Analyzing Where the DH Is At and an Idea
One interesting fact about the DH rule in general is that if you look purely at runs per league – it hasn’t really helped much of late. Since the DH was introduced in the 1973 season until 1997, the NL only led in runs scored once – in 1974. However, from 1998-2012 the NL scored more runs every single season! Now the overall effect of the DH is far more complicated than simply runs scored, but on a basic level it seems like it’s own effect might be slightly outdated.
Instant replay has been incorporated full time into baseball and has proven effective but a system that still requires some tweaking. Making the DH a full time part of baseball would help teams find spaces for guys like Kyle Schwarber and Evan Gattis who just cannot find good defensive positions in the National League. It would show that baseball is progressive and willing to embrace the demands of its fans and its future.
As for the aspect that the strategy would be lost – I have a suggestion on how to embrace it. Right now the DH must be substituted for the pitcher and for the entire game. If the DH is moved to the field the pitcher must hit. For those pitchers that CAN hit couldn’t we change this up?
Joe Maddon stands out as someone who would love a rule like this. Or look at Arizona. Instead of having to substitute for Zack Greinke by hitting his second baseman Chris Owings (.227 BA / 4 HR) why not expand the rule to not just be about pitchers and be able to move around the DH tag throughout the game? So the game starts with your stud hitting pitcher in the lineup and a DH for your second baseman. When you remove the starting pitcher, the DH hitter shifts to the relief pitcher. It’s a simple fix and would still keep the strategy while allowing those pitchers that can hit to help their teams.
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Whether or not a slight alteration like this would be just for the NL or AL I’m not really sure. I think it is important that the DH rule came into place right as MLB Free Agency started developing in it’s modern form after Curt Flood challenged the MLB Reserve Clause in Federal Court. Now players change teams and leagues with a frequency that can be dizzying. So allowing the DH to flow to both leagues would allow more movement for players to flow between divisions without their poor defense limiting their marketability.
I still love the National League. I still believe it’s history, rivalries, and teams are better than the American League. To create it’s next great chapter into the future, the DH should be allowed in the National League as it approaches birthday one hundred and fifty.