At some point in the future, the designated hitter will be brought to the National League. I don't know if it'll happen in five years, or 10 years, or 50 years, but it'll happen eventually. It's inevitable.
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak is personally against bringing the DH to the NL, but he does believe things are trending in that direction. Here's what he told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the team's Winter Warm-up event Saturday:
ON THE DH IN NATIONAL LEAGUE: "I am against the DH in the NL. But there is a big but. But, I could see it happening. I do feel there is more momentum going into that for the future."
I suspect Mozeliak is not the only baseball person who feels that way. There has been chatter about bringing the DH to the NL basically since the dawn of the DH in 1973, and that chatter is growing louder and louder with each passing season.
Personally, I am pro-DH in the NL, but plenty of purists and old school baseball types loath the idea of bringing the DH to the NL. At the same time, there are numerous reasons why the DH will one day join the NL -- it's going to happen at some point, get ready for it -- most notably:
- Offense sells. The average DH hit .244/.318/.419 last year while the average pitcher hit .124/.156/.161. As a result, AL teams scored more than 300 more runs than NL teams in 2017. Pitchers' duels are great, but at the end of the day, more offense equals greater ratings and greater attendance, and that equals more money.
- Pitcher contracts. Simply put, NL teams are going to want to protect their investments. Elite pitchers make more than $30 million per year nowadays and soon enough mid-rotation hurlers will pull down $18 million per season. Making pitchers hit and run the bases is an unnecessary injury risk, .
A rule change as significant as implementing the DH in the NL will not happen overnight. There will be debates and committees and market research and all sorts of things. MLB and the MLB Players' Association will have to agree to a timetable and things like that. They won't make a surprise announcement. NL teams deserve some heads up since it'll affect their roster construction.
Love it or hate it, the NL will have the DH one day. Maybe soon! The NL and the Central League in Japan are the only professional baseball leagues in the world that still make pitchers hit. The DH is used everywhere else. The more money pitchers make and the more offense fans crave, the louder the calls for the DH will be.