DUELIST: Designated Hitter or No Designated Hitter!

DUELIST!! So, today we try out something new! It is a Duel of lists, or a duelist! The rules are simple: There will be a topic with two sides. Instead of a guest and me filling out a top 5 list on the same topic, we will use our respective top 5 lists to present 5 reasons why one thing is better than the other. If you have any good ideas for this sort of list, please write to me in the User Idea’s section on this site found here: https://thetop5five.wordpress.com/user-ideas/ . Thanks!

Today’s list will be about the Designated Hitter position in baseball. In the MLB (Major League Baseball), there are two leagues, the National League (NL) and the American League (AL). For the most part, these leagues follow the exact same rules except for one HUGE difference. In the NL pitchers not only pitch, they have to hit. In the AL, there is no pitcher position that has to hit, instead, they can use a Designated Hitter (DH) who ONLY hits. That is right, in the AL, there are people that get paid a TON of money to ONLY HIT! Also, the pitchers do not hit in the AL. Anyway, as you can imagine, this is a huge difference between the leagues and for years they have discussed either bringing the DH to the NL or getting rid of it in the AL. So, the question we are looking to solve is this: If the leagues decide to do one or the other, which one should they do? DH or no DH?

Today, my good friend Stu and I will discuss through top 5 lists our arguments. Stu will take the argument that the DH needs to go:

Top 5 reasons why the DH sucks.

1 –  The rules – Simply put, the DH rules are incredible complicated. Just read through 6.10 once and tell me you got all that. Without a DH, the rules are simple. Each position player hits, including the pitcher, and you can pinch hit/move fielders around as you please.

2 – The double switch. I like players that can play multiple positions, and getting a chance to watch them play a new position within the same game always gives me respect for that player. As there is no pitcher spot in the 9 hole coming around, AL managers have minimal reason to ever execute a double switch.

Having that utilityman on your team that can be moved to any infield position gives you a much stronger roster spot in the NL than in the AL.

3 – The Pinch hitter. Even though I agree with Bert Blyleven in that the pitchers are the best atheletes on the field, they often aren’t the best hitters on their team. This creates ample opportunity for an NL manager to pinch hit. The pinch hitter adds a unique aspect to the game, and is long considered one of the hardest things to do in baseball. They must sit on the bench watching the ballgame, oftentimes for 8 or 9 innings, and then get loose, and be expected to hit off a major league pitch within minutes.

Kirk Gibson’s pinch hit home run to win game one of the 1988 World Series.

4 – The Bunt – The bunt is actually one of the most exciting plays in baseball. Watching the 3rd basemen come crashing in to barehand sidearm toss it to 1st to beat the runner is exhilarating.

I love watching smallball, and it just doesn’t happen with the AL. As of the All-Star break, there have been 527 sacrifice bunts in the National league, and only 242 in the American league.

Met’s pitcher R.A. Dickey bunting with his eyes closed.

5 – The Self Assist – There is nothing better than watching the pitcher form your favorite team lace a double in the gap to plate some runs and help himself get the decision. Pitchers have such a large influence over the game when they are on the mound, if they are able to put some runs on the board for themselves, then there is no one more valuable to his team on that day. You lose this with a DH.

Carlos Zambrano (now with the Marlins), one of the best hitting pitchers, steps up to the dish.

Here is my retort as to why the DH should be in both leagues:

1. Pitchers health – Pitchers throw a baseball really really fast into a really really small target area. That is what they do and that is what they get paid a lot of money to do. They do not get paid to try and hit and then run the bases. They do not focus on these things during practice, instead they work on honing their craft. Now, you might be saying “Well, is it really dangerous to run the bases? I mean pitchers are still athletes right?” Ask Chin-meng Wong. Dude never recovered from his injury from running the bases. Pitchers trying to hit is a joke. They may as well put my father out there and see if he can hit a 100 mph heater or bite on a change up in the dirt and get laughed at. If I just spent $90million on a pitcher, I don’t want him hitting. I don’t want him focusing on ANYTHING other than pitching. And I don’t want the added risk of stepping into a batter’s box and then running the bases.

Chien-Ming Wang out a couple months after being hurt running the bases.

2. Prolonging of careers – The DH allows for the prolongment of careers. This means elite talents like Jim Thome can still play the game and hit homeruns but not be a detriment to their team in the field. The DH position also allows players to still play but also get rest from not playing in the field. I bet the dodgers would love to give Matt Kemp a rest here and there but not lose his bat in the lineup. Same with the Brewers and Ryan Braun. Prince Fielder will be playing for a long time in this league because he can hit the ball. So even when he is old his career will still be going strong.

Even at age 41, Jim Thome can still slug.

3. Non-athletic men can play – This could be people like Adam Dunn (who is essentially a slow pitch soft ball player) or someone like David Ortiz. People that can’t play in the field but still have the ability to hit a super-fast moving baseball and do it well. This could also be older players that just can no longer chase down fly balls, guys like Vladimir Guerrero or Jim Thome. All these guys could still do one thing though, and that is hit. Would you rather have David Ortiz on your team or Rickie Weeks? Yea sure, Rickie Weeks can play in the field (barely), does that make him a more valuable player than David Ortiz? I don’t think so. And the DH is a wonderful outlet to display the prowess of mashers in the league. Same goes for excitement of hitters. Who would you rather see hit? Vladimir Guerrero right now or Zack Greinke? I love the fact that baseball allows people that look like John Kruk play if they can hit the ball. Of course, John Kruk also gave us this gem from 1993:

4. Prolific hitters – The DH allows for record chases. People like the aforementioned Jim Thome get to hit 600 home runs in a career because of the DH spot. This isn’t cheating and their accomplishment isn’t any less valid because they didn’t play in the field. Thome still hit 600 home runs, a number of those coming in the AL as a DH, against real pitchers in real at bats. That is impressive as hell. David Ortiz will most likely be the first full time DH to be elected into the hall of fame. That is incredible. That is basically baseball’s way of saying what he did was so incredible we will honor him with our highest award possible…AND ALL HE DID WAS HIT! If David Ortiz was forced to play in the field, he would have been cut by any team in the league (and was by the Twins). But instead he was given a chance to focus just on hitting (like pitchers in the AL can focus just on pitching) and he ended up being a part of bringing the title back to Boston! Not bad for a man that can’t play in the field.

“You mean if I hit it over the fence, I won’t ever have to run fast? I will try to do that every time then.” -David Ortiz

5. Little-Big League – This movie wouldn’t happen if the DH didn’t exist. The only reason a kid could manage a baseball team is if it was in the AL, because like a Ron Popiel rotisserie cooker, you could make a line up, set it and forget it. This always was a dream of mine to manage a baseball team. I hope someday I get to manage with a DH at my disposal.

So easy with a DH, a kid could do it!

So after all that, do you think there should be a DH?


That will do it for today! What would you prefer and why? Join in in the comments below and include your top 5 in either support or non-support for the DH!

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4 Comments

  1. AB

     /  July 18, 2012

    I’m with Stu. If everyone else gets paid to play baseball, so should pitchers and hitters. Don’t get me wrong, I love a long bomb as much as the next guy, but when it’s off the bat of someone who could make a diving catch in the warning track or a leaping throw from short to second, it’s just that much sweeter. You know, Jeff, as someone who explained the importance of 5-tool players to me, one would think that you wouldn’t be a fan of a one-tool player, like David Ortiz or Justin Verlander.

    Just sayin’… bro.

    Reply
  2. Brian

     /  July 18, 2012

    so your 5th arguement is that managers don’t have to actually manage therefore there should be a DH? Why even have managers in the AL if all it takes is set it and forget it any slouch can do that? The DH makes managing pitchers 1000 times easier. Not once in an AL game does the manager actually have to concern himself with that spot in the lineup. He can take out and put in as he chooses. If the pitcher is nowhere near this typical magic number 100 pitch limit (another potential topic for arguement) and he is up to bat in the 6th down 2 with runners on 2nd and 3rd do you take him out or leave him in? It takes out ANY strategy in the game. Also, lets not forget how long these yankees and red sox games are and I will blame that on being in the AL. Pitchers lasted super long back in the old days when they batted and didn’t wait to pitch every 5 games. We are making them weaker, not stronger, by babying them. They are like a practice squad quarterback with the red jersey on. Abner Doubleday would be shamed by the DH!!! Old Slouches like Lance Berkman do just fine in the NL. He was perfectly capable of coming off the bench Monday to pinch hit for the pitcher in the bottom of the 9th but instead of this not effecting the pitching the manager had to do something….MANAGE! Barry Bonds was still capable of chasing down a record** at an old age in the NL. Brewers pitchers such as yovani do actually talk to the hitting coach and try to be the athlete they are paid to be. Also, way to use Rickie Weeks, currently batting .201, as an arguement as to which player would you rather have on your team.

    Reply
  3. As a rabid fan of the National League, I obviously have to dislike the DH, but for more logical reasons, I stand with Stu that the amazingness of the bunt is enough to eliminate the DH forever.

    Reply
  4. brian

     /  July 18, 2012

    to rebuttle against your little big league arguement I give you the phrase “pitchers got a big butt” from Rookie of the Year. Had this pitcher not been in the NL and therefore required to bat we would then have been denied great phrase and scene.

    Reply

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