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God NL baseball is awful


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Name one player who is as bad a fielder as your average pitcher is a hitter.

Actually, to be fair you should name a number large enough to come close to the number of pitchers in the National League.

Your poor-hitting fielder's analogy doesn't work either. Adam Everett has a career OPS of .652. Doug M is over 100 points higher.

This brings up another good question I think.

Lets use David Ortiz. Hes a great power hitter, and lets just say that, for the sake of argument, hes a terrible feilder, but he plays first base and the liability is outweighed by his offensive production.

But is David Ortiz really a TERRIBLE first basemen or has he spent so much time specializing in hitting that he need not worry about improving his glove work?

I think its the same situation with pitchers, clearly in little league pitchers can hit just as good as the rest of the team, but as they get older, they need to become such a better pitcher, that that is what they work on. If your son is a pitcher, he goes to baseball camp, or workouts and works on pitching, conditioning, etc. While he might get some hitting instruction, hes there to be turned into a better pitcher, at the same time the infielders aren't learning to throw sliders or at which counts to use a changeup.

Lets just not talk about Markakis here ;)

As Drungo said, its far too specialized, I just think it makes complete sense for there to be a DH, and its development decades ago was a very smart move.

If we want pitchers that aren't terrible hitters, then they will need to spend as much time pefecting hitters as the rest of the positional roster does, which would take away from developing good pitching.

Im not sure where Im going with this, egh ill just end it here.

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Continuing the thought, you have players that specialize in bunting, stealing bases. If your leadoff hitter is a great bunter, you realize you have to sacrafice power ,maybe he gets a lot of walks and this is more valuable to you. Sometimes a guy that can steal a lot of bases is ok, even if hes batting below .250, hes great in close games a pinch runner too. Nobody wants to see David Ortiz bunt, thats what your bunters and OBP guys are for. Seems that if youre goign to have specialization everywhere, and even Outfileders who you wouldn't dream of putting at third or short, than you should have hitting specialists, the DH.

But then again I think this could be an argument against the DH, ie, you make sacrafices at each position, and a great pitcher who cant hit is one of them, so Ill just stop here again.

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If you're DHing .820 OPS players for .690 OPS shortstops or .725 OPS center fielders, then yes. Yes they do.

So a lot of improvement is OK, but just a little improvement is not.

Arbitrary. Completely arbitrary.

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So a lot of improvement is OK, but just a little improvement is not.

Arbitrary. Completely arbitrary.

It isn't at all.

Pitchers are selected completely independently of their ability to hit a baseball. Almost all of their value is tied to their pitching ability. Even the best hitting pitcher, a Carlos Zambrano, is sub-replacement level with the bat. It matters little whether they produce a .290 OPS or a .490 OPS because their value is derived from their ability to pitch.

All hitters are selected because of their ability to hit a baseball. Even a no-hit, defensive wizard like Adam Everett is expected to achieve some basic level of competence with the bat or else he will simply not be of any value to a team.

That's the difference. DHing for a P replaces a player with zero value (or less) at the plate with someone who can add value. Nearly all fielders add some value to the team at the plate, otherwise they fade away in favor of someone who can hit a little. For pitchers, that simply isn't feasible.

Do you think that all hitters should pitch? After all, if all pitchers should hit, what's good for the goose must then be good for the gander, no? A pitcher plays defense, hits, and pitches. Why should Jose Reyes only do two of the three?

There are three facets to the game: pitching, hitting, and defense. If you can make an argument that accepting players who can do two of the three is significantly different than accepting players who can do only one of the three, I will concede that the DH is a terrible invention. But I suspect that any such argument will like be completely arbitrary.

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So a lot of improvement is OK, but just a little improvement is not.

Arbitrary. Completely arbitrary.

Dave, the stats Drungo pointed out make the entire argument.

The difference between the worst hitters who hit regularly and the best is very small when compared to the difference between pitchers hitting and the worst hitters who hit regularly.

The average SS or C has an OPS ~100 points lower than the average 1B or DH. The average pitcher is several hundred OPS points below that. Thats a huge difference.

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You know when the last time there was a totally righteous two-way player in MLB?

Me neither.

Anyway, the DH is awesome because guys like Edgar Martinez and Travis Hafner hit the ball about 600 feet 50 times a year or so and that is totally worth having to deal with whatever flaccid argument about how it is moral and proper to watch a pitcher struggle to lay down a sacrifice bunt with two runners on and one out or even better take silly hacks at 90 MPH fastballs.

Did you know one of Barry Zito's swings in interleague play actually made a goddamned blooper reel? Yes, the lulz are important but I don't think I could watch that 162 times a year.

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Do you think that all hitters should pitch? After all, if all pitchers should hit, what's good for the goose must then be good for the gander, no? A pitcher plays defense, hits, and pitches. Why should Jose Reyes only do two of the three?

That's a great point. If dave wants to reduce rules to only the ones that pass some kind of logical test, why do we let position players get off not pitching? If specialization is so awful, and players should all be well-rounded, why not have Miggy and Brian Roberts and Markakis pull their weight and pitch? Why do we have pitchers who only throw an inning every four days? Shouldn't they be forced to play other positions in the field, too? And bat, for that matter. It's absurd that National League relievers can go years between at bats, and may not play an inning in the field other than on the mound their entire careers.

Cricket does it. A bowler can only throw so many overs in a row before he has to be replaced with another bowler, and the original guy goes to another position in the field.

Let's start a movement - Hangouters for All Around Players. HAAP! Our manifesto's core is that every player on the roster is required to pitch, field, and bat in equal amounts. Symmetrical, logical, and non-arbitrary. Everyone has to do everything.

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It's like being lectured by old men about listening to that devil music and just being all "suck it grandpa"

That, and Davearm and Drungo are two of the best debaters on this forum. Get them at loggerheads over something, and man...pop some corn, crack open a Boh, and enjoy the ride.

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I've said it before and I'll say it again. My only problem with the DH is that it causes people to disrespect baseball as a sport. When your basketball/soccer/football lovin', baseball hatin' friend tells you that baseball players aren't "real" athletes and you try to argue with him, he can just say, "Some of the game's biggest stars are literally sitting on their butt for 90% of the game." And, wham! you got served, so to speak. I guess you could say the same about punters and kickers in football, but there really is no punter equivalent of David Ortiz or Travis Hafner, and honestly football would be a better sport without punters and kickers anyway.

So does the overall quality of play of suffer where there is no DH. Obviously. But you have every player playing on both sides of the ball. It's aesthetically pleasing. It's symmetrical. It fits the Platonic ideal of a sport. What's one spot in the order when you have that?

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Well, it's really degenerated into a "My mom is prettier than your mom; my dad can beat the crap out of your dad." kind of argument. National League fans regard the designated hitter as an abomination. American League fans try to establish a position that watching pitchers attempt to hit is an obscenity their eyes shouldn't have to endure. "Nah, nah, nah, my league is better than your league. My league's better than yours."

The degree of nausea experienced when watching a pitcher hit has been grossly exaggerated, and the difference in overall offense is relatively small. Major league teams score on the average just slightly under 5 runs per game and the difference between American League teams and National League teams is about one fourth of a run. Over the last 7 years, the difference hass ranged from 0.16 runs/game in 2001 to 0.37 runs/game in 2004. That's not very much at all, especially when on considers that the difference between average runs per game scored by a good team and a bad team is more like 1.6 runs.

Jon made some good points about why position players are better hitters than pitchers; it takes an extraordinary glove to reach the majors without being at least an average hitter in the high minors, but pitchers get promoted whether they can hit or not if they can prevent runs from getting scored. Couple that with the fact that pitchers get short shrift when it comes to batting practice and have to work on their bunting skills with the little time they do get in the batting cage and that they only get to hit in game situations every 5th game once they reach the National League and not at all in most of the minor leagues and it's surprising that pitchers hit as well as they do.

Another thing; any evaluation of the hitting of individual pitchers runs into the old problem of insufficient sample sizes. I contend that it really takes something approaching a full season's worth of at bats -- 400 or 500 of them -- before evaluations of hitters begin to have substantial validity. Pitchers don't get that; neither do pinch hitters. Any assessment of the hitting ability of an individual pitcher or pinch hitter as to begin with the acknowledgement that there aren't enough at bats for the assessment to have much validity.

The OPS of an everyday player can vary by several hundred points between one monthly split and another. A monthly split for a position player is usually 90 to 120 at bats, while a starting pitcher will normally have only 50 to 90 plate appearances over an entire season. How can we possibly place much credibility in an evaluation of the hitting skills of a hitter based upon 50 to 90 at bats?

That being said, if one wants to compare pitchers as hitters with position players, the comparison should be with comparable sample sizes. I've done that for National League pitchers with at least 40 at bats over the course of a season for the 2000 through 2006 seasons and I've compared them with the monthly splits of the position players on the 2007 Orioles roster beginning with 2002 and going up through June 21, 2007. That gave me a total of 385 monthly splits for the position players and 361 seasons for the NL pitchers. I did not exclude small sample sizes for the position players for a couple reasons: One reason is because I'd already put in about 8-10 hours in compiling and organizing the data, and another is because it's often those hitters with small numbers of at bats for a season who end up pinch hitting for those pitchers in NL games. Besides, including the small sample sizes for the position players highlights the extreme variance of baseball statistics as the sample sizes grow smaller.

To illustrate what small sample sizes do to the validity of statistics for performance evaluation, consider that Alberto Castillo has the 3rd highest OPS among the monthly splits and 2 of the 35 which are over 1.000, yet he also has 5 of the 6 which are zero. All of those are miniscule samples, yet if I had not arbitrarily required that pitchers have a minimum of 40 at bats to be included in my analysis, they would have dominated both ends of the spectrum. Yes, there are pitchers out there with samples about the size of Alberto's zeros for which they've posted OPS values of 2.000 to 3.000!

Anyhow, the top 70 OPS values on my list of 746 player splits were all position players. Mike Hampton came in at #71 with the .917 OPS he posted for the 2001 season. Mike hit 7 home run in just 76 at bats that year, a pace that is better than Babe Ruth managed for his entire career. Mike was the only pitcher to break the top 100 and he did it twice. The next season, he posted an .894 OPS over 60 at bats, with 5 home runs. Imagine what Hampton could have done if he'd been an everyday player, with the opportunity to take some serious batting practice and keep his eye sharp by playing every game?

Freddie Bynum and Alberto Castillo claimed the bottom six OPS monthly splits of .000, but 88 of the worst 100 were pitchers. No surprise there, and most of the position players splits were pretty small samples. However, Jay Gibbons made the bottom 100 with only a .263 OPS over 45 at bats in June of 2004, so it's possible for position players to hit just about as horribly bad as the worst starting pitchers. (I don't recall if that was when Jay was trying to play through an injury or not.)

The hundredth highest OPS on the list was Melvin Mora in September 2004 when he posted a .870. Numbr 200 was Ramon Hernandez in June of 2002, with a .749. There were three more pitchers in that second hundred: Randy Wolf with an .805 in 2004; Jason Marquis with a .799 in 2005; and Carlos Zambrano with a .763 in 2005.

Kevin Millar marks #300 with a .648 OPS in April 2006. 13 more NL pitchers managed to top that: Omar Daal, Woody Williams (twice), Jason Jennings, Russ Ortiz (twice), Rick Ankiel, Livan Hernandez, Noah Lowry, Marquis (again), Jeff Suppan, Darren Oliver, and Brendan Backe.

Jay Payton comes in at #400 with a .523 OPS in July of 2004. 41 NL pitchers managed a better OPS over a full season than Jay Payton did in 81 at bats in July of 2004. Corey Patterson was barely above that in July 2002, with a .532 OPS in 90 at bats and Aubrey Huff in May 2006 only managed .531 in 80 at bats. But how about the Orioles position players who did worse than that over a full month?

I'll skip Alberto Castillo in May of 2005 because he only had 24 at bats and only list the Orioles position players who had at least 40 at bats, the criteria I used for my NL pitchers.

Ramon Hernandez, June 2005, .518 in 45 at bats

Miguel Tejada, April 2003, .516 in 112 at bats!

Corey Patterson, May 2007, .511 in 91 at bats.

Chris Gomez, June 2005, .509 in 78 at bats.

Ramon Hernandez, May 2002, .497 in 69 at bats.

Chris Gomez, July 2003, .493 in 64 at bats.

Melvin Mora, September 2002, .480 in 73 at bats.

Ramon Hernandez, July 2006, .479 in 80 at bats.

Jay Payton, April 2006, .477 in 65 at bats.

Corey Patterson, September 2005, .474 in 70 at bats.

Corey once again, August 2005, .473 in 60 at bats.

Corey still again, June 2005, .456 in 102 at bats.

Jay Payton, June 2004, .430 in 98 at bats.

I already mentioned Jay Gibbons at .263 over 45 at bats. There's no question but what the bottom of the list is mostly pitchers, guys who are only getting 40-70 at bats over the course of a full season, but I think that I've demonstrated that there's more overlap than most of you realized between decent hitting pitchers and position players who have a bad month.

However, the thing which makes me the angriest about the designated hitter is what a sacrilige it is upon the history of baseball. Think about it! Babe Ruth and Stan Musial both began their careers as pitchers. Most of the teams which were considering drafting Cal Ripkin Jr. intended to make him a pitcher instead of a 3rd baseman. In a baseball universe dominated by designated hitters, it's quite possible to envision a scenario where neither the Babe, nor the Man, nor Cal might have ended up batting in enough major league games for us to have seen what they could do with a bat.

Can you imagine what a paltry baseball tradition we might have now if the designated hitter had been introduced 90 years ago? No Babe. No Stan. No Cal. What a horrible, weird, distorted universe that would be!

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So a lot of improvement is OK, but just a little improvement is not.

Arbitrary. Completely arbitrary.

I think it's less about improvement and more about getting rid of the constant hole in the lineup that is the pitcher.

What's so exciting about watching a pitcher hit? What's so great about the strategy added which are usually just cookie cutter moves? Why do you like seeing pitchers taken out of a close game when they're doing great just because their spot in the lineup is coming up?

If the average pitcher put up a .600 OPS or so, I'd say fine, get rid of the DH. But they can't. Instead you've got a guy who's a total black hole in the lineup. You watch 8th place hitters (who on many teams aren't all that good) get intentionally walked or pitched around so they can get to someone who's about as reliable with the bat as I am. It's a joke.

I think SG's statement was going way too far - NL baseball is far from awful. I personally hate watching pitchers hit but it doesn't ruin the game for me. But there's just no justifiable reason for pitchers hitting still. The game has evolved so much over the century-plus it's been around, why does this one rule have to be embraced so tightly still?

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