Let me ask you a question on this fine and less chillier Sunday evening: Do you think any fan walks up to the stadium and says out loud, “Man, I can’t wait to see the pitcher pick up a baseball bat and try to get a hit.” Do you think any single fan even thinks about that as they stroll up Spruce towards muscle-bound Stan The Man? I think not.
The 2021 season will occur without a universal designated hitter. That’s fine, but I doubt that setting sticks past this year. Apparently, the two sides couldn’t agree on a new deal, so the old one slides right back into place. One last ride, as they say. I would buckle the seat beat immediately. While there are meatier issues to be worked out aside from whether or not the starter hits in the third inning, I don’t think it needs to continue. Bring on the designated hitter, which only means more fun for the people who watch the game, and the ones who will watch no matter what won’t scream when the guy who doesn’t field hits a game-winning double. You can bet on it, which
Fox Bally Sports Midwest is apparently going to make extremely easier these days.
I doubt the purity of the game would take a big hit if a real hitter got those four at-bats per game. A real hitter as in someone who makes more money if he can perform it better than the next guy. The Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t look up Trevor Bauer’s hitting statistics on Fangraphs before deciding to pay him Lebron James-type money to (hopefully) start 34 games per season. They really didn’t. The Dodgers want a lot of wins and even more attention. Right now, Bauer gives them both. Hitting has nothing to do with it.
Why do we need it so badly today?
I started seeing DH chatter on Twitter, with the origin tale residing around the St. Louis Cardinals’ Twitter account. Four pictures of pitchers taking their hacks in the cage. Jack Flaherty attempting a bunt in the wrong way. Miles Mikolas braced to swing so hard, I’ve already started worrying about his shoulder before a single exhibition game pitch can be thrown. Let’s just not risk the big injury anymore, fellas. Shall I remind you of everyone’s pride and joy from Georgia, Mr. Adam Wainwright?
He was in the box at the stadium formerly known as Miller Park, when his Achilles tendon decided to snap off and roll up. Now, you will just remind me that pitchers take at-bats every day, and that it was an abnormal event. But my response is the same every time: why even risk it at all? Entertainment levels don’t go up at all when a pitcher comes to the plate with the bases loaded. With no offense to Wainwright, who can hit well for a guy with less than 700 career at-bats, but I would rather the leadoff hitter be standing at the plate. Or a hired bat. Someone who doesn’t even think about anything else at spring training outside of hitting.
I am talking about a designated hitter, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s check in with the American League fans, just to see if they are drowning in boredom without pitcher at-bats. The answer:
Watching pitchers hit is boring. They look like I would if I stepped into the 90 mph batting cage at Tower Tee. I may get a small knick of one spinning ball, but that bathmat behind me will still take a heavy beating. A pitcher gets out at least 80% of the time. Evidence? What’s Wainwright’s career batting average? A paltry .199 in 772 plate appearances. He’s a threat to very few, so why not replace him with a real threat?
I’d take an older Matt Holliday in the DH spot right now, like the bearded one who smoked that line drive home out into Busch back in Sept. 2016. He could give you the perfect DH, who doesn’t have to be a tentpole hitter. Just someone who can get a hit. Potentially a big one.
I’m not trying to crap on the purists who don’t like the DH at all. We all have our own needs when watching the game. It’s attached to those early days of discovery that can’t be replaced by someone else’s opinion. A love for the game is not as relative as you think it is. Everyone has their own idea. In the words of the great Todd Snider, “I am not trying to change your mind, only ease my own.”
I am a fan of the universal designated hitter. If it kept one of my all-time favorites in the game a couple extra years and produced an OPS above .750, it’d be a win to me. Goodnight.