The Absurdity of Pitchers Hitting (Bring It On, Haters)

I have been mulling over my stance on the Designated Hitter for a while, and hashing it out on Twitter with other diehard types leads to some good discussion. I always stall on one thing that’s too long to describe in 140 characters: Pitchers hitting is completely absurd in comparison to other sports. It’s its success in spite of that absurdity that I think draws so many people to keeping the DH out of the National League. But the charming 13 out of 100 successes NL pitchers enjoy in order to maintain an OBP of .133 thus far in 2015 is not enough for me. American League DHs average a .332 OBP. That’s significantly better (I did the math in my head) and more fun to watch than mostly hoping for a stroke of luck.

So allow me to make a couple of comparisons to three other major sports – here’s how one would make Basketball, Hockey and Football just as “quirky” as National League Baseball. (Sorry soccer fans, I don’t follow the sport well enough to speak with any authority, though I acknowledge that it is, indeed, major).

dikembe

Shoot The Trey, Big Man! – Credit Otto Greule Jr.

Basketball: every ninth possession the tallest or bulkiest or least skilled man on the court has to shoot a three. Every ninth possession. And if you sub for him before that trip down the floor, he can’t play the rest of the game. Some big guys are not terrible shooters, and so maybe won’t embarrass themselves too badly out there. They may shoot 13%, though a few will likely shoot in the low single digits. And sometimes you would sub for your oaf in a very important situation late in the game and he’d be out. Certainly worth it down three in the last minute of the game.

And sure, every once in a while Dikembe Mutombo would have nailed a three and the First Union Center or whatever it was called in his Sixers days would have gone absolutely crazy. Or, and hear me out here, you could just do the sane thing and let Allen Iverson shoot. Maybe. Just don’t give it to Tyrone Hill. Dude had the offensive instincts of a down comforter.

Hockey: every nine shifts, a goalie has to play center, (though somehow he’s allowed to take the pads off). Sub for him on a big power play in the third period, and you have to use your backup in goal the rest of the game. Sometimes the goalie would do fine – they are all hockey players, after all – but there’s a fair chance some goalies would be dreadful all the time. “And now the puck comes behind the net, and Steve Mason fans on the pass like he does 87 percent of the time”, etc. Subbing in hockey is too fluid for this to be a good comp, but you get the point. And no, I wasn’t picking on Steve Mason’s stick handling.

Football has the best comp. Every nine plays you have to run the Wildcat with one of your starting backs or receivers. Sometimes it’s useful but not a tragedy if it fails, i.e. a run up the gut for a couple yards on second down and five is like a sacrifice bunt. Sometimes it’s really inconsequential, like a pitcher swinging away with no one on base, kind of like a Wildcat pass on first and ten. When it occasionally connects, it’s like a pitcher getting a hit. The same pass for a touchdown is like a home run. But sometimes that ninth play is fairly important, and the distance to go is long, and you have to pass. Something like a two-out AB for a pitcher in the fifth inning of a close game with two men on, would be like forcing a Wildcat QB to pass on 3rd and 8 in the two minute drill of the first half. And if you sub for the guy, he can’t play the rest of the game.

Please Sub Him Out For The Rest Of The Game

Please Sub This Guy Out For The Rest Of The Game – Credit Evan Habeeb

The dire situation in football is not so absurd, and it’s a pretty good comp – if you could sub for the Wildcat on 4th and 10 in the fourth quarter with your backup QB, and the Wildcat then had to sit the rest of the game, you would probably go ahead and do so, like you would with a pitcher in the eighth inning of a close game with a man on base. Also, you’d likely not use your #1 wideout or starting tailback as your Wildcat – you’d use Riley Cooper or something. So good riddance, there, IMO.

I suspect the diehard National League fan is the most likely to care about pitchers hitting. We have seen and can recall amazing events where their pitcher was successful at the plate. Even bad hitting pitchers have done so; Joe Blanton and Brett Myers had huge postseason moments for the Phillies in 2008, which I will always recall fondly. But Matt Stairs’ monster home run off Jonathan Broxton is etched in my memory as well, and Stairs was nothing if not DH material by that point in his career.

The casual NL fan probably looks at the DH in the AL and thinks of David Ortiz and wonders how healthy Ryan Howard would have been the last couple years if he never had to take the field. Sure, that fan may also think that move would have freed up room for Darin Ruf to start everyday at first and hence, give him the requisite plate appearances to morph into a superstar, but that doesn’t mean said fan’s not right about the DH.

Anyway, that’s my take on the absurdity that is “making pitchers hit”. But as I’ve said before on Twitter, the ideal situation for me isn’t the DH. It’s two DHs and a Designated Fielder. Extra power at the plate, extra glove in the field.

Oh, and mandatory bat flips. That’s my National Pastime. Come on Manfred – make it Happen!

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63 comments

  1. Ryan

    June 05, 2015 08:27 AM

    I feel like all these suggestions actually reenforce the argument against the DH. Each of the sports listed are more or less fluid events where every player on the field/court/ice is expected to play a complete game while they are out there. A big man’s shooting weakness is already accounted for in transition and coverage strategies. All hockey players are able to shoot and defend. 6 men are allowed on the ice at once and one can wear pads, but we already see teams pull their goalie without any forced gimmicks. While football certainly has a lot of procedural rules, once the whistle is blown, most players are eligible to pass, run or receive. My point is that in the sports listed, the games have already reached an equilibrium based on various skill sets and forcing designated gimmicky plays would fundamentally shift the game. Baseball doesn’t have a clock. If it did, then I’m sure teams would gladly take the “penalty” of batting Bartolo Colon every ninth time if they were able to bat Trout 50% of the time.

    • Brad Engler

      June 05, 2015 08:44 AM

      No Bartolo bashing. He was almost an addendum to my piece. Something like “If you employ Bartolo Colon he has to hit, sorry”.

    • Brad Engler

      June 05, 2015 08:46 AM

      Also, and more seriously, has the AL not reached your definition of equilibrium?

      • Ryan

        June 05, 2015 09:16 AM

        I just don’t think the pitcher hitting is absurd. Yes the AL has reached an equilibrium but it’s in a game that’s fundamentally different. I think the DH was a fundamental rule change that was a matter of preference. I don’t prefer it because I love the symmetry of 9 eligible players vs 9 eligible players but I also recognize that some people value more consistent hitting more than they value symmetry.

        Yes pitchers are often an easy out, but the other sports are able to get easy plays every time they can force a favorable matchup. I don’t put up with poor pitcher ABs, I just enjoy them as part of the game. No one (or not that many people) is complaining about the extra point in football. That’s a nearly certain outcome after the result of a prolonged series of plays.

      • Dante

        June 05, 2015 11:54 AM

        “Yes pitchers are often an easy out, but the other sports are able to get easy plays every time they can force a favorable matchup.”

        Ryan – the fundamental point you are missing is that these other sports don’t MANDATE an unfavorable matchup. Teams can only exploit them as a strategy – like setting a pick to get a point guard on a center so he can drive around him, or a big tight end up the seam on a little CB, etc.. This is like the quarterback being forced to punt every 9th time – with no way around it, strategy or otherwise. Sure, the quarterback may practice it and get better at it because they know they can’t avoid doing it – much like pitchers now hit the cages – but you are forcing fans to watch people definitively not skilled enough at a task to compete at the necessary level.

        “I don’t prefer it because I love the symmetry of 9 eligible players vs 9 eligible players but I also recognize that some people value more consistent hitting more than they value symmetry.”

        MLB’s goal shouldn’t be to find what’s aesthetically most pleasing, its to find what makes the sport more exciting and entertaining. Pitcher hitting is entertaining only in a comical sense (ex. Colon, like watching the opening auditions episodes of American Idol, we find watching those who fail miserably intriguing) or in a novelty sense (we don’t expect them to do anything positive in the at-bat, but maybe they’ll surprise us!).

      • Eddie

        June 05, 2015 12:33 PM

        Dante –

        Nobody is mandating NL teams use bad-hitting pitchers. They are completely free to use anyone they want, and could, if they chose, use guys like Adam Loewen and Brian Bogosevic, who would be credible two-way players. It’s not the rule, but team’s strategies in response to those rules (including player development strategies) that led to pitchers being specialists (I’ve actually always thought it would make sense to have one of those guys as a 25th man, Micah Owings-style).

        It’s a long-term trend across all sports, from kickers in football to goons in hockey to three-point specialists in basketball. Never understood why it only gets people worked up in baseball.

      • Dante

        June 05, 2015 12:41 PM

        Eddie – see my comment far below this on opportunity cost. Teams have obviously determined its far more important to have pitchers who are good at pitching, and make them as good as can be on that end, than spend any more time on hitting. The impact of the pitcher to the offense is trivial to the impact on the pitching side. Because of this opportunity cost in creating competent two way players (I’d love to see it too, but it’s very unlikely), teams consequently have bad hitting pitchers. It’s their choice, but its a reluctant one.

      • Eddie

        June 05, 2015 01:23 PM

        Thank you for stating the obvious, but you’re contradicting yourself. You claimed that the rules mandate an unfavorable matchup. They do not.

        Teams choose to put up with unfavorable matchups 1/9 of the time and make one position highly specialized. That’s strategy, not a rule (and really, not much different in kind from the reasons we have bad-hitting shortstops and catchers).

        I have no idea whether it’s reluctant or not; I can’t see into Don Mattingly’s heart or read his mind. I do know that he is not mandated to use bad-hitting pitchers, any more than Chip Kelly is mandated to give roster spots to two skinny guy who can’t block or tackle, or hockey coaches are mandated to give a roster spot to a guy who’s better at fighting than at hockey. All of them are choices (rational and logical ones) based on the way the game evolved.

      • Bob

        June 05, 2015 01:48 PM

        The NL rules mandate that the pitcher must bat. 99.9% of pitchers are terrible hitters. It’s a de facto mandate that there must be an unfavorable matchup. There’s no real choice in the matter if you want to win games.

        If a manager puts in an inferior starting pitcher because the inferior pitcher hits well in the 9 spot, that manager would be fired without hesitation because he or she wouldn’t win games. It strains credulity that managers have a choice or use a strategy regarding whether it’s better to select a good hitting, inferior pitcher in the face of a good pitching, inferior batting pitcher.

      • Dante

        June 05, 2015 02:02 PM

        I’m not contradicting myself – we are talking about two slightly different things: a mandate (pitchers must bat at their turn in the order) and choice/strategy (training pitchers to hit well). The rules mandate a pitcher hits. Teams have the option to training their pitchers very hard to be better hitters. Here’s how it appears teams have analyzed this scenario:

        Increasing the level of work on pitchers’ hitting is likely a futile move, as the level of work to make an appreciable improvement is likely significant. Look at how much time shortstops and catchers spend on hitting, and they are often worse at it than DHs (and pitchers spend more time working on pitching than catchers and SS spend on defense, I believe). Such significant time investment would very likely cause a much MORE detrimental impact to their pitching performances. The opportunity cost decision appears straightforward at this point. This is why I say they “reluctantly” have a bad hitting pitcher go to the plate.

      • Eddie

        June 06, 2015 08:06 AM

        Dante, your first post said “the rules MANDATE an unfavorable matchup.” We’re not talking about two different things – you’re changing what you’re arguing.

  2. Ken Books

    June 05, 2015 08:54 AM

    First of all, you lost me with your petulant headline. So anyone who disagrees with you is a “hater?” Grow up.

    Second, the DH violates the first rule of the game which states (and I’m doing this from memory, so don’t nitpick), “Baseball is a game played by two teams of nine players each.” The DH not only costs fans the opportunity to second-guess a move, which is one of the joys of fandom, but it removes the format from a game. Tune in to the fourth inning of an American League game and you have no idea if the lineup is at the top, middle or bottom of the order. And, finally, baseball should be played by men whose weaknesses as well as their strengths have an impact on the game.

    If you long for unrelenting offense at the cost of the game’s charm, why not just put the ball up on a tee, eliminate one of the outfielders and have at it? Oh, right, that would make a mockery of the game.

    Much like the designated hitter.

    • Brad Engler

      June 05, 2015 12:36 PM

      Take a joke.

  3. Jeff T

    June 05, 2015 09:12 AM

    To me the pitcher hitting is like punting in football. Is it the most exciting thing in the world? No. Is it usually when I get up to use the bathroom? Yes. But it’s an integral that can lead to exciting and unusual events. Also I love double switches and guessing when to take a pitcher out for a PH.

  4. Carmine

    June 05, 2015 09:29 AM

    You missed the obvious parallel in football — make the place kicker and punter play. Way back when I was a kid, guys who had regular positions handled these chores.
    As for the DH, I am against it, but I would rather see the NL adopt it than continue the current farce of having half of the sport use it and the other half not. That the true absurdity, like having the AFC allowing the extra point to be kicked while the NFC requiring the ball to be run or passed into the end zone.

    • Dante

      June 05, 2015 12:00 PM

      “You missed the obvious parallel in football — make the place kicker and punter play. Way back when I was a kid, guys who had regular positions handled these chores.”

      See my comment above – there’s a reason the NFL uses other players to do these tasks: you want the best on the field as much as possible. In the past, many kickers for teams were QBs or tight ends. There’s a reason they changed it – it meant a better product on the field.

      • Eddie

        June 05, 2015 12:39 PM

        Define “better.”

        Sports is entertainment, and I for one think the higher possibility of failure makes it more interesting. IMO, the modern NFL kicking game – with everyone having specialized snappers and kickers, and kicks under 45 having a 90% success rate – is both vastly improved and also significantly less interesting.

      • Dante

        June 05, 2015 12:45 PM

        “Better” in that the people on the field have a higher chance at succeeding at their task.

        We’re not talking about players being successful virtually every time, like with kicks in football. The automatic nature of it makes it less interesting I agree. We’re talking about replacing a sub .200 batting average with a .280 or something.

      • Eddie

        June 05, 2015 01:04 PM

        I have no idea what your point here is. A batter with a 28% chance of success is interesting and worth watching, but 20% is not?

      • Dante

        June 05, 2015 01:46 PM

        I’m saying that replacing a bad hitting pitcher with a competent hitter doesn’t make the game less interesting, but more so. By “less interesting”, I mean teams have a better chance of winning (scoring more runs than their opponent) in this scenario. I know this is obvious, but apparently some people would prefer a sac bunt from a pitcher with a man on base than the chance for a single or more and additional offensive excitement.

      • Carmine

        June 06, 2015 09:59 AM

        I wasn’t advocating going back to the old way; I was saying that it was a more apt comparison in the point Brad was making. You are right that football teams maximize their efficiency by using specialists in this situation, just as baseball teams seek to maximize their offense with the DH. Of course, watching those specialists try to make a tackle on a return provides unintended comedy.

  5. Bob

    June 05, 2015 09:48 AM

    The NL should go with the DH. It creates more runs. Offense is exciting. The DH could compel managers to rest guys in the field and have them rotate through the DH thereby keeping their bats and timing fresh while not having to stand hunched over in the field six days a week in 90 degree weather.

  6. David

    June 05, 2015 10:14 AM

    IMO, Having eight batters makes more sense than having a DH.

    • Brad Engler

      June 05, 2015 12:38 PM

      See that’s not a terrible idea. Way to think outside the box.

    • Ryan

      June 05, 2015 03:50 PM

      The downside to that would be that all position players would see a sizable increase in PA’s, which would inflate stats in comparison with players of years past. This would serve to further complicate one of my favorite baseball exercises, comparing current players to retired players.

      I know, not a real downside…

    • Tim

      June 05, 2015 03:50 PM

      Yeah, I really don’t like the DH, so I do actually find that to be a pretty decent idea. If your goal is to boost offense, you get rid of the bad hitting pitchers and give your good hitters extra at-bats. I still prefer pitchers hitting, but that’s the next best thing.

    • Scott G

      June 05, 2015 04:37 PM

      I like the idea, but you’re again breaking the first rule of the rule book about baseball being a game played between two teams of 9 players.

  7. Nick

    June 05, 2015 10:41 AM

    “That’s significantly better and more fun to watch than mostly hoping for a stroke of luck.”
    I wholeheartedly disagree. It is way more fun to watch pitchers bat and hoping for the stroke of luck than seeing Adam LaRoche swing and miss.

    • Brad Engler

      June 05, 2015 12:48 PM

      Well, I guess that’s just a matter of personal preference. I would not miss the pitcher batting one bit. Want to see a guy flail at mediocre breaking pitches? Go watch a Low-A game 🙂

  8. Francisco (FC)

    June 05, 2015 10:47 AM

    You’re just trolling Brad admit it. Besides pitcher hitting is baseball’s last atheletic warrior who, on a good day, can conceviably do it all: pitch a complete game shutout, hit the RBI single to push in the run, flash some leather, break up the double-play and do the sacrifice bunt. Like Mark Buerhle God bless his soul.

    Sure 99% of the pitchers are lame hitters, but that’s viewing it glass half empty 9or 99% empty). I prefer to see it glass half full. Without the pitcher hitting we’re deprived of the joys of watching Bartolo Colon (trying to) hit and ocassionaly succeeding.

    In the end Baseball is about entertainment. Like a terrible horror movie flick that’s so bad it’s good that’s what pitcher hitting does for me. It entertains.

    • Dante

      June 05, 2015 12:02 PM

      You mean 1% full?

  9. Rei De Bastoni

    June 05, 2015 10:51 AM

    Bill: We need some click bait articles.
    Brad: No problem!

    • Brad Engler

      June 05, 2015 12:39 PM

      Ha! This was all me. I was bored last night.

  10. Austin

    June 05, 2015 11:31 AM

    It seems like your goals (as with most people who prefer the DH) are to increase offense / reduce failure / make the games more exciting. Then why not allow a team to run out an offense of 9 DHs and a defense of 8 fielders and 1 pitcher? This would make it a lot more like football where everyone is a specialist at one thing and (almost) nobody plays both sides of the ball. Honestly, I’d probably be ok with this if that’s really what baseball decided it wanted to do. It’s just something that I’ve never heard anyone actually argue for (even the biggest of DH supporters).

    My problem with the DH is the inconsistency. Why do 8 guys have to play both offense and defense but one guy gets a pass? That’s always seemed weird to me.

    • Bob

      June 05, 2015 12:14 PM

      It would never happen from an economics standpoint. The roster size would likely increase and the owners won’t want to play for additional players. In theory, it would be better to have offensive and defensive specialists as you suggest. We would get to see the best hitters, and fielders ply their trade. Ultimately, I doubt the owners would do that unless there’s a salary cap and, even then, you have to worry about pensions and benefits for the added players. Player cost is one of the reasons that the NFL, whose players regularly get injured, don’t want to expand rosters so much.

      • Austin

        June 05, 2015 01:02 PM

        I don’t think baseball should use 9 different players for offense vs defense for many of the reasons you mentioned. I also like the idea of baseball players being generalists when other sports are moving more and more to specialists (NFL teams will bring in different people to defend against a run vs a pass, or for third and short vs third and long, etc). I just can’t see how someone could think that the game is better with one DH without also thinking it would be even more better with 9 DHs.

    • Francisco (FC)

      June 05, 2015 12:52 PM

      If we want to increase offense shrink the strike zone. I guarantee you’ll see more hits/runs/walks/steals. It’s also the easiest thing to implement.

  11. Tim

    June 05, 2015 11:36 AM

    It’s strange to me that people see pitchers’ poor hitting as a detriment to the excitement of the game, but then they jump to having a DH as the only potential solution. Why not encourage pitchers to hit better? Wouldn’t that be really fun if an NL team adopted pitcher hitting as their market inefficiency and tried to improve that? You’re not going to turn any of them into peak David Ortiz, and they won’t get enough PAs as individuals to make a huge impact. But if you could get your collective pitching staff to improve their hitting, that would be so cool. These guys are great athletes, and a lot of them hit well in high school, so why not try to at least goose their batting skills. Obviously you want them to spend most of their time thinking about and training for pitching, but maybe it would be good for them to have another thing they could focus some of their attention on (like how they say if you take up a hobby, it can improve your work performance). And maybe, just maybe, getting their muscles to not specialize so much on that pitching motion could make them a bit less injury prone (a long shot, but who knows – they’re still trying to figure out all that stuff).

    Even if it was an experiment that didn’t work at all, it would be way more fun to see NL teams try to get their pitchers hitting than for them to just go the way of the AL and adopt the DH.

    And finally, even though I don’t like the concept of the DH, I do like that it stands as pretty much the only remaining difference between the leagues, and I like that distinctiveness.

    • Romus

      June 05, 2015 11:55 AM

      Tim,
      Very well put.

    • Dante

      June 05, 2015 12:08 PM

      Really? If Bartolo Colon just worked a little more on hitting, it’s be worth sending him out there?

      There’s an opportunity cost to getting pitchers to practice hitting more – they get to spend that much less time on their pitching (which is, you know, what they get paid for). It’s not just more reps in a cage – they’d likely have to study pitcher scouting reports more etc.

      I’m interested in how much time pitchers tend to spend preparing to hit. Does anyone know if there’s been a study or survey on this?

      • Tim

        June 05, 2015 03:56 PM

        I’m not saying every pitcher could improve, but it would be really fun if a team tried to do that. And in theory, there’s that opportunity cost, but with the way things are now, pitchers spend so much time on workouts and scouting, that I think there could be a benefit of giving them a chance to focus on something else. And how much is shaving some time off of their pitching prep really going to hurt them? No one knows.

        Plus, the argument that pitchers get paid to pitch, and they should stick to that always bugs me. Not in the NL. Pretty much all of their value comes from pitching, sure, but they also are required to hit, so therefore they get paid to do that. Wouldn’t it be good to try to get more value out of this activity that they are indeed being paid to do.

  12. Jeff

    June 05, 2015 12:24 PM

    If you want the best of the best handling each task, then the expansion of utilizing the DH for pitchers will soon grow to outfields full of Billy Hamilton’s and Ben Revere’s, replaced with offensive counterparts like Howard and Ortiz. The foundation of baseball is that the same 9 play defense as well as offense. Adding the DH to the NL, let along leaving it in place in the AL, is slippery slope that ends with the game being played in a similar fashion to football – 9 offensive specialists and 9 (including the pitcher) defensive specialists. I prefer the game be played by 9. Otherwise, get ready for expanding rosters to account for all the new talent, doubling of total payrolls, and you guessed it – rising ticket and cable prices.

  13. Jake

    June 05, 2015 12:25 PM

    I see what you’re trying to do, but your basketball comparison still falls a little short. They already have an issue sort of like this with the whole hack-a-Shaq strategy. DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, etc. are bad at free throws like how pitchers can’t hit. Anytime they hit 2/2 the crowd (if they’re at home) goes wild (like when someone like Colon gets a hit). Even just having a player who sucks on one end of the floor (say, Tony Allen on offense, or Andrea Bargnani on defense) is somewhat similar to a pitcher hitting. Having a “DH” in basketball would be like letting Nerlens Noel run off the floor for a shooter like Covington anytime the Sixers go on offense (without stopping the possession). Saying something like “every 9th possession” doesn’t make sense. You can’t really compare basketball and baseball in that way since they have completely different rules.

    I’m against the DH, but I feel like it will unfortunately happen sooner or later. The AL won’t get rid of the DH simply because the Players’ Union would never let 15 jobs be eliminated, and it just doesn’t make sense to have different rules in the two leagues.

    • Brad Engler

      June 05, 2015 12:44 PM

      So as a fan of a team with a bad free throw shooter, you would like Hack a Shaq? I would hate it and want it eliminated. Also as a fan of basketball I hate it because it can reward teams for intentionally breaking the rules. Not awesome. The entirety of basketball is the same, since fouling at the end to save time is also a tactic, but at least in some of those situations guys are actively trying to get a steal as they foul. Anyway…

    • Francisco (FC)

      June 05, 2015 12:48 PM

      Why do people perpuate the myth that 15 jobs would be eliminated? The Roster size would not change at all, and in fact very few teams in the AL actually employ a dedicated DH, they just rotate players into the role. For most the only change is that their pitchers will now have to start holding bats and some of their hitters would have the day off/sitting in the bench instead of spending it just hitting. For those using a dedicated DH that job would now go to a utility infielder. But the 25 man roster would remain the same. What would happen is a shift of money from more dedicated offense only gus to more mostly versatile defense guys.

      Same argument goes in the opposite direction, if the NL adopted the DH there wouldn’t be 15 more jobs, instead, fringe defensively versatile bench bats would find themselves in steeper competition with the offensively inclined players.

      • Jake

        June 05, 2015 10:16 PM

        Fransisco, just for the record, there are actually 9 full-time DHs right now in terms of Plate Apperances, with at least another 4 teams just barely missing the “cutoff” for a full-time DH due to a platoon or injury (like Victor Martinez), so almost the entire league currently has a “dedicated” DH.

    • Eddie

      June 05, 2015 12:49 PM

      Dude, the first paragraph was great .. the second makes no sense.

      The current setup has been in place for 42 years … there’s no more reason to think it will inevitably change than to think that it’s inevitable that they’ll lower the mound again.

      And while the union will complain becuase that’s what they do, there are no jobs to be eliminated. AL teams have 25 players. NL teams have 25 players. It would be bad news for a few specific players, but great news for a few others, and any salary difference would just get spread around.

    • Jake

      June 05, 2015 06:24 PM

      Brad, I have no problem with Hack a Shaq. Free throw shooting is such a simple, common skill. There’s 8yr olds who can shoot better than DeAndre and these other guys. Do they really need to change the rules for the half dozen guys who either don’t put the time into improving, or who have a mental block for some reason (like Dwight Howard. Apparently he’s great in practice, but can’t bring that over to actual games)? Regardless, the argument you made still doesn’t translate to basketball unfortunately.
      And I do apologize for my 2nd paragraph, it was very rushed. Yes, I know the roster size will not change, but they would essentially be getting rid of 15 “starting” jobs. No, not every team has a full-time DH, but it would affect playing time for a number of players, and (most importantly) their salaries. Do you really think some aging corner outfielder deserves to be paid as much if he is getting less ABs since he is (mostly) pinch-hitting, as opposed to being the DH whenever they face a right-handed starter? Ownerships surely won’t think so. Unlike their NFL and NBA counterparts, the MLB Players’ Union is actually pretty strong, so there’s no way they would allow this. If the league ends up wanting uniformity, they’ll be instituting the DH in the NL, not getting rid of it in the AL.
      And no one is arguing to lower the mound. There are a LOT of people arguing to either eliminate the DH, or institute it in both leagues. Your comparison really didn’t make sense Eddie.

  14. derekcarstairs

    June 05, 2015 12:43 PM

    If you take the concept of the DH to its logical conclusion, baseball should adopt a two-platoon system, an offensive platoon and a defensive platoon. Maybe a pinch-runner platoon, too. The on-field product would reach its zenith: great gloves all-around, loads of offensive firepower, and sprinters on the base paths.

    A dream come true?

    • Brad Engler

      June 05, 2015 12:51 PM

      Some day, Derek. Some day.

  15. joe burbidge

    June 05, 2015 01:46 PM

    agree – 4 points -for the money they make , you would think 30 mins 4x’s a week of bp would not be too much to ask . 2ndly , pitchers claim to be all about the “team” , i would think they would want to work on hitting to improve chances of the win . maybe if they understood or it was explained to them that their being able to hit [somewhat] , that one hit might send then to the world series . warren spahn, don drysdale and many others have done it [ i believe the staff of the greg maddux braves did it as a group and had a yearly inner competition – it makes a difference . 3rd , how about a little bit of PRIDE ? 4thly , you would think out of pure selfishness, they would want to hit better . try this before resorting to dh .-

    • Romus

      June 05, 2015 01:59 PM

      Understand the idea of having them hit better.
      Sometimes I would hope they could bunt better!

  16. Michael C Lorah

    June 05, 2015 02:05 PM

    A couple thoughts on this:
    I’m a rabid anti-DH guy, but I appreciate that the article was written in fun.

    My DH opposition boils down to a few key points.
    1. I play softball and honestly, I much prefer playing in the field to batting. Making a great defensive play is so much fun. And I’ve absolutely hated when my team has asked me to DH – I don’t feel like I’m even in the game. Even if I was against pitchers batting, I wouldn’t want a DH. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t wear a glove, you’re not a ballplayer. If you want to spare pitchers hitting (or rather spare fans the futility of pitchers batting), you can bat only eight, as somebody else here mentioned and I’ve also suggested when having this debate in other places.

    2. I don’t believe more offense equals better baseball. So having a hitter who is nearly an automatic out isn’t really a bad thing to me. The first highlights I watch are the shutdown pitcher highlights (Hamels Ks 8!) and then the defense.

    3. As already mentioned in this thread, I like the balance of 9 vs 9. Every player has his strengths and his weaknesses. Yeah, we have to watch Aaron Harang bat, but imagine the comic-caper misadventures of watching Nelson Cruz and Mark Trumbo in the same outfield if Seattle couldn’t hide one at DH. Now that’s entertainment!

    Side note on DHs and pitchers hitting: I work in New York and was discussing with some Mets fans – in Interleague, given the state of the Mets bench, wouldn’t it make more sense to just let Syndergaard hit for himself?

  17. Ryan

    June 05, 2015 04:03 PM

    Personally, I would like to know just how much better the specializing strategy from after high school through the pros makes modern pitchers.

    Even on state-champion high school teams the stud pitcher is often the team’s cleanup hitter as well; obviously the best athlete on the team. When those players either go to college or get drafted, some of them are classed as pitchers and apparently stop worrying about their offensive performance. How much would it hurt their pitching performance if they continued to work on their offensive game like the position players?

  18. joe perzan

    June 05, 2015 04:46 PM

    I guess that you will really like the games when we remove all human beings. Then we can have a pitcher strike out 27 batters. But, how can 27 batters never make an out? Maybe we can trade two robots for a robot to be named later.

    Is it not time for the AL to give up the DH and go back to playing real baseball? And while they’re at it, please get rid of the instant replay time waste.

    People rule!

  19. GIJoe

    June 05, 2015 05:10 PM

    The DH is for commies and the American League – let’s keep it that way.

    • Brad Engler

      June 05, 2015 05:21 PM

      What do you have against Commies, fictional Army Guy From The 80s?

  20. jimpeyton19

    June 05, 2015 05:44 PM

    Brad, Brad, Brad. I think I see what you are up to. Just trying to improve B.P.’s path to the majors, eh?

  21. Nehi

    June 05, 2015 06:08 PM

    Stating the OBP for DHs at .332 is misleading. The more accurate thing to do would look at each American league lineup and decided who would be the odd man out if there wasn’t a DH. So for the White Sox, for example, would they have Laroche on the bench (or not even signed) or would they have him in the OF (or at first and Abreu in the OF) and bench Garcia or Shuck (not sure which one is the starter). In the case of the Red Sox, I think it would be most accurate to assume a platoon with Ortiz and Napoli at first, though I can’t imagine Big Papi can play the field at this point. This would give a more accurate number, I think anyway. Of course it forces you to put yourself in every different GMs and/or Managers shoes, which would be tough.

  22. Romus

    June 05, 2015 06:19 PM

    Brad….I think, with this piece, you set your own personal record for solicited comments, approaching 60! 🙂

  23. BobSmith77

    June 06, 2015 12:26 AM

    Click bat? Mission accomplished.

  24. Brian

    June 06, 2015 02:43 AM

    Why not just go to 50 man rosters and have an offense and defense like football?

    Don’t like that? Can we at least have designated runners for catchers? They can stand next to the box and run on contact. It’s really silly to ask them to run every 9th play when they barely move from behind the plate on defense.

    If anything, it’s the American League that is “quirky” since they are the league allowing one specific defensive player to be replaced by a designated hitter. They rules you fantasized about for the three sports are what the AL is doing by having a DH.

    Why not allow the utility infielder who can’t hit and only starts every 5th day to have a DH, too, while we’re at it.

    That being said, a DH in the NL won’t kill the game.

  25. Joe

    June 07, 2015 07:56 AM

    Found it funny. I check Phillies box score (pitchers were 2-5 w 2 doubles) and then read this.

    Baseball has a lot of intricacies and alot different from other sports. Basketball is simple, put 5 guys on floor and go see who makes more baskets.

    your article does remind me why I dislike interleague play. AL teams have a bigger edge at home since there roster is built w dh. baseball is all about situations. AL teams don’t need as deep of a bench or where any player may have the opportunity to come up big. . NL managers must manage there team and bench. bullpen too.

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