Implementation of DH in National League for 2020 season beneficial to certain players

The designated hitter has been in the American League since 1973, and is coming to the National League for the first time in 2020.



Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred addresses reporters during MLB Media Day activities on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

The designated hitter is coming to the National League for the first time in Major League Baseball history.

The 2020 season mandated by the league’s owners includes 60 games, COVID-19 testing every other day, and a universal designated hitter.

The DH has been in the American League since 1973. The American League saw the designated hitter as a boost for offense, since pitchers are notoriously poor batters. It started as a three-year experiment, but eventually was permanently implemented in the American League and in most minor and college leagues.

The concept of a universal designated hitter has been controversial around MLB fanbases. Fans opposing the designated hitter find interest in the ‘strategy’ of the National League games. Managers in the National League need to take into account where the pitcher is in the lineup, and decide whether they want to pinch-hit for their pitcher or keep them in.

Fans supporting the designated hitter see an opportunity for a better offense. Pitchers in the batting lineup are usually seen as a waste of space. With a designated hitter, it not only gives the opportunity for a better offense, but also gives defense-limited and older players more chances to stay in the game with 15 more spots across the league in the lineup.

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There are multiple players from National League teams that can benefit from the implementation of the DH.

Ryan Braun, a 36-year-old outfielder on the Milwaukee Brewers, is in the final year of his contract. Despite playing in 144 games in the 2019 season with a .849 OPS, he was slated to be the fourth outfielder behind Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and free-agent signee Avasaíl García in 2020. Braun called the option of being able to DH this season ‘appealing’ and has opened the door to playing a couple more years if the designated hitter sticks.

Howie Kendrick is also nearing the end of his career. Despite only playing in half of the games for the Washington Nationals, he posted a productive .344 average and .966 OPS in the 2019 season, winning a World Series. Similar to Ryan Braun, 36-year-old Kendrick could extend his career with the Nationals by appearing regularly as their designated hitter.

Yoenis Céspedes from the Mets has been batting injuries for the past two seasons. His 2018 campaign ended early when he had heel surgery in August of 2018 with a rehab time of 8-10 months. In May of 2019, while he was rehabbing in Florida, Céspedes suffered an ankle fracture on a ‘violent fall’ on his ranch that put him out for the 2019 season. Now, Céspedes is finished with rehab and ready to play again. Putting him at DH would be a good way for him to ease into the game.

Finally, Yasiel Puig has not yet signed with a team for the 2020 season. He spent six years with the Los Angeles Dodgers before getting traded to the Cincinnati Reds for the 2019 season, and then to the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline.

The extra lineup spot with the implementation of the designated hitter could incentivize teams to sign Puig, either as the designated hitter or an extra man on their bench.

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