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Wednesday, June 9, 2010
NL pitchers hit, but reluctantly

From the mailbag, garden-fresh:

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?