Wednesday, June 9, 2010
NL pitchers hit, but reluctantly
From the mailbag, garden-fresh:
While watching the Strasburg game last night, did it scream out to you, like it did me, that the NL needs to add the DH? During his first AB in his first game, Strasburg didn't run out a guaranteed hit. Even Costas said that if he'd run at three-quarters speed, he would have been safe.
When Costas asked his announcing partners if they had a problem with it, the third man in the booth said he had no problem. Really? In his first AB in his career, with the entire baseball world watching? This is because he is a pitcher, not a hitter. He was DH'd for in the minors, and I'm sure, DH'd for in college ... This is no hitter and he showed he didn't want to be on the field during offense. I'm curious what you thought because no one has mentioned this anywhere.
Michael, I'm of two minds about this. I don't enjoy watching pitchers (trying to) hit, but I do enjoy this last lingering difference between the two leagues. So I'm generally content with the status quo. But as Craig Wright has written somewhere, if the National League is going to continue forcing pitchers to hit, it should be taken seriously. It's one thing to have a bunch of guys in the lineups who can't hit, but it's a far worse thing to have a bunch of guys in the lineups who aren't really trying. And I'm not just talking about not busting down the line every time. Pitchers would hit at least a little better if they actually worked on hitting -- after all, most of them are fantastic athletes and were among the best hitters on their teams before turning professional. But while pitchers do take batting practice, it's just a mild afterthought.
The argument for making the pitchers hit is usually that the game is more pure that way, and theoretically that's absolutely true. But how pure is the game when 11 percent of the guys in the lineup aren't really trying?