[Should the National League adopt the DH because Big Z forgot to eat his bananas?]
After comparing Mark DeRosa favorably to Lou Brock in a recent column (taken apart here by Goat Riders’ Jason), Common Sense Phil Rogers of the Chi Trib now joins thinking fellers of baseball like Hank Steinbrenner in demanding the National League adopt the designated hitter rule. Why? Because Carlos Zambrano is on the 15-day DL after straining a hamstring running bases Sunday against the Marlins.
Rogers makes the usual pro-DH arguments here, adding one of his own imagination: today’s AL pitchers are mentally tougher because they they face more batters on DH teams, which even he admits isn’t provable (like that’s ever stopped Rogers). Interesting, since I don’t think pre-Sparky Anderson bullpen era pitchers, pre-DH, lacked for mental toughness. If anything, I think more batters would wear them down faster and send them to the bench faster “ is there any stat on who tends to stay in games longer, AL or NL pitchers? I also wonder at DH fans who point out that hitters and pitchers have extended careers because of it. Doesn’t that require an asterisk in our *-happy post-steroids world?
Still, Rogers manages one relevant question, when he asks, mid-way thru: “Still reading?”
Still reading? If so, and if you™ve grown up watching NL ball, I apologize for the annoyance. I know this is fingers-on-chalkboard material. Feel free to disagree. But know that the price of your disagreement is to continue watching the American League be superior.
An NL/DH backer will probably see the domination of the AL over the last decade and a half as a random, cyclical confluence of events. But I believe it has a lot to do with the DH rule.
For one thing, AL general managers are forced to develop or acquire one more quality hitter than their NL rivals. They can use the DH spot to lengthen the careers of one-dimensional veterans like Jim Thome or to open the doors to a young run-producer like Adam Lind or Matt LaPorta while a Jake Fox (.420, 12 homers, 31 RBIs in 21 games) is stuck at Iowa, the Cubs™ Triple-A affiliate. That™s partly why AL payrolls are higher “ although not as much so in 2009 as recent years “ and AL teams are deeper, thus better able to withstand injuries.
There™s no way to prove the next point, but I think it™s a big one. Deeper AL lineups make for mentally tougher pitchers, who are more likely to perform under the greatest pressure.
There™s no way for a pitcher to finesse his way through any AL lineup. An NL starter is guaranteed some easy outs, which could help him get through two or three of the six or seven innings he pitches. I think the extra toughness shows up in October, when AL teams have won 11 of the last 17 World Series.