Stat Counter

View My Stats

Monday, July 14, 2008

If I ruled the world ...

If I ruled the world, it would be a far, far better place. We would have energy independence, a stable economy, universal health care, no troops in Iraq, and the Designated Hitter Rule in the National League.

This is the kind of radical change we need to have immediately.

So, first things first.

A few weeks ago, Hank Steinbrenner, the heir to the Yankees fortune, whined when his star pitcher was injured running the bases during an interleague game. He blamed the failure of the other league to adopt the DH rule. For this, he was ridiculed in the press. But the fact is, he was right.

It is time to admit that the DH rule, which is hated by old-school purists and hide-bound baseball philosophers and poets, is here to stay. It has been in effect now in the American League for more than 30 years. Although it has been rightly blamed for disrupting the legitimacy of statistical comparisons, the life blood of baseball historians, the fact is that other changes have been far more significant in diluting the numbers. Expansion, steroids, band box ballparks, artificial turf, srategies (like pitch counts, 5 day rotations, relief specialists) have also acted to skew the statistics from previous eras.

The DH rule has a positive side, which accounts for its permanence. Fans want to see more offense, and it is clear that the rule has juiced scoring. This year’s team batting stats illustrate the point. Of the 30 major league teams (16 NL, 14 AL), 9 of the first 15 are from the AL. Seven of the bottom 10 are NL teams. The best hitting pitcher in the NL, Carlos Zambrano has 1 home run and 13 RBI’s. Milton Bradley, DH for the AL Rangers, has 17 and 54, far more than all NL pitchers combined. Other DH’s include Thome, Matsui, Stairs, Ortiz, Sheffield, Floyd, sluggers whose production exists without concern for their defensive flaws.

An important benefit of the DH rule is the roster affect. NL teams typically carry 12 pitchers, AL teams 13, which results in more rested staffs. (The first 4 teams leading in pitching are from the AL.) The NL needs to carry an extra position player as pinch hitter and defensive replacements for late inning double switches, to avoid relief pitchers from batting. Without the dead number 9 spot in the order, AL managers can manipulate the bottom third of the order to be far more productive.

In the recent interleague play the AL advantage was evident. The AL won 149 games to 102, a win pctg. of .593. That is proof of dominance. The World Series is not a good measure of league dominance. In the 1940's - 1950's, the Yankees dominated in October, but the NL overall was the stronger league (due mostly to the NL’s lead in African American talent).

The NL’s refusal to adopt the DH rule is absurd. No other major sports league has such a significant disparity in rules. It is time for the purists, poets, and philosophers to admit defeat.

No comments:

Post a Comment