Dodgers: The Universal DH Helps Everyone; Especially the Dodgers

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 and Justin Turner #10 score on a single by Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning of the game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium on September 23, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 and Justin Turner #10 score on a single by Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning of the game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium on September 23, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Prior to the 1973 season, the American League implemented the designated hitter. Forty-six years later the National league may follow suit. Ken Rosenthal of “The Athletic” reported that the MLB might input a universal DH. If this comes to fruition, the Dodgers could be one of the teams that benefit the most from it.

Even after trading away two all-star outfielders, the Dodgers still have many (maybe too many) players that have made the case to be everyday starters. Despite this, some of these players will not be getting consistent at-bats.

The DH would open up another spot on the lineup for a very deep roster. For example, Alex Verdugo has been a casualty of the depth the Dodgers possess. Though it looks like he will be getting the starting job already, opening up the season with a DH would only solidify that notion. This would finally give the young outfielder a spot in the lineup at the very least.

Another player that would benefit greatly from this is Max Muncy. Manager, Dave Roberts wants to get him in the lineup every day, but it is difficult when Muncy is a liability at nearly every defensive position he plays. He hits well enough to earn starts at second or first base this season, but the Dodgers would be better suited defensively if was used as a DH.

It’s not to say that Muncy is lost defensively because he is not. However, Muncy is not a wizard with the glove and seems like he is in a way positionless. That can be viewed as a positive because he plays multiple positions, but he does so at an average to below average rate.

Muncy is a DH at heart, and the fact that he hits well enough to garner starting potential at second or first base shows just how special his bat was last season. The DH would allow the Dodgers to get his bat in the lineup without worrying about what they will do with him defensively.

Having a DH just opens up so many possibilities for the Dodgers. Of course, it does so for every other team in the NL, but with the amount of depth this team has, it helps them at an even greater level.

I know what everyone is saying. “Now we won’t get to see Hyun-Jin Ryu hit”. To that I have no response; it would also pain me not to see Ryu in the lineup every fifth day. That pain would be eased a bit by knowing the injury risk of every starting pitcher would diminish because they wouldn’t have to run the bases or risk being hit by a pitch.

As a fan, this would also help the pace of play issue. For some hardcore fans, the tactical side of the game is what intrigues them, so they love seeing all 11 pitchers in the bullpen pitch one game. However, the majority of fans do not feel the same way. The quicker the game goes, the more fans are drawn to the sport.

The tactical side of the game will always be there. The number of pitching changes in a game and in most cases an inning got out of hand. Eliminating the need for a pinch hitter and having to figure out a way to work in a bullpen without compromising your offense is interesting, but baseball is in dire need of finding ways to increase the pace of play, this would be a good way to do that.

Aside from just being helpful for managing games quicker. It helps games end faster. Imagine this bottom of the 12th bases loaded 2 outs, but Josh Fields is up to bat. Odds are the game will be heading into the 13th inning. This would help teams score more runs and end games earlier instead of having to wait for 18 painful innings for a game to end.

Finally and perhaps the most important improvement for the Dodgers, is that the Dodgers would be able to extend the career of Justin Turner. JT is not getting any younger and playing the physically demanding third base every day is not ideal.

Turner is one of the best hitters in the game when healthy. The “Red Dream” just seems to keep aging like fine wine with the bat. He is still playing near elite defense, but how much longer can we trust him to do that while staying healthy. If Turner can be saved it would obviously be a huge benefit for the Dodgers long-term.

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I’ve been one of the few people who would love to have Manny Machado back with the Dodgers. If the NL adopts a DH, that could move Turner to that DH slot and would open up third base for now and heading into the future. Manny Machado fits that mold perfectly. He is a stud, and it would be a dream lineup with him in it.  Just imagine:

CF Pollock

SS Seager

DH Turner

3B Machado

1B Bellinger

2B Muncy

LF Pederson/Taylor

RF Verdugo/Hernandez

C Martin/Barnes

That is a lineup with seven all-stars in it at any given point. With Verdugo and Muncy being the only 2 full-time starters without an all-star game under their belt. Either way, this is a dream and doesn’t seem like it is going to happen.

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The DH would be very beneficial for all of baseball but especially for the Dodgers. The pace of play benefit is good for casual fans. The ability to see more hitters in the lineup would be very good for a team as deep as the Dodgers. It allows the Dodgers to put Muncy in the lineup without having to worry about defense and more importantly it helps extend careers of veterans like Justin Turner.