My Proposal to Fix Major League Baseball

This time of year is known as the Hot Stove League to baseball fans.  Last week MLB announced the sale of the Houston Astros, and their move from the National League to the American League in 2013.

Until interleague play began in 1997 the only time American League (AL) and National League (NL) teams played each other was in the World Series, since 1997 it has been a regular feature of the MLB season.  With this move of the Astros to the AL both the AL and NL will both have 15 teams making  interleague play a daily occurrence on the MLB schedule.

The AL and NL play with slightly different rules, most notably the use of the Designated Hitter used in the AL, but not used in the NL. For interleague play and the World Series the rules follow the ballpark where the game is being played:

During Interleague Play the designated hitter rule is used in all American League ballparks, but is not used in National League stadiums, which is how the DH is used in World Series play

With interleague play becoming a daily part of the MLB schedule I think it is time for both leagues to play by one set of rules.  I am not a fan of the Designated Hitter rule, I prefer the NL style of play.  Realistically I don’t see the Designated hitter going away for a number of reasons, but I have a proposal of new rules that would be a compromise as follows.

1. Expand the roster from 25 to 26 active players per team – hopefully this would make the players union accept the elimination of the Designated Hitter, as the extra roster spot would keep a position open for aging veterans who often fill the DH roll on rosters today.

2. Eliminate the Designated Hitter, but once a game allow the pitcher to be pinch hit for while being allowed to remain in the game – this would preserve the offense that the DH adds to the game, as well as adding a new strategic element for managers to navigate (and add another topic for fans to second guess their manager).  It also might reverse the trend of specialist relievers who come in and face one or two batters only, the ability to pinch hit for them, but keep them in the game might encourage managers to let a reliever face more batters than they do today.

I know that this is extremely unlikely to happen, if anything I would expect the NL to adopt the Designated hitter at some point in the future, I just don’t want to see it happen.

3 Responses to My Proposal to Fix Major League Baseball
  1. David Goldstein
    November 22, 2011 | 5:07 pm

    I’m not much of a fan of the DH but I don’t think anyone would go for your solution. If you eliminate the DH you’ll still lose the veterans even if rule #1 is implemented. Veterans like the DH because when they are no longer athletic enough to play the field they can still hit. No matter how you eliminate the DH you’ll be eliminating the incentive for teams to keep the veteran who will become less useful. Rule #2 doesn’t give enough incentive to teams to keep the veteran because they’re still getting limited use out of them. Unless that guy is getting 3-5 at bats a game he’s not worth hanging onto.

  2. Richard Schwartz
    November 23, 2011 | 10:18 am

    The DH slot is also used for up-and-coming young players who play positions where the team already has experienced veterans.

    I like the DH rule. With rare exception, pitchers suck at hitting. They are a drag on the productivity of the 7 and 8 hitters because they rarely deliver the two-out hits. When I watch a ballgame, the last thing I want to see is a highly paid professional flailing around at the plate haplessly like a rank amateur, taking all the excitement out of a one-out triple in the #7 slot or two-out double in the #8 slot. And they are also a drag on the productivity of the speedy 1 and 2 hitters, because their legs are too precious to allow them to run the bases aggressively. I’d rather see a bad-knees veteran on the base paths than an in-shape pitcher who you know can run, but isn’t going to go all out.

    On the other hand, I would like to see roster expansion. Teams are carrying so many pitchers nowadays that they don’t have enough position players on the bench, which reduces the number of strategic options available in a close late-innings game situation. Owners probably won’t go for it, though.

  3. Jim
    November 23, 2011 | 12:49 pm

    As an ex semi pro baseball players, you need to keep the DH, actually DH should be in both leagues. What you don’t realize or see if the amount of extra work an professional pitcher does. Sure they pitch every 5 days or so, but there’s a lot of training (physical and mental) that goes into pitching. Having them also concentrate on hitting (ie. studying film on upcoming pitchers, hitting different kinds of pitches) is a lot to take in. Hence why most pitchers aren’t great hitter as they don’t have much extra time to practice in that area. Having a pitcher hit is a waste of an at bat, some are really good hitters as they probably came into the system as a position players but got moved to a pitcher.

    Other thing that would make the game better is profit sharing, similar to how the NFL runs. Each team then has an equal chance of making the playoffs, instead of buying their ways into the post season (ie. Yankess and Red Sox)