While the American League adopted the designated hitter role in 1973, pitchers continued to hit when playing in National League ballparks. Pitchers as a whole don’t have much success hitting the ball unless we exclude a select few like Shohei Ohtani and Madison Bumgarner. During the shortened 2020 season due to the pandemic, both leagues implemented the universal DH role to avoid overworking pitchers.
Was Game 5 of the World Series the Final Game Without a DH
This World Series between the Houston Astros had no shortage of headlines as the two organizations were heated rivals when the Astros were a part of the National League. As the series heads back to Houston, the league may retire the no DH rule when playing in National League ballparks as this season comes to a close.
The collective bargaining agreement is set to expire December 1st, and the new collective bargaining agreement is expected to feature the universal DH. Commissioner Rob Manfred tried this before the season started but there had to be a tradeoff.
The MLB owners used the universal DH as a key negotiation tool as there is a huge discrepancy between the successful big market teams and small-market teams with few notable exceptions like the Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics, and the Kansas City Royals who won the 2015 WS. However, the early adoption of the universal DH didn’t take place in 2021 because the exchange would have led to an expanded postseason. We have the NBA implement the Play-in tournament which was relatively a success.
The expanded postseason may be another issue the MLB may want to consider for the future but as of right now the universal DH may be on its way in the upcoming 2022 season. In the 2021 season, pitchers combined to have a slash line of .110/.150/.142 with a 44.2 percent strikeout rate in just under 5,000 plate appearances. It can be seen as a sure out no matter how one dissects it the majority of the time.
Pitchers coming up to bat in key situations early in the game may not be the most compelling thing to watch during a game as teams want to drive in as many runs as possible when it’s their turn to bat. However, those moments may cement themselves in the history books as Houston Astros’ pitcher Zack Greinke potentially wrote the final piece of history.
Houston Astros Pitcher Zack Greinke Makes History in Game 5
Zack Greinke started Game 4 for the Astros and also cemented himself in the history books in Game 5 of the Fall Classic. Greinke asked manager Dusty Baker if he can pinch-hit for Yimi Garcia during the fourth inning of an elimination game. In doing so, Greinke became the first pitcher since the 1923 World Series to record a pitch-hit single.
He smacked a single to right-field off Braves reliever Jesse Chavez. In the process, he also hit the hardest-hit ball in the game according to Statcast as it reached an exit velocity of 105.9 mph. He joins Jack Bentley who recorded pitch-hits in both Game 1 and Game 4 for the New York Giants in the 1923 WS against the New York Yankees.
Some fans may not agree with the rules as the MLB has implemented new rules that can be seen as going against tradition. Eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk wasn’t such a bad rule, but the extra innings Runner on second rule had some backlash. As a baseball fan, what do you think about the universal DH that is expected to be implemented next season?