The baseball world is hopeful of a return, and with that return, a new sense of normal, a new normal that could include the Universal DH. So for this piece, we will look together at three reasons why the Universal DH will stick for good.
One League, One Set of Rules
The landscape of baseball has operated under different rules since 1973 when the American League instituted the Designated Hitter rule. The growing belief is that the Player’s Association will approve the DH rule for this stunted season (should it take place.) Thus this change would provide all teams with an opportunity to play under the same rules for an “entire” season. And yes, I understand that the majority of Spring Training is played with the DH, however, Major League players don’t play games in Spring the same as the regular season. (And for a good reason, Spring Training is to prepare for the season. It’s not the actual season.)
Playing in games that count, playing games that matter with one set of rules gives teams equal fitting all season long. And rules that don’t unnecessarily put on a team at a disadvantage during the most important games of the season, the World Series.
One of the new ways that teams are trying to gain an advantage now is through the use of platoons. Platoons allow managers to place their players in the optimal position to succeed. This about the lack of career guys like David Ortiz or Edgar Martinez would have had without the DH position. This about players now like JD Martinez or Shohei Ohtani! A player like JD would struggle to find their footing in the field. And in Ohtani’s case, put the Angels at a double disadvantage should Shohei get hurt.
Having the Universal DH instituted across the board going forward gives teams versatility and flexibility to maneuver their 26-man rosters. A team like the Milwaukee Brewers have a plethora of talented outfielders but are running out of space to play them. Add in the DH, and it solves that dilemma. Think about the Los Angeles Dodgers; they too have an endless number of talented players who would greatly benefit from the added hitting spot in the lineup. And the number of “good hitting pitchers” is so immensely small that it’s not worth mentioning.
Adapt or Die
The one thing about baseball in comparison to the other three major North American sports is baseball’s steadfast unbelief in change. While the other major sports have adjusted their rules as time and technology has advanced. Baseball has been reluctant to change. The implementation of replay and now the roster changes have long been overdue. But baseball is slow to adapt. Several rules in baseball could use some tweaking for the modern era, starting with the addition of the Universal DH.