When the Houston Astros officially move to the American League in 2013, it will mean that the National League and American League will each have 15 teams. Because of this imbalance, there will be obviously be more interleague games throughout the season. It sounds like a decision will be made about the DH one way or the other – either the National League will adopt the DH, or the American League will get rid of it. I think it is unlikely to remain the way it has been since 1973, with the AL maintaining the DH, while the NL does not have one.
This is often a touchy issue for a lot of fans; I think I may be one of the few people that are actually kind of ambivalent when it comes to the DH. To be honest, I kind of liked one league having the rule, while the other did not. You can watch two different styles of baseball, and it was interesting to see teams adapt during interleague play, the All-Star Game, and the World Series.
So what are the pluses and minuses to the DH, especially where the Indians are concerned?
- If you take away the DH rule, Travis Hafner becomes a $13 million pinch hitter. Even though Hafner is likely to spend all or part of a season on the DL, the Indians get more bang for their buck if he’s a DH. I should add that by the time this decision is likely to be made, Hafner will be on the final year of his contract – a team option year.
- With players dealing with injuries, a DH position can give them a chance to recover, yet still remain in the lineup.
- If the DH rule goes away, the Indians will need to make sure that they have adequate left and right-handed bats off the bench. The Tribe has had a shortage of right handed power bats, so they’d need to rectify that problem. At the moment, their offense is better suited to the DH rule.
- Obviously the big fear is that a pitcher gets injured hitting or running the bases. With the Indians’ bad luck with injuries the past year or two, you almost expect something to happen.
- You’d hope that the Indians wouldn’t give a $13 million per year contract out to a pinch hitter. No wasted money on a player like Hafner.
- Manny Acta has managed in the National League and feels comfortable with a different style of play.
- If the Indians bullpen remains as solid as it was in 2011, it means that the Indians can pull starting pitchers for pinch hitters with relative confidence.
- Some of the Indians hit so poorly the past couple of years…could the pitcher really do much worse?