Every once in a while I'll post something like this just to change things up a little. Usually these kind of things stem from conversations I have with my friends and my brother. We like to debate this type of stuff.
In years past I would have made this argument regarding the NL style of play.
As a baseball purist I like the idea of the pitcher batting and all the strategy that goes along with it. The NL game has more of a chess match mentality because the manager has to be more aware of game situations by thinking several innings ahead. It forces difficult decisions that can effect the outcome of the game. Do you let "ace" pitcher bat in the top of the seventh down 2 to 1 with two outs and a couple of runners on? Nerdy baseball me likes this kind of stuff.
While I still love this part of the game I've begun to change my thought on it. While this is not really about Adam Wainwright tearing his Achilles tendon (I had this post started a couple weeks back) it seems like a perfect time to give my two cents.
Scoring in baseball is hard these days. Pitching staffs are full of guys throwing in the upper 90's, and left handed specialist to neutralize left handed power. Defensively teams are shifting more and more every year. I get to see this first hand as the Pirates shift more than just about any team in baseball. Now with pace of play being an issue batters have to stay in the batters box. While hard to quantify most believe this gives the pitcher even more of an advantage as the batter doesn't have time to really think about pitch sequencing, past experience and game situations. The deck is stacked against the hitter.
Having inter league play all year screws up stuff big time for the NL too. The rosters in the National League are constructed differently. More times than not the NL team has to roster players based on position flexibility. As most NL fans know this is usually not the best hitter. Sometimes you can get lucky and have a guy that has minor league options to send down in order to bring up a more seasoned hitter, but most of the time this is not the case. Their is a reason the AL dominates the NL every year in inter league play. It is just easier for an Al team to adapt to NL game than the other way around.
Also, just watching the pitcher bat is painful. Off the top of my head I can only think of a few that are actual threats with the bat. Guys like Bumgarner, Leake and Kershaw can hold their own, but other than that it is painful to watch. Even getting down a bunt has become a chore.
With all that being said I think it is time to go to universal rules. I would much rather see guys like Jose Abreu and David Ortiz bat than this...
I will always enjoy the NL game more, but if baseball keeps making new rules that benefit the pitchers something needs to be done to counteract it.
Anybody have any good ideas? I would like to be swayed back towards the NL style....
I say we force both the DH and pitcher to hit. Ten hitters in a lineup and 30 becomes the new 27.ReplyDelete
I like it!Delete
Leave Bartolo alone he has 2 RBIs this year. If you go DH you might as well have just one big league an abloish AL an NL an merge the divisions into one or you can recreate/realign the divisons. I say leave it alone it's what separates the two leagues and gives the allstar game some meaning if not you might as well get rid of that an have a skills competitionReplyDelete
The All Star game is a whole different argument. It shouldn't count for anything unless the coaches can choose all the players. Plus the pitching staffs always get screwed because of guys pitching the day before the All Star break.Delete
Realignment is really besides the point. It could be something that is considered down the road, but this is more about the quality of the on field product.
nothing is more painful than watching a DH.ReplyDelete
Some old, fat bastard who can't actually play the sport waddling up from the buffet to take an AB every three innings....
Have you read interviews with former DH's? They sit in the locker room playing cards, watching tv until some bat boy comes and gets them. Wow. Really? Dmitri Young once had to be pinch hit for as a DH because he was busy getting a haircut.
There are what? 15 teams in the A.L.? So the very best DH is the 121st best position player in the A.L. That makes him the 241st best player in baseball. Do we really need to protect the 241st best player? If he was any better than that, he'd be on the field for somebody...
Either you can play baseball, or you can't. If you can't, then go away. there are plenty of others who can.
I'm sure there's a buffet somewhere...
I agree that many of the DH's are washed up position players, that are black holes in the field. They may be at the bottom tier of overall baseball players, but many are well above average hitters.Delete
I'm with you in that in theory if you play a position in the field you should bat. Just as a fan I would much rather see someone like Jose Abreu and David Ortiz hit then my pitcher.
Plus many of the DH's have gotten away from the traditional aging fat guy. Teams like Tampa and Oakland roster guys based on platoon splits to maximize effectiveness against the opposing pitcher.
I really think this is going to become more of an issue, and I'm not sure how I feel about it anymore. On the one hand, I am an NL guy through and through, and I enjoy the decision making aspects of the game. However, if I grew up in Baltimore (god forbid), I'm sure I would be an AL guy. So, it comes down to what is best for the game. It's romantic to think about pitchers being ball players too, and taking their turn at the plate. But, today, I don't think pitchers have ever been worse hitters. Most obviously put zero effort into it. They either aren't allowed (because they may get hurt) or they can't see the advantage of being able to help themselves. At this point, I would rather see Corey Hart as the Pirates DH than watch any of their pitchers bat.ReplyDelete
I think you hit the nail on the head. Don't change the rules because of an isolated injury, but do it for the quality of the game. It just keeps getting harder and harder to keep pitchers hitting. First it was inter league play, now it is inter league play all the time.Delete
It is easy to wax poetic about strategy and the way the game used to be played, but times have changed. I really think this will be looked at soon as MLB keeps making changes that prohibits offense.
I can't stand watching pitchers hit. Very few actually even try to get a hit. I agree that many DH's are washed up players (not all), but watching pitchers not even try to hit or run is just awful. It's my least favorite part of interleague play. I'd rather watch Carlos Beltran hit at this point than any pitcher, and that's saying something.ReplyDelete
I'm also not a fan of the purist debate. "Purists" get to pick and choose the rules they like to abide by as a purist, but conveniently ignore several rules/facets of the game in the early days that prohibited certain groups of people from even playing the game.
It's a tired argument. Looking for to the day when the DH is in both leagues and we can stop watching such wasted ABs.
The purist debate is dated for sure. Longing for days past is not a valid argument. Teams invest so much in pitching that it has killed their hitting. A lot of teams barely let their pitchers pick up the bat other than practicing bunting and taking a couple of bp swings.Delete
The Pirates made pitcher hitting a priority this spring, but it was more in terms of bunting and trying to have productive outs. We are still terrible at it.
Like I said above I want to be convinced to keep it the same, I just haven't heard anything that makes sense for the NL to stay the course. I think it is inevitable that it will happen soon.
The argument over who people would like to see hit can also apply to a regular position player.Hell I'd rather see Buster Posey hit than current Met catcher ,Recker.I like the differences between both leagues.There Is something "communist" about making everything so "cookie cut" similar In MLB.ReplyDelete
"1.01 Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each,
under direction of a manager, played on an enclosed field in accordance with these rules, under jurisdiction of one or more umpires.
-- The first rule of baseball
Technically,A.L. teams have 10 players when you add in the D.H.That's 10 starting players every game.They're already breaking the number 1 rule!
The DH rule has more to do with money than the fans IMO,and we all know what money Is the root of.
As far as speeding up the game?How will adding another crafty, over aged veteran drawn out AB help solve that ?The pitcher batting gives you a much needed breather in along line up and will eventually be pinch it for anyways,so In the NL you get the best of both.
I guess I don't really understand the Met/Giant argument. Mine is based more on the fact that I'm sure White Sox fans like watching Jose Abreu more than Chris Sale batting. Just as a Giants fan would like to see Buster Posey DH every once in a while to save his knees and keep the bat in the lineup.Delete
Wouldn't you rather have Michael Cuddyer as a DH and better fielder playing defense? Plus you don't have to watch Colon hit.
I get the 9 player rule, but MLB made that bed 40 something years back when they allowed the DH. I agree that money is a driving factor, but the league needs offense.
As far of pace of play I agree that DH's will have longer more drawn out at bats, but we also wouldn't have to worry about double switches during an inning. I think the trade off would equal out time wise.
Being a Pirate fan I don't feel like I'm getting the best of both worlds.How is watching Jeff Locke or Vance Worley hit 2 or 3 times a game good for a fan of the Pirates?
While I sound like I'm trying to pick you a part I do like the National League game better. Since baseball loves inter league play it just doesn't work anymore.
It's all good Matt.We'll just have to agree to disagree on this one ;) BTW- I love watching Colon hit,lol!ReplyDelete
It is a beautiful train wreck.Delete
I grew up a Mets fan, and while I've always been anti-DH, I'm becoming resigned to the idea that it will be universal at some point. However, if I were the Emperor of Baseball I would allow the AL to continue using it, but forbid the use of the DH in the minors and college, so that pitchers would have a clue what to do at the plate when they get to the National League.ReplyDelete
Just to rankle the pro-DH camp a little, I sometimes like to use the "slippery slope" theme that so many political commentators use. If you use the DH for the pitcher, then what's to stop you from using it for the shortstop? Or the catcher? Why not everybody? Why not 18 players in your lineup, 9 offensive players and 9 defensive players? Is that what you want? Is it? IS IT????
I think I'm in your camp. It is inevitable that it is going to happen.Delete
I would vote for you as emperor of baseball!
The other side of this issue -- if the pitchers have to come to bat, you are less likely to have the complete over-the-top beanball war that the Royals and Athletics. If the pitcher has to hit, they are less likely to head hunt (at least early in the game).ReplyDelete
On the plus side for the DH, Paul Molitor would never have been able to have the career he did without having the DH position to use to stay both in the game and healthy.
I agree that having the DH would prolong the bean wars but even in the NL these days you rarely see the pitcher plunked. Seems like the star hitter is the hunted.Delete
Extending careers is a big benefit.
I am an NL guy and LOVE watching the chess matches unfold between opposing dugouts during a game.ReplyDelete
I am very much opposed to adding the DH to the NL, but I would understand if they did and gradually accept it.
Baseball is a much different game than it was in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Red Ruffing, Montgomery Ward, and Old Hoss Radbourn are long gone. They are HOF pitchers who were decent hitters (0.240 to 0.250 averages). They got into baseball because they were good athletes and stood out. They grew up hitting and had to continue hitting.
Everything is specialized anymore and the first big example who comes to mind is Babe Ruth. Ruth had some great years as a pitcher, but he could far outhit the Ruffings of the world. He gave up pitching to become the Sultan of Swat. Ruffing, Ward, and Radbourn stuck to what they were best at: pitching.
Kids these days may play two ways in high school football, but when they go to college to play ball they're usually going to be assigned ONE position to learn and grow into. Specialization. It's the same thing in baseball. You occasionally hear of a draftee who can hit and pitch, but it seems to be more and more rare. Once they're drafted into professional baseball they are no longer a hitter AND a pitcher. They are now asked to be a hitter OR a pitcher.
I don't like it, but it is what it is. And it will probably lead to the addition of the DH in the NL at some point.
Correction: Montgomery Ward gave up pitching for hitting just like Ruth did. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/wardjo01.shtmlDelete
Great stuff Tom. I think you hit the nail on the head about specialization. The game is evolving and with all the changes baseball continues to make to favor the pitcher, universal DH seeks like the next step.Delete
I think I'm going to pc Red Ruffing.
Grew up watching both the A's and Giants, but always sided with the DH. However as the years have flown by... I actually enjoy watching pitchers hit and the strategy behind when and where to use your pinch hitters. It'll never happen... but if it were up to me, I'd get rid of the DH.ReplyDelete
It would be fun to get rid of the DH, but like you said it will never happen. Just for the sake of the game the DH needs to be added for continuity reasons. Too much money and time invested to go back now.Delete