Remember the late 90’s Steroid Era? The Mark Mcgwire’s the Sammy Sosa’s, Roger Clemons, etc. Bomb’s were being dropped (baseball bombs) and the United States was captivated with baseball for once. MLB missed it’s opportunity to be the only sport to be on National Television a few months ago besides the KBO, but you have to wake up at 4 am to catch a glimpse of those games. MLB has implemented a few new rules this season and seem to moving towards new and exploratory ideas rather than staying in the past and pleasing the old baseball timers. Two of the more important on-field rules include:
Three batter minimum – Meaning the end of an era (for now) for lefty “specialists” who come in only for one or two lefties and then are replaced immediately. This new rules REQUIRES a pitcher who is brought into the game to stay in for at least THREE batters or until the end of the inning.
Runner on second to begin extra innings – The Ol’ Texas Tiebreaker rule. We used that rule when we played travel ball from ages 8-14. Nostalgic.
If you are interested in some more rules that are a little more specific you can visit the link below.
The new DH rule being implemented means more opportunities for more players to extend their careers while not having to be as versatile. Versatility has become a very valuable part of the game of baseball as it gives teams more flexibility to make the lineup more potent and or sign/trade for someone who could possibly help down the line. With this DH rule being brought into the game league wide, there will be a plethora of players getting second looks and even guaranteed a roster spot until shit hits the fan. Guys like Russell Branyan and Wily Mo Pena would THRIVE in this environment. Anyways, with the new rule implemented and ready to go, there are going to be some guys that benefit from this new style of playing where rules are the same in both leagues. I’m going to indulge in some thoughts on some guys who could benefit in the National League from the DH position.
I really don’t know a team that benefits from the DH in the National League more than the Colorado Rockies. Obviously known as a hitters park, the Rockies are always known for having a plethora of hitters as opposed to pitchers. Unfortunately and fortunately Charlie Blackmon has regressed as a fielder as time has gone on. Last year, Blackmon held a -9 rating in defensive runs saved last year and in 2018 he held a -29 rating. To say the least, Blackmon’s just not the same fielder and runner he used to be but that hasn’t stopped his bat from working. Blackmon can still hit as last year he slashed .314/.364/.576 with 32 home runs, 86 RBI, 42 doubles and a career low TWO stolen bases. The Rockies are loaded with hitting talent that can fill that DH spot. Sam Hilliard making his presence known late last season after a monster year in Triple A, Ryan McMahon playing all the infield positions except shortstop, Daniel Murphy who has been more of a first baseman rather than second baseman, Ramiel Tapia, Garrett Hampson and the list goes on. While the Rockies will give up some home runs, I would expect them to do the same exact thing to other teams this year.
This role is made for Thames. Let the man just hit. Although, he is not a bad fielder. Last year he held a .996% fielding percentage and had 2 defensive runs saved playing first base so he’s not a slouch by any means. It’s also no secret Thames can mash. Thames will stay around the .250 average mark but if we were playing a full season, Thames would be plugged in for 25+ home runs this year. Not really sure what these numbers are going to look like this year but I would bet on Thames to have a good year maybe getting to rest his legs a little more than usual. I assume him and Howie Kendrick will be sharing that DH spot barring any new moves before the season starts.
If you paid attention to baseball at all last year, you know the name Aristides Aquino. Not because he was a top prospect or anything but because the man put himself into the record books last year by hitting seven (7) home runs in his first 10 career games. He also was the first rookie to homer in three consecutive innings. The point? Aquinoa can hit. He doesn’t walk much, as evidenced by his .316 OBP with his 16 walks opposed to his 60 strikeouts. There is work to be done but Aquino in the lineup everyday is going to help out an already hitter heavy Cincinnati lineup. If they want Aquino in the outfield, because he has a hose, other options that could fill he void could be Mike Moustakas, Jesse Winker, Shogo Akiyama, and Scott Schebler. The Reds have some dangerous hitters that could do some damage in the 60 game season that should be exciting to watch.
Since the man had been drafted, there has been a constant echo of him needing to be in the American League because of the DH. Schwarber came up as a catcher, wasn’t the greatest in the field so they moved him to the outfield and he wasn’t bad in 2018 mostly playing left field. Last year he wasn’t terrible but I’m sure the team would rather not have him out there. 2020 seems to be Schwarbers year to own the DH and focus fully on hitting. With this new universal DH rule and shortened 60 game schedule, Schwarber should set himself up nice for the following 2021 season.
Pollock has had a rough go at it for a few years now. Ever since his amazing 2015, Pollock has yet to play over 113 games in a season. The man has the talent to be a .280/.320/.470 hitter when healthy and chip in 20 home runs+ as well as at least 10 stolen bases (in a full length 162 game season that is). Over the last few years, Pollock was solid in the outfield during the 2018 season but really struggled during his 86 games last year in the outfield posting a -10 defensive runs saved while mostly playing center field. Pollock can hopefully and potentially benefit from the DH spot in the lineup maybe only patrolling the outfield a couple times a week and just focusing on hitting and not overexerting himself in the field 6-7 times a week like in years prior. With the DH spot now available, the Dodgers have some extra room for utility players like Enrique Hernandez, Chris Taylor, Max Muncy, and rookies Gavin Lux and Matt Beaty. The Dodgers lineup was scary, and now with an extra hitter in the lineup, it only looks worse for opposing teams.