Bringing the DH to the National League Will Benefit the Padres

Credit: AP Photo

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

If the National League were to adopt DH rules, the San Diego Padres would surely be benefited.

This is one of the most heated topics in all of baseball, dare I say all of sports.

One of the many reasons why I love baseball is its sense of tradition and history. Sure the game has changed a lot over the past 50 years, but the game itself looks more or less the same. One thing that has been hotly debated, especially recently, is that of bringing the designated hitter to the National League and making it universal around pro baseball.

Recently, we have seen greats like Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz and Nelson Cruz bashing balls all over the yard as a DH in the American League and if it were not for the DH, they would have been out of baseball far before their time had come.

Now, before you scroll through this article rolling your eyes, let me tell you, barely two years ago I was completely of the opposite opinion. I was very anti-DH. Growing up in a National League city in San Diego, I turned my nose up at the thought. Now that I have moved around a bit and currently reside in the American League city of Seattle, I have changed my mind. People are allowed to do that.

I understand the other side. I was just there not too long ago. I consider myself a baseball purist (I am anti-pitch clock, anti-robot umps and anti-shift).

However, is making the designated hitter universal really that big of a change?

I am not the only one that thinks this is an issue, and certainly not the most important person that thinks it’s time to address this issue.

I understand that it’s fun to have double switches late in the game, having to gameplan around a hitting pitcher, bunting, pinch-hitting, just the tradition of it all, and who doesn’t love #PitchersWhoRake? A team is allowed to DH for someone other than the pitcher. Maybe on a day where Michael Lorenzen is pitching, the Reds DH for Billy Hamilton instead.

Despite all that, I am now convinced it is time to change.

I played high school ball and we had a designated hitter in our lineup every single day, even if it wasn’t for our pitcher. Colleges have the DH. Up and down the minor leagues you see the DH penciled in lineups. The American League has had the designated hitter since 1973.

So what’s the hold up, NL?

Every single year we hear of pitchers getting hurt either taking a healthy hack at the plate or “running” around the bases. Masahiro Tanaka missed about six starts this season because he strained both hamstrings running around the bases.

Plus, even though #PitchersWhoRake is fun, 95% of pitchers do not rake by any sense of the word. Here are the top five hitters at second base and catcher, two of the traditionally weaker offensive positions in baseball compared to the top five hitting pitchers.

2B Qualified batters
# Name Team HR K% AVG wRC+
1 Jose Altuve Astros 9 12.10% 0.329 140
2 Jed Lowrie Athletics 17 19.70% 0.282 136
3 Scooter Gennett Reds 16 19.10% 0.318 133
4 Javier Baez Cubs 19 25.00% 0.295 129
5 Daniel Robertson Rays 9 24.00% 0.260 126

 

C Qualified batters
# Name Team HR K% AVG wRC+
1 J.T. Realmuto Marlins 13 18.90% 0.304 139
2 Willson Contreras Cubs 8 21.50% 0.278 121
3 Yasmani Grandal Dodgers 16 22.50% 0.258 132
4 Buster Posey Giants 5 12.20% 0.279 107
5 Tucker Barnhart Reds 6 18.00% 0.249 88

 

P > 20 Plate Appearances
# Name Team HR K% AVG wRC+
1 German Marquez Rockies 1 13.50% 0.361 104
2 Brent Suter Brewers 1 18.80% 0.192 86
3 Zack Greinke Diamondbacks 0 21.70% 0.250 71
4 Carlos Martinez Cardinals 1 28.60% 0.250 68
5 Dan Straily Marlins 0 46.20% 0.150 61

Yes, there are some outliers like Lorenzen and maybe German Marquez but for the most part, it is painful to watch. Why not give an extra guy a spot in the lineup? Why does the National League have to be eight guys then an automatic out while the American League has nine legit hitters in each lineup?

The NFL doesn’t have two sets of rules for the AFC and NFC. That’s like the AFC allowing teams to have six players lined up on the line of scrimmage while the NFC still requires seven. The NBA’s Eastern and Western Conferences are identical.

Plus, when American League teams visit National League parks, it takes the bat out of the hand of one of their best hitters. The Mariners recently made a trip to Colorado and Nelson Cruz got just two plate appearances in that three game series. A 2018 All-Star and one of the best hitters in the game had two at bats all series.

Not to mention this really comes to a head in the World Series. Astros pitchers were 0 for 8 with six strikeouts in last year’s Fall Classic. Where is the fun in that?

Speaking of the Astros, have any of you seen any Astros fans complaining about having to have a DH now that they have switched to the American League? Me neither.

Some people will shake their fists and say “Everyone hits and everyone fields! That’s baseball!” That’s fair. As mentioned before, I was like them once. Do pitchers really “field” though? And when they do, it usually isn’t pretty.

Fielding is hard sometimes.

Pitchers should be considered a specialty position and not one that has to tote a bat just because “that’s baseball.” It really isn’t, like I said before, most other baseball leagues and levels do not have such a requirement. Why should we expect pitchers, who spend all their time mastering their pitching craft, to all of a sudden pick up a bat and hit a 98 MPH fastball with movement when they haven’t taken routine hacks since high school?

Now to tie this in to the Padres.

There are several cases where the Padres would benefit from the designated hitter. Although it’s not as if this 2018 team is overflowing with so many hitters that one would have to be the designated hitter, there are options, especially down the road.

Credit: San Diego UT

Josh Naylor is stuck as long as Eric Hosmer is a Padre and it looks like he will be for this season and at least four more. Meanwhile, Naylor has 14 home runs, a 12% walk rate and a 137 wRC+ in Double-A San Antonio. He likely won’t fit anywhere but first base… or designated hitter. Imagine a Padres lineup with Hosmer and Naylor in the near future.

Looking at more present situations, Wil Myers isn’t likely to win any Gold Gloves in the outfield, although he hasn’t been horrible for the most part. Why not slate him at DH and get a more athletic, natural outfielder that wouldn’t otherwise be in the lineup everyday like Travis Jankowski. What about Franmil Reyes? It’s no secret he isn’t a gazelle out there. He seems to be the perfect build to be a DH.

Imagine a 2019 lineup with Franchy Cordero, Manuel Margot and another-more-qualified-outfielder-than-Myers and Myers at DH.

Christian Villanueva, although he has improved some with the glove, is no Nolan Arenado at the hot corner but he can swing a mean bat. Why not keep him in the lineup while inserting a more reliable glove at third? With the DH, the Padres could hypothetically re-sign Freddy Galvis, promote Fernando Tatis Jr. and have Villanueva all in the lineup without playing traffic jam.

The Padres are not used to having a DH and in eight games this season using it, the Padres are 3-for-25 (.120) with a .513 OPS. Think that’s bad? Their pitchers are hitting an even worse .093 and .263 respectively.

The designated hitter is going to get some attention this offseason and rightfully so. With interleauge play happening every day now, it doesn’t make sense to have the leagues be so different. It’s all Major League Baseball. I am on the side of wanting the best product on the field day in and day out and bringing the DH to the National League will aid in that mission.

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Nick Lee
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.

6 thoughts on “Bringing the DH to the National League Will Benefit the Padres

  1. Born and raised SD, now live in Denver… two NL cities. Have to say the DH needs to be adopted. Interestingly enough the Japanese baseball league is also split DH/no DH, but otherwise every other league in the world uses it. It’s time to play by the same rules. It’s 2018, it’s ridiculous that the sport has two sets of rules. I don’t need to see Perdomo or Tyler Anderson striking out twice per start.

  2. The DH would usually helps the big market teams like the Dodgers the most who will pay big money for the additional bat.

  3. The headline is misleading. The only thing that will benefit the Padres is to have real hitters !

    Abolish the DH from MLB

  4. Adopt the DH, duh. No one wants to see pitchers hit or even run the bases. The exception is if the pitcher hits a batter. In that case he has to lead off the next inning, even if he’s been removed from the game. Let headhunters like Roger Clemens or Zack Greinke face the music.
    But please let’s not use SD’s horrible roster construction as a rationale. Because the FO regularly disregards defense is not a reason to look for a rule change bail out. Trade some of these guys and go more athletic in their stead. Start with Hosmer, then Myers, Villanueva, Pirela, Reyes, and at least one of the catchers now that the team has traded it’s best player for … yes, another catcher.

  5. “Oh but the strategy”
    This is a lame excuse for people who just don’t like change. I not saying to change for change sakes. BUT, you can still use the same strategy. If you want to pull a double switch, or bunt over a runner or what ever. DH had one more option. Let player hit. A player who does not look lost at the plate.

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