STEVE: The Designated Hitter is a position where one player only bats in place of a pitcher. Currently, The American League adopts this rule while the National League does not have the Designated HItter. It is my position to state that both the American League AND the National League should use the Designated Hitter.
I will admit that I used to think otherwise, and that I was not a proponent of the DH used in either league. However, after the injury to Adam Wainwright while batting, that ended his season. I think that the DH should be used in the NL as well. Why risk injury to your pitcher, when he is being paid to pitch, not hit. While some pitchers can hit (Bartolo Colon) okay not really, other pitchers are just an easy out (Jon Lester). In some cases, you may have a scoreless game, runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out, and the pitcher comes up and the majority of the time strikes out. It is almost too predictable. I mean, seriously when a pitcher hits a home run, it is featured on Sportscenter over and over again. Fans want offense, more runs scored in a game. Teams need their pitchers, and cannot afford to have their pitcher pull something while swinging a bat, or worse, get hit in their pitching arm with a 90 MPH fastball. It is simply not worth the risk, and the DH needs to be adopted in the National League. Let pitchers do their job, pitch.
DAN: The Designated Hitter was brought to the American League back in 1973 and there has been debate in its 42-year history of whether they should adopt it to the National League, keep it in the AL or get rid of it completely. Before that year, pitchers always hit.
The DH should be removed from MLB completely. While I understand the concept, I feel as if it’s an unnecessary thing. There isn’t any hard, substantial evidence of an increase in injuries without the DH to pitchers, which seems to be one of your main concerns. Every position player both plays the field and bats. I expect the same thing from my pitcher.
In baseball, there are a lot of good hitting pitchers. They hit in high school, they hit in college. Why not have them hit when they reach the professional baseball? Even if they can’t do much at the plate, how you use a pitcher creates more strategy. You can use a sacrifice bunt, which player to substitute in the late innings, etc. Catchers don’t generally hit well or are known for their hitting yet they still are at the plate.
With a DH, most teams keep a player to just hit, not field. David Ortiz comes to mind. In my opinion, every player should get paid to field AND hit.
STEVE: While I agree with you that injuries are few and far between when it comes to a pitcher hitting, the risk is still there. Now, you mention they pay a DH right now to hit, okay that is a true statement though the DH does field on some occasions. Pitchers are paid to pitch. Yes they hit in High School, but they do not hit in college like you mention, there is a DH in college, at least in Division I baseball. There is also a DH in the minor league system so the pitcher does not even get a chance to hit while coming up in the minors. That is part of the reason why pitchers don’t have a lot of success at the plate. While they are great athletes and have the ability, they never get the at-bats to work on their form.
Some pitchers are able to hit, I question you when you say a lot? There are really a handful of pitchers that are good hitters. I mean Clayton Kershaw just had a three hit game earlier in the week. And that was featured on Sportscenter. Madison Bumgarner hit a Home Run off Kershaw, and they showed it over and over again. My point is, when pitchers do something offensively, it is huge news in the sports world.
This all comes down to what the fans want. Fans want offense, and that is why the American League traditionally scores more runs, and hits more Home Runs, because they have the DH. It also gives players who may need a little rest, to still contribute to his team. For example, Jose Bautista has recently had some injuries. Do you want to take the bat out of his hands and sit him because you want him to rest? No, you put him in the DH spot and he can rest up and not play the field. The DH needs to be in both leagues.
DAN: There are a lot of different pitchers who have had a lot of success at the plate. Over the past several seasons alone there are pitchers known to getting hits/home runs. Like, for example, Zach Greinke’s 2013 season where he hit .328 BA and .409 OBP. Mike Hampton was known as a good hitter. He retired with a .246 BA and .296 OBP.
You mention that the offense in the American League scores more runs. I really don’t feel like it’s that much of a difference. But at the same time, you have less strategy and equality in the MLB. You need to make it an equal playing field by eliminating the DH.
As an example, you mentioned that fans want offense. But you can definitely get more offense with the pitcher batting instead of a DH. Will you ever see a DH bunt? Will you ever see a hit and run executed with a DH? You can see that with a pitcher all the time. Also, you’ll only get about 2 at-bats from the pitcher in a game before you replace them with a pinch-hitter, which adds more strategy for managers. You only have a limited amount of bench players. You can’t use a C in case it goes into extras, your catcher suffers an injury, etc. It takes strategy to know who you can pinch-hit, who you can save, etc.
The final point I have is about specialists. What type of batters are DH typically? Power hitters right? You’ll never have speed or a contact hitter. What good is that? If a player gets paid, they should get paid to play the field and bat. Not just be one-dimensional. Do you see players in the NHL, NBA or NFL get any rest days where all they do is shoot but don’t play defense? Or just catch the football? If you play baseball, you should play both the field and hit. That goes for pitchers too.
STEVE: Okay so you mention 2 hitters out of how many pitchers that had a decent career at the plate? I am not taking anything away from the game with having a pitcher hit. At one time, I thought the same way too, as it puts some strategy in the game. However, my point to the matter is this; You pay a pitcher to pitch, Jon Lester did not sign a 150 million dollar contract with the Cubs for his at bat skills, he was paid for his pitching performance. Sure if he is able to get a hit during a game that is just a bonus. But why risk a top pitcher getting hit by a 90 plus MPH fastball to the arm, to the ribs, the legs, or even the face? While I get it, it doesn’t happen THAT often, but the problem is, that it could happen. If I am a manager of a top tier pitcher, and he is my bread and butter when it comes to the rotation, I don’t want him at the plate.
How in the world do you think you can get more offense with a pitcher at bat? Not a chance. Okay he can lay down a bunt, but statistically speaking the pitcher will end up striking out more times than not, causing for an easy out. Sure you only have a limited number of bench players, but you also have a limited number of pitchers.
Comparing to the NHL, NBA, or even NFL. Well wait let me just use the NFL here, yes you have one player doing one job. A Running back runs, a receiver passes, and a quarter back throws. Is a quarterback going to play defense? I guess you can make an argument that he can if he throws an interception and has to tackle the defender, but how often do you see that? Plus those guys get a week off, while baseball players play the most brutal schedule at 162 games. They need the DH in both leagues.
DAN: I named two pitchers for an example, I can continue with CC Sabathia being a power hitter. Yovani Gallardo could always hit. And that’s just recently. Over time, there have been a lot of pitchers who were able to contribute positively at the plate.
With regards to more offense, you can accomplish more things with the pitcher than with a DH. Like I mentioned before, the hit-and-run will put runners in scoring position for the top of the order. You can conduct sacrifice bunts and suicide squeezes as well to accomplish the same thing. That helps two causes – more runners in scoring position creating more scoring opportunities for the top of the order which generates more runs and more strategic planning by the coaching staff on how they want to go about their lineup before and mid-game.
For example, look at the success the Cardinals had with Tony LaRussa placing the pitcher in the 8th spot. He generated more runs, had better overall success at the plate and won games. Imagine if they had a DH, he wouldn’t have had that flexibility and would’ve been stuck with a slow, power-hitting batter who unless they hit get a loud single, a double or a HR won’t contribute anything, I’d rather take the pitcher.
How many times does a pitcher get HBP? It’s rather rare and if it happened I’m sure it’d be talked about all on ESPN. But in reality, that doesn’t happen and to me, there’s not much risk. If you pay a player to play the game, they need to both hit and field. In the case of the pitcher, their main focus is to pitch, not hit. But they should still be required to hit. Why pay a DH just to hit? Does he deserve to be there when he’s too old to play the field? Or he’s bad at playing the field? If he can’t field anymore, he has no business playing anymore in my opinion.
There should be no DH in MLB. You get paid to be a complete player – both bat and play the field, not to be one-faceted and only do 1 thing on the field.
Steve has won this Barstool 7-6
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