Revisiting the DH

In 2013, the Houston Astros will be in the American League, making interleague play a daily occurrence.

Does that mean the league will take a new vote on the DH?

This week the MLB owner’s had one of their quarterly meetings in New York. What a perfect time to have a new discussion on the subject. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it was even brought up.

What if baseball decided to drop the DH but add a 26th player to the roster?

A few years ago I wrote to Bill James and gave him a few reasons to drop the DH….

  • The rules state nine men on a side.
  • Managers should have to decide to pinch hit or let the pitcher bat.
  • Double switches are good for the game.
  • Pitchers would less likely throw at someone, if they had to face the same music themselves batting the next inning.
  • The media would get to critique more “manager’s decisions,” because there would be more decisions managers would have to make.
  • The game would move quicker, because there would be more pitching changes at the beginning of innings, because pitchers would be pinch hit for.

Mr. James responded:

“Well, if that’s your argument, shouldn’t you be arguing that the National League should adopt the DH rule? People present this as if the American League was the outlier, that nobody used the rule except the American League. The reality is that virtually every baseball league in the world, except the National League, has long since adopted the DH rule. Every, or virtually every college league, amateur league at a high level, the Japanese, the Australians. . . they have all long since adopted the DH rule. The entire baseball world uses the DH rule, except the National League. If you really think it is important to standardize this. . . which it isn’t, but that’s your argument. . . the obvious way to do it is to tell the National League to pull their head out of the 19th century.”

It sounds like Bill’s vote would be for the NL to adopt the DH.

How would you vote?

A. AL drops the DH
B. NL adopts the DH
C. Keep it like it has been since 1973

About Rick Swanson 91 Articles
Rick Swanson has been an online feature writer for numerous websites since 2005. He was also a speaker at Boston SABR meetings from 2007-2009. Rick has created three statistics for baseball.... Reaction over Range: A new way to measure defense. Divide reaction time of any play, by the range distance. Umpire Strikezone Score: Take the total number of correct pitches called, divided by the total number of pitches called. Power Pitching: Add WHIP plus ERA and subtract the number of strikeouts per inning. Rick's current title is Consultant, Red Sox and Fenway Park History. In 2007, he was nominated for President of Red Sox Nation by Red Sox team president, Larry Lucchino. You can email Rick here: rickswanson AT cox DOT net


  1. I like the strategy behind having to make the different moves…but i really don’t like seeing a pitcher bat ever minus Big Z.

  2. Short answer: C

    I actually like it the way it is, and with interleague play being every day both leagues will essentially have use of the DH all season, and both leagues will lose the DH all season.

    AL managers will have to employ strategy, NL managers will get rest days for their older players. And people who love the DH still get to see it, people who hate the DH still get to see the pitcher hit.

    It’s a win win for everyone.

  3. I’m a purist. Don’t care what the rest are doing. Follow the rules and let the pitcher face the music. Baseball is as much a mental game as a physical one. Babe Ruth was a pitcher and is anyone going to argue about his hitting ability….. But I have to appreciate the logic in Justin’s argument where each side gets some of what it wants. Sounds like the proper business decision, which is, what MLB is….

  4. I don’t buy the argument about how “every other league in the world uses the DH, so the NL should too”. Comparing the NL to amateur baseball, NCAA, and Australian leagues doesn’t make any sense. We’re talking about the best league in the world, there is really no comparison to be made anywhere.

    However, I think something needs to change because the AL has a very large advantage when it comes to the WS and interleague play. The AL teams usually have any extra power bat to plug into the DH spot, while the NL uses a utility infielder or backup catcher. The minute advantage the NL pitchers have because they are used to batting, if there even is an advantage, is blown away by the AL’s DH advantage.

    Justin’s point is interesting, but the playing field simply isn’t even when it comes to the World Series.

    So, I would accept either A or B, but more and more I lean towards B (NL adopts the DH).

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