By Jason Shetler
Without the question, the most ongoing debate when it comes to baseball has been the designated hitter. Some are of the opinion that having the DH creates more offense while others believe the National League style of game is more strategic. Commissioner Rob Manfred recently met with MLB owners, and one of the topics to come up was the possibility of the National League adopting the DH. There was speculation that the move could come as early as 2017. While it’s unclear of that happening anytime soon, here are three reasons the Pirates could benefit from the DH full time, if it does get implemented next year.
1. With Andrew McCutchen obviously being the Pirates star player, it’s imperative that he receives as much playing time as physically possible. Over the last few seasons in particular, manager Clint Hurdle has used McCutchen as a DH at times during Interleague Play, in an effort to give him some time off from the field while keeping his bat in the lineup. By having the DH on a regular basis, it gives McCutchen a much better chance to be able to play all 162, or close to it.
2. About a decade ago, Tony La Russa started the unconventional idea of having the pitcher bat in the eighth spot of the lineup. Former Pirates skipper John Russell tried this strategy once in awhile as well. The most recent has been Cubs manager Joe Maddon. Last season, Maddon had his pitchers bat eighth, so he could use Addison Russell in the ninth spot as an extra leadoff man when the lineup would turn over. The DH would allow the Pirates to use a speed guy like Josh Harrison or Alen Hanson ninth without the consequences of having a pitcher in the lineup at all.
3. The third and perhaps most important reason the Pirates could benefit with having the DH is Josh Bell. The Bucs #3 prospect in the system is slated to be the first baseman of the future. Bell certainly has a phenomenal skill set offensively, but the question mark is how he’ll be able to handle the position defensively moving forward. Last year was Bell’s first season at first base, and he definitely had his struggles, as you might expect from a player learning a new position. The last thing the Pirates need is Bell becoming another Pedro Alvarez from the defensive side. The DH would give the Pirates the opportunity to have Bell there most of the time, so he can make an impact with just his offense.