It's MLB's offseason so of course there will be talk of this thing called the designated hitter. Twitter is full of it. MLB.com is full of it. Bring the DH to the NL. Stop staying in the past. Offense is king. All this all that. Even commissioner Rob Manfred is in on it saying that the DH in the NL could come as soon as 2017.
Just say no to the DH in the NL.
These are my reasons. They are in no particular order.
1. Pitchers like to hit.
There are pitchers who like to hit. I remember a pitcher coming from either Japan or Korea who specifically asked to be signed by an NL team so he could hit. John Smoltz relished every chance he got. When he, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine were still together they liked to compete, see who would get the first ht, and so forth. There are pitchers who like to hit. Why deny them the chance to do that?
2. Pitchers can hit.
No, they're not David Ortiz. No, they're not Barry Bonds. No, they're not Alex Rodriguez. No, they won't lead the league in homers or anything of that sort. But, that doesn't mean they're all the world's worst hitters. Tim Hudson was a great hitter when he was in college (some inferior school in Alabama). Being a professional pitcher he wasn't going to maintain that, of course, but that doesn't mean he couldn't do it. Remember Dontrelle Willis? I believe there was a season when he was hitting better than many everyday players on the Marlins.
No, these guys won't be better than whoever could DH in their spot, but that's not the point. They're not automatic outs. That is the point. Proponents of adding the DH use this a reason to bring it to the NL. Pitchers are automatic outs. They are not. Madison Bumgarner. There I said it.
Having the pitcher in the lineup results in different strategy than when the DH is present. The double switch. When to bring in a reliever. Should you bring in a pinch hitter? How to pitch to the 8 spot. Tactics on the basepath when the 9th spot is coming up. Tactics on the basepath when the pitcher is running the bases. Strategy.
4. But, the pitcher can get injured!
This is baseball not tiddlywinks. Players will get hurt. Pitchers get catastrophic injuries not hitting. Jason Grilli tore his ACL running to first on a defensive play. Tim Hudson broke his ankle by getting it stepped on making a defensive play at first base. Pitchers get hurt all the time pitching. You cannot prevent players from getting hurt by not putting them in the batter's box.
But, they tore a hamstring or a groin or an oblique while in the box. If something like that happened I believe it was just a matter of time before it was bound to happen while doing something else. It wasn't the hitting that hurt him. The hitting was the last straw. I'm no doctor, but that is what I believe. And if it was the hitting that hurt him it's because he's doing it wildly wrong. Teaching him to not to swing like a madman when he's at bat isn't going to take away from all the pitching instruction he gets.
And don't forget the pitching injuries. Tommy John surgery is at an all-time high. You don't want pitchers to get injured? Don't let them pitch.
Let's not wussify baseball. They changed homeplate rules to protect catchers because their beloved Buster Posey got hurt. Players are going to get hurt. Deal with it.
5. Separation of the NL and the AL.
There was a time when the National League and the American League were completely separate. They had their own offices, their own presidents, and their own umpires. The only time they faced each other was in the All-Star Game and the World Series.
Umpires? Ump both leagues now.
Interleague? All season.
I like the separation between the leagues. It makes it a real fight to get to the World Series. It's not just two teams facing each other in the end. It's the best of the NL and the best of the AL. They haven't faced each other in the regular season. This is their chance to duke it out.
There is a real division in baseball between the leagues. AL teams are AL teams and NL teams are NL teams. It's not like this in other sports. It makes baseball different.
6. The game itself is different between the two leagues.
Having the DH changes the tone of the game. It does become more offensive driven. Scoring a lot of runs, that's fun, but offensive isn't the only thing about the game. There's defense. There's strategy. There's a different way to play that offense.
Watch a National League game and watch an American League game. They're just different. I'm not sure I can really explain it. The American League is homeruns and the National League has a small ball feel.
7. Why should the pitcher be the one replaced in the lineup?
Maybe he's not the worst hitter. I bring up Dontrelle Willis again. Who would you rather replace with the DH? Willis or Jason Wood? With the DH the Marlins wouldn't get the benefit of his bat every five days and they'd still have to deal with Wood. Jason Wood only had 10 more hits than Willis in 2007 despite playing 60 more games and having 54 more at bats.
All you pro-DHers don't want to hear this. I know. But, I have to put it. I was born after the DH was implemented in the AL so not having it there meant nothing to me. I grew up without the DH in the NL. So, yes, it is tradition to me. It's a small part of why I want to keep it, but it's still important.
Just say no to the DH in the NL. You want the designated hitter? Go to the American League.