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Why I like the Universal DH now

Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, April 13, 2022

I used to be like you. I lamented the Universal DH and its presence in the game. When it was a thing in 2020, I hated every last bit of it, and was rejoiced when it was announced that it would not return for 2021, even if it was an inevitability for 2022. No more double-switching, no more tough decisions for the manager to make when it came to pulling a starter for a pinch hitter, no more high-leverage pinch hitting opportunities, and no more of the wonderful little baseball moments that pitchers getting hits or RBIs truly were.

And yet, here I am, willing to say that I know accept and even like the Universal DH now. Why have I changed my mind on that? Let’s go over some of the main reasons.

The Dynamic of Pulling the Starter Had All But Disappeared Already

In 2021, NL pitchers came up to bat 4479 times. Just a decade prior, in 2011, NL pitchers had 5649 plate appearances. The dilemma that used to be where a manager had to think about pulling a starter to pinch hit for him in the 6th or 7th inning is not a dilemma anymore; teams have legions of relievers available and with the times through the order penalty a well-known thing, managers basically never hesitate to pull the trigger on a pinch hitter anymore. That means that one of the best aspects of not having a DH, the managerial decisions regarding pinch hitting, are simply not a thing at this point, and relievers obviously never ever bat for themselves.

The DH Could Eventually Lead To Less Starter Pulls

One of the things I always complain about with 2020s baseball is how few innings starting pitchers, the main co-protagonists of a baseball game, end up pitching in favor of generic max-effort relievers. You know one way a starter is guaranteed to get pulled nowadays? 6th inning or later, close game, his spot comes up. Especially if there are runners on, that’s an automatic pull, and that terrible moment doesn’t happen with a DH.

The DH Opens Up 15 More Relatively Full-Time Jobs for Players

This one is self-explanatory. While the DH is not a full-time role anymore for most teams (in most cases it’s a spot that rotates through a bunch of different players), it does open up 15 more proper jobs, and that by itself is a good thing.

The DH Can Help Extend The Careers of Position Players

One of the main ways the DH is used in 2022 is as a spot to give an everyday player a half day off, which can really help with keeping legs fresh. This should help bring down injuries just a bit, and it could also extend the lifespan of the careers of some aging position players by giving them more rest and helping them focus strictly on hitting. Charlie Blackmon (and eventually CJ Cron or even Kris Bryant), I’m looking right at you!

Most Fans, Especially Younger Ones, Want The Universal DH

I'm 23 and believe it or not, I'm big on baseball tradition and all the little things that make it charming and special (no clock, human umpires, the varying shapes and sizes of ballparks, etc), but one of MLB's main concerns for years has been finding ways to appeal to the younger generations, and the Universal DH is something younger fans tend to gravitate to. It replaces a pitcher batting (let's be real, 99% of the time those pitcher ABs are very dull to watch, it's the consequences of pitchers batting that make the concept interesting) with a proper position player, and very often that position player can mash the ball. It simply makes sense for baseball to head in this direction.

The Game Is Too Specialized

Baseball evolves like a living, breathing creature, and the way the game has evolved over the past 100 years has meant that specialized roles are the name of the game. One-inning relievers, platoon players, more and more. And in a world where pitchers are better at generating swings and misses than ever before, and a world where even the best batters in the world strike out almost a fourth of the time as a collective, asking pitchers to be competent enough at the plate on top of mastering their craft is, sadly, unrealistic. Yes, I know Ohtani exists and no, I don't care. Ohtani is a unicorn the likes of which baseball hasn't seen in just over a century, when the Bambino was setting baseball ablaze.

It's Time

Talking to people, the Universal DH has felt like something that was inevitable for a while, and had MLB not used it as a negotiating tool prior to 2021, 2019 would've very likely been the last season ever with NL pitchers batting. Simply put: this should've happened last year, and it's so inevitable that fighting it is just silly as far as I'm concerned. Major League Baseball has a lot of issues in general and a lot of particular issues with their on-field product, but I don't believe the Universal DH is one of them.

Let me make this clear, by the way: this piece is not meant as an attempt to convince you that the Universal DH is a great thing you should absolutely love, it's just a way to speak my mind on the topic and hopefully kick off some conversation about it. How do you feel about the Universal DH at this point, after the trial run of 2020 and the full experience in 2022?

Poll

How do you feel about the Universal DH at this point?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    I still dislike it
    (70 votes)
  • 23%
    Used to dislike it, I’m indifferent now
    (64 votes)
  • 26%
    Used to dislike it, now I like it
    (74 votes)
  • 24%
    Always liked it
    (68 votes)
276 votes total Vote Now

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Rookie reaches base 15 times in first 4 games | MLB.com

This isn’t related to the Rockies at all, but it’s too spectacular not to put it in here. Do you fine people know the name Steven Kwan? If you don’t, I’d say now it’s a good time to learn it. Kwan, who was one the Cleveland Guardians’ top rated prospects entering the season, got off to a scorching start, reaching base 15 times in his first 4 career games, something that has never happened before in all of Major League Baseball history. He’s also yet to swing and miss at all, and the last time he struck out was September of last year. Yeah.

How the ‘Grich’ stole a HR: OF’s robbery rallies Rox | MLB.com

It has to suck to hit a ball like 400 feet and not get rewarded for it, but that’s what happened to Corey Seager yesterday after Randal Grichuk straight up robbed him of a three-run homer that would’ve put the Rangers in front. One of the better plays you’ll see all year, really:

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Considering just how old baseball really is, that’s a really cool piece of trivia. Check out that mustache on Bud, too!

On The Farm

Tuesday, April 12

Triple-A: Tacoma Rainiers 10, Albuquerque Isotopes 9

A rout-turned-close ballgame in Albuquerque’s homer opener that saw the Isotopes (now 1-6) jump out to an 8-1 3rd inning lead on the back of a six-run bottom of the third, only to then have the Rainiers (now 3-4) chip away at the deficit and end up tying the game in the 9th, then taking a one-run lead in the 10th that the ‘Topes could not overcome. Frank Duncan (4.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 5 K, 0 HR) started the game for Albuquerque and got blitzed in the fifth inning after being mostly unscathed through four, but his counterpart Ian McKinney (3.2 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 HR) got hit even harder, and the game ended up featuring 13 total pitchers used. Five different Isotopes had two hits in the ballgame, and one of the few who didn’t, Scott Schebler, hit a grand slam. However, Ben Bowden couldn’t find the zone in the 9th in a save situation, leading to four walks and two HBPs that resulted in three runs scoring to tie the game. After that, Tacoma took advantage of the runner on second and the Isotopes didn’t. Game Two of the six-game set will be today, with the Isotopes looking to snap a five-game losing streak.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 4, New Hampshire Fisher Cats 11

As far as hits go, this one was relatively close (8 to 10). The difference in the ballgame was that Yard Goats pitching allowed three homers, all but one coming with multiple runners on base. Nº 19 PuRP Noah Davis (now 0-1) took the ball for Hartford in this one and didn’t fare all that well (4.0 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 2 HR), taking the loss in his first start of the season. The two home runs he gave up accounted for five of the seven runs on his record, and they put Hartford in a seven-run hole they could never recover from. The good things from this game for the Yard Goats lie with Riley Pint, who tossed a perfect 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout in his second outing since un-retiring, and with a surprisingly patient performance on the batting side of the ball. Hartford drew 10 walks as a team and also managed 8 hits, putting plenty of runners on, but going just 2-for-10 with RISP and stranding 13 runners on did them in. Nº 10 PuRP Brent Doyle had a rough night at the plate to say the least (0-for-5 with 4 Ks, a golden sombrero), but Nº 24 PuRP Aaron Schunk homered and walked, Nº 7 PuRP Michael Toglia was on base three times (1-for-3, two walks) and Nº 6 PuRP Ezequiel Tovar continued his hot start, going 1-for-3 with a double and two walks. The 20-year-old shortstop is now hitting a preposterous .400/.550/.867 through his first four Double-A games, with more walks than strikeouts while being almost 4 years younger than the Double-A average. Tovar has walked five times in four games this season after taking just 17 bases on balls in 102 games in 2021. The Yard Goats are 2-2 and will look to get over .500 in the second game of their six-game set at New Hampshire today.

High-A: Spokane Indians @ Eugene Emeralds

The ballgame was postponed due to rain and will be made up with a doubleheader on April 16th.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 1, San José Giants 5

The Grizzlies (3-1) dropped their first game of the season in the series opener in San José after a relatively punchless offensive performance that saw them generate just one run and no extra-base hits. Cullen Kafka (0-1) got the start for Fresno and took the loss (4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR), with the tandem of Matt Mikulski (4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 HR) and Mat Olsen (3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 0 HR) shutting down the Grizzly bats. Nº 17 PuRP Adael Amador (2-for-3 with a walk), Nº 18 PuRP Warming Bernabel (2-for-4 with a stolen base) and Nº 25 PuRP Yanquiel Fernández (1-for-4 with the lone Fresno RBI) were the main offensive contributors, although Fernández also made two fielding errors in the same play, which played a part in San José pulling away for good in the fourth inning. At the end of the day, however, one run is not going to cut it, and the Grizzlies will look to rebound and put some runs on the board today in the second game of their six-game set against the Giants.

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