Many people are always asking, is it better to have a DH or let your pitcher hit for himself?

A pitcher is part of the team, not a part of the pitching staff alone.  Each pitcher accounts for 1/25 of the roster, and in the National League 1/9 of the batting lineup.  Each player should contribute 100% when called upon. 

A cook in the Army, is no longer a cook when the camp is under fire, he is a Soldier (and survival takes over).  A medic in the Navy, is no longer a medic when the ship is on fire, he is a Fireman (the fire must be put out, does not matter your position).  An accountant at a firm, is no longer an accountant when on the phone with a customer, he is representative of the company (CSR).

Why should a pitcher with a bat not be a baseball player?

I for one prefer to see a pitcher dig into the box, and be a player.  The pitcher is an athlete and trains (or should train) to be a baseball player (hitting and pitching). 


Mike Hampton's Hitting Reminiscent of An Earlier Generation of Pitchers

AS JOE TORRE WATCHED HIS pitchers take a few tentative, awkward swings in the batting cage earlier this summer, the Yankees' manager could only shake his head and mutter, "A lot of pitchers today are afraid of the ball."

Torre remembered a time when that wasn't the case. "Warren Spahn pinch-hit for me when I was a rookie," Torre, a lifetime .297 hitter with 252 home runs, said of his 1960 season alongside the Milwaukee Braves' Hall of Fame 300-game winner. "He hit a sacrifice fly. I couldn't argue."

I could not think of a better way to start this Post.  Pitchers used to hit, and that was expected.  No one was expecting a pitcher to challenge for the triple crown, but they also were not expected to be "easy outs" for the opposing team.

We all have seen a pitcher come up with two outs, runners in scoring position, and we all shared two thoughts, “is it too soon to pinch hit” or “can this pitcher get lucky”.  Too often, that same at bat ends with a real soft ground out, or a strike out on a God ugly swing. 

This is not the fault of anyone, since it is true that pitchers spend more time preparing to pitch than to hit.   They do take some batting practice, but no doubt they focus more on pitching.  On the flip, so does an everyday fielder.  They spend more time shagging fly balls, or scooping up grounders than they do taking cuts in the cage.  So that argument is kind of negated.  Both fielders and pitchers spend more time practicing the defensive side of the sport than the offensive. 

Now the amount of time pitchers get in the batting cage is not the same (as an everyday player), since a pitcher gets approx. 20% the amount of batting practice sessions once the season starts (based on stqarting every fifth day).  That should be changed, in my opinion.  A pitcher should take batting practice daily to do two things. 

  1. Keep their bunting skills in sync.  Repetition is the best practice for any skill.
  2. Never know when a pitcher may need to pinch hit, perfect example was the above story about Warren Spahn pinch hitting for Joe Torre.

The argument about the stand still to a sprint from the batters box is no different from the same motion in the field (all the players are standing still until the ball is hit).  A pitcher has to go from a stand still after the pitch to a sprint to cover first or to back up a base.  If you want to be part of a winner, you need to contribute on both sides. 

Over the years, many pitchers have taken pride in not being an easy out in the line up, from Babe Ruth, to Warren Spahn to Mike Hampton, to Kerry Wood, to Carlos Zambrano with many in between.  These pitchers helped themselves to victory with a hit when batting.  There is no reason that a pitcher should not be prepared to at least have a good at bat, instead of three hacks and done. 

Everyone of us have sat and watched a pitcher come to the plate that we know must be respected as a hitter, and seen those who we believe we could strike out without getting off the couch in some cases. 

There are many reasons to want the DH in the NL, mainly the health of the pitcher, from being HPB, to trying to bunt and possibly having their pitching hand injured due to poor bunting form.  The DH has been in the AL since 1973, and has been up to debate since.  With Zambrano being injured legging out a bunt, I am sure it will be hot topic amongst baseball fans once again.

The pros of a DH do outweigh the cons, there is no doubt.  An injured player can avoid the DL while taking the DH role.  The DH can prolong a career of some aging sluggers who can no longer field as well he once could.  The DH can keep the pitcher off the bases, allowing his focus to be on one track only, pitching.  The focus behind the DH was to improve offense to help draw additional fans, and all those mentioned above resulted from this idea.

This post is not to continue the back and forth argument about the bunt (one simple play) but the over all opinion of a pitcher batting.  In your opinion, based on the injury to Zambrano, do you believe it is time for the NL to adopt the DH?  Vote and explain your reasons, or just vote and sit back and watch the show.



This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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