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Imagine you are watching your favorite MLB team. It’s the fourth inning. The bases are loaded. There are two outs. Your team has a chance to break the game open and score first and control the rest of the game, but guess who walks into the batter’s box: the starting pitcher.
Your manager is now faced with a decision: “Do I sub in a pinch hitter and take my pitcher out of the game, or do I let him hit and pray that he makes something happen?” It is a lose/lose situation that frustrates both fans and managers.
If you are a fan of an American League team, you likely have never dealt with this frustration as your team is allowed to have a Designated Hitter (DH) which does not exist in the National League.
The MLB should not get rid of the DH. In fact, it should expand the DH into the National League to create an equal playing field between the two leagues and create more excitement in the game.
This is one of the most heavily debated topics among baseball fans, and in this article we will dive into why it is a good idea for the MLB to keep the DH and expand it into the National League.
Pitchers Can’t Hit
In the shortened 2020 season, the MLB flirted with the idea of a universal DH by allowing both the American and National League’s to have a DH hit for the pitcher, and the numbers prove that this should continue.
In 2020, National League DHs hit a combined .235 with a .731 OPS compared to 2019 where pitchers hit .131 with a .329 OPS.
The MLB has sought several rule changes of late to help produce more offense and excitement in the game. These numbers show that adding a DH in the National League has proven to lead to more offensive production.
Also, adding a DH in the National League creates more opportunities for power hitters who may struggle defensively. As a league that is trying to expand its reach to younger fans, wouldn’t the MLB want its best hitters to get more opportunities to hit home runs.
Moreover, this decreases the opportunities for pitchers to get hurt while doing something they aren’t very good at and allows them to focus on doing what they are: pitching.
Adding the Designated Hitter to the National League also creates fair competition between the leagues.
Only allowing the DH in one league gives American League teams an unfair advantage when signing power hitters as free agents. In turn, it gives the National League an unfair advantage when signing free agent pitchers because it is known as a weaker offensive league.
What other professional sports league plays by different rules in one league/conference than the other? The MLB is the only one, and it is time to change that.
There are so many advantages to adding the DH to the National League that the MLB would be crazy not to consider doing it in the future.
Why Do Some Want to Get Rid of the DH?
There are indeed some fans who consider themselves “baseball purists” and want to get rid of the DH altogether.
The main reason these fans want to completely abolish the DH is because they believe it is not the way baseball was meant to be played.
The MLB implemented the DH rule in 1973. Before that year, pitchers had to hit for themselves in both leagues.
Baseball purists would argue that adding this rule made the job of the American League manager easier because he no longer had to make strategic decisions regarding when and how to replace his pitcher via bullpen calls, pinch hitters, double switches, etc.
While they are correct, they must accept that in order to keep the game relevant and to compete with other professional sports leagues such as the NBA and the NFL, the MLB must frequently adapt to the market and make changes that benefit the game.
In fact, some big changes have been made recently that have positively impacted the game. For example, in 2008, the MLB introduced instant replay for home run and fair/foul ball calls. Now, the league has expanded what can be reviewed on instant replay.
Many thought this would sacrifice the integrity of the game, but all it has done is improved umpires’ abilities to make accurate calls.
The bottom line is fans do not want to see pitchers hit. They want to see the best pitchers pitch and the best hitters hit. Adding a DH into the National League gives the fans what they want and creates a more fair and exciting game.
Why was the DH only introduced into the American League?
In 1980, when the rule change went to vote among National League general managers, five GMs voted “No” while 4 others voted “Yes” in favor of the DH. Since that day, only the American League — which first implemented the rule on a trial basis — has allowed the DH.
Who is the best DH of all-time?
Several baseball fans argue between two players as the greatest DH of all-time: David Ortiz and Edgar Martinez. While Ortiz may be the more popular player and hit more home runs than any other DH in baseball history, some regard Martinez as the one who put the DH on the map. He hit .314 as a DH over 6,218 plate appearances. The bottom line is both players are legends when it comes to ranking Designated Hitters.