FanDuel - WFBC

May 12, 2008

It's time to pitch the DH.: The most astonishing occurrence in the first six weeks of the baseball season other than the decline of my World Series favorites, the Seattle Mariners, who played like the Seattle Pilots was that the National League outscored the American League.

posted by BoKnows to baseball at 06:09 PM - 28 comments

The best part of the terrifically shit logic is that he kinda, sorta, almost sees why his point is a mess. It could be that pitchers in the NL are fantastic hitters, but it could also be the emphasis on offense in the AL means AL teams are willing to pay more for pitching, resulting in a concentration of good pitching in the league.

posted by yerfatma at 06:32 PM on May 12

I am not a smart enough person to reason out why the DH's he mentions are hitting in the mid .200's and lower other than they are all kinda old. I can tell you that the Mariners couldn't hit underhand pitching. Or tee balls. I think they alone are enough to skew AL scoring data. (yay. I've managed to mention the Mariners in three separate threads today. This must be what a NY or Boston fan feels like. Except with more failure.)

posted by THX-1138 at 09:35 PM on May 12

I could really care less if the DH is kept or not, just make BOTH leagues the same, with or without the DH. The Mariners???? I am a Cubbie fan to the end, I feel failure every year, I saw Ernie play, and the Seattle Pilots, just put the two leagues on the same set of rules.

posted by SAVANX at 09:48 PM on May 12

In response to SAVANX, I kinda like the DH, but I also Love seeing pitchers Hit. So, I think they should keep the rules as they are. The only thing that bothers me about Major League Baseball, is 14 AL teams, and 16 NL teams. And the arrangement of them. 6 Teams in the NL Central, and 4 teams in the AL West? thats just not right. Milwaukee should switch back to the AL, and even it out. OR... Mr. Selig can expand the league and add 2 AL teams.

posted by freeze_over98 at 02:23 AM on May 13

Good point, freeze. My Cardinals are in the damn 6 team division, when MLB could have evened things out. Pitchers who can't hit should at least learn to bunt. A decent bunt is more effective than a strikeout most of the time.

posted by whitedog65 at 07:30 AM on May 13

Mr. Selig can expand the league and add 2 AL teams With the dilution of talent already having been apparent over a number of years, why add teams? It would make more sense to get rid of a couple of underperforming teams (at the turnstiles, not necessarily on the field), and go to a 28-team league. A team like Florida, that is doing well on the field but not necessarily at the gate, could be moved to a city that would support the team. I have no suggestions as to whom they might drop or where teams might move.

posted by Howard_T at 08:42 AM on May 13

The only thing that bothers me about Major League Baseball, is 14 AL teams, and 16 NL teams. And the arrangement of them. 6 Teams in the NL Central, and 4 teams in the AL West? thats just not right. Milwaukee should switch back to the AL, and even it out. OR... Mr. Selig can expand the league and add 2 AL teams. The reason the Brewers changed leagues in the first place was because MLB made the determination that it was not possible to create schedules for two 15 team leagues. I don't understand the math behind it, but I'm pretty sure that even with interleague play, those calculations have not changed, so the Brewcrew aren't going anywhere. And I also see no way that baseball expands at this point, there are enough fringe markets at this point (Miami, Tampa, KC, Minnesota, Oakland, no offense to people who are fans of these teams, but you know why I list you here) that trying to add another team to a Las Vegas or Portland would just bring down both quality and add another team that after that new team smell wears off averages 16k a game. I think the DH is and has always been a joke. There are so many super-athletic pitchers these days that the NL has a ton of excellent hitting pitchers, like Peavy, Zambrano, Willis (when he was with Florida) and Micah "Second Coming of Babe Ruth" Owings. There is no reason why AL pitchers can't do the same thing, and I guarantee a number of them will be pretty darn good. I'd rather see a pitcher struggle at the plate then have some one tool, fat DH take a few swings before taking a nap in the dugout for 2 innings until his next plate appearance.

posted by Chargdres at 09:00 AM on May 13

I don't see why this is such a big issue. I personally feel that the AL shouldn't have a DH. Any change would due really, but both leagues should have the same policy. I think it's apparent that AL pitching has gotten much better. Young guys are now flourishing (at least in some teams), which is a key factor. DH has always been a hard position to fill, even though it's the easiest to do. A perfect example is Jason Giambi. He hates DHing, and his hitting stats reflect that. The difference was so dramatic that the Yankees have him playing first. (He's always been a horrible fielder) Sitting around on the bench makes it hard to stay loose, especially at the professional level. On the contrary, most pitchers hate hitting. They are endangering themselves on the plate, and on the bases. Of course this is true with all players, but most players are professional hitters, and practice hitting everyday. The lack of practice they take hitting and running the bases makes them more susceptible to injuries. (And we know how frail the majority of them are) While they could practice hitting, the benefits over a couple of AB's per game is most likely not worth it from a teams standpoint. Lets hope the issue is addressed so its fair to both leagues.

posted by Kendall at 10:12 AM on May 13

Stats aside, the DH was put into place for a reason and it worked. The question now is, is it still serving a purpose other than "that's just the way it is". I feel the NL and AL play two different games, with different lineups, different strategies, etc... Question to the "seasoned" Spofites: When the DH was put in place, was there ever talk of taking it out at a certain point? I'd like to see both leagues play the same way, whichever way it is. That way, all 30 teams can sign 40 year old vets that can't run or field anymore.

posted by BoKnows at 10:24 AM on May 13

The DH will never go anywhere because the union won't let it happen. In terms of the math of scheduling two 15-team leagues, if all teams are meant to play two series per week (usually Mon-Wed or Tues-Wed and then Fri-Sun, but some four game series in there as well and some goofy two-day series thrown in this year for good measure), there would basically have to be two interleague series each week in order for all teams to play to capacity. Plus, the Brewers aren't going anywhere because they typically have their best gates when they play their three home series against the Cubs.

posted by holden at 11:02 AM on May 13

I've been arguing the point about imbalanced leagues for quite a while. It is completely ridiculous that one division has 4 teams and another has 6 when the solution is readily apparent. As for the schedule, you would have to have interleague series going on throughout the season, but that raises the following question: So what? Does that really matter? I'd like that over the setup where they put all the interleague rivalries on the same weekend so that the Cubs-Sox matchup can be routinely ignored for the (yawn!) Yankees-Mets. While we're at it, instead of focusing on the rivalries every year, they should simply rotate the divisions each team plays each year. The rivalries would mean more if they only played every three years. As for the DH, I'm in favor of leaving it as it is. I think back to the 1991 World Series, and ask if Jack Morris pitches a 10-inning shutout in Game 7 if there is no DH. The answer is "no", since he'd have been pulled for a pinch-hitter long beforehand. Plus, leaving it as it is leaves the debate going, which is something that I've always thought was good for baseball.

posted by TheQatarian at 11:15 AM on May 13

Here's an article from Baseball Prospectus (free content) today analyzing the drop in offense in the AL. The conclusions (which seem to be supported by logic and the numbers) are basically that this is not related to a crack-down on performance-enhancing drugs but that the lower scoring in the AL is driven by a decrease in fly-balls and in the number of fly-balls that are hit that go for home runs or extra base hits, which in turn may be a result of pitching philosophy ("pitching to contact") and personnel decisions (a trend of choosing defense over offense).

posted by holden at 12:16 PM on May 13

BoKnows, I believe that when the DH was introduced in 1973, it was on a three-year (or so) trial basis, but the league quickly (like, a month into the season) made it permanent.

posted by ajaffe at 01:36 PM on May 13

I would be the first to say that I am not much of a baseball person. I know the basics, but don't follow it too much. From that perspective, my feeling is that if there was no DH in the AL, why keep two leagues? As far as I see it, the reason to have the two leagues is because the rules a slightly different. Though I guess the same could be said of the AFC and the NFC in football, and the Eastern / Western conference in the NBA. So is the reason just for the sake of manufacturing a rivalry?

posted by opel70 at 02:20 PM on May 13

Opel, the leagues grew up organically and separately, around the turn of the century and each have a very long history. To merge the two leagues would be to toss aside the history of the game. The DH rule came into place in 1973, a long time after the great Yankee teams of Ruth and Gehrig, Mantle and Ford. The DH has nothing to do with the historical split between the leagues, it was merely added later on and has since developed into another aspect of of split. To all the DH supporters, think if the DH had been in place in the early days of baseball. Babe Ruth was a pitcher, and a quite good one, who just so happened to also be a solid batsman. If the DH was in place, no one would know the name George Herman Ruth except for the people who also know a lot about Lefty Grove and Dizzy Dean and Walter Johnson, etc. The best DH to play the game thus far is Edgar Martinez, but the best pitcher turned batter is the Great Bambino, the Sultan of Swat, the Colossus of Clout. What if in the last 35 years we have kept the next one from appearing just so we could have an Edgar Martinez?

posted by Chargdres at 02:43 PM on May 13

I do not like the DH as it takes a lot of strategy from the game. When to use a pitch hitter for the pitcher. My question would be? Why did any team not pick up Barry Bonds. Especially the Yankees or Red Sox. They seem to stop at nothing in order to win and money does not seem to matter. Barry no doubt had a few dingers left in his bat.

posted by RA at 03:28 PM on May 13

What if in the last 35 years we have kept the next one from appearing just so we could have an Edgar Martinez? I personally am fine with the DH rule, although I understand people who prefer not to have one. In fact, I think the quirk of having one league with one and one without is an amusing and interesting part of the game and allows for a broader appeal of the sport to different types of fans. That said, I'm not buying that the DH rule is or would have held down pitchers who could also hit well. The extra work necessary to hone one's pitching skills decreases the amount of time a player can work on his hitting, but if there is a pitcher who can hit well enough to warrant everyday play, I am certain that his coaches would know it and he would at least bat on days when he is pitching (whether there is a DH or not) if not on an even more regular basis.

posted by bender at 04:38 PM on May 13

The DH IS THE DEATH OF THIS GAME, BASEBALL IS MEANT TO HAVE ALL PLAYERS FIELD THERE POSITIONS, RUN THE BASE'S,AND THROW AND HIT THE BALL IT'S NOT THAT HARD!

posted by dman at 07:07 PM on May 13

Yeah, I gotta agree that using the argument that the DH is keeping good hitting pitchers from coming to the forefront, is misguided. http://www.bb-ref.com/pi/shareit/HZPr Since 1900, Not one single pitcher, with at least 96% of the time played at pitcher, has had an OPS+ above 94 (minimum 200 career plate appearance). People don't want to see 1/9th of the plate appearances being wasted on nearly automatic outs. The "strategy" involved in a pitcher replacement or even the double switch is, at best, elementary. But regardless of my opinion on the DH, I'd fully agree that the imbalance in the league's divisional setup is much more worthy of repair. My suggestion: Each league goes back to two divisions, with the division winners and two wild cards being chosen, regardless of division. Fixes the intraleague imbalance, but also keeps the wildcard intact (since it isn't going away) and keeps the scheduling easy. AGNP

posted by AaronGNP at 09:45 PM on May 13

People don't want to see 1/9th of the plate appearances being wasted on nearly automatic outs. The "strategy" involved in a pitcher replacement or even the double switch is, at best, elementary. I'm people. I don't have a problem with that. It's exciting to see an inning come up starting with a number 6 or 7 hitter, wondering if they can make it through the pitcher to get back to the top of the order. And if the pitcher manages to sacrifice to advance a runner, or occasionally get a hit, that's icing. And it puts a little more pressure on the 8 hitter to do something to avoid a 2nd out, for example.

posted by bobfoot at 11:53 PM on May 13

I agree w/ bobfoot. I also think that everyone should hit, it is more exciting to me to see our pitcher get a clutch hit than someone else. I am a Cubs fan and our pitchers (mainly Zambrano and Lilly) have actually been hitting quite well this year, not great, but better than expected! Even though their hits are few and far between and when they do come to the plate I expect an out, I would NOT want DH in the NL.

posted by PackFan83 at 09:08 AM on May 14

And I agree with dman. I MEAN I AGREE WITH DMAN. Baseball is easy. Just throw the ball, hit the ball, run the bases, eat hot dogs, do Aqua Velva commercials, date supermodels, take steroids. Piece of cake. Why aren't all of us doing it? And Chargdres, don't you go cappin' on Edgar Martinez. He is beyond reproach.

posted by THX-1138 at 01:22 PM on May 14

I got nothing against Edgar Martinez. All I'm saying is that if he is the cream of the DH crop, then its not exactly a position that has produced a ton of Hall of Fame talent.

posted by Chargdres at 03:03 PM on May 14

I don't care if it produces a ton. I'm only interested in one DH making it to the Hall and I understand that he has a tough row to hoe. After (if) Edgar is in, they can ditch the DH for all I care. (And I wasn't really cheesed off at you. I have just always been a great Martinez fan)

posted by THX-1138 at 03:23 PM on May 14

I am a Cubs fan and our pitchers (mainly Zambrano and Lilly) have actually been hitting quite well this year, not great, but better than expected! Cubs pitchers hitting stats: .195/.205/287 You have some low expectations. Granted, Zambrano is only a couple points away from being a league-average hitter, and Lilly is hitting better than Reed Johnson, but still... BTW, the best DH of all time is Frank Thomas. More than 55% of his games have been as a DH, and he's been primarily a DH for 10 seasons now. What if in the last 35 years we have kept the next one from appearing just so we could have an Edgar Martinez? Players who have Ruth-esque hitting prowess usually don't waste their time pitching. Only a few really good hitters have also become pitchers (or were drafted as pitchers). Rick Ankiel, Micah Owings, Brooks Kieschnick are the few good hitting pitchers in the past couple of years that come to mind. Even Mike Hampton (with 15 career HR), still hits the ball as well as Neifi Perez.

posted by grum@work at 03:55 PM on May 14

Grum, I hit the ball as well as Neifi Perez!

posted by hawkguy at 04:17 PM on May 14

The "strategy" involved in a pitcher replacement or even the double switch is, at best, elementary. But the consequences can be huge. Last year in the playoffs against the Phillies, Clint Hurdle pulled the starter in the 4th inning for a pinch hitter when the Rockies were down by 1. The pinch hitter reached safely, and later Kaz Matsui came up and consummated the rally with a two-out grand slam. But then it was up to the Rockies bullpen to hold the lead. There's a lot that could've gone wrong on either side of that decision. The point is that the decision was there to be made, not eliminated by the DH.

posted by drumdance at 04:26 PM on May 14

The main thing that Frank Thomas has going against him, grum, is that I don't like him as well as Edgar. That kind of a mark against a player is insurmountable.

posted by THX-1138 at 10:23 PM on May 14

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