Madison Bumgarner + the Argument Against the DH
On April 6, 1973, Ron Blomberg of the New York Yankees walked to the plate and became the first ever designated hitter, and sparked one of the most heated debates in all of sports. In case you don’t know, the designated hitter is a position in baseball in which a player’s only job will be to hit. He will not need to field or pitch, and he will bat instead of the pitcher so he only has to worry about pitching. Only the American League uses a designated hitter, which is why it is inferior to the National League. In the National League, pitchers are required to bat, and having pitchers who are good at hitting can be quite an advantage.
I personally think that the designated hitter is a dumb position. I think that watching pitchers hit is one of my favorite parts of today’s game. I especially enjoy watching one pitcher hit, Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner is one of the best pitchers in the MLB today, the greatest pitcher in postseason history, and he mashes at the plate. He has hit 17 career home runs, and he does so against some of the best pitchers in the game. He has hit two home runs off of Clayton Kershaw, and he has also hit two against Zack Greinke. He has even advocated for a pitcher home run derby during all-star weekend. He is perfect example of why pitchers should bat.
There are pitchers who are great hitters, but there are also pitchers who are absolutely terrible at the plate. I think that the pitchers who are helpless at the plate are incredibly entertaining to watch. They often provide some of the most entertaining at-bats the game has to offer, especially the great Bartolo Colon. Colon has a career 0.85 batting average, which is pretty terrible, but when he hits, it is one of the most special things the game has to offer. He has been playing in the MLB for 20 years, and people still love to watch him attempt to hit. Last season, he hit his first career home run, and it was one of the most special moments of the season across the whole league.
Having pitchers hit also is a good example for all kids in little league. Seeing pitchers have to stand in the box and attempt to hit a 95-mph fastball is incredibly important. Kids see pitchers struggle in the box day after day, without success the majority of the time, but every once in awhile they will connect with a pitch and drive it out of the park. I think that it teaches kids watching about adversity, and how working hard can help you overcome any task, no matter how large.
Now, one of the primary arguments for implementing the designated hitter in the national league is that it protects pitchers from injuring themselves in the batter’s box and on the basepaths. I think that this argument isn’t great because a player can get hurt doing any kind of activity on the field, hitting is not any more dangerous than fielding or pitching. Players can get hurt by taking a hard groundball off the face, or tear their ACL running down a ball in the outfield. Injury risk is everywhere, in every sport. In fact, if a pitcher has to hit in between innings, they are less likely to injure themselves while pitching because instead of just sitting down and letting their muscles tighten up, they have to stay loose in order to hit.
All in all, I think that the designated hitter should not be implemented in the National League, and should be taken out of the American League. I think that it is not a real position, and it makes games less interesting. The game is more fun when pitchers are able to hit. A pitcher like Bumgarner could step into the box and crush a 400-foot home run or a guy like Bartolo Colon could swing and miss so hard his helmet comes off, and both of those are spectacular to watch. The injury risk is simply not high enough to warrant an implementation of the designated hitter, and having a league still use the position is cheating fans of the entertainment they pay for.