Wednesday, February 10, 2021

How to Improve the Designated Hitter Rule: Tie the DH to the Pitcher

A week from today, we will finally see the first sign of Spring.  Pitchers and catchers are slated to report to MLB facilities in Florida and Arizona.  Two weeks after that, spring training games will begin.

Before the 2021 season began, baseball management and the players union agreed to some temporary rule changes for a second Covid-19 influenced baseball season.  Doubleheaders will still be 7 inning games.  Extra inning games will feature a runner on second base.  I particularly hate that.  That's a slow pitch softball rule.  I'd rather have ties than that rule.

One 2020 rule that did not make it in 2021 is the universal designated hitter.  After a one year respite, the National League will be back to having its pitchers go to the plate.

I have long despised the designated hitter rule.  I have several reasons, but the major one is that it removes the major strategic decision from the game.  Baseball is not a sport which has a lot of obvious strategic decisions that fans can discuss and debate.  Whether to pull a pitcher who is performing well in favor of a pinch-hitter is an exception. But with the DH, there is no debate - you just "designate" a good hitter at the start of the game and let him bat for whichever pitcher enters the game.  Outside of whether to have a left or right-handed designated hitter depending on pitching matchups, there's no strategy involved.

Since the DH slot is often filled by a high-paid veteran player who no longer can play the field, the player's union loves it.  Since the union seems willing to accept more playoff teams (don't get me started with devaluing a 162 game season by adding yet more regular season losers to the playoffs) in exchange for the DH, it seems inevitable the National League will adopt the DH soon.

So reluctantly I offer this simple proposal for improving the DH.  Tie the DH to the particular pitcher he is batting for.  Let's say Smith starts the game on the mound.  Jones is designated to bat for Smith.  But if Smith leaves the game so too does Jones.  If a relief pitcher's slot in the order comes up, the manager can designate another hitter for that relief pitcher.  That new DH will bat for that pitcher as long as he continues pitching. 

Let's say that a relief pitcher's spot comes up, and the manager just needs a runner bunted over. The manager might just keep the pitcher in to do that rather than burn a position player as DH.

By tying the DH to a particular pitcher, you're adding back into the game a lot of strategy you take out with the current DH rule.

Yes, I am available to take the MLB Commissioner job. 


Leon said...

Baseball is so boring that only the mindless would find it of interest. However, in your hands it is much better than this Trump Withdrawal Symptom you have been exhibiting. Most know of your TDS and had wondered if baseball would release you from the knee jerking and spasmodic bird brain pecking at anything even resembling Trump. I think I heard that you can no longer hoist a beer for the trembling it causes you when you see golden brew too closely resembling Trump's hairpiece.
I am not pleased that you did not immediately see Peggy Noonan as your newest and best avatar. Maybe you can swell your cranial capacity by viewing the long running farce and stupidity of duh democrats lying their way along, as usual? Maybe, of course,has no more meaning than "maybe not". Oh, and be pleased with Biden and is what you wished did other loons who follow you about hoping for wisdom.......which does not appear....

Paul K. Ogden said...

Those who complain about TDS want us Real Conservatives to believe that integrity, honesty, character, competence and a commitment to democratic values should not matter when it comes to any President named Donald J. Trump. Trumpers don't care about any of that or issues when it comes to Dear Leader. All they care about is blind loyalty to a two bit con man, reality show star, failed businessman. I'm fine with Trumpers who don't believe in American democracy and who instead believe in conspiracy nonsense, to get the hell out of my Republican Party.

Leon said...

In that parallel universe you inhabit along with a dwindling number of acolytes one does not say that this fellow is your guide but only
that you think alike. We can, all of us, complain about your Trump Withdrawal Symptom. Let's see if you can go 30 days without circling back? You know, find some flaws in Biden-sure, too easy, but baby steps.....

leon said... In a binary choice, this is your guy.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that the people that cry fake news will believe the craziest, stupid shit.