Chicago Cubs: Let’s not watch Jon Lester take at-bats, eh?
While Jon Lester has become a much better hitter in his time with the Cubs, and many Cubs’ fans would have rather seen him hit than Jason Heyward in 2016 or 2017, he’s still only a career .093 hitter in 270 at-bats.
Does anyone want to see pitchers hit? That’s the first question you need to ask yourself if you’re embroiled in the DH discussion. The answer, for most fans, is an emphatic “no.” We do get the occasional home run or great at-bat from a pitcher. But we are also treated to Carl Edwards Jr. not being able to hit the broad side of the barn while throwing to Yu Darvish in the 2017 NLCS. In other words, we are subjected to endless whiffs, awkward swings and weak contact from our favorite hurlers while they try and fend off their opposite number in the batter’s box. Most relief pitchers are so bad at the plate, managers go out of their way to avoid having them ever hit in any meaningful context.
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Then, there’s the question of injury. Pitchers don’t hit a lot. They’re paid to pitch. Swinging a baseball bat is a somewhat violent series of movements for anyone’s body to undergo. Attempting to sprint full speed after violently swinging could also be dangerous if you don’t often do it, even for athletic people. If a pitcher is hurt while hitting, they can’t pitch (Don’t need to remind any Cubs fans about this particular one).
If you’re investing millions of dollars in a guy to paint murals and only paint murals, you certainly don’t want to see him put a nail through his hand trying to wield a pneumatic nail gun because you were running out of carpenters that day. Doing something that is potentially harmful and also foreign to your body (if you’ve only ever pitched in the AL and then come to the NL), leads to throwing away at-bats, pointless bunting and embarrassing displays of athleticism from otherwise elite players.
Pitchers, in some cases, have never really hit. If you are an elite pitcher and have always focused on pitching, eschewing a bat and the need to hit, you’ve never honed that craft. You grew up sitting on the bench and resting while your high school, college and Minor League team was hitting. Then, all of a sudden when you finally make it to the apex of your profession, you’re suddenly thrust into doing something you’ve never really practiced and never really cared about.
You’re made to do something that had nothing to do with your ability to get guys out while standing on the rubber. As a big leaguer, coaches tell you to go up there against guys who throw better than anyone else on the planet and make it work. Oh, and by the way; if you’re a pitcher, the way you hit has nothing to do with how much you get paid and how much someone is willing to pay you. (Hi, Yu Darvish!)
By implementing the designated in the NL (to any degree, really), you’d be taking the bat out of the hands of guys who really shouldn’t even be swinging them. They haven’t and don’t practice hitting nearly as much as the other eight guys in the order and they’re not the best product for the fans who come to the game. Taking the bat out of their hands (quite literally) also saves them from potential injuries while hitting, bunting and running – while limiting extra fatigue.