One of the more heated debates in recent baseball history is that of a universal designated hitter. American League fans are all for it. National League lovers hate it. So what should really happen?
On Thursday night, Chicago Cubs phenom Kyle Schwarber fully tore his ACL and MCL in a collision with center fielder Dexter Fowler and will now miss the rest of the season. The 23-year-old, playing in just his 43rd career game in left, also spends time at catcher. Let’s be honest here, Schwarber isn’t a guy you want in the field, whether it be in left or behind the plate. He’s a big boy (6-foot, 235 lbs.) and resembles David Ortiz on defense. He made 4 errors in 21 games behind the plate, threw out 3 of 17 would-be base stealers, and was embarrassingly terrible in left during the NLCS sweep by the Mets (example 1 – example 2 – example 3).
However, the National League does not use a DH, thus forcing the Cubs to accept his atrocious defense in return for his light-tower power. Unfortunately, injuries like this sometimes happen when you put a terrible defensive player on the field. Not only does it hurt the team, but it puts multiple players in danger. There was no reason for Schwarber to be going after that ball. Anyone who has ever played baseball knows that is Fowler’s ball and that Schwarber should be backing him up. Instead, Schwarber went for it and is now paying the price for his poor decision.
Had he been in the American League, he would be slotted in at DH everyday and this disaster would have been avoided. However, the NL and AL ridiculously play by a different set of rules. One gets to use 9 full-time hitters every game, the other uses 8 and a pitcher (obviously not counting interleague play). This brings up my final point.
Why do pitchers hit? When you sign a pitcher, you’re paying him to pitch, not hit. It’s really that simple. We’ve seen multiple pitchers face serious injuries the past few years because they’re forced to step-up to the plate. Add in the fact that almost all pitchers in the DH era are terrible hitters, there’s really no reason why we shouldn’t have a universal DH. The best hitting pitcher in baseball today is Zack Greinke who is a .223 career hitter. The only players who can hit that low and stick in the MLB probably hit 25+ homers or are defensive wizards. Sure we’d miss the blessing that is Bartolo Colon swinging a bat, but the game would vastly improve. Offense would be up and Kyle Schwarber would still be in the Cubs lineup this season.
Sorry National League fans, the universal DH is long overdue, and it could be here sooner than you think.