinke, and Daniel Hudson all have OPS's over .550. The days of the designated hitter are over.
With designated hitters out of the picture, teams wouldn't be able to cover up weaknesses and would actually have to work to improve them. And given the chance to hit, pitchers could develop into the two-way stars of old. Eliminating the DH would also end the need for specialization in baseball. Hitters will now have to learn how to field and play defense. More value will be placed on versatile players, and the game will improve.
Pitchers would also think twice before intimidating batters. They would face retribution themselves, driving down unnecessary bean balls. With pitchers in the lineup, managers will have to use more substitutes and use a lot more strategy. Remove the designated hitter.
No one wants to watch a pitcher to hit. That is not a pitcher's job, it is not something they do often and it is awful to see them at the plate. Baseball is better when pitchers can spend all of their time honing their throws, adding new ones and improving their techniques. Adding a designated hitter would allow pitchers to pitch, and give a real slugger the chance to help a team win.
Watching pitchers at the plate is like watching the goat in the T-Rex enclosure in "Jurassic Park." You know the goat is going to die, and you're kind of there just waiting for it happen, so you can move on. With a designated hitter, you have a competent hitter who can go yard, drive in a run or start a rally. Fans don't want to see an easy out.
Everyone is complaining offense will be lost if MLB eliminated the designated hitter. On the contrary, the offense will improve. With pitchers occupying a spot in the lineup, managers will rotate pitchers out earlier if the team is down early. That causes teams to go to their bullpen sooner where the pitching level isn't as high as their starters. Hitters will have more opportunities to shell relief pitchers and generate offense. Only good can come out of eliminating the DH.
The designated hitter position has allowed many specialists to shine in the league. Lifelong designated hitters like David Ortiz and Edgar Martinez became Hall of Fame baseball players for their proficiency at the plate.
The position also extends players careers. Without the grind of playing the field, players like Jose Canseco, Chili Davis, Don Baylor and Jim Thome all benefited from playing designated hitter later in their careers. MLB needs to save careers by expanding the DH into both leagues.