Rick Zamperin: If baseball wants to boost offence, start with a universal DH
As pitchers and catchers get ready to dust off their gloves, grab some eye black and report to spring training, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are talking about making some bold changes to America’s pastime.
Proposed changes range from some minor tweaks, such as shortening the time of breaks between innings, to much larger changes, like adding the designated hitter to the National League and implementing a three-batter minimum for relief pitchers.
Other discussion points deal with lowering the pitching mound again to help boost offence, starting extra innings with a runner on second base, divisional realignment, expanding the playoffs and adding more microphones on players and coaches to enhance the TV viewing experience.
It’s all in an effort to make the game of baseball faster and more exciting.
In 2018, for the first time in baseball’s 147-year history, there were more strikeouts than hits. The overall batting average also fell to its lowest level since 1972. It’s no surprise that baseball’s average attendance fell below 30,000 for the first time since 2003.
No offence to pitchers, but fans want to see more offence, and that’s why the two biggest changes baseball can make are lowering the pitching mound and having a universal DH.
The mound was lowered from 15 inches to 10 after 1968 — known as the “Year of the Pitcher” — after teams combined to score 6.8 runs per game. MLB teams averaged 8.8 runs per game last year.
Fans still want to see good pitching and will grow tired of final scores like 11-8 and 13-6 every other game so I’d suggest the umpires have a consistent strike zone: from the armpits to the top of the knees.
The American League has employed the DH rule since 1973, and it has not only extended the careers of some sluggers who have defensive liabilities, it has also generated more offence compared to the National League, which still has pitchers step into the batter’s box.
The two biggest tweaks baseball can make are right before our eyes. The trouble is, we won’t see either change anytime soon.
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