It’s time for MLB to make the designated hitter the league standard

Pujols bolted the Cardinals and the NL for the Angels and long term security in the AL

Former Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols signed a 10 year, $254 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels earlier in the off season.  Former Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder signed a 9 year, $214 million contract with the Detroit Tigers last month.  Just yesterday Cuban outfield sensation Yoenis Cespedes signed a 4 year, $36 million contract with the Oakland Athletics.  Notice the trend?  All of the big sluggers on the market this season signed contracts with teams in the American League.  Why?  Because of long term security.  When Albert Pujols is 40 years old he will likely be relegated to a DH role, something he couldn’t have done with his former team in St. Louis.  Prince Fielder certainly will have to hand in his glove a bit down the road and become a full-time DH.  He couldn’t do that in Milwaukee.  You just can’t get the long term security in the National League that you can in the American League.  With Pujols and Fielder gone the National League is left with only two elite power hitting first basemen – Ryan Howard of the Phillies and Joey Votto of the Reds.  Votto is a free agent at year’s end and if the Reds don’t get him locked up by the end of the season he too will be enticed by the long term big money contract offers from American League teams.  Is there a solution to all of this?  Sure there is.  A purist would say to get rid of the designated hitter altogether but that is a terrible idea.  It’s time for baseball to evolve.  It’s time to make the designated hitter a league wide standard and let the pitchers just pitch.

Guerrero was a productive hitter last season but with only half the league looking for DHs he is now on the outside looking in

There are many reasons why eradicating the DH is not an good option.  The first is that it elongates careers.  If you take a look at any pundits’ list of top remaining free agents at this point in the off season it will be rife with many capable DH candidates.  Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Raul Ibanez, Derrek Lee, Magglio Ordonez, Eric Chavez and, yes, even Manny Ramirez are all more than capable designated hitters.  Their problem is they all have little to no value left with the glove which means that only half of the teams in the league would be interested in their services.  If the DH was used across the board most, if not all, of these guys would have jobs by now.  Instead most of these guys will be forced to take a year off and at their ages it will tend to be very difficult to find a job next off season if they don’t play at all this season.  I feel that guys with the resumes as good as some of these guys should be able to go out on their own terms.

Selig's long term plan has been to bring the two leagues closer together and standardizing the DH should be part of that

There are many other reasons too.  Starting next season when the Astros move over to the American League the schedule will become more imbalanced, which means more inter league match-ups.  It is already annoying that the rules change from park to park and it will become even more intolerable when even more games are played under different rules for each team every season.  It will also eliminate the old fashioned “double switch” maneuver where if you have to make a pitching change mid-inning you must take a position player out as well to match things up with the batting order.  The pros far outweigh the cons.  You have the competitiveness between the leagues regarding free agent negotiations, adding years to the end of players’ careers, getting rid of the double switch, and standardizing the rules for every game during the season (and postseason) among the pros.  As far as cons go the only one I can think of is it could make some National League games longer as managers might be more liberal in their pitching changes without having to maneuver around the batting order.  That and the traditionalism which I personally don’t put much weight into.

Bud Selig’s vision of the league has long been to make the two leagues more identifiable with each other.  He is doing so with re-alignment and the expansion of inter league play.  The final step in his vision should be to make the rules the same for everyone.  It should be to make the designated hitter the league standard.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

One Response to It’s time for MLB to make the designated hitter the league standard

  1. Matt says:

    So we need a league-wide DH to ensure that the Johnny Damons and the Manny Ramirezes of the baseball world can play for a few more years?

    Let’s give up small-ball, bunting, and the double-switch so that a few millionaires can waddle to the plate without being burdened by having to play defense?

    No thanks. I’d rather keep the NL as it is. Just because the AL screwed up years ago doesn’t mean the NL should have to conform.

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