I've been doing these countdown articles since January 1st. So far that's 34 articles. I've been lucky enough lately that some Brewers players have jersey numbers that tie-in. But on a day like, today I've had to start getting creative. So here's how today's topic is related to the countdown. On June 7th the Brewers will play an inter-league game at home against the Oakland Athletics. It will be the Brewers 59th game of the 2016 season. But instead of trying to talk about the two teams, I'm more interested in talking about the designated hitter.
We already spent some time talking about it during the portion of this countdown that covered the AL Brewers when the DH was first introduced. And we've also talked about the DH some on Brew Crew Ball. It's going to be a huge topic of conversation this year. The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between MLB and the player's association will run out in December. And so a new one will have to be negotiated. Incorporating the designated hitter will most definitely be a topic discussed, and some in baseball believe the notion is gaining momentum. In other words, there is a non-zero chance the DH gets introduced to the National League as soon as 2017.
Personally I doubt the change occurs that quickly. Baseball likes to move slowly and test things out over time. With some of the pace of play initiatives they tested them out in the AFL and minors a year in advance of instituting them at the major league level. The DH is a bit different because we know how it will work. It's been part of the AL for decades. But there are other reasons for slowly changing the rules.
For one thing, some fans will hate it. It's fun to give those fans a hard time, but honestly I can understand where they're coming from. I used to be adamantly against the DH as well. But I've since changed my mind. Agreeing isn't really important though. I think deep down, everyone knows it's coming. And I think the majority of those fans will come to accept it eventually. But it can't hurt to help ease their transition.
I've also heard people suggest NL teams would need time to prepare their rosters for the incorporation of a DH. At first I wasn't sure how much to buy into this argument. I think most teams either have a prospect or MLB player that would benefit from spending time in DH role. Obviously the Brewers have Khris Davis. And here's where I started to see the merit of waiting a bit to change the rule.
The Brewers as they are right now, are probably going to trade Khris Davis. They have a glut of corner outfielders and he's the one that makes the most sense to get traded. He has impressive offensive ability, but his defense is lacking. He best suits a club that can either play him as a full time DH or one where he can split time in the OF and DH. Which is an option that doesn't exist in the NL. But if it did, it might not make as much sense to trade Davis.
Adding the DH spot to an NL roster would change the formula the Brewers will use to decide which players to keep and which players to trade. Right now it makes too much sense to trade Khris Davis. If the DH where an option it would make a lot of sense to hold onto him. So if they traded him now, and suddenly the DH comes to the NL, it feels kind of unfair.
Anyway, that's just one very specific example of a reason to approve the DH in the NL, but wait a couple years to actually incorporate it. In the meantime--and I suspect this is how things will roll out--it would probably make a lot of sense to just have the DH used during interleague play regardless of the park.
I don't know if that will be something that gets agreed up in the next CBA, but it seems like a good bet. And if it does, Brewers vs Athletics on June 7th will be one of the last times you see an American League pitcher at the plate. At least one can hope.