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Universal DH coming in 2022?

How would this affect the Oakland A’s?

Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros
Good news for Khris Davis!
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

We’re nine weeks into the MLB lockout, and there’s no end in sight as the league and players negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Insider Jon Heyman reported the following on Wednesday:

“Talks haven’t yet begun,” is the way one players side person put it.

That means the offseason remains on hold for now, and nobody can say for sure if the season will start on time, nor what changes the new CBA might bring to the financial structure of the sport. However, Heyman did offer another update regarding an on-field topic:

Barring something totally unexpected, it can be assumed at this point that the universal DH will be in place in 2022. Both sides are in favor (though true to these talks, they don’t seem to totally agree on who benefits most from a DH on all 30 teams)

Well now that’s interesting! Adding the designated hitter to the National League has been a hot topic for years, and finally making it happen would be a big deal. Heyman makes it sound like basically a lock, with the only question being which side has to pay for it.

The debate over the DH has raged ever since the job was introduced in 1973. Some people love it, some people hate it, and there are smart people on both sides, with many of the considerations being matters of subjective opinion in that way where nobody can really be right. It’s been around long enough now that some people have just never known baseball any other way.

Personally I’m in favor of the DH. I root for an American League team so it’s what I’m used to, and I think it makes for a more entertaining sport. I don’t enjoy watching pitchers struggle to do a thing they are bad at, nor seeing them hurt themselves swinging a bat or running the bases, nor when a 3rd-inning rally is ended because the pitcher’s spot came up, nor when a pitcher is dealing but needs to be pulled early for a pinch-hitter. Double switches are not indispensably fascinating strategy no matter how much anyone pretends they are, and the occasional fluke pitcher hit isn’t worth the trouble.

Other people disagree. That’s fine. I’ll admit there’s a certain charm to the two leagues having different rules, but there’s also a cleaner logic to them playing on an even field, so I could live with it either way.

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How might this change affect the Oakland A’s? They’re going to have a DH no matter what, but seeing the 15 NL teams add one would presumably cause some ripples felt throughout the majors.

For one, there will now be 15 more suitors in the DH market each year. That means more competition for free agents, but it also means more possible landing spots if you have a hitter to trade. It could also result in the supply increasing over time, as more prospects explore a path to the majors that just doubled in width, and youngsters with big bats but no gloves aren’t written off quite as quickly.

More DH spots means more aging veteran star hitters can stick around longer, but without taking at-bats away from the next wave of youngsters, just from pitchers who have better things to do anyway. Defense might improve in the short-term, since every NL team will get to hide their worst fielder in 2022, and in the long-term because NL teams will no longer have to make tough decisions about whether to keep forcing their DH-ish stars into a corner outfield spot that they can’t really handle.

As for interleague play, the AL has won the majority of games in 15 of the past 18 years, and one of the other years was a tie. One reasonable explanation is that AL teams get an advantage at home, where they get to use their beefy DH while the opponent doesn’t have a specialized player on their roster for that job, and meanwhile at NL parks everybody’s pitchers suck at hitting so there’s no real advantage for the home team. If that’s true, then the NL might start doing better in interleague, and get an extra boost in the World Series.

Like it or hate it, the universal DH might be coming in 2022.

Poll

Do you support the universal DH?

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    Yes, add the DH to the NL
    (308 votes)
  • 23%
    No, keep the NL like it is
    (92 votes)
400 votes total Vote Now