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If baseball is played in 2020, it will likely be with a universal DH

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Like it or not, it’s coming. And the Cubs have a real good candidate for the position.

The Cubs have a guy who would be an ideal DH
Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Many of you don’t care for the idea of the designated hitter being a rule across all of Major League Baseball, but if there is a season in 2020, it’s coming:

One team not mentioned by Jon Heyman who could benefit: The Cubs. Kyle Schwarber would be an ideal DH. While he has improved his fielding, he’ll likely never be better than a league-average left fielder. In his career batting as a designated hitter, he has hit far better than his lifetime averages: .299/.367/.678 (26-for-87) with two doubles, two triples and nine home runs. Granted, that’s a small sample size, but there’s also his DH production in the 2016 World Series: 7-for-16 with a double and three walks. (Schwarber was also 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter in the WS.)

Or, the Cubs could use the position to occasionally give Willson Contreras a day off from catching duties while keeping his bat in the lineup. Or use Kris Bryant at DH while starting David Bote at third base.

For those of you who are traditionalists and like to see pitchers batting, I acknowledge there will be some loss of strategy in games, though much of that “strategy” has devolved into “pitcher comes up with runner on base, less than two out, bunt,” which is by-the-book, not real strategy. Or “pitcher’s spot comes up in the late innings, bat for him,” also generally done by the book.

I won’t miss pitchers hitting .128/.159/.163 while striking out in 43.5 percent of their plate appearances, as they did in 2019. Will I miss the occasional pitcher home run? Sure, those were fun, but very rare: 25 in 5,098 PA in 2019. Cubs pitchers combined accounted for exactly one of those, hit by Jon Lester off Chris Stratton of the Pirates in a 10-4 win last July 13.

So if this is the last Cubs pitcher home run ever, let’s look at it one more time [VIDEO].

For every pitcher who can hit, a little, there are probably 20 who can’t. I love watching Kyle Hendricks pitch but cringe when he bats, because he’s a .101/.132/.114 (31-for-306) lifetime hitter with 152 strikeouts.

The DH is no longer a novelty. 2020 will be the 48th season with the rule in place in the American League, and it makes sense to have it while there’s some sort of shortened season in unusual places this year. Once the universal DH is instituted it will be very hard for MLB to go back to previous rules, so I would expect it to be approved for all teams when “normal” baseball presumably returns in 2021.

Beyond the fact that pitchers can’t hit — and it’s getting worse, 50 years ago in 1969 pitchers hit .140/.183/.184 and struck out in 35 percent of PA — not having them bat will prevent injuries running the bases. Granted, position players also get hurt running the bases, but hitting and baserunning always have been minor portions of pitchers’ responsibilities. Not having to think about hitting or baserunning might help them focus better on their pitching.

Some of you will miss seeing pitchers bat. Not me. I welcome the universal DH.

Poll

The universal DH...

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Bring it on and make it permanent!
    (185 votes)
  • 20%
    It’s OK, but ONLY for this year
    (68 votes)
  • 24%
    Never!
    (83 votes)
336 votes total Vote Now