I'm sure by now that most of you have heard that the MLB and the Players Association have sent proposals to each other focusing on ways to improve the game. Among the suggestions, the union is recommending universalizing the Designated Hitter in both leagues.
Please, for the love of baseball, may this happen. Look, I know there are some baseball purists out there that love the National League for the very reason that it doesn't have the DH. We Cardinal fans tend to side with tradition. The idea of adopting the DH might have a certain 'yuck' factor for many of us.
April 25th, 2015. Adam Wainwright was coming off a fantastic 2014 season, finishing with 20 wins, an ERA+ of 153 and finishing 3rd in the Cy Young voting. In 25 innings on the young season, Waino had an ERA of 1.44, building on the success of his past two seasons. And then everything went into the crapper.
When Wainwright came to the plate to lead off the top of the fifth, his left leg buckled as he popped out to first on a 1–2 fastball. After Wainwright stumbled out of the batter's box, he was helped off the field and limped down the dugout steps. Two days later, we all got the terrible news. Wainwright tore his Achilles tendon. He was declared to be out for the season. He did come back late September and threw in relief.
Yeah, I know that the Cards still won 100 games that season, but one has to wonder what could have been if Waino was healthy; maybe the NLDS would have turned out differently. And while other injuries and age have played a factor, Wainwright hasn't been the same ever since.
You still like the whole pitchers hitting thing?
Wainwright isn't the only pitcher to get injured while hitting. Pitchers getting injured while hitting or base running includes Randy Johnson, Chien-Ming Wang, Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, Josh Beckett, Max Scherzer, Stephen Wright, Yordano Ventura, Charlie Morton and Alex Wood, to name a few.
While Wainwright has won a Silver Slugger and isn't an awful hitter (OPS .536), we have to ask, not awful compared to what? Here is pitcher wOBA for the past five seasons:
Fun times. Riveting baseball. Even the best hitting pitchers are about the equivalent of what we saw last season from Lewis Brinson, Dexter Fowler and Chris Davis.
Many pitchers rarely hit in college, unless they're athletic freaks like Brendan McKay. They very seldom hit in the minors and Shohei Ohtanis and Rick Ankiels are rare birds indeed. Watching pitchers hit is painful. They're an easy out. We all know this and it's been this way for decades. Can any of you remember a time when pitchers were anything but the worst hitters in baseball? Ask your grandparents, or great-grandparents if you have to. I'll wait.
And can anyone of us say we come to the ballpark to watch Miles Mikolas hit? Sure, it's fun when he does. And it's fun to watch Bartolo Colon accidentally run into a home run.
But cute little events like these are only fun because they're pretty rare. Just ask yourself the question: which Martinez would you rather watch hit, Carlos or Jose?
It's time for the National League to enter into the modern era. I don't ever want to see another pitcher limp off the field because of something unfortunate that happened while he was batting or running the bases. I don't wanna watch another pitcher helplessly flail at a ball in crucial situation. The pros of embracing the DH in the NL just far outweigh the cons.