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Hypothetical rule change: remove DH when pitcher is removed

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#41 tony&rodney

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Posted 30 October 2020 - 08:42 PM

The DH has been in baseball for nearly 50 years now and different rules for each league has not caused any loss of fans. The decision to make it uniform might make sense but it is also an interesting twist to have a some differences between the two leagues. Interleague play has largely been a bust except in the biggest markets. Tweeking the DH rule does nothing to add to the game. Tinkering has been infrequent in baseball because the players have adapted to changing circumstances, moving from speed to power and shifting each decade. The human element gets lost as there are subtle moves towards video style changes. Analytics is now 20 plus years old and is mirrored by shifts in the 1960s, albeit more frequent now, and the defensive alignments of the Orioles outfielders during their short run. It has been curious how easily the commissioner and fans let slide the blatant cheating of the Astros and Red Sox, which was justified by "everybody does it". The current rules are fine concerning the DH. If there is housekeeping needed in the game, it mostly is related to getting the pitcher on the slab and the batter in the box while allowing coaches to coach and players to play without electronic aids or notes in their pockets. Many fans have noted the excellence and specialty of the modern day pitchers and the big money makes keeping those pitchers on the mound and away from the batter's box. Cruz is still fun to watch-keep the DH as it is.

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#42 sdangus

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 11:50 AM

 

First off, this isn't about shortening the game by 3 minutes, as I explained above.

 

Secondly, baseball is a man-made game, not something handed down on stone tablets from a higher power. By its very nature, it is subjective, and sometimes its "natural evolution" makes for a less interesting game.

 

Like, in its original "natural state", pitchers were more or less just like the other 8 fielders. But quickly they became specialized and their hitting prowess deteriorated. Now they've become even more specialized, to the point where offensive outcomes tilt toward strikeouts more than ever before.

 

Other sports have seen this too -- the shot clock, changing rules when teams realized intentional penalties and fouls could be advantageous, etc.

 

There's nothing wrong with opposing a potential rule change -- we all do -- but I would recommend to keep criticism focused on the rule change itself, and not simply sanctify the existing rule set, whatever it is.

My point is that changing the rules every time the prevailing winds change, just to try to artificially change the way the game is played will end up leading to endless rule changes, because the players and decision makers will find new ways to gain an edge.

Most of these things that players or managers or general managers do to gain an edge will only last until the rest of the league catches up, and then it will be on to the next gimmick to try to gain an edge. Trying to change the rules of the game will just lead to another attempt to gain an edge, which then would lead to another rule change, etc and on and on.

Defensive shifts will go by the wayside to some degree as players and coaches find ways to take advantage of them. Endless pitching changes would eventually go away even without 3 batter minimums, as managers devise ways to play around them.

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#43 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 01:44 PM

Just curious: do you like the current pace of action? Meaning, high levels of strikeouts, and low levels of balls in play? If you don’t think there is any meaningful level of disease, then of course any kind of cure is going to be unnecessary.
I’m not prepared to quit the sport over it or anything, but I would like to see some efforts to address those issues. This seemed like a nudge in that direction, less extreme than other proposals, and it seemed like it complemented recent changes like roster expansion, limit on rostered pitchers, and even the 3 batter minimum and maybe even the attempt to get the DH permanently accepted in the NL. Plus the apparent reluctance to reduce time of game — what can we do to improve pace / increase action within that time of game?

To answer your pace of play question: the rulebook already empowers umpires to keep the game moving, and they can charge a ball or strike against a pitcher or batter who is unnecessarily delaying the game.

(I guess there could be a semantic nitpick in there—pitchers can control the pace of the game, and batters can hold up the game by stepping out...)
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#44 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 01:48 PM

My point is that changing the rules every time the prevailing winds change, just to try to artificially change the way the game is played will end up leading to endless rule changes, because the players and decision makers will find new ways to gain an edge.
Most of these things that players or managers or general managers do to gain an edge will only last until the rest of the league catches up, and then it will be on to the next gimmick to try to gain an edge. Trying to change the rules of the game will just lead to another attempt to gain an edge, which then would lead to another rule change, etc and on and on.
Defensive shifts will go by the wayside to some degree as players and coaches find ways to take advantage of them. Endless pitching changes would eventually go away even without 3 batter minimums, as managers devise ways to play around them.

I am neutral on the DH Rule. Both leagues seem to like it their own way, which is good enough for me.

But your comment reminded me of the NFL catch Rule, that became so convoluted that any official could basically rule on it any way they chose, and it seemed like more deference was shown to interpreting the rule itself than to the actual football game being played. Mercifully, the NFL simplified it again in a way that allowed more balls to be catches.
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#45 spycake

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 02:36 PM

 

My point is that changing the rules every time the prevailing winds change, just to try to artificially change the way the game is played will end up leading to endless rule changes, because the players and decision makers will find new ways to gain an edge.

Did you say this when the DH was introduced in the early 1970s? Pitchers hitting terribly wasn't just that year's prevailing wind, it was a strong trend line throughout baseball history. Nothing wrong with an attempt to address the issue through the rule book.

 

I'm absolutely opposed to limiting the shift, and I have enjoyed plenty of other baseball trends -- the general rise of relief pitchers, the ebb and flow of the stolen base, etc.

 

But to me, pitchers maximizing velocity and movement with modern science, and causing more boom-or-bust hitting (HR or strikeouts), is more akin to the problem of pitchers hitting -- it's not just a strategy fad, but a new reality that the game is facing. Combined with another trend line of players taking more time between pitches, and we see longer games with fewer balls in play -- to me, a drag on watchability that's probably comparable to pre-shot clock basketball at times. I don't see a problem with taking some measures to counteract that.

 

I don't know that this DH tinkering would do much for it, but it's interesting to think about anyway.Maybe tweaks to the strike zone, the mound, or the ball would be better, as others mentioned above.

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#46 spycake

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 02:51 PM

 

To answer your pace of play question: the rulebook already empowers umpires to keep the game moving, and they can charge a ball or strike against a pitcher or batter who is unnecessarily delaying the game.

(I guess there could be a semantic nitpick in there—pitchers can control the pace of the game, and batters can hold up the game by stepping out...)

I'm aware of those rules, but they were on the books from olden days when players intentionally taking 30 seconds between pitches was a rare aberration. It's naive to think that umpires alone could possibly enforce that rule on every pitch of every game without their relationship with the players devolving into chaos (imagine what Josh Donaldson would do, if the umpire called another strike on him while he was questioning the previous call! :) ).

 

That's why the pitch clock is necessary, in my opinion. Keep the 15 second rule, but remove it from the umpire's subjective enforcement. Then players won't be able to game the umps for time, or complain to them about punishment (well, I'm sure some will, at first -- that's why the pitch clock should start in spring training). Soon players would just get re-accustomed to playing at the pace they did before they joined MLB, the pace that even MLB was played at for most of its history.


#47 Craig Arko

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 06:54 PM

I would rather abolish the DH altogether than do something like this. And I don’t advocate abolishing the DH.

Update your priors.


#48 sdangus

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 07:40 PM

 

Did you say this when the DH was introduced in the early 1970s? Pitchers hitting terribly wasn't just that year's prevailing wind, it was a strong trend line throughout baseball history. Nothing wrong with an attempt to address the issue through the rule book.

 

I'm absolutely opposed to limiting the shift, and I have enjoyed plenty of other baseball trends -- the general rise of relief pitchers, the ebb and flow of the stolen base, etc.

 

But to me, pitchers maximizing velocity and movement with modern science, and causing more boom-or-bust hitting (HR or strikeouts), is more akin to the problem of pitchers hitting -- it's not just a strategy fad, but a new reality that the game is facing. Combined with another trend line of players taking more time between pitches, and we see longer games with fewer balls in play -- to me, a drag on watchability that's probably comparable to pre-shot clock basketball at times. I don't see a problem with taking some measures to counteract that.

 

I don't know that this DH tinkering would do much for it, but it's interesting to think about anyway.Maybe tweaks to the strike zone, the mound, or the ball would be better, as others mentioned above.

The DH was not used to change the behavior of the people playing the game. That is what I am opposed to, the use of rules to force players and coaches to conform to a particular way of playing the game, instead of letting the game dictate the actions they will take.


#49 Joey Self

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 08:38 PM

I did not come up with this idea, and I wish I could credit the one that did--or at least where I read it many years ago.  

 

The concept is to have a designated pinch-hitter for the pitcher whenever you want--but that player is then out of the game.The manager would have to decide when to burn a player.  
 

Situation 1: It's the second inning, two on and one out when the pitcher's spot comes up. Does the manager use a pinch hitter here?

Situation 2:Fifth inning, down a run, pitcher is leading off.Do you send someone up in that spot?

Situation 3.Sixth inning, two down, no one on, tie game.How about a pinch hitter here?

And so on.  

Managers would hate it--the second guessing would drive them nuts in the postgame pressers.

 

 


#50 bighat

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Posted 01 November 2020 - 07:50 AM

 

I don't think it would fly; think about it, in games where your pitcher is getting knocked around (and getting pulled early), you lose your best DH (assuming you start your best 'hit only' guy) making it even more difficult to make a comeback. Or would it only come into play if your team was tied or winning at the time (since it seems this rule is purely to penalize teams for using analytics (not letting the SP go through the order a third time)?

When searching for flaws, this one immediately came to mind.

 

Your SP gets blasted for 6 runs in the first 2/3 of an inning, now you're down six and you lose your DH for most of the game.

 

Also, what happens when your SP goes out with an injury in the 1st or 2nd inning? Same rules apply? If not, what prevents a team from faking it (ie: "Wilson was removed with elbow soreness but is expected to make his next start").

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#51 ashbury

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Posted 01 November 2020 - 08:03 AM

 

I did not come up with this idea, and I wish I could credit the one that did--or at least where I read it many years ago.  

 

The concept is to have a designated pinch-hitter for the pitcher whenever you want--but that player is then out of the game.The manager would have to decide when to burn a player.  
 

Situation 1: It's the second inning, two on and one out when the pitcher's spot comes up. Does the manager use a pinch hitter here?

Situation 2:Fifth inning, down a run, pitcher is leading off.Do you send someone up in that spot?

Situation 3.Sixth inning, two down, no one on, tie game.How about a pinch hitter here?

And so on.  

Managers would hate it--the second guessing would drive them nuts in the postgame pressers.

If the perceived problem of the current DH rule is, "we're not seeing enough pitchers batting," then I guess mission accomplished, with this change. :)
 

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#52 TopGunn#22

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Posted 01 November 2020 - 08:25 AM

I don't like this idea.It's good for off-season conversation but that's about it.The players union would never agree to it.You'd have a key hitter on a team (think Nellie Cruz) effectively neutered.And while I'm glad the American League teams are all the Twins would have to bid againstfor Nellie, I'm 110% in favor of the N.L. getting on board with the DH permanently.I want both leagues to have the same rules. 

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#53 spycake

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Posted 01 November 2020 - 10:47 AM

The DH was not used to change the behavior of the people playing the game. That is what I am opposed to, the use of rules to force players and coaches to conform to a particular way of playing the game, instead of letting the game dictate the actions they will take.


How about banning spitballs? Changing the slide rules at 2nd and home?

How about the shot clock in basketball?

The world and the people in it are constantly evolving; our games evolve too. There is nothing inherently wrong with rule changes as part of that evolution. (We can of course have different opinions about the substance of said rule changes. FWIW, I don’t even think I would implement this particular DH rule right now but I thought it was interesting to think about, with no baseball games going on!)
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#54 spycake

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Posted 01 November 2020 - 10:58 AM

I don't like this idea. It's good for off-season conversation but that's about it. The players union would never agree to it. You'd have a key hitter on a team (think Nellie Cruz) effectively neutered. And while I'm glad the American League teams are all the Twins would have to bid against for Nellie, I'm 110% in favor of the N.L. getting on board with the DH permanently. I want both leagues to have the same rules.


Not sure how much say the players union would have — MLB seems to have some latitude to implement some rules without union. approval. And even if MLB wanted the union’s consent, I am not sure how much the very small number of current full-time DHs like Cruz would outweigh the union’s other concerns: permanently expanding the DH to the NL in some form, adding another extra roster spot, and of course the ever-present revenue/arbitration/free agency concerns.

Not that I think this particular rule would get pushed ahead by MLB. But negatively affecting a small subset of players may not be enough to stop a rule change.

#55 spycake

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Posted 01 November 2020 - 11:11 AM

If the perceived problem of the current DH rule is, "we're not seeing enough pitchers batting," then I guess mission accomplished, with this change. :)


That was definitely a potential downside of my rule proposal too — the hope was that teams would change pitchers less, but some teams might just let pitchers hit more! (Pairing with an extra position player roster spot would hopefully discourage that, but it could be a gamble.)

#56 Original_JB

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Posted 02 November 2020 - 07:51 AM

Well, if the idea is being floated because pitchers' skill has blown by batter's ability to hit against it you could (without adding convoluted rule changes): lower the mound; move the mound back some designated distance; change bat design parameters (weight/diameter/*material*); go to a 3 ball walk instead of 4 --yeah, that's a big change, BUT it's not convoluted or open to perception, possibly puts more guys on base, and if pitchers are truly that much more skilled, they should be able to throw a higher percentage of strikes anyway.

 

 

Hmmmm. 3 ball walk. I think I like that the best of them all.


#57 spycake

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Posted 02 November 2020 - 08:59 AM

 

Well, if the idea is being floated because pitchers' skill has blown by batter's ability to hit against it you could (without adding convoluted rule changes): lower the mound; move the mound back some designated distance; change bat design parameters (weight/diameter/*material*); go to a 3 ball walk instead of 4 --yeah, that's a big change, BUT it's not convoluted or open to perception, possibly puts more guys on base, and if pitchers are truly that much more skilled, they should be able to throw a higher percentage of strikes anyway.

 

 

Hmmmm. 3 ball walk. I think I like that the best of them all.

3 ball walk would be a pretty huge change, and I don't think it accomplishes the goal of getting more balls in play. Batters would probably take more pitches trying to work that 3-ball walk? We want batters to swing more, and swing more for contact rather than optimal HR launch angle on every pitch.

 

I think more subtle solutions were offered upthread. Deadening the ball a little bit (with some quality control in production) would probably be a good first step, and be least affected by union interference. Automating the strike zone might help too, and the union would probably endorse that generally.

 

Lowering the mound would probably get a little more union pushback, and sadly so does a pitch clock, but I'd be open to those too.


#58 Original_JB

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Posted 02 November 2020 - 09:42 AM

 

3 ball walk would be a pretty huge change, and I don't think it accomplishes the goal of getting more balls in play. Batters would probably take more pitches trying to work that 3-ball walk? We want batters to swing more, and swing more for contact rather than optimal HR launch angle on every pitch.

 

I think more subtle solutions were offered upthread. Deadening the ball a little bit (with some quality control in production) would probably be a good first step, and be least affected by union interference. Automating the strike zone might help too, and the union would probably endorse that generally.

 

Lowering the mound would probably get a little more union pushback, and sadly so does a pitch clock, but I'd be open to those too.

You don't think forcing pitchers to quit nibbling and throw more strikes wouldn't put more balls in play? If we're saying pitchers/defense have gotten "too good", wouldn't reducing the number of balls (free 'mistakes' if you will) make their job harder?You're right in that I don't want to see the bases constantly walked full, but again, it makes the pitcher put the ball in a more hittable position more often.


#59 rv78

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Posted 02 November 2020 - 10:54 AM

The entire concept, I take it, is to get the Managers to leave the Starting Pitchers in the game longer. aka Snell, and I will add Maeda in this year's post season as well to the conversation. If your DH is Austin Meadows, I think that is who the Rays had DH'ing, who hit .205 for the season or Nelson Cruz who hit .303, which team is going to get penalized more for losing their DH in that scenario? Is the difference in the quality of the player that is DH'ing going to influence that decision? My guess is that Snell would have still gotten pulled but Maeda probably not. So, just using that example, would it be fair? It definitely implores a more difficult decision for Baldelli than it does for Cash. Are you then penalizing the Teams that have a good player at DH verses those that don't, forcing them to use their pitching staff differently or both?

I will forever remember Tom Kelly making the agonizing decision to leave Jack Morris in the game to finish Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. You can say he made the right decision, but had he pulled him and brought in Aguilera and he'd have closed it out the result would have been the same. Decisions are only ever second guessed when they turn out wrong. Who knows, maybe if Snell would have been left in another inning he gets bombed and Cash is critisized for leaving him in. Seems this rule change would only be implemented for 1 reason, to get Managers to leave their starters in the game longer. Not a fan. If the Manager is making the wrong decisions, replace the Manager. You don't always have to change the rules!

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#60 spycake

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Posted 02 November 2020 - 11:13 AM

 

You don't think forcing pitchers to quit nibbling and throw more strikes wouldn't put more balls in play? If we're saying pitchers/defense have gotten "too good", wouldn't reducing the number of balls (free 'mistakes' if you will) make their job harder?You're right in that I don't want to see the bases constantly walked full, but again, it makes the pitcher put the ball in a more hittable position more often.

I'm not sure. Pitcher nibbling isn't a binary ball/strike thing -- they're often just trying to throw borderline pitches. I think they'd still do that with 3-ball walks, but batters would have even more incentive to lay off those pitches. And if the optimal contact is still swinging for the fences, I'm not sure if this would produce more balls in play.

 

It's complicated, for sure! I don't pretend to know all the answers. But it feels like tweaking the ball and automating/modifying the strike zone could help -- and both of those moves seem realistic, with fairly recent historical precedence too.