MLB Reportedly Won't Use DH in National League for 2021 Season

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIIOctober 22, 2020

Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw bats during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The National League's use of the designated hitter appears to have been short-lived.

After instituting the DH as part of multiple changes to the 2020 season in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, LaVelle Neal of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Thursday the NL will go back to requiring pitchers to hit in 2021:

Neal added the players union and MLB would need to agree to expand the DH through collective bargaining moving forward. The current CBA expires after the 2021 season and is expected to produce a contentious showdown between players and the league's board of governors. 

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was vocal during the 2019 season about not implementing the DH in the NL until the next collective bargaining session. He clung to that position during a World Series interview with Ronald Blum of the Associated Press on Wednesday:

"[Manfred] would not say whether he favors keeping the expansion of the designated hitter to the National League, citing the need to bargain on the topic with the players’ union. The expansion of active rosters from 26 to 28 players was specific to the stop of spring training in March and resumption in the summer."

The 60-game regular season in 2020 may not have provided enough data to show whether or not adding the DH to the NL increased offense, and the unusual nature of the season during a pandemic overall may make any conclusions far from sound. 

According to Baseball-Reference, the rate of home runs per hits allowed dipped in 2020 to 1.28 from 1.39 last year. Runs per game also dipped slightly from 4.83 to 4.65. 

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Those numbers may also be skewed by the league moving to seven-inning double-headers in order to fit more games into a shorter window. 

"What people are telling me about kind of every measure for this year in terms of statistics is that 60 [games] is just not a great sample size and you shouldn’t really put too much weight on it," Manfred told Blum.

It might not be until 2022 at the earliest before the league has more relevant data should the DH make its way back to the NL.