Major League Baseball has implemented inter-league play this season more than it has ever done in league history.
This year, there will be inter-league games almost every week throughout the course of the regular season. This change to the MLB schedule is influencing how teams prepare their rosters in 2013 and beyond.
National League teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies have dilemmas on their hands with figuring out who will play the field and who will play games as a designated hitter.
The Phillies enter 2013 with question marks surrounding the health of their core players and the talent level of their outfield. With the implementation of the DH regularly throughout the season, the Phillies could utilize players off of their bench as well as give everyday regulars a chance to rest from playing the field.
Laynce Nix is a player that could benefit from regular inter-league play.
Nix was signed as a free agent last off-season with a two-year deal worth a total of $2.5 million. The ten-year veteran has spent time playing in both the American League and the National League throughout his career.
He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2000 MLB Amateur Draft by the Texas Rangers and made his major-league debut in July of 2003. Nix has spent his career with five teams and has a combined batting average of .245 over that span.
He was traded by the Rangers in 2006 to the Milwaukee Brewers along with Francisco Cordero, Kevin Mench, and Julio Cordero in return for Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz. As a member of the Brewers organization, Nix did not see much time in the major leagues. In fact, he played a total of 30 games for the Brewers from 2006-2008.
Nix found his way back to the MLB in 2009 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds organization, where he spent two seasons and played in a total of 213 games. As a Red, Nix hit 19 home runs and drove in 64 runs while hitting a collective .257 as an off-the-bench player.
Nix then found a home with the Washington Nationals in 2011. He originally signed as a minor-league free agent and was invited to Spring Training. Nix then won a spot on the roster and played in 124 games for the Nationals. Despite hitting a career high 16 home runs, Nix became a free agent in the off-season.
In May of last season, Nix dealt with a Grade-2 sprain in his left calf; The same injury that sidelined shortstop Jimmy Rollins for 56 games in 2010.
Before the injury, Nix was hitting .326 in the 22 games that he played, 14 of which he started. Nix ended up playing 70 games for the Phillies in 2012 and finished with a .246 average with three home runs, 16 runs batted in, 13 extra-base hits, and a .727 OPS.
This season, Nix will be competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster against Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., and Darin Ruf.
According to Baseball-Reference, Nix is owed $1.35 million this season. Given that the Phillies owe him this money and the fact that he is finally healthy, there is a good shot that Nix makes the 25-man roster.
Nix has shown in the past that he can hit right-handed pitching. He is a career .253 hitter with 64 home runs, 218 runs batted in, 170 extra-base hits, 100 walks, and an OPS of .744 against right-handers.
Now that there is inter-league play, Nix can serve as the DH. This will not only give the Phillies another offensive threat in the lineup, but it will also keep Nix fresh for when his name is called by manager Charlie Manuel to pinch hit late in ball games.
Nix could be a weapon that the Phillies can use in order to produce more runs. He will not only get consistent at-bats, but he will also get a chance to live up to his contract, maybe earning himself a new deal by the end of the season. Look for the Phillies to utilize Nix’s talents in order to get more production from their offense in 2013.