Chicago Cubs: A new take on bringing the designated hitter to the NL

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: A DH would create consistency fans yearn for

While the game seems different in the two respective leagues, many fans question that consistency and roster equality within the game, as well as inherent advantages for either/both league depending on where the game is being played.

The NBA doesn’t prohibit Zach LaVine from dunking while at the United Center and then let him do it all he wants in Los Angeles.  The NHL doesn’t make Cam Ward leave his glove in the locker room for games in the Metropolitan Division, and then let him use it elsewhere.  The NFL doesn’t eliminate punting in games played in the AFC, then make everyone punt in games at Soldier Field in the NFC.   While most baseball fans will say they are different (and better) than other sports’ fans, it’s a legitimate argument – why does MLB play the game differently and under different rules within the same overarching league?

Right now, many American League clubs carry an extra hitter whose sole purpose is to be a DH.  While some clubs have gone away from this idea and have begun using the designated hitter as a means to give position players rest and a semi-day off, there are still guys like J.D. Martinez, Nelson Cruz, Khris Davis, Chris Davis, Albert Pujols, etc. who are being penciled into the DH slot more often than not. Martinez, specifically, just signed a five-year, $110 million contract to be the DH in a town where their most famous player for a decade was a… you guessed it – a designated hitter in Big Papi (David Ortiz).

This roster configuration is totally different than the National League where teams need to be more flexible and consider bench players, defensive replacements and pinch hitters much more carefully. This rings especially true in the late innings when starting pitchers come out of the game and managers have to do their best to avoid having their relief pitchers hit under any circumstance.

Roster construction is totally different and forces teams to play different games of roster Jenga based on what league they play in, but do it while under the same constraints of a 25-man active roster.

(Speaking of roster construction; adding a DH of any sort to the National League would likely mean baseball would have to add a 26th man to the active roster, something the MLBPA would sign off on immediately, as it would mean 30 extra MLB players at all times).

Regardless of which league you think has an inherent advantage when teams meet head-to-head in interleague play, the American League has held the advantage in interleague games in 17 of 22 years since it was first introduced in 1997.  In fact, 2018 was the first year the National League held the edge in 15 years, suggesting there may be some advantages that generally make it easier for a team used to employing a designated hitter.

By creating a level playing field, there would be no more speculation about which league has a harder or easier time adjusting and adapting to the DH rule that remains inconsistent based on where teams play that particular day.  It would also mean that the game’s crown jewel event, the World Series, would be played under the same conditions and rules in each of the possible seven games of the series.