MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday he is considering adding the designated hitter to the National League and, as per usual, social media exploded with response. The reaction was to be expected, if you think about it. Fans of American League teams were for the addition for the most part and NL fans typically were against the addition.
One thing remained consistent, though: People had an opinion on the matter. So, we decided we’d introduce our bi-weekly roundtable using this as a launching pad. Let’s see what the writing staff here at Dodgers Nation had to say on the matter.
What was your immediate reaction upon hearing about the potential rule change?
JD Miller: My immediate reaction is negative, to say the least. The managerial aspects of the rule change are the main argument for people against it, and I wholeheartedly agree that the DH removes a lot of pivotal middle-inning strategic decisions from the game. But something to consider is the possible disappearance of quality bench players from the league. Without the need of the double-switch, some talented role players will be riding the pine more than ever. I also think there is something askew with paying a player who only bats ‘five-tool’ money for only playing half the game everyone else is.
Brian Robitaille: “Noooooo!!!!” That was my immediate reaction. Not a fan of it. Although, I’m not totally surprised. If MLB was ever going to change one of the league rules, I don’t think they’d ever try to change the AL back to having the pitchers bat. I also believe there’s been a gradual desire to get the pitchers batting out of the game, especially with the emergence of guys who’ve really excelled as the DH and furthered their career by years. So, whether the change happens within the next year or two, or later down the road, it probably will happen eventually.
Ryan Kelapire: I wasn’t that surprised. It seems Major League Baseball has been trying to push this rule change for a few years now, and it seems inevitable that it will happen one day. When it does finally happen, I will certainly be sad to the see NL-style of baseball go.
Justin Russo: I, for one, am pretty excited about the potential rule change. It opens up a wide range of possibilities and a whole new method in which managers can determine the proper avenues into bringing in relievers without having to double switch or burn through a pinch-hitter. I think it’s honestly the best thing to happen to baseball since the lowering of the mound, or maybe even steroids.
Anthony Irwin: I guess I didn’t have a visceral, immediate response. I’m no purist, but I do enjoy the difference in style of play between the two leagues. Whenever interleague play occurs, it’s fun to watch teams strategize and adjust accordingly. That said, MLB needs to do something to increase scoring, and without making drastic changes, this seems the best way to do so at the moment. So, I guess I’m for the change.
Which style of baseball do you prefer: With the DH or without it?
Anthony: I must be terrible at this, but I really don’t feel all that strongly about either style of play. More than anything, I enjoy that there is a difference between the two leagues. On top of that, and I understand I’m biased having rooted for an NL team my whole life, I don’t like the idea of a player having a single purpose on an athletic team (think kickers in the NFL). Gun to my head, I prefer the NL style of play. Now, please, remove the gun from my head.
Justin: DH, definitely. I think it reduces the risk of managerial incompetence.
Ryan: I am and have always been an NL fan, so I prefer baseball without the DH. I like the double switches, sacrifice bunts, pinch hitters, and #PitchersWhoRake. Having pitchers in the lineup just adds an extra dimension to the game, though, I can certainly understand the goal of making the DH universal — more runs.
Brian: Without. There’s so much more strategy going on. Look, I understand how it is when you have two outs and a pitcher coming up who’s hitting .120. The inning is pretty much over and you can get a head start on your bathroom break. But having a pitcher in the lineup is how the game was originated and supposed to be played. Managers are forced to make tough decisions, like when exactly should they pinch-hit for their pitcher. If you’re starter is throwing lights out, but his pitch count is at 95, and you’re down a run, do you pinch hit for him if he’s leading off the next inning? Or, if he bats 2nd in the inning, do you let him bunt if the leadoff hitter gets on? What if he’s a decent hitting pitcher, can he swing away? How many bench players will you have left if you double switch? Those are big decisions that have huge impacts on the game. In the AL, those calls never have to be made.
Additionally, while few and far between, there are actually some good hitting pitchers out there (Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke, Travis Wood, ect) and I think it just makes the game that much more exiting when you have a pitcher who’s a threat with the bat. When your starting pitcher gets a clutch, 2-out, RBI single, fans know how big that is. Plus, when you get classic bat flips like the ones Greinke provided last year, can it get any cooler than that?
JD: I prefer the game without the DH. The DH disincentivizes a manager’s ability to make crucial strategic decisions throughout the 162-game season. I think baseball is a thinking person’s sport and the DH makes that less so.