Pittsburgh Pirates would benefit greatly from a DH. Here’s how
When Rob Manfred came in as the new MLB commissioner, he did not waste any time in letting the winds of change swirl. Pittsburgh Pirates fans took umbrage to some of his initial comments, such as banning the shift. Our own Matt Bower even called the potential ban an insult to the Pirates. Yet, the new talk going around regarding baseball potentially adding the designated hitter to the National League should be looked at as nothing but beneficial to the Bucs.
Our friend and national baseball writer Jesse Spector has offered that the DH in the NL makes a ton of sense and is inevitable. From his excellent read over at The Sporting News:
"Adding the DH to the National League would allow clubs in the Senior Circuit to give partial rest to star hitters, keeping them more effective over the long haul while still contributing to the cause. How happy would the world champion Giants be to be able to slot Buster Posey in as their DH once a week? One of San Francisco’s best players was a shell of himself in last year’s playoffs, in part because of the toll taken on his body from catching every day."
Sure, the purists will say that this will ruin the game as they know it. As we tweeted out the link to Jesse’s piece earlier today, the responses ranged from outraged to even more outraged. Here are a few:
As you can see, this is a very touchy and sensitive subject. Yet, what fans don’t immediately understand is how much a designated hitter could help the Bucs.
Using just 2014 as an example, here are a few scenarios where a DH would have helped the Pirates immensely last season:
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Pedro Alvarez could have taken some mental days off of third base when his throwing issues flared up without the Pirates losing his bat. He could have taken a few days at DH, cleared his head while still contributing, and possibly have returned to the position with a renewed approach that might have nipped his growing yips in the bud. This would have also allowed the Pirates to keep the deep-ball threat right in the middle of the lineup where it belongs.
Remember when Neil Walker had that injury in August? The one where he was good enough to swing a bat but not to field his position? He could have been slotted in at DH to see if he was truly good to go without adding to the risk of any in-field aggravation to that bad back.
Regular days off for Andrew McCutchen could have come without losing his bat. This is one of Jesse’s main points in his piece, as you can see in the quote above. With a DH, Cutch could have been even more fresh going into the playoffs. Obviously, this can apply to any regular but there is absolutely nothing but good that can be gained from such an approach.
The same scenarios above apply to the 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates, with a few others sprinkled in as well. What if Corey Hart‘s bat is lively but his injury history has taken a toll on his defense? What if Jordy Mercer and Jeong-ho Kang both seem to be hot at the same time? Who would you play? What if a game goes deep into extra innings and the bench is thin at certain positions?
Having a DH slot would solve all of these issues, and I haven’t even mentioned the logic of having all teams in baseball play under the same rules.
If Pittsburgh Pirates fans can embrace this potential change, the rewards far outweigh hurt feelings over tradition.