“The most likely result on the designated hitter for the foreseeable future is the status quo,” Manfred said in an interview with ESPN.com, “I think the vast majority of clubs in the National League want to stay where they are.”
As it stands now, the American League uses a designated hitter to take the spot in the batting rotation of the pitcher, adding another offensive tool to the lineup. In the National League, the pitcher must bat in his spot in the rotation, and if he is replaced by a hitter, a new pitcher must then take his place on the mound the next time the hitting team takes the field.
Ever since the inception of the designated hitter, the majority of owners in the NL have been unwilling to change to the system due to the tradition of the sport, but as younger and newer owners come into the League, talks about implementing the designated hitter have been gaining more and more ground.
“Twenty years ago, when you talked to National League owners about the DH, you’d think you were talking some sort of heretical comment,” Manfred said Thursday. “But we have a newer group. There’s been turnover. And I think our owners in general have demonstrated a willingness to change the game in ways that we think would be good for the fans, always respecting the history and traditions of the sport.”
That said, the MLB ownership meetings currently occurring in Florida seem to be indicating that the shift to a DH in the National League is still a ways from being a reality.
Advocates for the change have cited pitcher safety as part of the reason to make the shift as Max Scherzer and Adam Wainwright, among others, suffered injuries at the plate last season, hurting their teams in the long term.
An argument being made from the other side of the aisle is that the lack of a designated hitter is largely the only thing separating the National and American Leagues aside from the teams who play in the leagues. While that is true that the DH is the primary difference between the 2 leagues, we have to wonder is that really such an important distinction for the sport.
The NBA, NFL, and NHL all have separate conferences with identical rules, yet their games seem to draw attention.
For the fans who want to see the change, it looks like they’ll need to wait at least another year.