DH in NL?

To DH or not to DH? That is the question. Penned by Shakespeare? Most likely not.

Back on January 23 of this year a story appeared that the designated hitter was “gaining momentum” in the National League. Three days later Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred basically said, not so fast.

Back in 1973, the American League adopted the DH. The NL didn’t. But wait. When interleague games began in American League ballparks in 1997, the DH appeared. But, not in NL parks. Spring training can vary. World Series, only in AL parks. All-Star Games, same. But wait. Starting in 2008, the DH has been used in every ASG, NL or AL park.

Being that the Phillies are in the National League their pitchers get to bat. So, their young prospects in the minors can develop their batting skills for when they reach the big leagues. But wait. The DH is often used in minor league games.

Rookie and Class A leagues use the DH in all games. At the AA and AAA level, when both teams are National League affiliates, pitchers may bat. In the AAA Pacific Coast League, pitchers only hit when both clubs are NL affiliates and both clubs agree to have their pitchers hit. So, the total development of pitchers in NL organizations is hindered by the DH.

Let’s take a look at a couple of Phillies pitchers. Jerad Eickhoff was signed by the AL Rangers. He never batted in five seasons of minor league ball. Traded to the Phillies in July 2015 Jerad made three starts at AAA Lehigh Valley. Zero AB. Promoted to the majors, he made his major league debut on August 21 in Miami. Third inning, his first pro at-bat, a strikeout. He was 2-14 in eight starts a year ago which is pretty good for his lack of experience. Adam Morgan was drafted by the Phillies and did get to bat, 4-26, in his five minor league seasons.

There is much more game strategy in NL games. Managers have to make decisions and well, manage. This has been quite evident in the NL postseason games this month. Then, Monday night, Cleveland at Toronto, ALCS. Trevor Bauer, Cleveland’s starter, left the game in the first inning with a bleeding pinkie. Terry Francona did a masterful job of manipulating six relievers without needing to use a pinch hitter or double switch.

Most likely the DH will never be removed from AL rules. Is it time for the NL to adopt the DH?

DH Phun Facts
Darren Daulton was the Phillies first DH, June 16, 1997, at Fenway Park in Boston, a game the Red Sox won, 5-4, in 10 innings. Darren struck out in his first at-bat against starter Tom Gordon. Boston’s DH was Reggie Jefferson.

Ryan Howard was the first designated hitter in a National League ballpark during a regular-season game when the Phillies played the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park, June 25, 2010. Major League Baseball moved the interleague series to Philadelphia due to concern about civil unrest during the June 26-27 G-20 Summit held in Toronto. As the home team, the Blue Jays batted first and the designated hitter was used.

Photo Album
From time to time this offseason will include an image that reflects 2016. Pictures help tell a story.


We begin with a historical marker unveiled at the site of Athletic Field in Clearwater back on March 19. That’s the field were the Phillies first held spring training when they moved to Clearwater in 1947. The marker was a combined effort of the Phillies, City of Clearwater and State of Florida.


Photos of Athletic Field are scarce. Baseball author and historian Rich Westcott provided this image. The little white church in left field still exists.

Alumni Notes
Postseason ex-Phillies include: Dodgers—2B Chase Utley, C Carlos Ruiz, RHR Joe Blanton . . . Blue Jays—LHS J.A. Happ, OF Ezequiel Carrera . . . Indians–RHR Jeff Manship, MGR Terry Francona, CH Brad Mills, INF-OF Michael Martinez . . . Cubs—empty roster.

Where is Rico Brogna? What is he doing? For answers check out Paul Hagen’s “Where Are They Now?” feature at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

This Date
October 18, 1932
RF Chuck Klein is named the National League Most Valuable Player, a Phillies first. He edges RHP Lon Warneke of the Chicago Cubs, 78-68 in points.

Klein, 27, led the NL in games (154), runs (152), hits (226), home runs (38), slugging percentage (.646), total bases (420) and 20 stolen bases. Plus, he hit .348 with 50 doubles, 15 homers, 127 RBI.

First in a series of behind the scenes features as part of “Wednesday’s Weekly Reader.” Leading off is a day in the life of the bullpen security guard during spring training games in Bright House Field.

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