Why The National League Needs to Adopt the Designated Hitter Rule
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Why The National League Needs to Adopt the Designated Hitter Rule

It's beyond the fact that pitchers cannot hit...

Why The National League Needs to Adopt the Designated Hitter Rule
Sporting News

The Designated Hitter rule in baseball provides for one position player to take the spot in the batting lineup in place of the pitchers spot in the batting order in hopes of increasing the chance for another batter to reach base. Effective 1973, this referuenedum was approved by clubs of Major League Baseball's American League, however the National League voted against substituting the pitchers spot in the batting order in favor for pitchers having a spot in the batting order in every game hosted by a National League club (Freeman). More than four decades after this rule was enacted, Major League Baseball has seen an imbalance favoring the American League throughout various batting and hitting categories, and yearly final total of batting average per league (Freeman) (League by League Totals for Batting Average). Injuries to pitchers while taking reps at the plate as well as injuries to designated hitters playing in the field are also other harmful factors of the game the National League can no longer just feel aloof about.

Baseball Alamnic proves there has been quite a heavy imbalance of which league finishes the Major League Baseball season with a higher cumulative batting average during the season. Due to the Designated Hitter rule allowing for one position player to bat in place of the pitcher, Every MLB season from 1973-2013, the American League has wound up with a higher cumulative league batting average throughout the duration of every MLB season from 1973-2013 (League by League Totals for Batting Average) Since most pitchers are not compenent batters, their National League counterparts did not led the two leagues a single season in batting average for forty seasons. In contrast to the norm of the past four decades, the National League fared quite well in terms of leading the other league in cumulative season batting average. While the National League never saw the reign of consecutive years leading the other league in batting average, there was more competition and dominaance by the National League for which league would take the honor upon the conclusion of the regular season. Prior to the American League receiving the advantage of substituting the pitchers spot in the batting order, the National League finished 18 of the last 21 seasons before the Designated Hitter Rule was established with a higher league batting average than the American League (League by League Totals for Baatting Average). Prior to 1952, well before the Designated Hitter would exist, both leagues faced a stiff balance in competition as to which league would fare better in batting average, as the American League was only able to muster out the lead in only 30 of 51 MLB Seasons from 1901-1951 (League by League Totals for Batting Average). If the National League were to implement the designated hitter rule, Major League Baseball could see a better balance of league wide batting average could be more feasible than it is now.

Further proof how costly not having a designated hitter is to American League is can be shown by the negative impact an American League club can have at the biggest stage. In the 2001 World Series, the high-powered New York Yankees faced the Arizona Diamondbacks in hopes of taking home not only their fourth consecutive title, but also their fifth Championship in six years (World Series and MLB Playoffs). One strange thing about this series was the fact that the home team won every single game played in the series (2001 World Series Arizona Diamondbacks over New York Yankees (4-3)). Throughout this best of seven series, the National League Diamondbacks received homefield advantage, and without their designated hitter able to bat in Games 6 or 7, the powerful Yankees sunk to the young Diamondbacks, ultimately preventing the Yankees from continuing their reign of consecutive World Series Championship Seasons (2001 World Series Arizona Diamondbacks over New York Yankees (4-3)). Sure, you can laugh at this and say its just the Yankees and they should be able to beat anybody. However, after analyzing the results of all Game 7's of the World Series since 1973, the American League has gone 0-5 in Game 7's played in National League Parks (World Series and MLB Playoffs). The National League has faced more competition in Game 7's with the Designated Hitter since 1973, as Game 7's of the World Series hosted by American Leagues has been split even at 4-4 (World Series and MLB Playoffs). Ultimately proving that the Designated Hitter Will not favor one league over the other should the National League implement the DH.

Injuries to star players are another reason why the National League needs to wake up and implement the Designated Hitter. In a 2015 analysis of rising baseball prospects, Chicago Cubs rookie outfielder/catcher Kyle Schwarber caught the eye of analysists with a consistent hitting technique at the plate. One MLB.com analysist, Bernie Pleskoff was very impressed with the hitting ability of the young Schwarber, describing Schwarber's hitting ability as "Schwarber's power could be game-changing Whenever I see him play, he gets the barrel of the bat out front and uses his right field pull side as his personal playground" (Pleskoff). Concerns about Schwarber's fielding ability at a large frame also was a concern of Pleskoff, as that was the one part of the game that seemed to be lacking precise talent (Pleskoff). Since the Cubs play in the National League, there were not many opportunities for Schwarber to slowly start as a DH and possibly play in the field when that part of the game is more polished. Instead, the Cubs had to rush Schwarber up to the majors, which meant Schwarber would have to regurarly utilitize the one part of his game that was his weakness, playing in the field. Without the provision of a Designated Hitter in the National League, the Cubs suffered a costly blow to one of their star players very early in the season. In an April 2016 game, Schwarber's lacking of fielding ability became obvious. While attempting to catch a fly ball deep in the outfield, Schwarber tripped over a teammate and fell awkardly in the outfield. Ultimately tearing multiple ligaments in his knee and nearly costing Schwarber the entire season in what would have been a promising campaign (Rogers). An injury to such a promising young star could have been simply avoided had only the National League implemented the Designated Hitter where Schwarber would not had to play in the field that fatal April evening and just focus on the one part of his game that he utilizes the best, hitting a baseball without having to go out and field one.

American League pitchers also have experienced a negative impact of not receiving the provision of another position player to bat in their place in National League parks. During a 2008 Interleague game against the Houston Astros in Houston, (Houston was in the National League at this time), New York Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang had successfully reached base. Shortly after recording a base hit, Wang suffered an injury to his foot which occured while running the bases (Associated Press). Extents of Wang's injury were quite painful as not only did he sprain a ligament in his foot, Wang had also torn a tendon in his foot, causing Wang to be sidelined for the remainder of the season with his ailments (Chien-Ming Wang). Hank Steinbrenner, a chairman with the Yankees organization at the time, voiced his displeasure about his pitchers injury by his complaint of "My only message is simple. The National League needs to join the 21st century" (Steinbrenner) (Associated Press). Steinbrenner's complaints about the National League not having any Designated Hitter Rule in place did not just come from his emotions of what Wang had just suffered. Steinbrenner also expressed logical reasoning for the National League to accept the Designated Hitter Rule by pointing out the dangers of pitchers batting and running to "be a concern for National League owners, general managers and managers when their pitchers run the bases. Pitchers have enough to do without having to do that" (Steinbrenner) (Associated Press). Steinbrenner most likely got more furious about this debacle upon the conclusion of the season. The Yankees suffered horribly in the long run for the 2008 Season. Playing the rest of the season without one of their ace pitchers, the Yankees ended up missing the postseason in what seemed to have been such a promising season (2008 New York Yankees Schedule).

If the National League were to implement the designated hitter rule, not only could a better balance of league wide batting average could be more feasible than it is now. Dangers to non-traditional base runners and fielders could become extinct. Giving more protection and safety to players who are lacking the safety while playing the game of baseball on some occasions. National League Owners, wake up and smell the coffee. It is about time you do another vote on the Designated Hitter Rule for the safety of your players and more advantages in the World Series.












Works Cited:

"Chien-Ming Wang 2008 Pitching Gamelogs." Baseball-Reference.com. Baseball Reference, n.d. Web. 01 June 2017.

"History of World Series Game 7." MLB.com. Major League Baseball, 03 Nov. 2016. Web. 01 June 2017. .

"League by League Totals for Batting Average." Batting Average League by League Totals on Baseball Almanac. Baseball Almanac, n.d. Web. 01 June 2017.

Pleskoff, Bernie. "Pleskoff Scouting Profile on Kyle Schwarber." Major League Baseball. Major League Baseball, 29 July 2015. Web. 01 June 2017.

Press, Associated. "Foot Injury Expected to Sideline Wang until at Least September." ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 17 June 2008. Web. 01 June 2017.

Rodgers, Joe. Schwarber Injury. Digital image. Sporting News. Sporting News Media, 7 Apr. 2016. Web. 1 June 2017.

Rodgers Omnisport, Joe. "Cubs' Kyle Schwarber Carted off with Leg Injury after Collision with Dexter Fowler." Sporting News. Sporting News Media, 07 Apr. 2016. Web. 01 June 2017.

Rogers, Jesse, and Associated Press. "Cubs OF Kyle Schwarber to Miss Season with Fully Torn ACL, LCL." ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 09 Apr. 2016. Web. 01 June 2017.

"World Series and MLB Playoffs." Baseball-Reference.com. Baseball Reference, n.d. Web. 01 June 2017.

"2001 World Series - Arizona Diamondbacks over New York Yankees (4-3)." Baseball-Reference.com. Baseball Reference, n.d. Web. 01 June 2017.

"2008 New York Yankees Statistics." Baseball-Reference.com. Baseball Reference, n.d. Web. 01 June 2017.

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