(In 2020, baseball fans experienced a lot of things they were heretofore unaccustomed too. In this series, I’ll be looking back at some of the changes that pandemic baseball necessitated, giving my thoughts on them, and then asking for your opinion.)
Part 2: The DH in the National League.
For many years of MLB’s history, the two leagues—American & National—operated almost independently of each other. Each circuit’s winner met in the World Series, but that was about it. The gulf was only widened in 1973 when the AL adopted the designated hitter to bat for the pitcher, but the NL chose not to follow suit.
In the past 2-3 decades, however, the leagues have grown so close as to be nearly indistinguishable. Umpires work interchangeably. Interleague play happens on every day of the season. Nearly as many sluggers come from the Senior Circuit as the Junior one. The DH is now truly the biggest—perhaps only—difference in AL vs. NL play.
In recent years, momentum has seemed to be building for the National League to adopt the designated hitter, and that is precisely what transpired in 2020, albeit taking a crazy pandemic rule-scramble to make it a reality.
Proponents of the dual DH argue that it allows talented and entertaining sluggers to hang around and apply their bat-to-ball skills longer. Having witnessed the likes of Jim Thome and Nelson Cruz in Twins Territory, it is hard to argue against that. Plus, very few pitchers give much thought to their in-box activities these days, rendering it a wasted spot in the batting order.
Those who dislike the DH? They counter that all ballplayers should occupy a spot on the diamond, and often take the purist position that pitchers should take their hacks like everyone else. Also, it would rob the sport of oddities like Madison Bumgarner’s ability to homer against Clayton Kershaw, or this utterly magical sequence:
Personally, I’m ready for hurlers to be done wielding bats in either league. As fun as it might be to, say, watch Twins pitchers flail away in NL locales, it brings me even greater pleasure to continue seeing the Boomstick ply his trade. Not only that, but in a baseball environment already turning into a reliever’s game, I hate to see any starting pitcher be removed from a contest simply because his empty bat is such a detriment to the club.
So, my vote is the adopt the 2020 dual DH change into the future. What say you on the matter?
What are your thoughts on the DH in both leagues?
This poll is closed
Keep the 2020 rules and have the DH available in both leagues
Go back to the pre-’20 status quo (DH in AL, not in NL)
Abolish the DH entirely and make pitchers bat in both leagues