Major League Baseball had a breakthrough amidst the ongoing player lockout, passing a universal designated hitter rule that will bring an additional hitter into National League play.
The NL has famously been without a non-fielding full-time hitter while the American League has played with one since 1973; finally, the playing field has been leveled with the new implementation.
Effects of the Universal Designated Hitter
The universal designated hitter is going to make baseball much more exciting for fans. Whereas pitchers taking the plate at the bottom of the inning was essentially a foregone conclusion, NL teams will now be able to add another offensive weapon to their lineup.
If anyone is going to be upset with the new ruleset, it is pitchers across NL teams who will now have to face another specialist in the box. Roughly 300 plate appearances that used to go to less-than-stellar batters will now be designated (no pun intended) to hitting specialists. The NL’s average scoring output of 4.65 runs was the third-highest since 2010, and this number is only going to rise moving forward.
This will also increase the overall landscape of NL teams compared to AL ones; AL squads were always able to attract big-hitting athletes with little ability in the field because of the DH rule, but now that that is universal, there will be plenty of NL teams lining up for the services of the biggest bats in baseball.
Impact on the NL
The NL tried out the universal designated hitter during the shortened 2020 season before returning to the conventional lineup in 2021.
Bringing back the DH will help teams that have older players, ones with injury concerns, inconsistency on the field, or just players that lack natural field positions— think of Kyle Schwarber here.
The DH will also help the more out of shape sluggers, such as Nelson Cruz, who hit 32 home runs at 41 years old last season. Returning to the earlier posit, this is going to bring a more symmetrical look to NL and AL teams.
What to Think Going Forward
Professional sports are and always will be judged by their entertainment value— with the ingratiation of sports betting, new technology, and various streaming services into the sector, the leagues are always going to be attempting to push the best product that they can.
Adding the universal designated hitter rule into baseball will create more show-stopping moments, higher audience retention, and a greater interest in baseball. Purists of the game will hate the new rule, but there cannot be progress without sacrifice.
When the biggest and most powerful hitters in baseball are lighting up the scoreboards and bringing acclaim and recognition back to the National League, nobody is going to be wondering what the game would look like if pitchers, whose job is not to hit the baseball, were still taking trips to the plate. The future is now in baseball, and once the lockout gets sorted out, the new rule will usher in a better and brighter era of baseball that everyone will want to watch.
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