Designated Hitter: Let's can it

They won't even post a picture of me batting. It's a conspiracy I tell you. - Leon Halip

because all that NL strategy is so much more fun to watch.

Baseball should can the DH. Just get rid of it. There are so many magic moments that all of us AL fans are missing, because of that stupefying roster spot. You’re never going to get to see CC Sabathia hit a game winning home run on opening day like Clayton Kershaw did this year, Yankees fans. Aren’t you upset about missing that magic moment? With the DH spot in the lineup you lose all of that strategy that happens only in NL ballparks. That’s what I mean when I say it is literally stupefying! Letting the pitcher hit is the correct way to play. The AL way is just fake baseball, and I’m going to show you why.

Baseball was meant to be this way. It started this way, and they never should have introduced the DH in 1973. It allows players to exist who are one-dimensional. If you’re good enough, then you should have to play defense as well. Do you see a full-time DH inducted into the Hall of Fame yet? That’s the proof! Edgar Martinez would be a Hall of Fame player by now if the DH was a legitimate position. Just look at the batting accolades of the Hall of Fame inducted pitchers! By my calculation that group has a .198 AVG. That’s not your county road they’re on. They are in the Hall of Fame and that includes the likes of Al Spalding and Harry Wright. They may have played other positions in addition to pitching, but they played the game the right way back in the 1870’s. Clearly, these Hall of Fame pitchers are not one-dimensional ball players. If you’re going to point out that no HoF pitcher has an OPS above .600 since the 1950’s, then you just don’t get it.

Since we’ve already seen what the all-time greatest pitchers can do with the stick, we should bring up the fact that the DH hurts those who can both pitch and hit currently as well. The true value of a pitcher cannot be fully appreciated unless they can hold up their end of the bargain at the plate. Those pitchers that can hit have greater value to the game than Moneyball could ever quantify, and the DH reduces their value immensely. It’s enough to almost make you think the team owners in the AL have conspired to hold down those pitchers’ salaries. What would Sabathia be worth if he could hit every start? He hit a 440 foot home-run, after all! Mike Leake had a .295 AVG in 2012 with a .749 OPS. He accomplished that in only 69 plate-appearances. Do you really want to rob him of the opportunity to hit? So what if he’s only batting .192 so far this year. He’s only had 27 trips to the plate to date. That’s a small sample size, that’s all.

The biggest problem in regards to the DH, though, is that it takes so much strategy out of the game. Dealing with the pitcher’s spot in the batting order is so important. It actually forces the manager to find creative ways to work around it. Does he pinch hit for the pitcher? Does he make him bunt and push him into the next inning? Or, best of all, does he make the incredible double switch! This is really just an amazing thing to see when a manager does this. Most MLB teams these days carry twelve-player pitching staffs. That leaves only 13 fielding players on the active roster. That means there are only five bench players usually available for a manager to make a move with. Given that one is almost always going to be a reserve catcher stapled to the bench, that means when a manager makes a move, he is bringing in one of the bottom quartile of quality players in the league. This is all done in order to avoid having the pitcher’s spot in the batting order come up to the plate in the next inning. Brilliant! So a close game can now be decided by a lesser quality of competition, but the clever manager has avoided the pitfall of letting the pitcher hit. Who wouldn’t want to watch that?

Wait a minute. Don’t try to confuse me with logic, reader. I know what you’re thinking before you do! You’re going to argue that if that strategy is so good when it’s designed to avoid pitchers hitting, then why have pitchers hit at all? Well, I think that double shift strategy move is just about avoiding the relief pitchers from coming to the plate anyway. If the starting pitcher was still effective, then they probably wouldn’t bother with it. The NL still gets to have a lot more pinch-hitting opportunities without the DH, and that sets up the really clever strategy of dealing with platoon splits. Do you bring in a lefty pinch-hitter to face that fire throwing right-hander, or do you bring in your LOOGY to nullify that platoon advantage? It’s all so important, and you don’t get that stuff in the AL. Only 22 of the top 52 relief pitchers in terms of appearances are from the AL. That’s statistically significant, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know what those Oakland Athletics are doing these days. They should probably just give a guy a chance to solidify his position on a daily basis. Instead they keep swapping in different players every other day depending upon who the opposing starter is. Whatever.

So, I hope you can clearly see that the DH should just be abandoned. With it, you lose all of the strategy that is used to avoid having the pitcher come to the plate late in the game. You reduce the value of all of those pitchers who are truly gifted with the stick, and the DH position is clearly too one-dimensional considering there is no full-time DH inducted into the Hall of Fame. Pitchers in the Hall of Fame are clearly not just one-dimensional ball players. Having the pitcher hit is the real way to play the game. It’s how it was originally intended to be played. Now that I think of it, there are a lot of things that have changed since the beginning concerning the proper way to play. First of all, this game originally was played till someone scored 21 aces. Why did they change it to nine innings? Batters used to be able to use bats that had a flat side, and who thought it was a good idea to stop pitchers from soiling the ball? Bring it all back, I say. Particularly the rule that allows a fielder to record an out by hitting a base runner with a thrown ball. What could be the downside to that? The NL game is so much more entertaining to watch, and I didn’t even bring up the intrigue with how the batter in the eighth spot of the lineup bats. Better yet, what about batting the pitcher in the eighth spot? Brilliant!

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