Saturday, July 05, 2008

Should the NL Adopt the DH? I Say "Batter Up!"

Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News notes that, a week after interleague play ended in the major leagues this year, the American League thoroughly trounced the National League in those games. In the All-Star Game (this year's edition of which takes place in ten days), the AL has won eleven straight. And since Commissioner Bud Selig added the rule that whichever league wins the All-Star Game gets home-field advantage in the World Series, the midseason contest is no mere exhibition anymore.

Cowlishaw's solution? Get the NL to adopt the designated hitter:
There is no good reason for the NL to be clinging to the past, and other than Arizona's Micah Owings, there's just nothing pretty about watching pitchers try to hit.

When you add the DH to the game, you increase run production. That in itself increases attendance. That increases revenues and provides the funds to go out and better your team, whether it's through spending on free agents, foreign scouting or player development.

The DH rule allows teams to save their players. Rangers manager Ron Washington has gotten maximum value out of Milton Bradley this season. Bradley suffered a knee injury in the final week of 2007 while playing for the San Diego Padres.

Had he remained a Padre, he probably wouldn't have been a regular in the lineup until mid-May because of the wear and tear of playing the outfield every day. With the Rangers, Bradley has served as the DH 51 times and is bound to be an All-Star for the first time with his league-leading on-base production.

[...]Not having the DH limits the players National League teams can even pursue in free agency. Let's face it; Jim Thome still was a productive hitter for the Phillies in 2004 before injuries limited him in 2005.

Serving primarily as DH for the White Sox, he prolonged his career to the point that his 523 career home runs put him in the Hall of Fame discussion. He probably could not have done that by finishing his career in the National League.
Makes sense to me. Actually, I've been arguing that since my earliest days of Ranger fandom: "Who in the world would want to drive all the way out to Arlington just to see Nolan Ryan or Charlie Hough bat?" Yeah, yeah, I know all the talk of strategy and the like, but, let's face it--you're basically throwing away one at-bat out of every nine. And how good of a "strategy" is it to sub out for your pitcher--who may be doing perfectly well, enough so to keep your bullpen fresh for several more innings--just to get a particular offensive matchup?

Read the whole thing; Cowlishaw also talks about the pointlessness of "small ball" as it's currently used in the NL in this day of smaller, baseball-only parks.

For those baseball fans among the Musings readers: Agree or disagree? (If nothing else, maybe this post will draw longtime commenter Gary P. out of the woodwork again.)

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