Dodgers Roundtable: Analyzing Impact Of Universal DH

MLB and the Players Association (MLBPA) remain at significant odds over key economic issues, but do appear to have found some common ground on implementing a universal designated hitter as part of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

While speaking at the conclusion of owners meetings earlier this month, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred revealed the league and union were aligned on a universal DH and expanded postseason field.

Of course, that was unofficially agreed upon as such changes can’t be banked on until a new CBA is in place. The Players Association reportedly will not approve an expanded playoffs format this year if the 2022 regular season is shortened because of canceled games.

The universal DH figures to be less problematic to implement, which was the focal point of a roundtable for the staff.

Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015):

I’ve long been a proponent of keeping traditional National League rules, though admittedly the universal DH wasn’t as bothersome as expected when implemented in 2020. I was perplexed as to why it didn’t return last year since conventional wisdom held it would be part of a new CBA.

My preference would be for the universal DH to have some sort of hook tied to the starting pitcher — an idea Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, among others, have proposed.

I will miss the strategy that comes with NL games, but do recognize the Dodgers arguably are the team best suited to benefit from the rule change.

Blake Williams (@ByBlakeWilliams)

I think the National League adopting the designated hitter is long overdue.

While I do appreciate the extra strategy that comes with deciding when to pinch-hit and remove pitchers, it is far outweighed by the benefits it brings.

Last season, only 11 pitchers of the 114 with at least 10 plate appearances hit better than .200, and 24 went hitless. Only Jacob DeGrom had a wRC+ better than league average.

Pitchers are essentially free outs and even most of the time when they do something “successful,” it’s a bunt that is also just giving away an out and generally decreased expected scoring.

While baseball purists might prefer letting pitchers hit, most fans do not and the league grows in popularity when offense is high. It’s part of the reason football and basketball are so successful. Offense creates fans.

There is also the benefit of giving more opportunities to players. The Dodgers alone have at least two players who would greatly benefit from the DH in Justin Turner and top prospect Miguel Vargas.

The DH provides an extra avenue for players to get into the lineup and it can extend the careers of older veteran players. So on top of making the game more exciting, it also helps out players and gives them a new outlook on their future.

Adding the DH to the NL would be the best thing MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has done, and arguably the only good thing.

Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel):

Finally! No more .120 hitters coming up every three innings! I’ve been excited about this development for a long time, and so to hear it’s likely coming to fruition is great news in my book.

This is a game where we want to see the best against the best, and now we’re going to get that from the top of every lineup to the bottom. I get the complaints about a loss of strategy — and I think there might be room eventually for the types of rules some have suggested that allow teams to have a DH as long as their starting pitcher is in the game.

That way you avoid pitcher at-bats, while still maintaining the late game strategy that NL fans have come to love. Overall though, I’m a huge fan — and not just because this gives a team like the Dodgers a massive advantage.

Matt Borelli (@mcborelli):

Although I’ll miss the traditional style of NL baseball, I think both leagues having a DH will be good for MLB. For one, it reduces the injury risk to pitchers as they no longer have to swing a bat. Pitchers no longer having to hit will also increase the offensive output for NL teams by default.

Furthermore, having that extra spot in the lineup is beneficial to bench players who otherwise would be limited to a pinch-hit appearance each game. From a business perspective, a DH in both leagues additionally will create more jobs and potentially lead to a more robust free agency market for players.

Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand)

I’m personally a fan of the NL adopting the DH. I get that traditional NL baseball is better for strategy purposes, but I really don’t need to see pitchers trying to hit anymore. Especially when it can sometimes lead to injuries.

Plus, as we saw in 2020, having a DH is actually a huge advantage for the Dodgers. Not only does it get another talented hitter in their lineup in place of a pitcher, but it also allows them to get their regular players off their feet more often to DH throughout the course of the season, which should contribute to them staying healthier.

Overall, I really just don’t see a ton of downside to bringing the DH to the NL. I just think it will lead to better baseball and more success for the Dodgers.

How would Dodgers use universal DH?

If a universal DH is implemented, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts figures to again use the spot in the lineup to rotate between veterans Max Muncy, AJ Pollock and Justin Turner. Mookie Betts could also be a candidate if right hip or back trouble return.

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