Baseball purists live in another century. Not the XXand. The 19thand. The one in which the pioneers invented most of the regulations. These rules have resisted fashions, they argue. So why fix what ain’t broke?
Posted April 7
Because since 1898, the morphology of players has evolved. Sticks, gloves and shoes too. The games are televised. The attention span of the spectators has diminished. Not to mention that today, baseball games and euchre tournaments are no longer the only leisure activities in the village.
You will understand, I am not in the camp of purists. Rather in that of the evolutionists. It is also with the greatest enthusiasm that I welcome the brand new rule of Major League Baseball: that of the universal designated hitter.
What is that ?
The best thing to happen to baseball since the invention of the giant hot dog.
For neophytes, there are two major baseball leagues. National and American. Until now, all of their rules were the same – except one.
In the National, pitchers must hit. In the American, no. This obligation was abolished in 1973. Who strikes in their place? A specialist. The designated hitter. This strategy is used in 99.9% of games, and the show does not suffer. Quite the contrary. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays are some of the most exciting clubs in the major leagues, and they all play in the American.
What happens when a team from the National faces one from the American? It depends on the city where the match is played. If it’s in National territory, the pitchers hit. If it’s in an American stadium, no. It was, frankly, a little complicated for nothing.
Now everything is standardized.
The designated hitter is allowed everywhere. At all times.
When I lay down on the couch to watch a baseball game on a sunny summer Sunday, I want to see spectacular action. A double. A triple. A circuit. A flight of marble. A triple play. A catch over the fence. I want to feel the stress of a full account. I want to try to predict who, from the star pitcher or the power hitter, will win his duel.
What don’t I want to see? A guy who swings as badly as I do in golf, who can’t drop the drop shot or who watches three strikes go by, club on his shoulder. Among launchers, this is no longer the exception. Unfortunately, this has become the rule.
Am I exaggerating? Nay. Here are some statistics that will blow your brain.
· In 2021, nearly 200 pitchers maintained a batting average below .100.
· The worst ? Those of the Miami Marlins (.062), Pittsburgh Pirates (.072), San Francisco Giants (.089), Milwaukee Brewers (.095) and St. Louis Cardinals (.095).
· Those of the Marlins were really rotten. They were withdrawn on strikes half the time. Same goes for the Arizona Diamondbacks gunners.
· Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara was struck out 45 times…in 58 appearances.
· Pitchers have stolen only four bases all season. Former Expos outfielder Otis Nixon alone stole five – in one game!
· Only one pitcher, Shohei Ohtani, has scored or produced 10 runs. And that’s because he was also a designated hitter.
· Brett Anderson was shut out in 28 appearances.
Zach Elfin of the Philadelphia Phillies had it worse: 0 for 29.
Erick Fedde of the Washington Nationals, even worse: 0 for 36.
· Alex Wood, worse than worse: 0 in 38.
· The great champion? First-Team All-Star Max Scherzer finished the season with NO hits in 59 appearances.
A last one? Each year, the major leagues reward the best hitters in each position with a Silver Stick. Do you know how many homers did last year’s winner, Max Fried?
Purists argue that the disappearance of the batting pitcher will remove an element of strategy from the game: the double change. It’s true. And you know what ? It’s zero serious, as American League clubs have proven for 49 years.
Launchers are made specialists. Like kickers in football, who are not asked to catch passes. Like goalies in hockey who don’t try to score in the shootout. Having it recognized in the rulebook is just a normal step in the evolution of the game.
The world changes.
And that’s good.
National League – East
1. New York Foods
2. Atlanta Braves
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Miami Marlins
5. Washington Nationals
National League – Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Chicago Cubs
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Pittsburgh Pirates
National League – West
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Francisco Giants
3. San Diego Padres
4. Colorado Rockies
5. Arizona Diamondbacks
American League – East
1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. New York Yankees
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Baltimore Orioles (good luck…)
American League – Central
1. Chicago White Sox
2. Minnesota Twins
3. Detroit Tigers
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Cleveland Guardians
American League – West
1. Houston Astros
2. Seattle Mariners
3. Los Angeles Angels
4. Texas Rangers
5. Oakland Athletics
- The number of homers hit in 2021 by Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels. A single player: he is both the designated hitter AND the starting pitcher.