One of the more noteworthy changes that came to Major League Baseball this past season was the implementation of a universal designated hitter. The new rule was beneficial in that it created more jobs and theoretically helped prevent pitcher injuries.
However, there were some downsides to the universal DH as well. A lot of the strategy that is typically involved in National League games was taken away due to a decrease in pinch-hit opportunities and double switches.
While it is believed the universal DH will return this season, there are rumblings that it could be tweaked in order to add a strategy element back into games.
Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is hopeful that the universal DH can stay while preserving the traditional style of NL baseball, via AM 570 L.A. Sports:
“I think it definitely helped us this year. I think any time you have a team with the depth we have — you’re talking about expanding the roster from what was going to be 26 (players) to 28 and adding a DH — that’s only helpful for teams that had the depth and caliber of players we had up and down our roster. It’s funny, the DH for me, I grew up a fan of National League baseball. Went and worked for an American League team for a long time, and then coming over here, it’s more of a cerebral game and the strategy involved in a National League game is a whole other level than in an American League game.
“But in my seat and being involved with roster decisions, it is nerve-racking to watch our pitchers on the bases. Fortunately slash unfortunately, we haven’t had the world’s best hitting pitchers here over the last four or five years. They’ve probably had less opportunities on the bases than some other teams. But I wish there was some way to figure out how to maintain some strategy to the game while having a DH.”
Friedman recently proposed a hybrid universal DH that would bring the best of both worlds to NL games. Teams would begin with a DH, but lose it as soon as the starting pitcher is removed.
Former Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black suggested the format is being discussed as a possibility, so Friedman’s idea could ultimately become a reality.
Players Association doesn’t view universal DH as trade
There have been conflicting reports as to whether the universal DH will return in 2021, but teams are anticipating it will be back following the latest round of talks between league and the Players Association.
While MLB has leveraged the universal DH in exchange for an expanded postseason, the union doesn’t view it as a trade, believing team owners want it to return just as much as the players.
Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in our shows, and more!