It looks as though MLB owners and the players' union are inching toward an agreement to play a truncated 2020 season. That's the good news. But there's even better news.
As part of this agreement, MLB will adopt a universal designated hitter for 2020 and 2021, a move that is expected to become permanent. And a move that's a long, long time overdue.
Since its adoption prior to the 1973 season, the designated hitter has been in play only in American League games, or in interleague games played in an AL stadium. It hasn't been voted upon for the NL to adopt the DH since 1980 when it was voted down (the Phillies abstained from voting).
The universal DH hits on a number of levels. Most notably, it will organically lead to more offense. Just about every baseball fan likes to see more runs and hits. Replacing a pitcher in the lineup with a position player makes the whole lineup much more potent.
Quick quiz for every fan who bought a ticket for a game played in a National League stadium: At what point did you think to yourself, "Man, I can't wait to see the pitcher bat!" Go ahead, I've got all day.
Pitchers batting in a National League game offer a free out two or three times a game. Last season, NL pitchers combined to hit .131. If there was a position player who hit .131, he wouldn't be in the lineup.
Not having pitchers in the lineup will also allow them to stay in a game longer, without managers having to account for a pinch-hitting situation. How many times have you watched a manager pull a starting pitcher from a game in which he's cruising, only because his spot was coming up in the order?
The move also opens up more options as the game gets into the later innings. Because the manager didn't have to burn that position player to bat for a pitcher earlier in the game, that player is available in a potential high-leverage situation later in the game.
Purists prefer to play the game without the DH because that's how the game was "meant to be played." I can point to myriad changes made to baseball to improve offense. Did you know the pitcher's mound used to be 45 feet from home plate? And that along with adding the DH following the 1968 season, both leagues lowered the mound from 15 inches to 10 inches?
It's time to treat National League fans to something AL fans know all too well.
More runs means more fun.
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