Thinking About the DH

Bernie Miklasz, on his Bern Baby Bern column for Scoops With Danny Mac, has a few smart thoughts about the DH coming to the National League

Pitching has become so specialized, MLB makes extensive use of designated pitchers — mostly relievers that have a specific duty for a specific situation and rarely work more than an inning at a time. They’re specialists. They aren’t asked to hit. They aren’t utilized for their fielding. They aren’t on the club to steal bases.

Maybe they’ll drop down a sac bunt now and then, but the sacrifice bunt is slowly fading. In 2009, MLB pitchers delivered 671 sac bunts. Last season, there were only 421 sac bunts.

Most of these highly specialized relievers hunt strikeouts and others entice ground balls. They aren’t nine-inning ballplayers who bring a complete set of skills to the job. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We just accept them for what they are — specialists. That’s what confuses me about the DH argument.

If you flat-out dismiss the DH as a one-dimensional specialist that violates the tradition of the nine-man game, then what’s up with the double standards in play as you accept dozens and dozens of one-dimensional specialist relievers?

There’s a hard line of separation in today’s game: teams invest small fortunes in pitching. They want good pitching. They need good pitching. They need a deep supply of pitching. None of the salaries being paid to pitchers contain one dollar invested with the pitcher’s hitting in mind.

So why do we continue to insist that pitchers hit?

It doesn’t help the team. It doesn’t help the pitcher, it doesn’t enhance offense. And we’ve seen pitchers hurt and miss considerable time — including Wainwright in 2015 — while swinging and/or running.

What, exactly is the benefit?

Yes, yes, yes. A thousand times yes.

Now, if the Cardinals want to bring Albert Pujols back… I’ll enjoy every minute of it as a fan. It really does not make sense from a baseball perspective, but maybe DeWitt is quietly freaking out about the possibility of lagging home attendance in 2022.


February 17, 2022

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