Having a designated hitter in the National League has been a long-standing debate that has gone on for decades in Major League Baseball. With many new rule changes coming to baseball in 2020, it will not be long until both leagues adopt a designated hitter (DH).
Many believe that the National League will feature the DH as soon as 2021. There are numerous reasons why adding the position would make sense in both leagues. One of the main factors being that pitchers get paid millions to produce outs and not to amount hits.
Despite there being outliers such as Madison Bumgarner, Michael Lorenzen, and Noah Syndergaard, most pitchers cannot do much more than lay down a sacrifice bunt when at the plate.
Having pitchers hit is an enormous risk every time they step up to the plate. They can potentially get injured by getting hit by a pitch in the batter’s box or even pulling a muscle while running the bases.
Teams that are paying their pitchers these massive contracts should not have to worry about their investments getting hurt for a significant amount of time because of a meaningless at-bat.
What fans complain most about when watching National League baseball is the fact that the ninth spot is generally an automatic out. Baseball is America’s pastime and many people from older generations believe in the traditional rules of the game, where the same nine players that field should hit.
However, in today’s game, pitchers are brought up through farm systems that only focus on the pitching aspect of the game. They never learn how to handle a bat and it can be concerning for a pitcher hitting, when they have never learned how to properly do so.
From a pure entertainment point of view, it does not make sense for a team to have a .150 hitter in their lineup every game, and having the same rules in both leagues would definitely benefit the game as a whole. The World Series is always more difficult for American League teams because they lose the DH in the NL ballparks.
In the AL, they build their rosters around the DH position and when they lose that in the most important games of the season, it alters their overall game plan. Because it seems inevitable that the NL will add the DH soon for an array of reasons, here are three teams that would benefit most from the addition of the position:
New York Mets
The spectacle that is the New York Mets were never able to piece everything together last season. However, this season they possess a multitude of assets including an abundance of outfielders and infielders that outweigh the number of positions on the field. The team is hoping for the possible return of Yoenis Cespedes after nearly two years on the shelf.
They also have many other productive players without a true position on the team. This includes players like Dominic Smith, JD Davis, and Jed Lowrie. Smith had an injury shortened season in 2019, but had his most productive year to date with career highs in home runs and batting average.
Davis had a breakout year as he hit over 20 home runs and had a .300 batting average in a part time role. Lowrie was injured for nearly all of last season, but was an All-Star in 2018. A DH in the NL would give all these high-quality players extended playing time and more of an opportunity to prove their worth.
The DH would provide the lineup with more protection for their middle of the order hitters. The position also allows for players coming off injuries to stay in the lineup such as Cespedes and Lowrie. The Mets are not the strongest defensive team and taking out the poorer defenders but keeping their bats in the lineup will only help the team.
After a disappointing 2019 campaign, the Cubs are looking to rebound back into playoff contention. A DH would definitely increase their odds to make the postseason. Chicago is packed with talented position players and getting more of those bats into their lineup will help them a great deal.
Their jammed outfield would benefit most from a DH, as the Cubs have Albert Almora Jr, Ian Happ, Jason Hayward, and Kyle Schwarber who are all starter quality players. The outfield is full of solid ballplayers, but it is Schwarber who would really benefit from the addition of this position.
Ideally, Schwarber could enter in as the Cubs permanent DH as he has shown to be a defensive liability in past seasons. He has never had a true defensive position, but his bat is undeniably necessary for the Cubs to win in 2020.
Schwarber has slugged over 25 home runs in each of the last three seasons including a career high 38 bombs last season. Having a player that is as offensively productive as Schwarber in the middle of the lineup, while also not losing any defensive ability in the field, would help shoot the Cubs back into the race of the NL Central.
Once again, the Diamondbacks were unable to overcome the powerhouse that is the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. With the Dodgers adding former MVP Mookie Betts, this season can prove to be another major challenge for the D-Backs. However, if they could use the DH position, then their crowded infield could give them an edge.
Arizona currently has a plethora of talent within the diamond, with established starters like Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar and host of other quality players such as Nick Ahmed, Christian Walker, and Jake Lamb fighting for playing time. The addition of the DH would allow the team to get the best offensive and defensive team out on the field on any given day.
Ahmed is not the strongest bat for Arizona; however, he has won a gold glove at shortstop each of the last two seasons making him too valuable defensively to take him out of the lineup. Walker received significant playing time for the first-time last season and proved productive with 29 home runs.
Lamb has had injury shortened seasons in both 2018 and 2019, which has resulted in a lack of production, but as recently as 2017, Lamb hit over 60 extra base hits and drove in over 100 runs. The DH would provide the Diamondbacks balance and give them a much stronger chance at overtaking the Dodgers for the division title.