Sarah's Take: Adding DH would change NL strategy

January 25th, 2016

This past week, the discussion about expanding the designated hitter to the National League has heated up.

I have always preferred watching the NL, because I find it more interesting. Using the DH reduces the strategy. Managers don't need to lift a starter for a hitter when their teams are behind. Since they have nine good hitters in the lineup, they don't need to manufacture runs. The World Series champion Kansas City Royals understand the importance of manufacturing runs -- a rarity in the AL. This past week, the Miami Marlins gave NL batting champion Dee Gordon a five-year, $50 million contract extension. AL teams with the DH would be less likely to value Gordon's talents.

Gordon is exciting to watch despite his lack of power. Gordon led the NL in hits, batting average and stolen bases in 2015, something no player has done since 1908 when Honus Wagner accomplished this incredible feat. Gordon helps his team manufacture runs, so he single-handedly prevents his team from going into a prolonged offensive slump. By catching the opposition off-guard, he entertains the crowd.

Yes, people like seeing long home runs, especially when they are grand slams. Baseball gained popularity in 1998 when Mark McGwire competed with Sammy Sosa to break the single-season home run record established by Roger Maris in 1961. People also loved watching Barry Bonds breaking Hank Aaron's record for most career home runs.

Expanding the use of the DH would enable some older veterans to prolong their careers. Usually, players lose their speed first, and without speed, they don't make good fielders. Although fans enjoy watching their favorite players as long as they can, they also love watching a young talented rookie come up and take his league by storm. We love seeing a five-tool player excel in every facet of the game. The beauty of baseball is its ability to be shared from generation to generation. Enabling the veterans to stay around a little longer won't help teams give rookies a chance to play on the Major League level.

Another argument for expanding the DH is to protect the pitchers. Sometimes a pitcher injures himself while batting, or the opposing pitcher hits the pitcher while hitting.

Pitchers must stop hitting batters on purpose. I understand they need to protect the inside edge of the strike zone, but this can be done without hitting anyone. Recently, baseball has seen an increase in pitchers hitting batters intentionally, and something must be done about it.

It can be argued no pitcher is a good hitter. This isn't true at all. Many pitchers from yesteryear were great hitters. Even today in the NL West, Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, and Zack Greinke often provide themselves offensive support. Almost every pitcher can learn how to bunt to move a runner into scoring position, but it takes practice. Most pitchers don't want to practice their hitting.

Expanding the use of the DH might increase the popularity of baseball with the casual fan, but it could cause some loyal fans to stop watching the sport.