The designated hitter has been around for more than 40 years. Still, it remains one of the more hotly debated topics in baseball. Responding to a question from Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer about what rules people would like to see changed, Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander offered his two cents.
— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) February 23, 2017
Verlander made two points here. One is hard to argue with. The other can be a hot-button issue among baseball fans.
It’s undeniably odd that for more than 40 years, MLB has had its two leagues playing under different rules.
Imagine if the three-point line was only legal in the NBA’s Western Conference. How much would that impact play in the NBA Finals? Yet, every year the World Series is contested under two different sets of rules.
The Boston Red Sox competed in three World Series in David Ortiz’s career. All three times, they had to have Ortiz as their starting first baseman or ride the bench in the National League park. Conversely, while National League teams have 4-5 pinch hitters, they usually don’t have any non-starters who are every day players. Kyle Schwarber was a rare asset for the 2016 Chicago Cubs.
If nothing else, it’s long overdue for the rule to be unified.
Now, unified in which way? That’s the controversial issue. If you get caught between two people arguing it, get comfortable. You’re not going anywhere for a while.
More often than not, a fan’s answer will be guided by which team he/she cheers for. American League fans generally believe the DH is the way to go and that the National League is stuck in the dark ages. National League loyalists believe the DH is an abomination and that the game should be nine players who both hit and field.
So, it’s a little surprising to hear Verlander — a career American Leaguer — advocate the National League’s rules. It’s even more unique in that one of Detroit’s better hitters, Victor Martinez, is a DH that really can’t be an every-day fielder at this point of his career.
If Verlander gets his way, he’d have to hit. That’d be a drawback. Between the regular season and playoffs, Verlander has 60 plate appearances. He’s recorded only three hits (all singles), has struck out 18 times and has 10 sacrifice bunts.
Perhaps he’s just looking for the easy out each time through the lineup.