Enough is enough. It’s time for the National League to adopt the designated hitter.
In case you missed it, Matt Harvey, the young New York Mets ace, was injured today while batting in the bottom of the seventh inning. Well, in fairness, he was either hurt swinging the bat or running the bases after reaching base, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. The same premise holds true, pitchers shouldn’t bat in MLB.
How many pitchers have to get hurt before they make a rule change? Harvey has been one of the league’s best pitchers and could be headed to the DL now. Mets fans must be thrilled. The only bright spot in their season gets hurt doing something he’s not paid to do. Make no mistake about it; although Harvey is required to bat, he makes his money because of his right arm.
Forcing pitcher’s to hit makes no sense. Sure, 100 years ago it might have made sense because baseball wasn’t nearly as specialized as it is now. But in today’s game, it is foolish.
First, pitchers don’t practice hitting and base running nearly enough and are susceptible to injury as a result. Pitchers aren’t necessarily known for being great athletes and forcing them to do anything other than pitch is risky. In 2008, New York Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang saw his career spiral downward after injuring his foot running the bases. He’d won 19 games in both 2006 and 2007, and was 8-2 in 2008 before the injury. Since then, he’s won a total of seven games. Ridiculous.
Besides that, it makes baseball look like a bad product. Some pitchers (particularly AL pitchers hitting in inter-league play) stand in the back of the box and basically try to survive. They might flail away a few times, but eventually they know they’re headed back to the dugout. NL lineups look like Little League lineups where opposing teams know the ninth batter is more or less an automatic out. For the betterment of baseball, it would make sense for lineups to be more well-rounded from top to bottom. No more easy outs. This is the majors after all, pitchers should be facing legitimate hitters.
To me it makes as much sense as requiring a quarterback in the NFL to play defense for one series per half. Let’s send Tom Brady of the New England Patriots back to play safety just because in the old days players went both ways. Of course that wouldn’t happen, the risks associated with that are too substantial and the league would never do it. So why does the NL insist on pitchers doing something they aren’t comfortable doing?
I can appreciate the NL’s attempt to keep a long-standing tradition in baseball alive, but it’s time for change.
B.L. is a sports writer for Rant Sports and can be followed @coachlip.