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Dear Mr. Manfred: Shifts, Trying To Help Offense – How About 9 Fielders And 8 Hitters In Both AL + NL?

Under my proposed format of 9 fielders, with only 8 hitters - eliminating both the pitcher and DH from entering the box, having 8 batters only in every lineup would allow players such as Mike Trout a helluva lot more Plate Appearances in a full year.

Under my proposed format of 9 fielders, with only 8 hitters – eliminating both the pitcher and DH from entering the box, having 8 batters only in every lineup would allow players such as Mike Trout a helluva lot more Plate Appearances in a full year.  The National League would stand to gain almost a quarter of a run, and the American League would also knock off its worst hitter from each squad.  So how do you do this with the players union?  Offer a 26 man roster (with 25 activated for each game).  Creating 30 new jobs would be a better way than having the NL adopt the DH into their game.  That would not go well, and longtime would throw a conniption fit.  The best way to uniform both leagues is to go with a lineup of 8 guys.

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer): 

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I like the way Rob Manfred came out blazing Sunday on heels of his 1st 24 hours as commissioner.  I agree completely that we need more offense infused into the game.

Whether any of us like or not, the ;PED’ era while it was going, was at least fun to watch on the offensive side of it.  I have even talked to fans that in my shop that would love for them not to be illegal – so we could see that HR’s creep up again.  I can’t say I would go that far, but the recent trend of Runs scored on the decline is alarming.

I grew up in the 80’s, and if there were any season that has been similar to that timeframe, last season was. Pitching, speed, defense and clutch hitting was the key to winning in that decade, and there was a degree of parity that existed too.

I am still stunned that more people can tell the real reason why games take so long.  How about Strikeouts at an ALL – Time rate?  This is the biggest factor, and it is not even debatable.  You add in the “Moneyball” concept of taking a pile of pitches, combined with tonnes of pitching changes, instant replay, TV time out, and players going through per pitch rituals that would make golf’s Sergio Garcia seem like a speed demon in contrast, and no wonder why games take forever.

Clayton Kershaw makes $30 MIL a year ( or roughly a million dollars per start).  There is no way I would want this guy to take Plate Appearances as a hitter.  With the potentiality of a pitcher being injured while at the plate, what is the point of that considering it is not what he is paid to do?  Just like we predicted 9 figures contracts to pitchers is risky because of Tommy John Surgeries (and now the Yankees and Masahiro Tanaka are starting at a torn UCL), just 1 season into a 7 YR/$155 MIL deal ($175 MIl if you include his posting fee).  Eliminating the pitcher from hitting is wise.

Clayton Kershaw makes $30 MIL a year ( or roughly a million dollars per start). There is no way I would want this guy to take Plate Appearances as a hitter. With the potentiality of a pitcher being injured while at the plate, what is the point of that considering it is not what he is paid to do? Just like we predicted 9 figures contracts to pitchers is risky because of Tommy John Surgeries (and now the Yankees and Masahiro Tanaka are starting at a torn UCL), just 1 season into a 7 YR/$155 MIL deal ($175 MIl if you include his posting fee). Eliminating the pitcher from hitting is wise.

Last season, we threw out a trial balloon for the world to see – by advocating that teams should field 9 players and hit just 8,

The DH position is routinely a joke right now, unless you are Victor Martinez and David Ortiz.  But guess what, if given the choice of those guys not playing at all, or manning a spot on the other side of the white chalk, they would find their way to the field.

Our analogy over here (championed by Sully Baseball), was that maybe having a player on the field who is brutal at the defense portion of the game would help offense too.

I am not an AL or NL 1 over the other type of fan, but there is one thing that is apparent.  With so much interleague being played, their should be uniformity across the league for rules.  There is a reason why the American League has won 11 straight years of Interleague play, and that is the DH.

The one thing I hear a lot from National League fans is they love the strategy of double switches and so forth with the pitcher having to hit.  Sure that is great, however I hate it when the teams take out a Starting Pitcher too early, when clearly the guy may have more gas left in the tank.

So how do you eliminate the DH and the Pitcher hitting, get past the Union calling for no loss of jobs.  Well, there is a solution.  Again.. It is Field 9 players on the field, and bat only 8.  The pitcher would not hit at all.

Batting with 8 hitters would allow several of the top of the order guys to receive plenty of more AB.  This would definitely increase production on the field.

Why this is important is also player safety for Pitcher nowadays.  Does Washington want Max Scherzer (and his $210 MIL deal) hurt running the bases from 1st to third on a single?  Anybody remember Chien Ming-Wang?  Was a back to back 19 game winner, suffered a massive leg injury running the bases and never recovered from it ever!

 Or how about Clayton Kershaw‘s and his similar deal, being plunked by an opposing thrower?

Just like we predicted a top 50 salaried player was going to have elbow problems in Masahiro Tanaka with a partially torn UCL ( I will recant this statement if he pitches the duration of his deal without requiring Tommy John Surgery), there is a huge injury coming for a top 50 salaried pitcher who has to hit. It is only a matter of time.  Then the club will be left with an albatross contract, and for what??  An injury caused to their player for something they aren’t paying him for.

Forget the National League adopting the DH rule to help offense.  That would create a firestorm to which several of the fans would revolt.  The key in all of this process is you want to gain eyeballs on your sport – and not lose them.

What about the players union never allowing them to wipe out jobs (wouldn’t that happen as a result of eliminating the DH?)

Nope.  We are suggesting that clubs would then go to a 26 Man roster (and list 25 active for the day of game).  Honestly the pitcher who started the last game is not going to pitch in the next game anyway, (even if a club has an off-day between contests.

With an extra spot on the roster in each leagues, it would provide an extra player to either pitch or hit.  You could carry extra 6 Starters for example, or add another Bullpen arm.  Even have enough strong skillsets on the pine.

Having only 8 hitters guarantees you see the #1 – 3 hitters for at least 4 Plate Appearances even in a perfect game.  It rolls over the lineup so much faster.

You essentially wipe out the weakest hitter on each AL club right now, and the National League would rid itself of its paltry offense created by the assembly of pitchers.

The American League almost has scored 0.2 runs more for the whole run of the Designated Hitter since the inception of the position in 1973.  By eliminating the Pitcher hitting in the Senior Circuit, this should level the playing field.

A couple of twitter followers of ours pointed out that it would also equal out the parity factor a little.  AL teams couldn’t load up on players for more years than the NL, by having the caveat of a transition to the DH role in the latter stages of a multi-year contract.

Remember last year when this was a problem with all of the best offensive talent signing with the AL squads?  Robinson Cano (SEA), Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY), Brian McCann (NYY), Shin-soo Choo (TEX) all signed with the Junior Circuit.

This year, the best two offensive talents in Free Agency signed with Boston, in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval.  The latter has to be slated in to replace David Ortiz.  No doubt Kung-Fu Panda may have signed with the Giants if they were an AL club.  He should have been thinking that way if he was not.

The AL has been riding this unfair advantage for years.  The higher priced clubs like the Yankees (while George Steinbrenner was still alive and Red Sox) have outspent other clubs within the AL – to have premiere Designated Hitters put them over the edge.  David Ortiz may be the biggest difference in why Boston has won 3 World Series in the last 11 years.

The Detroit Tigers are coming off of 4 straight AL Central Division Titles.  While they have had superior Starting Pitching for the majority of that run, the Victor Martinez or Miguel Cabrera at DH has contributed extensively why they have dominated against the rest of the AL Central.

By having the top 8 hitters on every team, that would be a great start to implanting some offense into the league as a whole. Ask a fan if they wouldn’t mind seeing Mike Trout hit 60 – 80 extra times a year?

Before drug testing was so thorough in the game, baseball had great Designated hitters like Travis Hafner, Jim Thome, Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi and Frank Thomas.  All guys that were noted more for their hitting than in the field.

I have gone 180 on the Designated hitter position.  5 years ago, I wanted there to be one in the National League.  Now I say. just eliminate the role altogether.  Of course I don’t care to see the pitcher hit either, so having 8 is enough.. Wasn’t that a TV show in the 80’s?

David Ortiz has been the quintessential DH in the AL over the last 13 years.  Boston is in contention perennially because he put up great #s compared to his competition.  Realistically, only he and Victor Martinez are superior at the position, and if given the choice if there were no DH slot in the game, I guarantee you their teams would brave their physical defiencies - in order to keep their bat in the lineup.  The AL has had the Designated Hitter Position since the start of the 1973 season.

David Ortiz has been the quintessential DH in the AL over the last 13 years. Boston is in contention perennially because he put up great #s compared to his competition. Realistically, only he and Victor Martinez are superior at the position, and if given the choice if there were no DH slot in the game, I guarantee you their teams would brave their physical deficiencies – in order to keep their bat in the lineup. The AL has had the Designated Hitter Position since the start of the 1973 season.  The role has diminished greatly, and other than 2 or 3 clubs, the rest of the clubs use this as a rest spot for aging veterans,  Not only that, the DH option is causing an unfair balance in Free Agency acquisition bargaining chip between both leagues.  All of this could be eliminated under 9 fielders, 8 hitters.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***

A Big thanks goes out to our chief writer Hunter Stokes for preparing today’s feature post.

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Posted on January 27, 2015, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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