The National League doesn’t need the DH
Let’s address this immediately. Who doesn’t love watching this?
While this clip could aid the argument advocating for expanding the DH to the NL, there is no doubt that people love watching this. And without the pitcher hitting, this kind of fan favorite moment doesn’t happen.
Adding the DH to the NL, while maybe adding a bit of offense, does more harm than good.
For one, the NL features more strategy. This argument has been done many times, but it’s been done because it’s just true. AL Managers don’t have to think as much about needing to double-switch, pinch hit, or needing to conserve their bench.
NL Managers need to think more. And when you make a guy think, it can lead to over thinking. There is an example of this from the Mets game on Monday night.
Mets’ Manager Terry Collins, with his relief pitcher due up, sent Michael Conforto, a lefty, on deck to hit. On the mound for the Phillies was Jared Eickhoff, a righty. But instead of sending up Conforto to hit, Wilmer Flores, a righty, was officially announced as the pinch hitter, which allowed Eickhoff to stay in the game.
The strategy behind this is interesting. If Collins sends Conforto up, Phillies’ manager Pete Mackanin probably goes to one of his left handed relief pitchers, as Conforto struggles against lefty pitching. But if Mackanin does that, Collins would pinch hit Flores in place of Conforto, to get a favorable match up at the plate.
What Collins elected to do saved a bench player for the Mets. Instead of wasting a hitter and getting a favorable match up, Collins chose to keep the extra player stashed on his bench and have a slight disadvantage at the plate.
Collins’ decision was interesting, and regardless of what side of the argument you fall on, this is a bit of strategy we don’t see in the AL. AL managers do not need the same finesse that NL managers do.
That’s the boring part though. People love moments. They won’t really admit it a lot of the times, but much like the Bartolo Colon moment from above, baseball would be deprived of some of it’s greatest moments.
Moments like this one.
And this one(s).
And yes, sometimes it may even lead to miracles.
I understand that these are very specific scenarios. I understand that most of the time, when pitchers hit, they are seemingly a guaranteed out, whether it be a sacrifice bunt or looking lost on a three pitch strikeout. But with Bartolo Colon, people love watching him look lost.
You try to be the one to take the bat out of Madison Bumgarner’s hands.
We’re moving into a time where a growing number of pitchers aren’t bad at the plate. Bumgarner, Noah Syndergaard, and Clayton Kershaw are not guaranteed outs when they’re in the batters box.
Pitchers are becoming significantly more athletic. It’s the next phase of the game.
Sports Illustrated ran this story a few days ago about the next phenom from Japan, Shohei Otani. Last season in Japan, Otani pitched to a 10–4 record with a 1.86 ERA, striking out 174 batters in 140 innings.
He also hit .322/22/67 in 323 at-bats.
Otani is scheduled to come over to the MLB next year. And while he plays the outfield in games he doesn’t pitch in Japan, an MLB team signing him as a pitcher probably wouldn’t risk the soon to be 23 year old’s health by playing him every day. But Otani will probably still want to hit if he comes to the States, meaning he’s safe to sign with an NL team.