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Monday, April 13, 2009

Another reason to scrap the DH

I'm pretty sure this means I'm a bad person, but I'm very uncomfortable with this idea.
The York Revolution have decided to find out by bringing in a former member of the Tampa Rays organization, 3'2 Dave Flood as a pinch-hitting specialist. ... "If I were seven feet tall I'd be putting a basketball through a hoop," said Flood. "I should be able to take advantage of my height to draw a walk. Sometimes this might be leading off a game, sometimes it could be as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th."
It's probably mostly just a publicity stunt by an indepedent-league team. But the thing is, I can't work out any reason to be directly opposed to this idea that isn't blatantly prejudicial. The only thing I can say is that I think that anyone who plays on offense should have to play defense as well, and vice versa. The only exception in my mind should be pinch hitting or pinch running, where you've chosen to remove a player from a game rather than allowing their weakness to be exposed.

Even then, however, I can't justify a reason to prevent teams from using one of their roster spots for someone who can only pinch hit, and will require a pinch runner if s/he gets on...which they will probably do at least 50% of the time (0.500+ OBP). It'll be interesting to watch this.

Update: Additional discussion at Tango's blog.


  1. I agree that the DH should be scrapped, and recognized as the gimmick that it is.

    On the Eddie Gaedel point, though...lawyers have thought about this one before, trying to reconcile the ADA with the needs of the sport. Here's a little post (oh dear, no pun intended) on the matter of midgets in baseball:

    I hadn't realized that the only thing the league did in response to Bill Veeck's 1950's stunt was to require all contracts to be approved by the league. That's a pretty poor band-aid for the situation. The minimum-size strikezone idea is an interesting concept.

  2. Chris Carpenter made a great case for why the NL should have the DH this week.

    Hitting is a full time job at the major league level, pitchers aren't really fun to watch hit and every year a dozen or so of them get hurt while hitting for no good reason.

  3. @DA, good stuff. I'm still not entirely sure that I buy the "need of the sport" gut agrees, but I can't justify it in my mind.

    @Anonymous, I think it's a shame that Chris Carpenter got hurt, but I agree with Devils Advocate that the DH is a gimmick that has lasted far too long. Pitchers are lousy hitters. But so what? Some outstanding fielders are lousy hitters too. Should we have a DH for them as well? Why not just have different squads for offense and defense?

    A big part of baseball--and, in my view, a fundamental part of baseball--is that players can (and must) contribute on both offense and defense. Pitchers have the most important defensive position, but I don't think that should exclude them from some responsibility on offense. To me, it IS fun having pitchers hit, because it forces all kinds of difficult strategic you pinch hit for your pitcher in the 8th inning of a 0-0 game, even though he's thrown a shutout? Do you try to let your starter get that one last out, even though he's spent, because he's leading off the next inning? Requiring pitchers to hit adds a strategic dimension to baseball that think is sorely lacking in games with the DH.

  4. I second everything Justin said. The reason baseball fans love this game, while others think it is as boring as watching grass grow, are these strategic decisions Justin mentions. Kill the DH.
    And maybe Micah Owings will change the way we view the pitchers ablities at the plate.