Save your slings and arrows for another day, please. Spare me your double shifts. Go lock yourself in a room with your grainy baseball movies. Wax poetic about late-inning strategy with someone else. This is not some blatant "knee-jerk reaction" to recent events, but recent events bubbled this back up to the surface.
The time has come: Bring the DH to the NL.
Someone needs to explain to me the allure of watching NL pitchers try to hit. What's so captivating, so nostalgic, so poetic about watching some guy step in the bucket three times so he can get back to the bench? And if he gets on base somehow, run around in a windbreaker? Why is this so wonderful for our game? Because it makes us look/feel/act smart to discuss double shifts while saddled up at the bar? Because that's what our grandpappy used to talk about?
I tiptoed around this idea last year, particularly when Wang got hurt running the bases and was lost for the year, summarily ending the Yanks season. And what happened last night?
St. Louis pitcher Chris Carpenter appears headed for the disabled list after straining his left rib cage swinging the bat Tuesday night.Why? Was this necessary? Really?
Carpenter was injured grounding out to third base to end the top of the fourth. Carpenter went to the mound to warm up before the bottom of the inning, then called for a trainer.
"I felt it just a little bit on that swing, and every warmup pitch got worse and worse until the last one bit pretty good," Carpenter said after the Cardinals' 7-6 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 10 innings. "So there's nothing I could do about it but come out."
Carpenter, fresh off a one-hit effort as he battles back from major arm/shoulder injuries, has NO business swinging a bat. He's paid (very well, I might add) to pitch, not hit. Sure, there are guys like Zambrano and Sabathia and Owings who can hit AND pitch. So let them hit, if the organization wants to risk their arms.
With the premium paid to pitchers, particularly the best pitchers (and Barry Zito), NL ownership should be picketing to have the DH installed in the NL to protect these investments.
The esteemed Nate Silver, czar of forecasting for Baseball Prospectus, had a fun exercise in assessing pitchers' hitting values (2008). He leads off:
In the six years that I’ve generated PECOTA forecasts, I’ve never bothered to run hitting projections for pitchers. In fact, I’ve regarded pitcher hitting as something of a nuisance; I specifically screen out any pitchers so that they won’t be selected as comparable players. This isn’t an aesthetic judgment by any means—watching pitchers try (and fail) to hit is one of my favorite pastimes. But since even the pitchers who make 35 starts a year won’t usually get more than 80 or 90 plate appearances, I've generally figured that it wasn’t quite worth the trouble. ... pitchers and position players are selected to play in the major leagues based on totally different skill sets. (The gap between pitcher and position-player hitting has grown steadily since the dawn of baseball time).Precisely! Why is this element of the game so important, so fantastic, so ethereal? Why the navel gazing?
Note that the bad-hitting pitchers don’t hurt you as much as the good ones help you, simply because the bar for getting any kind of offensive contribution from your pitchers is so low. Still, Ben Sheets is a lifetime .079 hitter in the major leagues, and that sure doesn’t look good on the back of a baseball card.
And in my research efforts this morning, I came across this article written by Howard Bryant (2007):
Since we live in an age of money, an age of offense and an age of power, it is time for the National League to stop worrying and start loving the designated hitter.Even FOTB, Splice's Russ Smith, had this to say last year "The NL Needs the DH":
It's the unfortunate, but correct, thing to do; I find myself arguing for a position with which I don't completely agree, yet can't find a better compromise.
According to sources high up in the baseball hierarchy and low on the field among managers and players, there is no discussion about the NL's adopting the designated hitter in the future, meaning baseball will continue its 35-year tradition of playing the same game under two sets of rules, depending whether the game is being played in an AL or NL city.
Sure, the strategy required of an N.L. manager is more intricate than A.L. counterparts with double-switches and more sacrifice bunts, but the two leagues might be more competitive if older free agents (or crummy fielders) could extend their careers as a DH.Lastly:
The National League needs to get rid of its die-hard advocates who insist that the American League’s innovative genius to inspire the introduction of the designated hitter is but a sham on the game’s integrity. The DH was the first solid attempt by MLB to get rid of any superficial or perfunctory aspects of a game whose otherwise proud and purposeful intent was being undermined. The National League dinosaurs continue to insist that the DH removes a distinct strategy that is integral to the sport’s identity. But all it truly does is remove a little-skilled or no-skilled hitter for a competent one, thus allowing for more competency where it is appreciated by all observers of the game. A pitcher (now-a-days) can’t even bunt properly and stands a good chance of smashing a finger or two.The time has come to put the DH in the NL.
Rob Neyer, the reason why many of you are here, had this to say:
I don't care if I ever see another pitcher hit -- but I still say the game's just a little more interesting if there's a difference between the leagues. So, no.I don't see how it's more interesting, honestly. Is it more interesting to see guys flail at pitches? I'd rather watch a skilled hitter work against the opposing pitcher. I think a league with uniform rules is better than a league with half the teams playing by different rules. Especially a rule as major as the DH, particularly when it comes to the World Series.
Feel free to post your hate mail in the comments below.