Here we go again, the debate that has gone on for the last 45 years once again begins. The debate of whether or not the DH or Designated Hitter should be used across both the American and National Leagues of Major League Baseball.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) June 9, 2018
The New York Yankees had to place Masahiro Tanaka on the 10-Day DL with strains in both hamstrings. This now causes more concern for a team already lacking depth in the starting rotation. However, it’s not the just Yankees that have had pitchers suffer injuries swinging the bat. The New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom suffered an injury earlier this season causing him to swing a start.
Each and every season pitchers get hurt swinging the bat or on the basepaths. So why do we continue to let them go out there?
Some “Baseball Purist” say that pitchers batting was how the game was intended to be played. And yes while that is true, with every passing summer, the game has changed. At every level of professional baseball, the pitcher does not bat, until you get to the Major Leagues. When baseball began there was only one league, the National League. Later, out of a monopolizing of the game, the American League was created. And like with everything else in life it was met with opposition. However, the game now would be unrecognizable without both leagues.
Another change that occurred more recently that caused a ruckus was the inclusion of a “Wildcard” team in the playoff mix (and eventually a second Wildcard team.) This addition was met with scoffing and claims of the integrity of the game is being compromised. Yet, the addition of the Wildcard teams has helped create parody in the game. No longer can big market teams hoard all the talent by simply out paying for them. Small market teams and fanbases are now able to remain relevant longer into the season. Just think back to the 2015 season when the Kansas City Royals became World Series Champions.
Change Produces Growth
The game of baseball is constantly growing and developing new technology and new ways to advance. Yet in one key aspect of the game still remains stuck in the early 1900’s. The DH rule was implemented in the American League in 1973 as a response to the lack of offense prior to that season. And what might I ask has been plaguing the MLB over the last few seasons? Ah yes, “A LACK OF OFFENSE!” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has been preaching about “Pace of Play” initiatives and one easy fix is staring at him every time he visits an American League ballpark.
When fans of the American League style of play think about the DH (myself included), we think about some of the greatest hitters we can recall. We think about the man the DH Award is named after Edgar Martinez, we think about David Ortiz. We think about Jim Thome, Reggie Jackson, Hideki Matsui, Frank Thomas, Paul Molitor, Vladimir Guerrero and many many more. The DH not only provides a more dynamic offense to a lineup on any given night, it also provides opportunities for players later in their careers.
Let’s talk about Edgar for a second, without the DH Edgar Martinez may not have the Hall of Fame career he had. Many Hall of Fame Voters hold the fact that Edgar was only a DH for so long against him in their voting. However, that needs to change as the man was absolutely remarkable with a bat in his hands.
Although functioning under the same governing body that is the MLB, the American and National Leagues run as separate entities. Those separations are the most glaring during the most important time of the baseball calendar, during the WORLD SERIES. When the games count the most, one team is always at a significant disadvantage. When in National League home parks the American League team is without their Designated Hitter. A player that their lineup is usually built around, is relegated to the bench. And when in American League home parks the National League squads are at a disadvantage. Because they aren’t usually equipped with that potent bat to plug into the lineup. So they are usually forced to turn to an extra infielder.
It’s Time Already
The disparity in the rulesets need to change, we now have interleague play every day of the season. So the line between the two leagues isn’t as separate as it was even 20 years ago. So why then are we still functioning under the same antiqued rules? If Commissioner Manfred and Major League Baseball want baseball to remain relevant going forward we need more offense. We need those headline matchups that we look for Max Scherzer vs. Giancarlo Stanton, Clayton Kershaw vs. JD Martinez. We don’t want Jacob deGrom vs. Masahiro Tanaka.