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?
So what are your thoughts on the DH?  Love it or hate it?  Do you think getting rid of the rule in the AL would help or hurt the Indians?


  • Jay says:

    Regarding the DH position, has the league ever discussed some sort of happy medium? Something like: once a series you have to play in the field also – you can’t just DH every game. Or once every 3rd or 4th game you have to play in the field. Would this be to difficult to implement and enforce? Just some thoughts.

    Personally, I do not like the DH position. But HRs draw fans, so I am pretty sure it is not going away. I just wish the guy playing DH could somehow be forced to play in the field about a third of the season.

    However, if Hafner had to play 1st base every few games that would probably hurt the Indians.

  • Chip P says:

    “However, if Hafner had to play 1st base every few games that would probably hurt the Indians.”

    It would probably hurt Hafner’s shoulder more than it would hurt the Indians. I heard that the guy simply can’t throw a baseball because of his shoulder.

  • Swift says:

    You are not the only one ambivalent about the DH – I too don’t feel strongly about it and I’ve kind of liked the two different rules in the AL and NL (on the other hand, I hate Inter-league games).

    Your pros and cons seemed to mostly focus on the Indians. One pro point, of wider interest, it has been a great semi-retirement for a lot of guys at the ends of their careers. Thome is just one of the more recent, but there have been a lot of guys (including playing for the Indians), great hitters in their prime, who just could not play First or Third base any longer, but still could DH. Getting rid of the DH would send a lot of these guys to retirement.

  • Mark says:

    Thome would have been a good example until he signed the one year deal with the DH-less Phillies, which I still can’t comprehend. Do you remember when he was with the Dodgers? Torre didn’t know what to do with him.
    Regarding the DH, I think that starting pitchers are paid enough to only work every 5th day, that they should know how to hit too! Most of them were probably decent hitters in high school and possibly college. Position players have to focus on three things – defense, hitting and base running. For pitchers, it should be pitching, defense and hitting (including bunting) – I will give them a pass on practicing stealing bases.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Jay – I think a happy medium would be a smart idea…for some reason, I doubt they’ll end up doing it!

    Chip – I heard that about Hafner too…the shoulder just won’t hold up to regular play at first.

    Swift – As my friend put it – “David Ortiz has to eat too!”

    Mark – I’m still not sure how Thome is going to play first for a significant number of games. (I know he won’t be there full time, even if Howard is still gone…but he’ll still be there). I’d just worry about his defensive skills being rusty after being away from playing a position for a number of years. I think some pitchers would actually like to hit…some seem to really enjoy it during interleague.

  • I am neither opposed or against the DH. I guess I am used to it. I don’t believe they will dump the DH as The Players Union would balk at members losing jobs. I think they will do AL parks they will use the DH and NL parks they will not that simple.