Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Designated Hitter

Is this what we really want to see at the ballpark? What a disaster.

I am for the Designated Hitter and here are a few reasons why:
  • Bob Kostas is against the DH.

  • Bud Selig is against the DH.

  • Some argue that players should be able to play both sides of their position.

    Correct. The batting average for pitchers in the National League in 2008 was .194, below the Mendoza Line. The batting average for postion players in 2008 was .276. That disgrace at the plate by NL pitchers is not playing both sides of your position. The DH put symmetry back into the game. Take for example this years disgrace, Daniel Cabrera, a pitcher with the Washington Nationals who is currently 0-16 with 16 strike outs.

Symmetry . The role of the pitcher is specifically defensive as he gets the ball on every play. The role of the DH is specifically offensive. Hence the symmetry of the rule.

  • Some argue that the DH rule takes strategy out of the game. What? The decision to change a pitcher is determined by the defensive situation and not the offensive situation. A manager removes a pitcher primarily for defensive considerations not to replace his bat in the lineup for another at bat. Managers change batters for a left/right advantage.

  • "Purists" demand the DH be removed to play the game in its pure form. Ok, to make the game "pure" let's return to segregated baseball. The argument from history fails here.

  • If we are going to argue from history, the DH rule was put into MLB in 1973. Most fans of the game today grew up in the 70's and 80's with the DH. It is part of most Americans baseball experience.

  • It increases the concept of a team. If a pitcher beans a batter, he knows that he can't be hit at the plate because he will never appear at the plate. However, one of his teammates will appear and "take one for the team". Without the DH, the pitcher is hit by the pitcher making it a one-on-one sport like the NBA.

  • Bill James is for the DH:

Bill James has done for baseball what Aquinas did for God: applied some science to the subject. In The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (1986), he addressed the question of whether the DH rule diminishes baseball by obviating the need for certain applications of strategy, "strategy" being defined in the minds of purists as (a) having the pitcher bunt with a man on and (b) pinch-hitting for the pitcher late in the game. Making use of the concept of standard deviation, which admittedly is not that complicated but in my experience seldom comes up in bar arguments, James mathematically demonstrated that the DH rule actually increased the use of strategy, provided it was defined more sensibly not as the rote application of traditional moves in traditional situations but rather as the thoughtful consideration of options.

I am also prefer the sound of an aluminium bat to wood, but that topic is for another post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very well done, I agree with you wholeheartedly.