If the DH comes to the NL, the Cubs will have plenty of options. Who stands to benefit?

The Cubs scout hitters as well as any team in baseball.  They have a strong lineup from 1-6 and they have plenty more talent in the minor leagues.  While we can never be sure how any individual hitter will adapt to the DH role, the Cubs have a nice-sized pool to choose from, though knowing Joe Maddon, he will probably use the spot to give his hitters a day off in the field while still keeping their potent bat in the lineup

I am for the DH although I know not everyone here agrees with me on that.  We have our  share of traditionalists as well as those who like to see the more nuanced strategy (and having Joe Maddon may give the Cubs an advantage there).  Some even still enjoy watching “good” hitters like Jason Hammel and Travis Wood hit.

In defense of the DH, it allows another bat to get in the lineup.  That’s one more job for a major league hitter.  And while I enjoy seeing Travis Wood go for the fences from time to time, it isn’t enough to make up for having to watch the Jon Lesters and Matt Garzas of the world — or all the sacrifice bunt attempts..  Overall it is almost an automatic out, an unnecessary hole in the lineup.

And I’m not going to lie here — I like that the Cubs have a surplus of hitters and I think they stand to benefit more than most teams.  Here is a list of players who stand to benefit.

Jorge Soler

He is the first name that comes to mind because of his struggles in the field last year.  His UZR 150 of -12.7 tags him as a well below average defender — and the worst on the 2015 Cubs.

Soler is said to have shed some extra weight and has more of the lean build we saw in the minors, which should help regain some burst and agility out there, but it isn’t going to do anything for his reads and routes.  Soler will try to address that by doing extra outfield work in the offseason.

He is never going to get near Jason Heyward’s level but he does have some athleticism, average speed, and a well above average arm.  We’ve seen outfielders like Alfonso Soriano improve late in their career, so it is not unheard of that Soler can improve when we consider he is still just 23.

Kyle Schwarber

Schwarber gets unfairly criticized for his defense because he played poorly in the NLCS losses.  The truth is that Schwarber held his own pretty well in LF and was at least adequate most of the year.  He is a good enough athlete to be average out there and with his bat, that would be a huge asset, but even if Schwarber  plays well enough to be a full time outfielder, he is a big bodied kid who can use an occasional rest from the field.

Chris Coghlan

Coghlan improved in the field and outplayed both Cubs corner outfielders on defense.  If he plays, it is likely he would play one of the corners and Soler or Schwarber will move to the DH role, though you could make the argument that a veteran who has had to come off the bench may be better equipped to handle the atypical DH environment in which you are essentially pinch-hitting 4 + times per game.

Albert Almora

Almora is one of the best OF defenders in the minors so he is not going to DH.  Rather, that would open up a spot for Almora to move to CF, bump Heyward to right and a corner OFer to DH.

Dan Vogelbach

Vogelbach is completely blocked right now.  His only chance to make it as a Cub would be as a DH.  He has the hit tool and the raw power to make an impact on offense and having him DH would maximize that because you don’t get penalized for his defense.

Jeimer Candelario

It’s hard to think of a better minor league candidate for this role.  Candelario is a switch hitter who can give you consistent good ABs…and he can flat out hit.  He can DH full time while also being the primary backup at 1B and 3B, where he can be an average defender.

Ian Happ

Happ is athletic and can play multiple positions, so he would likely pay somewhere in the field.  His best position is corner OFer and would probably be good enough to bump Schwarber or Soler.

Billy McKinney

Like Almora, Candelario, and Vogelbach, McKinney is another player getting close but without a clear path to a starting role.  McKinney’s best spot is at LF.

Jon Lester

I don’t think he’ll miss stepping into the batters box.

The Cubs Defense

Particularly if Almora moves to CF, Heyward goes to RF, and Soler shifts to the DH role.  It also gives the Cubs extra opportunities to put Javier Baez in the field.  He’d be an upgrade at multiple positions while allowing the  Cubs to rest Addison Russell or Ben Zobrist without much, if any, of a defensive dropoff.

All of the starters

It’s easy to envision the Cubs rotating some players in the DH role to give them a partial day off.  Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Jorge Soler can all see a lot of time no matter who the full time DH is.  Aging veterans such as Ben Zobrist and Miguel Montero could benefit as well.

The NL Teams in interleague play

NL teams are often at a disadvantage when it comes to interleague play on the road because their benches are built for versatility  and defense rather than a place to stash the kind of sluggers the AL teams are able to keep on the roster.

The Front Office

If the Cubs are looking to move surplus hitting for pitching, it certainly doesn’t hurt that there are 15 more hitting jobs suddenly available.

The Starting Pitchers

Having a DH means they may not have to be removed prematurely if they are tied or trailing a close game.

The Bullpen

The longer the starters stay  in, the fresher your  bullpen tends to stay.

As far as managing the game goes, I think Joe Maddon will be fine either way but I think his strengths are in setting up match-ups and keeping players fresh.  Not having to make extra moves because of having to account for the pitcher helps him do that and allows him to use his bullpen more efficiently.  It would also allow him to keep his bench bats in rhythm.  Tommy La Stella, Javier Baez, and the aforementioned Coghlan can get some ABs in and keep them from getting rusty should they be needed to pinch-hit at some point.

I get the argument against the DH and there is a part of me that will always like the NL style of play, but for me the pros outweigh the cons.  It is gaining some momentum, but still may not happen by 2017 as The Sporting News reported.

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  • I was long opposed to the DH in the NL but, and here's where reality sets in, it became inevitable with inter league play. You cannot have teams play each other under two sets of rules forever. It isn't good for the game. So that leaves the argument at DH in the NL or no DH at all and that's not even an argument anymore. Every level of play from high school to the minor leagues have the DH. Young MLB players never knew a time without it. There is no other solution than to implement it in the NL and with new CBA they might as well do it now. It's time to pull the bandaid off.

    The good news, if it already wasn't good news in your world, is that the Cubs going into 2017 will be well positioned going into the new era. John, you spelled it out pretty nicely in terms of options. It will be an early advantage to the Cubs although that will level out pretty quickly. Bring it on.

  • In reply to TC154:

    That is a good point. I think that tipped the scales a bit toward the AL.

    I will miss some of the strategy, but there is still enough there to make it interesting.

  • In reply to TC154:

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  • In reply to TC154:

    Entering a real (no DH) game of baseball, a manager has 25 "chips," i. e., the number of active players he can use. When he makes a substitution, he loses a chip. He does not get to use a specialist without spending a chip. That's not real baseball. The DH is a specialist who gets to do his one specialist thing throughout the game, and not have to play all facets of the game. No, not allowed in the real sport of baseball. In order to use the no-defense hitting specialist in any situation, you must spend that chip. You opt to use a pinch-hitter, you pay the loss of a chip. That's the trade a manager must consider. Or to express it the other way, the manager does not like his lousy-hitting pitcher to hit. Fine. The manager has free will to pinch-hit for his lousy-hitting pitchers any time. But he's gotta spend a chip each time. Or, to express it still another way, he can start his lumbering, bad-defense slugger at a position on the field, leaving the lighter hitter/better fielder on the bench. That is supposed to be the manager's dilemma. And then he has free will to sub out the first guy and insert the second at any point. Again, necessarily spending a chip. This is an essential aspect of the sport. The DH is quasi-baseball, granting a free, full-game pass to a specialist at no cost of any chips. I like DH quasi-baseball. It's pretty close to real baseball. But I love real baseball. I also like to eat Velveeta. But I prefer to eat real cheese.

  • In reply to michaelc:

    Ok look, I think we get in a whole lot of trouble when we start defining what "real" is regarding almost everything. The DH is utilized today in every level of organized ball from high school on up except for the NL. Try telling those players that what they're playing isn't "real baseball". There are people that say that utilizing shifts isn't real baseball too. What about 1 inning closers? Or LOOGYS? I'll grant you that the DH is a bigger change than any of those things but all are evolutions of the game. If there is going to be interleague play then then there has to be a common set of rules.

    I'm 54 years old and if you had told me 10 years ago, maybe even 5 years ago that I'd be arguing for the DH in the NL I would have said you were crazy but here we are. If i had my way you'd eliminate in the AL but we all know that isn't going to happen. It's been in place too long and, as I said above, it's used in every level of baseball. I like the strategy of the NL game, I think it's more interesting and a more compelling game. That said pitchers have become even worse hitters than they were before. Many of them never spent any time practicing hitting from the point, be that in high school, college or what have you, that they decided their fortunes lay in pitching. They aren't good at it. The other main thing is that as salaries rise it becomes almost scary to send pitchers out there to possibly hurt themselves doing something that you aren't really paying them to do. The $40 mil AAV pitcher is probably already in the game and I think that's going to go a long way to change owner's minds.

    Again, I don't love the idea. I just see it as something that has been inevitable for some time and we're approaching the time when something may happen. From a purely selfish standpoint I'd like to see it in this CBA as opposed to the next because the Cubs are so well positioned for it. Either way, sooner or later the DH is coming to the NL.

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    “Oh, well, my wet newspaper is 34 ½ inches, 33 ½ ounces, and I’m waiting on some new ones right now,” said (Madison) Bumgarner, asked for comment. Now that's a man.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Ha!

  • I'm firmly in the 'con' camp as regards the DH - but have accepted the inevitability of it for the NL. Meehh!

    I think it will take a lot of strategy out of game management,.... and will shift some of the managerial responsibility from managing the bench position players and their at bats, to managing the pitching more directly. Obviously Maddon has coached in the AL with a DH before,.... he'll do fine either way.

    If it was going to happen though - would prefer to see it happen this season rather than this year or next.... Cubs would be one of the best positioned NL teams for a DH right now.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    True, but even next year would be great because Almora, Candelario, et all will be ready.

  • It would be good if the DH in the NL held off long enough for the Cubs to win a WS while there is still real baseball.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Personally, real baseball doesn't equate to sending ineptitude to the batters box.

    If you had $155MM invested in a pitcher, would you want him working on hitting or taking extra care of the arm?

    Sorry if I sound harsh, but there's no intelligent reason to keep trotting pitchers to the plate.

  • For this pitcher, I'd rather he use the time to throw better to first base than work on his hitting.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    1

    I wish this site had like button.

  • Real baseball is 9 on 9, playing both sides of the ball.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Really?! Many pitchers are DH'd for at high school levels, college levels, and in most of the minor leagues. That's not real baseball at those levels?

    Many pitchers go many years without touching a bat, yet are expected to do so in one league and if they play an NL affiliate at AA & AAA. DH is no brainer, in my opinion.

  • It's a popular version with many folks, no doubt.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I always loved watching Maddux bat. It was obvious he was overmatched, but he would never give in. A true competitor, and yes, baseball player.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I agree -
    I don't like a player not being able to field his position still getting to hit.

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    That's true. Then again, why do we insist on playing players both ways, offense and defense? I've seen pitchers that hit better than some of the "defensive specialists" that many teams carry. Why not follow the example of football and have "defensive" and "offensive" players?

    To paraphrase you, "Sorry to sound harsh, but there's no intelligent reason to keep trotting glove first players to the plate."

    I can appreciate differences of opinion. In fact, it is one of my favorite things about this site. I do feel that that last comment was condescending. There ARE intelligent reasons for the DH and intelligent reasons to not have the DH. To simply give your opinion on inept pitchers batting and then proclaim there is no intelligent reason to disagree with you isn't really insightful in my opinon. It sounds to me like declaring yourself the victor in a discussion and saying any other view is, by definition, less.

  • You certainly have brought up a hot topic, John, and I expect some heated debate. I have always been anti-DH, but it does seem more likely that it is an inevitably. I prefer an all-around baseball player to a "one-hit" wonder, and certainly prefer the NL game. I think it was Costas who I first heard say "The AL is a game of checkers, the NL is a game of chess". I much prefer chess. Enjoy the nuances of the sacrifice and double-switch, they probably won't be around much longer.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I think most of the denizens are anti-DH -- but there does seem to be an acceptance. It probably helps that the Cubs stand to benefit from it.

    As for me, never been a fan of the sacrifice but will miss some of the strategy and roster construction that made the NL more of an all-around game.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    One of the strategies I won't miss is having men in scoring position with 2 outs and then watching the opposing team pitch around the #8 hitter so they can strike out the pitcher. It's like having only 7 batters in your lineup.

  • In reply to good4you:

    Agreed.

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    In reply to good4you:

    See, I don't mind that. Because now the offensive team's manager can choose to pinch hit. Or even the worst hitting pitchers can get hits (Lester officially recorded one last year). And few things are as demoralizing to a pitcher than allowing a hit to the opposing pitcher. Sometimes they get frustrated and make a mistake to the next, far more potent, hitter (just ask John Lackey). Sometimes the pitcher can't find his control in time after an intentional walk and then walks the pitcher. It also assures that the offense will NOT be leading off an inning with the pitcher.

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    I understand the reasoning for bringing the DH to the NL. John, you listed them beautifully and illustrated how much it would help the Cubs. I am probably in the minority but still don't want it. I know it goes against what's best for the Cubs, but I love the inner chess playing of the game and who's coming up and who's in the bullpen, etc. I don't get that in the AL.
    I'll accept it, but still don't like it.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    That seems to be the prevailing sentiment and I totally understand it. As I said to BP, I think I will just miss the roster construction most -- you need to have versatile players with multiple skills to have a good bench. With the DH, there won't be as much need for that.

  • John you mentioned reasons why it'd be good for the cubs to make the move to a DH, but you didn't mention how you felt about it as a league overall. What if the Cubs were rebuilding? What would you say then?

  • That is a good question -- I was actually for it when they were rebuilding. At the time I had my eye on Vogelbach for that spot but he hasn't developed the in-game power you want yet.

    But more to your question, it isn't just about the Cubs. I think the league is just better off balanced, I don't like seeing pitchers hit, I don't like bunting...so I am for it even if it didn't benefit the Cubs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks for your input on both accounts John. Really appreciate everything you guys do for us here at Cubs Den.

  • For a long time I wasn't in favor of the DH in the NL, but I firmly am now. You just can't have to sets of rules with constant interleague play. Plus, does it really take a strategic genius to make a double switch in the 8th when the pitcher is scheduled to lead off the next inning? Really?

    This will be one of those things like lights in Wrigley Field and the new video boards. Once there we'll all be like, "This is awesome. What took so long?"

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    This is basically been my position for the past several years. You just can't have two sets of rules anymore given the financial stakes. I prefer NL ball, but I will get over it.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I like having the two sets of rules - it is one thing that differentiates the leagues. I'd rather they quit the interleague play.

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    I think you're probably right. Change can be hard at first. I've always found myself to be out in front of change...I like it because I am an adaptable sort of person. My wife, however, is not as big a fan of change, so I get it. It probably depends somewhat on personality. It may also depend on how long one has followed the game. I suspect I am somewhere in the middle, but most longtime fans probably are against the DH while newer fans may be for it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I use to be out in front of change, but lived long enough to realize much of the change was a disaster.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    The world -- including baseball -- has changed a lot in my 40+ years and most of it has been for the better. We live in a better world now in terms of technology, medicine, human rights, etc than existed 50 years ago. The world is going to change and baseball is going to roll with it. We can fight it or we can adapt and change with it. I think in most cases here when it comes to DH, our readers accept that and will choose the latter.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree with that, but I'm sure that the dh fits into that narrative.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    The narrative here is always baseball and this article is about the DH and the change it presents :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The smug sounding "the only constant is change" is a great truth, for all the reasons to which you alluded. The subtle benefit is Theo plays the long game. I think he's well-positioned for the day when the dh rule is universal, and/or baseball expands to accommodate two more teams, because of his emphasis on pursuing hitters.

    Bunting doesn't have much of a place in today's game. As a strategy piece, it's of dubious value, plus pitchers seem disinterested. If a pitcher manages to successfully reach base, that team's multi-million dollar investment is navigating the bases.

    Bring on the dh, I'll live with it.

  • In reply to Hazen Cuyler:

    Agreed on all counts here.

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    I actually saw a headline a few days ago that was something like "the NL will get the DH, people will be pissed for 2 months, then get over it".

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    That sounds about right to me.

  • The cubs will downright scary with a DH in the NL.That means players like vogelbach can be kept and schwarber can dh and contreras play C.

  • I agree that the NL is at a disadvantage at AL parks. However, the American League teams are at a distinct disadvantage when at a NL park, seeing as big hitters like Ortiz can't make it into the lineup (or are a huge risk defensively). Additionally, NL pitchers have more experience at hitting than AL pitchers, which especially could make a difference with someone like madbum in a potential World Series game.

  • Disagree with AL being at disadvantage, it just means they have a stronger bench. And with so much player movement these days in free agency most pitchers have played in the NL or played against NL teams in minors and had to hit. And really what is the difference between an automatic out and an almost automatic out? Having Ortiz available to PH is more of an advantage than having a pitcher who can hit .170 rather than .150

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I guess it just depends on the team. I think I was referring more to teams that end up being top heavy, where teams rely on really good middle of the order hitters to produce the majority of their runs, and a weaker supporting lineup around them. For example, the 2011 Tigers relied on 2 players for the majority of their runs: Cabrera at first and vmartinez at dh. During interleague games, but Cabrera would have to shift over to 3rd in order to play vmart at first, where both were liabilities.
    That said, when a team is more well rounded like the royals, it isn't as big of a factor.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I disagree - You take a middle of the order bat out of the lineup and reduce to a pinch hitter. Some pitchers take the time to practice hitting and are not the automatic out that has been portrayed. No reason pitchers shouldn't practice hitting to be a more complete player. Just like if you can't field a position you should not have a DH. If you like specialization just have a separate offense and defense. If the runner is slow have designated runners.

  • That is a good point, but I think the omission just evens it out. It's not like AL teams field weaker teams other than the DH.. The NL pitchers aren't good enough to make too much of an impact over the NL pitchers. It may be close to negligible. If there is a big difference, it may be in the quality of their bench. The NL tends to have more versatile benches.

  • Aren't the KC Royals an NL style team? They haven't done much though!

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    If the NL and AL have the same rules, there'll be no such thing as an NL style team! (Which makes me a sad panda)

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    Lester have to admit is pretty bad as a hitter,in fact he reminds me of Bob Buhl from back in the 60's.

    The DH has been around now over 40 years so why not bring into the NL and unify both leagues.

    BTW why not do away with the winner of the All*Star game determining which league gets home field advantage in the World Series while we're at it.

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    Agree on the last part. It is a very imperfect solution. Any ideas on how to keep teams motivated for the game or does it not just matter and just let it be an exhibition like it is in the other sports?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The home field advantage wouldn't have so bad if it weren't for the fan voting. Or vice versa.

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    Oddly enough Lester's exit velocity was near the top of all pitchers, which is shocking but true. He's actually due for a bump in average this season despite the glum look on his face every time he has a bat in his hands. Hendricks is the real train wreck at the dish.

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    The all star game thing is my least favorite part of MLB. I hate it with a passion. Let it be an exhibition and stop pretending it should effect who wins the World Series.

  • In reply to CubsFanMich:

    It is a travesty. All because of the tie game at Bud's Baby in Milwaukee. It makes no sense whatsoever, but will take a big push to undo. A shame.

  • In reply to CubsFanMich:

    Hear, hear, here!

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    They can do like hockey and play 5 on 5 baseball to generate excitement for the all star game. Or, more realistically, do like football and play the all star game at the end of the year on off days of the World Series, without players from those two teams. How about 4 teams single elimination? Gives you 3 all star games. Do the players really need an all star break? If so give them a 4 day weekend somewhere, otherwise it helps shorten the season and get the World Series out of November.

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    Except Cubs' fans would want NL to have home-field advantage if/when Cubs get to WS.
    So win ASG for your league AND your team.

  • If DH comes, why do we assume Cubs have advantage over rest of NL? Most of them have their own Vogelbach and lots of good hit/bad field guys to DH for them.

  • In reply to Cubfucius:

    Actually they don't. The good hit bad field guys already have jobs in AL. They are really not that common. Cubs are one of the few teams that have starter caliber players on their bench and more coming in the upper minors.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Respectfully disagree.
    First, NL teams will have much advance notice and will adapt rosters before DH in effect.
    Second, most teams have a Vogelbach-type (or several) in their minors. Cubs cannot expect top-5 minors system forever, and lower draft picks will affect that.

    I see maybe one year of advantage for Cubs, mostly because of Maddon experience. After that, teams will have adapted rosters for DH effect.
    Only way Cubs have advantage long-term is with better roster than other teams (which FO may indeed continue to provide).

  • DH grumble grumble.......Did you mean to say the Happ will be good enough to bump Schwarber or Soler for a corner OF spot? Or is there a "not" missing.

  • First time poster. Long time reader.

    In regards to what John said about the dh essentially being a pinch hitter 4x a game, it got me thinking. With how versatile our roster is, can we rest starters for an inning in a game and move them to dh and move the dh to a position? I know how everyone says how hard pinch hitting is coming off the bench cold, but this would completely alleviate that concern. Just another reason why this could be an advantage to us as we are currently constructed and with a manager like joe. Not sure if that is a legal move or if the players would even go for something like that. Could be strategic also.

  • In reply to Les Izmoore:

    I'm not sure on that. I don't see why not.

    The thing is that it only works when you have the parts to move around and keep rotating players in. Most AL teams have turned to a DH that belongs nowhere near the field.

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    In reply to Les Izmoore:

    "The designated hitter can be moved to a fielding position during the game. If the DH is moved to another position, his team forfeits the role of the designated hitter, and the pitcher or another player (the latter possible only in case of a multiple substitution) would bat in the spot of the position player replaced by the former DH. If the designated hitter is moved to pitcher, any subsequent pitcher (or pinch-hitter thereof) would bat should that spot in the batting order come up again (except for a further multiple substitution). Likewise, if a pinch-hitter bats for a non-pitcher, and then remains in the game as the pitcher, the team would forfeit the use of the DH for the remainder of the game, and the player who was DH would become a position player (or exit the game.)" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Designated_hitter

  • In reply to Pirate Teacher:

    Ahh yes, that sounds familiar now. Thanks for digging that up.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Interestingly, it's assumed that the AL has such a huge advantage in inter league play due to the DH but in recent years the AL has only out scored the NL by between .2 and .3 runs a game. The image we have of AL teams with slugging DHs doesn't really hold water.

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    In reply to ericccs:

    Shhhh, don't let the secret out.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Do you honestly believe a DH is worth just 2 or 3 more runs than a pitcher on offense over a 162 game season? Think about that for a second. The problem is using broad spectrum team statistics to compare individual players or positions. If the Cubs were to put Schwarber at DH, do you think he'll be worth 2 to 3 more runs over the Cubs pitchers?

  • In reply to ericccs:

    Broad stats like that distort the picture because it doesn't isolate individual performance from the team, league, and general environment. It doesn't make any sense that having a David Ortiz in your lineup over a pitcher is worth just 2 runs over 162 games. All things being equal, a DH, even a bad one, would add 10 to 20 runs if we isolate that particular player's production via things like WAR. A good DH like Nelson Cruz is worth 40 runs over a replacement level hitter over a 162 game season. And only one pitcher was even at a replacement level, Madison Baumgarner. Every other pitcher was in the negative vs a replacement level hitter.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Looks like you are (once again) right on, here. But I think you misread the stat: he said .2 to .3 runs per game = 32 to 48 runs over the course of 162 game season, not 2 or 3 runs total.

    On the whole DH argument, I go back and forth. Lately, I'm leaning more towards DH, though I get the strategy argument (and appreciate all of the extra strategy involved in the NL). However, it looks like most pitchers (either league) don't hit in the minors anymore, so if they aren't going to take hitting seriously, or practice hitting at all, I'm kind of tired of watching them try to hit. Pitching has become very specialized, with guys throwing harder then ever, with nasty sliders and curves.

    Pitchers hitting stats have been in decline for years:
    http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/71693338/new-york-mets-bartolo-colon-among-worst-hitting-pitchers-ever

    While it's fun when a pitcher comes up with a big hit (Hammel in NLCS comes to mind), I wouldn't miss it too much.

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    In reply to brober34:

    Oops - NLDS, of course. no one came up with a big hit in the NLCS! It's late.

  • In reply to brober34:

    I did misread that. Should wear my glasses :) Didn't see those decimals. But 32 to 48 runs over 162 games is still significant. We're talking about starting a 3 to 5 win player over a replacement level player.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ha. All I'm saying here is that in this day and age there really aren't any slugging DHs left. I'd also argue that they are nowhere close to 3-5 WAR players (or they'd show up on WAR leader lists) because they're not replacing replacement level hitters. They're replacing sub replacement level hitting pitchers and generally doing it from a better spot in the lineup.
    And yes, the Cubs would kill it ifthey could rotate through the likes of Schwarber, Soler, Coghlan etc. Interesting how we have a roster tailor made for the NL with its defensive versatility but also tailor made for the AL with it's pop.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Cant directly reply to ericcs but there are most certainly slugging dhs. David ortiz, miguel sano this year will be, arod, victor martinez is more a bat control guy but still has power when healthy. These are all potential 3-5 win players at dh this year.

  • If there is a groundswell of momentum for this rule change, it is simply another reason to hold on to Soler for another season. His value will be greater to the Cubs (and anyone else) if the DH comes to the NL.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    If Soler can hit, that would be great, he could develop into a fine DH. But for now, the Cubs play in the NL, which re-affirms my bromance with the baseball player known as Javier Baez.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    In that case baseball needs to adopt ASA and NCAA softball rules and adopt the DP. The DP is a designated batter slotted within the batting 9. The "Flex" player is defense only and listed 10th. However, the DP can go in the field and play defense for anyone in that 9 in the batting order. It is not a substitution. In theory, Baez could play a different position in 8 of the 9 innings. The only substitution would be if Baez went in for the "Flex" player on defense. That then would be a substitution. The Flex player can re-enter the game one time. Now that is a game for Maddon!

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Wow. That would be dizzying. But oddly perfect as it has something for both sides of the argument. Traditionalists get strategy and DHiphiles get to not watch pitchers hit.

  • In reply to ericccs:

    it only takes one or two games to get used to it. But yes, pitchers do not hit normally, though in FP we have some good Def. infielders or Catchers that might not hit.

    The advantages can even encompass a sprain, You put the DP into that players defensive position while you evaluate your regular fielder. There is NO substitution considered unless the FLEX player (10th) comes out of the game, though you do have to report the defensive changes.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Replying to Theo, agreed there's a couple but it seems like the job has changed and quality of DH in general has lessened greatly. The impact isn't what it once was which could definitely be a result of the demise of the steroid era. It's only notable because perception seems to be that the DH is a huge advantage when the numbers don't seem to back it imho

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    I'm ready for the move to the DH. By the end of every season I get tired of watching players that are 'NOT' professional hitters try to hit. Sure a few of them are pretty good hitters, but the % is waaaaay too low. Of course the same thing can also be said about backup catchers, but baby steps must be taken, rather then leaps of faith.

  • I can't wait til I have kids and I can tell them "I remember when the pitchers used to bat." It seems inevitable and it just happens to benefit the Cubs tremendously.

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    you mean, "I remember when pitchers used to TRY to bat"
    good times

  • I've never really comprehended the anti-DH stance.

    I want pitchers focusing solely for which they're paid. I want them focusing on maintaining their arms & shoulders, not worrying about yielding a stick...for which they aren't paid to even be competent. I want them working on fielding their position and holding runners.

    Lastly, as far as strategy, I'll gladly accept more competency at the plate over the slight change in strategy. If you want strategy, the DH could be filled by a fast guy who puts the ball on the ground when the wind is gusting in! Cheers

  • This is pretty much my stance as well.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm honored!!

  • I agree with a lot of your points, but can't see the "never comprehended" part. I give you more credit than that.

    I've played with a lot of people. Great players are always striving to be better, to improve holes in their game. Great pitchers understand the value of a quality at-bat. To take it to another extreme, I'm sure there are fans who wouldn't mind watching pitching machines lobbing balls to hitters, with nameless, faceless droids shagging balls. I know this is extreme, but hits the point: different fans enjoy the game differently. Baseball has been played for over a century, and lots of us like seeing the nuance and strategy of a 9-man lineup, with every player on the field playing both ways. I completely see your point, and as much as I hate to admit it, might be leaning toward it. I just don't see how it is difficult to comprehend a different point of view.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    But isn't the DH more about game management? Without a DH, you have to make a choice about when to double switch, if you want to leave a guy in, in the 6th, who is clinging to a 1 run lead, with bases loaded?
    I agree about wanting pitchers to focus, but there seems to be way more about it then that.

  • In reply to Jeff Wilson:

    Yes! That is part of the beauty of baseball. Checkers vs. chess. I take chess all day, but I see others preferring something different.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Hear, hear! One thing that is always a poor choice in politics or sports, is to vote in your own self interest, because that position is against the interest and long-term health of the the whole.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Let's leave politics out of this. You know better, Q.

    And if I am going to address this just in terms of logic, it is a fallacy to say that what is in one's self interest is diametrically opposed to what is good for the whole anyway. What is in one's own self interest can absolutely parallel what is good for the whole. In fact, it happens all the time. And conversely it is false to also say that what is against one's one best interests is necessarily good for the whole. There are no absolutes in that sense in either direction.

    And again, let's keep it about baseball and take politics out of it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It depends on which narrative is preeminent. If you focus on your team, then you are not focused on the game. That can be a parallel interest, but it is happenstance, not a matter of intent.

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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31g0YE61PLQ

  • The time has come. With the unbalanced leagues requiring constant inter league play, continuously rebalancing the rosters is silly. It is time to move forward. I'm just real glad we will be ahead of the curve with plenty of low cost options to fill that role.

  • My preference is no DH but also that pitchers do not bat. Only have the 8 positional players & pinch hitters bat. The 8 positional players get more ABs per game

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    In reply to kenilworth:

    I had never heard that stance before, thanks for the 'food for thought'!

  • I think it is time that baseball has the 2 leagues playing by the same rules. Seems like the AL is getting the better contracts for hitters and the NL getting the better pitchers. The MLB is the only sport I can think of that has different rules for each league. Imagine the NFL with the NFC playing by the NFL rules and the AFC playing by the Canada football rules.

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    If the NL goes with the DH that will be the last time I need to go to Wrigley. I can watch AL crap where I live outside Detroit. The DH ruins the game and will only make more millionaires out of guys who can't run the bases or catch a ball that isn't hit right at them. We already pay too much to go to a live game, taking away strategy too? It may be time to drop baseball all together and just watch football.

  • In reply to Richard Johnson:

    DH is my baseball fan litmus test.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    For or against?

  • In reply to Richard Johnson:

    Eh. Hitting a round ball with a round bat is a pretty sweet skill. Though I take your point. One thing I like about the DH is that it prolongs the careers of great sluggers. There are so few these days I wouldn't mind preserving some for their late 30s.

  • In reply to ericccs:

    You mean like some of the enormous and bad contracts some of these broken down players get to DH?

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Ha. Well that's on the teams. I'm not interested in what the DH makes just that he's not a pitcher hitting. If Arte Moreno wants to pay Pujols 25 million a year until he's 60 then that's his business and just a competitive advantage to the other 29.

  • In reply to ericccs:

    Whoa we have a decided advantage over AL teams because we're not DHing a guy earmarked for DH. We're using a skilled hitter from our bench. The 25 mil Pujols is making is 25 mil the Angels can't spend on a competent left fielder. Or late inning reliever etc. And we're probably outWARing Pujols just from our bench

  • In reply to ericccs:

    True to both of your posts! I am not a DH fan, but your points are well taken.

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    In reply to ericccs:

    I like to see if a manager takes out a pitcher late in the game for a pinch hitter. Sometimes done with a small lead, sometimes done with a small deficit. This can happen when your starter is pitching good and your bullpen has been over worked etc. There are many other decisions in NL games. As far as the great sluggers are concerned (no offense here) mostly they're overpaid, clog the bases, keep good young players stuck in the minors, type guys. Besides, sometimes a good pitching duel is as good as a 22 to 20 game, maybe better.

  • I think the next Moneyball idea will be the organization the focuses on pitchers learning to hit well in the minors. What an advantage to have your starters hitting .200 instead of .050.

    If anything, I'd like to see the AL get rid of the DH.

  • In reply to berber31:

    I don't think they want to give it up. After all it gives them an advantage over the NL. I can't remember any year the NL won more inter league games than the AL. The AL always wins more inter league games. The biggest fans of no DH in the NL are probably the AL teams.

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    In reply to John57:

    AL is never going to give it up. What are the Tigers and Angels going to do w Pujols and Cabrera in the coming years

  • In reply to berber31:

    What a great point

  • I wonder, if the DH were in place back then, if Babe Ruth would ever have been known as a hitter?

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Or 'Stan the Man'.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I think Ruth's exploits as a hitter were well known. And this is such a different era. The closest we get to Ruth these days is Rich Ankiel...and everyone already knew he was a good hitter too. A better example maybe be Adam Loewen, who was an AL pitcher but did try to comeback as a hitter. In his case he didn't make it, but the point is his hitting skills were no secret and he put up some solid numbers in the minors...enough to get a cup of coffee last year with the Phillies.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Micah owens. Arizona dbacks.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Babe was a pretty good pitcher also. won 95 games , held the WS record for consecutive shutout innings for 40 years, ands amazingly, his last appearance with the Stankees he convinced Joe McCarthy to let him be the starting pitcher for the last game of the season and pitched 6 SO innings(and that was the fat,out-of-shape Babe). Babe was a truly amazing athlete, even if he didn't look it the last couple of years of his c areer.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I believe that it is safe to say Ruth would have held his own. I believe the eye test would have prevailed.

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    By most counts Babe "failed" the "eye-test". But he sure could hit. And it was well known.

  • John, can you lend some insight to the people in the position to make the decision about the DH? What is their arguments in NOT wanting to have the DH in the NL? Is it the owners, players, some competition committee?

    When it first came out back in the day ( yes I am that old) I figured it would end after a year or 2. One would think that after 40 years we would be all under one set of rules for both leagues.

    Even when the NFL and ALF merged they changed to one rules set. It is unfair to both leagues and the players salaries when you get down to it. Pitchers stats are distorted having to face an extra "real" hitter in one league and and automatic out in the other.

  • In reply to Peanuts:

    On that level it is probably more about money than it is about tradition. The players are for it because it is an extra starting level player making starting level salary. It can also extend the career of hitters. Ownership doesn't want to have to pay that extra salary. My guess is that is the sticking point over things like tradition. If both sides felt they could profit from it, I am sure it would get done in a heartbeat.

  • We all knew this would be an interesting debate. It goes right to the heart of what you like as a baseball fan. I keep thinking of a philosophical similarity to another debate we've had here. During this offseason, nearly every trade rumor has involed the Cubs moving Soler or Baez. There has been much debate and support of one player or the other. I think there is probably a correlation between a preference of one over the other, and a wanting of the DH. I am a huge supporter of Baez's total game over Soler's, and am anti-DH. Ginger vs. Mary-Ann. I would bet people who prefer Soler over Baez are also pro-DH, and vice-versa. Just gets into a deeper baseball philosophy. If you are higher on Soler than Baez, are you also pro-DH? I wonder.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Interesting. I'm a MaryAnn type guy.
    As for baseball I'm a traditionalist but not too stubborn to accept that the current system is being distorted to accommodate two sets of rules. It is time to accept the DH in the NL.

    As for Baez and Soler, simple... Both. It is too early in the year to know what this team needs. Don't jepordize a very good team in the pursuit of the perfect team. Baez has swing and miss with crazy bat speed and the ability to play multiple position at a high level. Soler has pitch recognition, rooftop power, control of the strike zone, and below average defense in his first year. The question isn't who has more value; the question is who has more value to this team. And that value could be in a trade. I'm not ruling that out after this squad creates an identity. Therefore, to me the Soler Baez discussion has no correlation to the DH discussion. DH is inevitable. Soler/Baez fates have not been cast.

  • I believe at some point this year before the break that the Cubs are going to make a major move to either acquire a CF, an impact bullpen arm or an impact starter. Which would likely mean either Soler or Baez with potentially a candelario/McKinney type prospect is on the move as well. Theo and Jed won't settle for anything less than a title and I believe they will feel some pressure towards the break and will make a major move to push this team over the top. Therefore, the DH situation will sort of play out itself and I believe that Vogelbach is still here with the thought process that they aren't getting full value on his upside/floor and are waiting to see the potential DH come to the NL.

    By the way, LONG time reader, first time commenter!

  • Back when the DH was introduced in January 1973 (yes, I remember), the only thing I liked about it was the Sports Illustrated headline: "Now half the Nines are Tens." Whatever your views now, it's interesting to go back and look at that article. It had some of the same arguments about the DH that are still echoing today: http://www.si.com/vault/1973/01/22/542614/now-half-the-nines-are-tens

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    Welcome MeanDean. I really don't see them trading Baez/Soler in the near future. Last year's team won 97 games w/o Baez and Soler, Bryant, Soler and Russell as rookies. I realize that some of those were because Arrieta had an unprecedented second half of the season and we can't expect that again--but Lackey should win more than our 3rd starter last year and we have Zobrist and Hayward too.
    Let's see what we have and then trade from either a strength (minor leaguers performing) or some ML not doing as well as expected.
    I also know that Theo traded Nomar, but that was a 31 yr old player--not the 24 or 25 yr old star.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Hear, hear!

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    Every rule change has been for the good everyone don't like change but the D H is going to happen and it's good for both leagues and also would like 26 man roster to add one more bullpen or who ever for the good of the game

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    I think Baez would fit in with the DH spot as well against lefties. Would give him a chance to focus all his attention on hitting and that could be scary.

  • Many, many years ago (at least 25), I read an article (heard the story?) about (by?) Bill James. One day while watching a game he heard the announcer say that the American League DH was killing the arms of the starting pitchers and shortening careers. James considered that statement to be just the kind of thing he hated because there was no statistic to back it up.

    So he went through the stats and discovered there was something to it.

    Does anyone know if this was ever true? Is still true?

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    I don't know. The DH certainly allows managers to keep pitchers in longer, but I hope at this point they've become better at recognizing when a pitcher's tired. Joe Maddon seemed to have that down to a science with Hendricks.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    common sense says having to face the DH should be harder on a pitchers arm. Im sure Kershaw/Grienke/Arrieta don't mind facing a #8 Mendoza line hitter and a .100 BA pitcher rather than even someone like a Carlos Santana.

  • The primary reason I am against the DH is that if you are going to throw a ball 90-100 mph at another person, I believe you should also have to stand in there while someone does the same to you. The other team may bean your best player instead of the pitcher, but I believe there is a perspective, empathy and fairness gained by treating all the players the same. It also allows the other team to make that decision whether to throw at the pitcher instead of taking it out of their hands all together. I could see a manager saying we aren't retaliating by throwing at your star player, we'll throw at that pitcher. By not allowing that decision, they essentially have to throw at the star player to send the message back.

    I also side with the other traditional anti-DH arguments as well.

    Play out the scenario where the AL gets rid of the DH. Do pitchers in general start hitting and practicing more? How many lower leagues continue the DH tradition? I think that effect can be more than we imagine.

  • In reply to CWilli:

    Good post imo. My hope is that the dh does not get adopted this contract and fans take another perspective after the Cubs win a couple WS. I might be fighting a losing battle, but fight I must.

  • "Schwarber gets unfairly criticized for his defense because he played poorly in the NLCS losses" - yeah, those playoffs can make a mess of the Cubs defense abilities - a pretty good defensive ss named Gonzalez made a small miscue in some game a few years back. Anyway, I don't think it was Schwarber's poor defnse was his fault, he just spilled some Gatorade on his glove.

  • You beat me to it. the 1st names that came to mind for me were Fast Hulk Schwarber and Vogelbomb, especially since VBomb is a bat-only type.

  • You missed another beneficiary in the front-office. Right now AL teams have the advantage of having the ability to offer an extra year or two on a slugger's contract with the fallback of slotting them in at DH. Now I'm glad the Cubs didn't go to the mat for Pujols or Fielder, but it would be nice if they had that option when looking at long term contracts.

    Also, AL teams can get away with 24 man rosters (teams regularly carry 13 pitchers). This gives them the extra advantage in Rule 5 at getting a shoot-the-moon type of rule 5 pick. The Cubs have been 1 of the better NL teams at grabbing rule 5s. But that's partly because they've had nothing to play for until last year. And also they were targeting nearly ready bullpen arms, because that's about the only type of player that can stick on an NL 25 man roster all season.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    True. The Jody Davis rule 5 pickups are rare.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    I'll vote for you! Very good points.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    Good points, especially the first one. I don't think the Cubs are going to be in the position to carry Rule 5 guys for the foreseeable future, but it could benefit teams that are rebuilding.

  • In a game where the numbers matter so much why does half the league play with different rules and one that directly effects pitchers numbers and players statistics like runs scored n rbi. Im not sure i have ever understood the whole half the league bats a pitcher idea makes little to no sense

  • With runs per game at a 23 year low (2014/15 were the two worst years in 1992), adding the DH would increase this total and counter-balance the rise of pitching staff with multiple 95+ mph relievers. On the other hand, I'm still anti-DH on the grounds of it being harder on pitchers' arms plus the preference of the strategy aspect.

  • In reply to Laker802:

    Me too, I'm not sure more runs makes baseball a better game.

  • why not just have DH's for everyone?? 9 best bats.. then have the nine best fielders.. YAY

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    In reply to CubfanInUT:

    1000% agree.

  • Hi John - great article as always. I was surprised to see you not have a heading of Javier Baez in who gains the most from having a DH in the NL. It provides a way to get his bat in the lineup for 4 times every day. Either as the DH or as a plus defensive player giving someone else the day off or DHing. I actually believe Baez gains the most because it makes him an everyday player, while it only gets Schwarber or Soler on extra at bat as you can DH them instead of replacing them late in the game and closing them their 4th plate appearance

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