While talks of the designated hitter coming to the National League have been flirted with in the past, no such change has ever come to Major League Baseball. This is due to many reasons, mostly because it’s a tradition, and new commissioner Rob Manfred himself has said “its the single most important feature that defines the diferences between the two leagues”. Baseball has always been about tradition, and I think in part that is why less and less people are watching it each year. It is still and will probably always be my favorite sport, but some changes may have to take place to get new generations to keep watching.
Is bringing the DH to the National League a good idea. Here are just a few numbers from last season that may show how much, or how little a difference it could make in gameplay.
- 1,472 # of pinch hitter at bats in the American League during the 2015 season
- 3,525 # of pinch hitter at bats in the National League during the 2015 season.
Obviously the reason for such a big defference in the two leagues (2,053at bats) is that the pitcher has to bat in the National League so this in turn will cause there to be more pinch hitters in a game as opposed to having a DH who can theoretically stay in the entire game since his main job is to hit. What this stat shows though is that it does take away from the strategy a little in my opinion. If it’s late in the game and a DH is coming up to bat, I feel like the manager has to think a litttle less about a pinch hitter since he doesn’t have a pitcher in the batting order.
The second and most important stat I think is runs scored per game in both leagues. Some people say that the DH will bring more excitement to the National League because there will be an extra hitter in the lineup (as opposed to a pitcher) and it could possibly lead to more runs. This sounds like a sound theory seeing as pitchers usually aren’t that great at hitting. Interstingly enough though, here are the # of runs scored per game in each league in 2015
- AL runs per game in 2015 = 4.39
- NL runs per game in 2015 = 4.11
So lets say the National league implemented the DH, hypothetically they would be trading over 2,000 pinch hitters throughout the season for a DH in the lineup each game that might only lead to just over a quarter more runs per game. Taking away all of the strategy may not lead to that much more excitement. And while I understand that it may seem as if there is more excitement in National League games, that may not actually be the case. So at first thought, in my mind I wanted the DH to come to the NL, but now I think it should be an AL only rule.