MLBPA's Tony Clark: Universal DH 'Gaining Momentum' Among Players

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 16:  MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark speaks during a press conference on youth initiatives hosted by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association at Citi Field before a game between the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 16, 2016 in the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Pirates 6-4.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The idea of bringing the designated hitter to the National League is "gaining momentum," Tony Clark said Tuesday, per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

The executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association added players are discussing the prospect of a universal DH across both leagues "more than they have in the past."

Speaking during a quarterly owners meeting in January 2016, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred discussed how the tide may be turning regarding the attitudes toward the designated hitter, via MLB.com's Richard Justice:

"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 new group [of owners]. There's been turnover. I think our owners in general have demonstrated a willingness to change the game in ways we think would be good for the fans—always respecting the history and tradition of the sport."

Bringing the DH to the National League would upend decades of tradition, but it may arguably be the best move for MLB.

Occasionally, fans can have fun watching pitchers. When he played for the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves, every Bartolo Colon at-bat was an adventure regardless of how it ended.

For some, the negatives outweigh the positives.

One could argue pitchers are at an increased risk of serious injury—Adam Wainwright's season-ending Achilles tear in 2015 serves as an example.

In addition, ESPN's Buster Olney reported in June many front office personnel approach baseball differently than generations before them and "use analytics to steer around risk" when weighing whether NL pitchers should hit.

Far more importantly, most pitchers are terrible at the plate.

The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh wrote in June the offensive performance of pitchers is trending downward, with the position combining for a .115/.146/.150 slash line to start the 2018 season.

Years of debating the merits of the DH in the National League hasn't yielded results. Based on Clark and Manfred's comments, however, the move may happen.