The MLB season is postponed while the world deals with a pandemic. Trying to get creative with a new league format, it could lead to a league-wide DH this year, and possibly in the future.
It came out on Friday that MLB is considering an idea that the league could completely change the format of the league for the 2020 season, making things easier for travel by eliminating the American League and National League, instead vying for Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues. This basically institutes constant interleague play.
There are a lot of things to work out with this idea, but USA Today reports one of the options included there would be to eliminate the pitcher hitting, and institute a league-wide designated hitter.
Obviously, there’s almost no way they can have a full season if all the teams are playing in their stadiums. Moving players from New York to Los Angeles every month, and five cities in between would put too much risk to the players, and to the general public. Instead, putting the teams in a spring training format for a full season could work.
The part of the plan we want to focus on here is the DH. For years, we’ve heard the league is considering bringing the designated hitter to the National League. While we do love when Madison Bumgarner takes his opposing pitcher deep, for every time he does that there are 100 pitchers who are swinging wildly, looking like you or me are at the plate.
The issue here is there are thousands of baseball purists that want nothing to do with this plan. Baseball is going to face a major issue when it finally returns, since the summer will no longer be theirs alone. They now have to compete. The league cannot afford to isolate fans who love the game for what it is.
Still, this wild concept could work as a test plan to see if people really are tuning out because they are changing the game. If the ratings come out lower than expected, maybe they can table the plan. However, if the reaction is mostly positive, we could see baseball going to the DH full time.
It’s been pretty clear baseball needs to make some changes because they are losing the national fanbase more than any other sport. This change could lead to more offense, which leads to more eyes. If the teams are hitting 20 more home runs a piece in the NL thanks to adding a designated hitter, that means adding 300 home runs over the season. That’s close to two extra home runs per day. That could get a few more eyes over time.
MLB is going to test a lot of new concepts when it returns after the global pandemic. Whether that’s June or July or August, it sounds like this is the right time to test the full-time DH, and it would also give more baseball jobs to players that want it. If it sticks, then they could keep the concept for the rest of eternity.
Don’t worry, the pitchers that can actually hit will still get there chance. Imagine a manager thinking he has the bat of Bumgarner on the bench to throw in the DH spot in a big game? A World Series maybe? That’s how you get headlines when baseball desperately needs them.