Rob Neyer over at ESPN.com had an interesting post yesterday (actually a comment on another post, which is all Mr. Neyer seems to do these days) concerning Stephen Strasburg jogging to first on what should have been an infield single. The post came to the conclusion that the NL should keep the pitchers hitting to keep it different but that the pitchers should care about their hitting and at least try. It's hard to argue about the point from a purest perspective. But it sure is easy to argue from a Fan's perspective. First, let's look at some dirty offensive numbers for pitchers:
- Diamondbacks: .197 BA, 44K in 147 at bats, Haran skews the numbers with his 100+ OPS+
- Braves: .167 BA, 33K in 114 at bats, Medlan is a decent hitter.
- Cubs: .147 BA, 35K in 108 at bats, Lost a good bat with Zambrano in the bullpen.
- Reds: .225 BA, 49K in 133 at bats, Batting average totally due to Leake batting over .400 with an OPS+ of 140. Easily the best hitting pitcher in the game.
- Rockies: .146 BA, 35K in 123 at bats, Cook is their best hitting pitcher.
- Marlins: .152 BA, 31K in 105 at bats, Sanchez has been their best hitting pitcher.
- Astros: .183 BA, 44K in 109 at bats, Wandy and Paulino can hit some. Astros pitchers are out hitting Lee.
- Dodgers: .074 BA, 41K in 107 at bats, they all stink. Worst hitting pitchers in baseball.
- Brewers: .190 BA, 45K in 121 at bats, Narveson is the best but Wolf and Gallardo hold their own.
- Mets: .177 BA, 35K in 113 at bats, Dickey is hitting well.
- Phillies: .140 BA, 53K in 128 at bats, Blanton can hit a little.
- Pirates: .095 BA, 51K in 105 at bats, Close to the Dodgers in futility. Maholm is the worst hitting pitcher in baseball going zip for 25 with 16 strikeouts.
- Padres: .196 BA, 40K in 102 at bats, LeBlanc has a 125 OPS+
- Giants: .135 BA, 61K in 111 at bats (far and away the highest whiff rate), Zito at least is in positive numbers in OPS+.
- Cardinals: .140 BA, 43K in 128 at bats, Lohse and Garcia are/were the best hitters.
- Nationals: .146 BA, 43K in 123 at bats, Stammen is a decent hitter.
Collectively, NL pitchers have batted 1880 times and have struck out 673 times or 36% of the time. NL pitchers are batting .156 collectively.
The Fan doesn't see how any of this is any fun for the fans or for the pitchers. How boring is it to see a pitcher hit and have say a 4 in 25 chance of getting a hit? How boring is it to see a pitcher whiff 36% of the time? How boring is it that 99 times out of a hundred, a pitcher will bunt with a runner on no matter if there is one out?
Here are the top ten reasons why the NL should get the DH:
1. Pitchers risk millions by hitting and getting injured so they don't really try.
2. Counting stats between the leagues is skewed by adding two to three strikeouts per game for the NL starting pitcher.
3. Adds to boredom at games. It kills rallies, forces intentional walks of eighth place batters. All those bunts.
4. It risks the investments NL teams place in pitching.
5. Ends awkwardness during interleague and World Series games.
6. Would keep teams like the Nationals from having to put a guy like Dunn in the field.
7. Would keep a few sluggers in the game longer.
8. Would simplify box scores and eliminate all those silly double switches.
9. Would keep great starters in the game longer.
10. More offense and thus more excitement for fans of NL clubs.
It's time to end the arcane split of the DH rule between the leagues. Minor league pitchers don't usually hit. It's no fun watching a pitcher hit, unless he is a Zambrano or a Leake. It's just time.