MLB Exploring Adding Designated Hitter to NL: Latest Details, Reaction

Alec NathanFeatured Columnist

Rain drops cover a baseball logo before Game 1 of the Major League Baseball World Series between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Major League Baseball has reportedly discussed the potential of adding the designated hitter to the National League but is uncertain when, if ever, that process will occur.

Continue for updates.

Manfred Comments on Adding DH to NL

Tuesday, Jan. 26

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with Jerry Crasnick of about the thoughts of the National League clubs regarding the designated hitter:

The most likely result on the designated hitter for the foreseeable future is the status quo. I think the vast majority of clubs in the National League want to stay where they are.

Twenty years ago, when you talked to National League owners about the DH, you'd think you were talking some sort of heretical comment. But we have a newer group. There's been turnover. And I think our owners in general have demonstrated a willingness to change the game in ways that we think would be good for the fans, always respecting the history and traditions of the sport.

MLB Will Explore DH During CBA Negotiations

Thursday, Jan. 21

Newsday's David Lennon reported the league is looking into adding the designated hitter as soon as 2017.

Manfred reportedly said the idea is "gaining momentum," per Lennon. 

Although the potential change could ruffle the feathers of baseball purists, Lennon cited several reasons MLB is seeking to implement the DH in the NL:

Manfred previously joked that instituting a leaguewide DH slot "would deprive us of the entertainment Bartolo Colon has given us this year," per Sports on Earth's Anthony Castrovince, but evidence suggests stripping pitchers of the right to bat could benefit the game. 

According to Castrovince, pitchers cumulatively posted a slash line of .132/.160/.170 during the 2015 season and "struck out once every 2.65 plate appearances—the worst such rate in history."

A counterargument can be made centering around core strategic tenets evaporating from the game. Castrovince noted making double switches is already more difficult in the American League since managers have to swap out effective hitters for other effective hitters. 

Debate will undoubtedly rage regarding potential tactical shifts and how they'll affect the future of the sport, but the potential for an injection of offense is certainly enticing—particularly if it preserves pitchers' longevity.