The Case For And Against The DH: Our Take


A few months ago we graced you with the arguments for and against baseball’s designated hitter. In case you missed it, here is the link so you can go check it out;

As you know, we took a poll of what our readers think should happen to the DH. We had about 500 votes total. To our surprise the vast majority of you hate the idea of a DH. Almost 60% of the voters want to completely get rid of the DH. Pretty remarkable really. 32% of you think it should stay the way it is right now. While only 8% think both leagues should use the DH. Needless to say we were a little surprised by the results.

While we’re surprised at the results we happen to agree. You see the DH, while entertaining and good for younger kids, doesn’t belong in baseball. We, like Marge Schott, think if a player is paid to play baseball, they should be able to hit and catch. Now, we understand the arguments for why the DH is a good idea, but we’re going to go point by point explaining why it’s not as good of an idea as many think.

First, in regards to already having a slugger on the bench that could easily fill the role of DH. That’s not necessarily true for all teams. While a lot of teams have good players on their bench there aren’t many true designated hitters like David Ortiz out there because there are only 15 possible jobs for a DH. So yes there are good hitters on teams’ benches, they are nothing compared to the likes of an Ortiz so the big DH numbers are not going to be there.

Next, the argument that we teach kids using a DH. Well we also lower the pitcher’s mound, shorten the bases, make railroading an immediate out, allow unlimited substitutions, the list goes on and on, and is even crazier in some leagues, such as Little League. Kids learn from experience, the whole reason the “DH” is used at younger ages is to get more players more at-bats. In most cases it isn’t even a DH, rather an extra hitter so there are 10 batters in the lineup.

Next, pitchers are an easy out and look awful at the plate. Don’t tell that to guys like Mike Leake, Travis Wood, or Carlos Zambrano. Now, I know the majority of pitchers are not good hitters, I get that, but most pitchers are better at bunting than most position players with the exception of speed demons like Juan Pierre. Now is that an excuse to let them bat, no, it’s embarrassing watching a pitcher look lost at the plate, but if they play in the field, they should have to bat.

Baseball has better ratings during slugfests than pitching duels. Sure, most fans would rather see a knock down drag out slugfest, but the fact of the matter is one player is not going to turn every game into a offensive showdown. There are as many pitcher’s duels in the American League as there are in the National League. In fact, for the last 15 years in a row the National League, as a whole, has scored more runs than the American League.

It ruins the appeal of inter league play. Couple things here: first most people want to abolish inter league play so hard to use that in an argument, and teams play an equal amount of home and away inter league games so each league sees what they aren’t used to whether it’s using a DH or having the pitcher bat. How this ruins inter league play I’m not sure, but it’s an argument I’ve heard over and over again without anyone really backing it up.

Good hitting pitcher’s win more games because of their pitching skills rather than their hitting skills. Well that’s exactly right. Nine times out of ten one player isn’t going to win a game for the team at the plate. So when you send a guy out there once every five days, then take him out after a certain amount of inning his odds of winning a game at the plate suddenly become astronomical.

Expand the active roster to 26 to make room for the DH. This now adds extra payroll and not a guy at or near the league minimum either. DH’s garner a hefty salary, whether deserving or not. Adding a 26 player to the active roster would further expand the market size disparity of the MLB.

Finally, Bill James’ argument that the DH doesn’t decrease strategy. Extremely hard to dispute this partly because it’s Bill James and partly because he makes a good point. However, it doesn’t increase strategy either, so, unless there is a really good reason to add the DH, there really is no point from a managerial standpoint.

We know there are going to be some of you who hate everything we just said, and that’s fine. That’s what makes this sport so great. The fact that we can debate the effectiveness of the DH and what to do with DH is just one of many things with which fans need to be more involved. I know a lot of fans don’t think their voice matters in baseball, but look at the steroid issue. Fans go crazy about steroids, Major League Baseball responds, if fans want something done about the DH, make your voice known. Use good, quality arguments, but understand where those on the other side of the fence get their arguments. For now, and for the near future, it’s pretty safe to assume the DH will stay the way it is, but then again, you just never know.


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