Marcell Ozuna
DH Marcell Ozuna Rounds the Bases After a Home Run (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

Last year’s baseball season was a funky one, to say the least. Not only did COVID-19 affect the sport, but Commissioner Rob Manfred implemented some strange new rules. Some of them are too weird and are distastefully left in the Majors for good like seven-inning doubleheaders. One that didn’t last but may be used in later years is the DH in the National League.

It was an interesting ride to see how the NL would use Designated Hitters. It didn’t add too much to the game but as a fan of the league, there was a feeling of something missing. I wanted to see players like MadBum put a charge into one unexpectedly, or see a sexy man like Bartolo chug around the bases (I know he retired but still).

For me, it felt like a half-assed feeble attempt by Manfred to make the game more entertaining, with no regard to mainstay traditional fans. The DH didn’t have or need a place anywhere in the league. Having one is basically a freebie for the team to have an automatic batter. With a pitcher at the plate, more strategy is necessary to move runners as they are in fact weaker hitters. Let’s face it, pitchers have it pretty good. Trevor Bauer, for instance, makes around $40 million a year to literally play every five days. He’s making more than any player who steps on the field every day. This is a reason why pitchers should swing the bat as well.

Pitchers don’t choose to be bad hitters. Yes, they’re paid to pitch and that’s all they’re focusing on for the most part. When they are up to the plate, however, they are trying to benefit their team to the best of their abilities. I think one of the greatest accomplishments in all sports is when a pitcher wins the Silver Slugger award. That takes some heavy lifting.

This comes to the topic of what happened to pitchers being athletes on the field. With DHs, all they have to do is to throw a ball and that’s it. If this trend stands, pitchers may look like Big Sexy after awhile.

With last year’s designated hitter rule in place, none of this happened. Bench players played less with less pinch-hitting/double switch opportunities. Marcell Ozuna who is one of the worst outfielders in all of baseball won the first-ever National League DH Silver Slugger award as an Atlanta Brave. In his defense, he had a monster year batting .338 with a 1.067 on-base plus slugging. He also led the NL in home runs and runs batted in.

Even though it won’t be happening next season, this won’t be the end of the universal designated hitter. It’s on the horizon, getting closer and closer year by year. Manfred is lurking.

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