It looks like the designated hitter will be coming to the National League in 2020. The expectation is that the universal DH will be approved by the MLBPA. In fact, players in general have approved the measure for some time.
Universal DH proposed by MLB is expected to be easily approved by players, who long favored idea. It won’t impact finances in ‘20 but could boost pay for select few in ‘21 based on better stats. Teams helped: Dodgers (great depth), Nats (same), Brewers (Braun), Mets (Cespedes?)— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 13, 2020
The Milwaukee Brewers are one of the National League teams to benefit most from the change in 2020. The Brewers have tremendous depth in the infield that a DH might allow for some of those players to get at-bats that they would have not had before. However the real advantage for the Brewers comes in the outfield.
With four starting outfielders and only three outfield positions, the DH offers the opportunity to get more at-bats for these four individuals who all are good to great with the bat. In the case of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, what would be off-days to get them off their feet turn into semi-rest days that allow Craig Counsell to keep their bats in the lineup. This will also allow Avi Garcia to get more time in the field/at-bats than he might otherwise have had.
The most obvious player to put in the DH role is Ryan Braun. Instead of forcing him into time at first base, the Brewers can get his bat in the lineup without the added stress that playing in the outfield and at first base puts on his back. Keeping a healthy Ryan Braun somewhere in the batting order makes for a very potent lineup. Such a lineup might look something like this:
CF Lorenzo Cain
LF Christian Yelich
2B Keston Hiura
DH Ryan Braun
C. Omar Narvarez
RF Avi Garcia
1B Justin Smoak
3B Jedd Gyroko/Eric Sogard/Luis Urias
SS Orlando Arcia/Luis Urias
Braun’s bat is still quite potent. Over 459 at-bats in 2019 while playing in the field, the career-long Brewer produced a 117 wRC+. Might even better offensive numbers be possible if he plays less in the field. More at-bats over the season are certainly a possibility. The addition of Braun to the DH position allows Milwaukee to lengthen its lineup as effectively as any team in the National League not called the Dodgers.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs