Adam Wainwright gets the credit for starting this new wave of discussion on whether the Designated Hitter should be removed from the National League. It's appropriate, the holier-than-thou whiny darlings of the NL who espouse the 'right way to play' suffered the latest loss with their star pitcher tearing his hamstring while trying to hit a baseball. When it happens to someone else it's an event, when it happens to God's baseball team on Earth, it's a crisis.
Nevertheless, it's time again to address the DH. There are two forces, one in favor of removing the DH, and one of keeping it, and they both have their sensible reasons.
The anti-DH crowd will cite pitcher injuries, but mainly their motivation is to make a more exciting game. Pitchers rarely contribute to the offensive outcome of a game. Removing them from the lineup in favor of a designated hitter in the NL would give another player the opportunity to hit, increasing scoring opportunities. Some players hit well but aren't the best fielders, their careers can be extended by playing DH. Some players have managed to fill out their Hall of Fame resumes playing their final years in the DH role.
The pro-DH crowd, the National League enthusiast, enjoys the additional drama that the pitcher brings to the lineup. There are more lineup changes made during an NL game when managers switch out players to hit for the pitcher, more pitching changes, double-switches, and it creates a more intriguing game. And while the pitcher isn't ever expected to be an offensive hero, when they occasionally do something useful with the bat aside from bunting it can be pretty exciting.
While the NL's flavor of baseball is something that I have leaned to appreciate and enjoy since the Brewers moved to the NL, I wonder if it is really serving baseball's best interest to preserve it. It takes a pretty educated fan to really savor the difference between league games. While the dedicated fan can easy defend the difference and be incredulous as to why we would remove the DH, the common fan doesn't care much. They like a straight-up game where things are as they seem, where the best hitters stay in the game, and where lineup changes are made because guys are tired or have a special skill, not just to cover up a hitting deficiency.
I would imagine that a lot of pitchers would like to do away with the DH, but you probably won't catch them saying it much. Facing other pitchers helps their success, and NL teams would shed a few pitchers' jobs as a result of the switch.
So I ask you Brewer fans, which would you rather see?
While you think about it, you can consider how others have weighed in:
Joe Maddon: I like the National League game the way it sets
Max Scherzer: No one wants to see pitchers bat
Cito Gaston: Let's play the DH the whole time or call it off
Hank Steinbrenner: The National League needs to join the 21st century
Craig Calcaterra: Pitchers batting is dumb
Commissioner Rob Manfred: I’m a status quo person on the DH
Early in my career, I hated the designated hitter and thought baseball should get rid of it. But toward the end of my career, I realized that it allows older players to play a few more years ... It's great for players who've had success in the game, but maybe can't take the grind of playing a full season at the end of their careers. It allows them to stay in the game — and that's a good thing.
The one thing at first I was very, very anti designated hitter, you know, coming from the National League. The one thing I found after working with it for three years is not only the offense opens up on another bat, but the little ball opens up. That's really almost contradictory to a designated hitter philosophy, where you think you have a big bat in the line-up. We can do more things in the American League, particularly as you approach the bottom third or bottom half of your order than you can in the National League because of the pitcher's spot.
I played in both leagues and enjoyed playing the National League game better than the American League game. The game itself is better without the designated hitter. There is more strategy involved with double switches, balance in the bullpen and the benches becoming more important, and that adds to the excitement of the game for players. Most of that is lost with the DH.
The designated hitter provides more offense and a more exciting game overall for the fans. That was the initial reason for authorizing the designated hitter and I think that reason still pertains. The purists feel that it alters the game from a standpoint of strategy. I think that is true. You do lose something there. But I think in the overall you gain by providing more offensive capability. That is important because baseball has a tendency at times to be slow-moving and unexciting. This adds another dimension of excitement to the game and that's why I support it.
Baseball is simply a better game without the DH.
I screwed up the game of baseball. Baseball needed a jolt of offense for attendance, so they decided on the DH. I never thought it would last this long.
The designated hitter rule is like letting someone else take Wilt Chamberlain's free throws.
Everyone in the world disagrees with me, including some managers, but I think managing in the American League is much more difficult for that very reason (having the designated hitter). In the National League, my situation is dictated for me. If I'm behind in the game, I've got to pinch hit. I've got to take my pitcher out. In the American League, you have to zero in. You have to know exactly when to take them out of there. In the National League, that's done for you.
I'm not an advocate of the Designated Hitter Rule; I'm only an advocate of seeing the truth and telling the truth. What the truth comes down to here is a question of in what does strategy reside? Does strategy exist in the act of bunting? If so the Designated Hitter Rule has reduced strategy. But if strategy exists in the decision about when a bunt should be used, then the DH rule has increased the differences of opinion which exist about that question, and thus increased strategy...[the research shows] that there is more of a difference of opinion, not less, in the American League.