Author Topic: Unofficial Compromise DH Rule Testing Lab thread (Nats fans edition)  (Read 14956 times)

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Offline _sturt_

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The first premise of this thread is that the unification of the leagues under one version of the rules is imperative.

(We can discuss why that's the case from a common-sense-coherency basis and a statistical basis, but if you'll be so kind, I'd like to ask that conversation be the substance of a separate thread... this one just assumes the premise.)

The second premise is that compromise is preferable to having one league's version of the game forced upon the other league and its fans. In the big picture, advanced civilizations recognize the value of compromise over win-lose decision-making, and accordingly, to get to a unification that both the more polarized NL and more polarized AL fans can accept, we need an incubator where we can develop and catalog some credible ideas.

For some number, this is a wholly new concept. They've never yet been exposed to the concept that there could be some middle ground... like maybe the issue of abortion was at one time--pro-life or pro-choice--or, like alcohol consumption or prohibition, they've only known pro or con, yes or no, winner or loser, universal DH or abolish the DH.

But interest in a compromise DH rule began getting some play in the mid-90s when manager Tom Trebelhorn first suggested something he called the "Designated Pinch Hitter," and actually has enjoyed some building national play as a topic among several with a legit baseball pedigree, certainly more so within the last five years or so.

Getting it started, it's prudent to ask, what are the criteria for determining what an optimal compromise DH rule would look like?

Well, having engaged in this discussion off-and-on since 2007, here's my take, fwiw...

- Simplicity for the sake of casual fans' intelligence

- Minimal imposition on the AL's emphasis on strong offense

- Minimal imposition on the NL's emphasis on strategic decision-making by managers

- Familiarity so that the game is not so grossly altered that it is hardly recognizable

Having said that, it has to be acknowledged that (a) a "perfect" compromise is unlikely--it is almost certain that any option will impose slightly more on one side than the other; and (b), that even the best compromise will necessarily involve change. Change only becomes too massive at that point that a die-hard traditionalist and/or a die-hard DH advocate decide that they'd rather submit to the opposition's current version of the game.

So, I'd like to request at the outset that some latitude be given. All compromise ideas are welcome in this thread, especially initially. Hopefully, people will be compelled to first talk about what they like about a given poster's idea. As the discussion evolves, some ideas might borrow from one or more others' ideas. At some later point, then, we can begin to sort out the best of the ideas proposed, and perhaps gain some consensus.

The point of the discussion where I'm concerned is as much about seeing how well we... a bunch of fans who've somehow found each other and interacted on a baseball board but otherwise have no relationship... can go through the process, as it is about the final result/product.

Thanks in advance for contributing something substantive and productive. Other than posting Tom Trebelhorn's original DPH idea, I'm going to sit back for a bit and see what gets posted before I say very much on the topic. Look forward to what others have to say.

Offline _sturt_

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http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1996-02-25/sports/1996056152_1_designated-hitter-pinch-hitter-trebelhorn

Quote
Tom Trebelhorn, their former Chicago Cubs manager who is now a minor-league instructor for the Orioles, has the roots of an innovator. His mentor is Syd Thrift, an innovator who once was hired by Charles Finley, an innovator who died last week.

And in his moments of idle thought, Trebelhorn the innovator has come up witih a terrific Trebelhorn compromise for those who love the National League rules and those who love the designated hitter.

He calls it the designated pinch hitter, and this is how it works: The manager will have a lineup like they use in the NL, with the pitcher batting. But on his lineup card, the manager notates one player who will serve in the role of designated pinch hitter, and during the course of the game, he can use this player four times -- in any spot in the lineup, from No. 1 to No. 9, never twice in the same inning.

Suppose the Orioles are playing the New York Yankees, and Rafael Palmeiro is the designated pinch hitter for the day. The Orioles load the bases with one out in the second inning, and No. 8 hitter and right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds is due to bat against right-hander David Cone.

Manager Davey Johnson could have Palmeiro bat for Hammonds, attempting to break open the game early, and Hammonds would return to right field the next inning.

The beauty in this idea is that it serves the interests of those who support and those who hate the designated hitter. Those who prefer the DH like the idea of keeping older hitters such as Eddie Murray and Harold Baines active, and with the designated pinch hitter, Murray and Baines would have a place in the game.

Some prefer the NL rules and all the strategy and decisions involved in having the pitcher in the lineup -- when to pinch-hit, when to get the bullpen warmed up -- and the DPH would create even more situations requiring decisions by the manager.

"It would certainly put a lot of pressure on the manager," Trebelhorn said.

Should the manager use the DPH early, or hold him out until late in the game? Should the DPH bat for the other good hitters in the lineup in an attempt to exploit a potentially favorable matchup, or just bat for the weaker hitters? Should a good fielder like Ken Griffey be used as a DPH -- the manager must choose between picking and choosing spots for his best hitter -- or should the manager keep Griffey in the outfield and gamble Griffey would bat in critical situations?

How could the opposing manager handle his bullpen, knowing that his move can be countered with the insertion of the DPH, likely an exceptional hitter?

"I think fans would like that," Trebelhorn said. "Any time you've got fans thinking about strategy -- [saying] he should've batted [the DPH] in that spot, or he should've waited for another chance -- it gets them involved. It could be tremendous."

Orioles general manager Pat Gillick likes the idea. "It could be very interesting for the fans," he said.

B. J. Surhoff needs some time thinking about the plan before saying whether it would work, but he likes the effort. Baseball will need one set of rules eventually, he said, a uniform set of rules

Offline nobleisthyname

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My initial reaction is that is a very good compromise. I would wholeheartedly support that especially given that if any side is going to have to give in to the other it will be the NL adopting the DH.

Offline mitlen

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Interesting  ...  I'd like to see 'em try it in Spring Training.         

Let's say the home team is down by 4 in the 9th.    DH bats in the first slot to get something going.    Home team starts scoring runs and the pitcher is due up.    Does he have to bat because the DH has already been used?    After him, would the original batter who the DH batted for at the beginning of the inning have to bat since the DH can only bat once in an inning?     I know, I'm over thinking this.   :)

Offline zimm_da_kid

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I say the better compromise would be a 10 man lineup with the pitcher batting and the designated hitter also batting.  This keeps the strategy of the NL, the offense of the AL, and would be something new and exciting.

Offline _sturt_

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Interesting  ...  I'd like to see 'em try it in Spring Training.         

Let's say the home team is down by 4 in the 9th.    DH bats in the first slot to get something going.    Home team starts scoring runs and the pitcher is due up.    Does he have to bat because the DH has already been used?    After him, would the original batter who the DH batted for at the beginning of the inning have to bat since the DH can only bat once in an inning?     I know, I'm over thinking this.   :)

Yes, and yes... that's my understanding, anyway.

Offline HalfSmokes

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I don't really buy the first premise, there doesn't seem to be any clamor from fans for unified rules, so why bother?

Offline _sturt_

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(ASIDE: Understood. As mentioned above, "We can discuss why that's the case from a common-sense-coherency basis and a statistical basis, but if you'll be so kind, I'd like to ask that conversation be the substance of a separate thread... this one just assumes the premise." For now, just consider that some believe that the day will come that the DH will be thrust upon us, based on its acceptance at lower levels, and thus a creeping acceptance as the population ages. So, just trying to ascertain, if you were asked to figure out a compromise rule, what's the best you could come up with (?).)

Offline _sturt_

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Here's another... this time from a national writer for CBS... to maybe help a few more get your synapses stoked and firing...

http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/21860365/big-idea-the-designated-hitter-compromise

Quote
Personally, I don't see the problem. Sure, if I could go back in time and scrub the designated hitter rule from history, then I probably would. But the DH doesn't cause me French-existential angst (i.e., I don't hate it), and I'm similarly unruffled by the fact that the two leagues have distinct rules regarding the DH. With all that said, I seem to be in the distinct minority. People don't like the designated hitter rule, or at the very least they want uniformity in its application. As usual, I'm here for those with nowhere left to turn.

First, please accept this premise: Wholesale elimination of the DH isn't going to happen. Next month, it will celebrate its 40th birthday in MLB, and that means it's entrenched. In a related matter, don't expect the MLBPA to sacrifice a concocted "position" that turns 15-low-paying roster spots into high-paying roster spots. You can talk about making other structural concessions all you want, but none of the bandied-about solutions -- expanded active rosters, a raising of the minimum salary -- provides to players the high-end material uplift that the DH does. Cries of "get rid of the DH!" should be dismissed as fantasy.

With that out of the way, here's what I propose: Make the DH rule the prerogative of the home team. Yes, I hereby propose that in advance of each regular-season and postseason game, the home team should be able to declare whether the DH shall be used for the contest in question.

Per MLB rules, batting lineups aren't exchanged until five minutes before game time, so there's plenty of time in the course of the standard run-up to the first pitch to make the decision and allow the visiting manager to react accordingly. Want to force David Ortiz to wield a glove or luxuriate on the pine? The home manager can opt not to DH. Want Stephen Strasburg to hit opposite a pitcher who's less skilled with the bat? Opt not to DH. Got a right-hander on the mound and an opponent without a quality left-handed bat to slot in at DH? Force the issue by invoking the DH rule for that game. Does your team employ a manager with an orthodox and throbbing-neck-vein hatred of the DH? Take the NIMBY approach and never allow it on your hallowed traditionalist grounds.

First and foremost, the "home team chooses" system would, a) reduce significantly the number of games in which the DH rule would be in force; and b) add another layer of managerial strategizing (and fan kvetching) to a sport that's typically a bit light on managerial strategizing (but not fan kvetching). I also envision a handful of other consequences that can be viewed as generally positive ...

- Such a system would make home-field advantage in the postseason that much more meaningful. By extension, that would make the regular-season race for seeding that much more important. It would also lessen the perceived disadvantages/advantages afforded by the World Series setup, which entails use of the DH in AL parks and no DH in NL parks. After all, AL and NL teams would be constructing their rosters according to same rules for the entirety of the regular season.

- Such a system would create an incentive for teams to roster DHs with at least some baseline defensive ability. If the DH who couldn't dream of manning a position offends your aesthetics, then this system would make such a creature even more of an imposition on the 25-man.

- Such a system would create "soft" pressure for teams to carry more position players on the roster. Teams would need to be prepared to trot out an adequate DH (i.e., a player who can put at least something like a .758 OPS, which is what AL DHs hit last season -- only AL first basemen were more productive) or have an adequate arsenal of platoon-advantaged pinch-hitters for those occasions when the DH rule is not in force. In some instances, the primary DH will fill all those roles, but in others it will require a deeper bench. The point is that some teams would be reluctant to carry 13 or maybe even 12 pitchers. Fewer middle- and late-inning pitching changes and fewer LOOGY appearances are good things for observers invested in things like pacing.

This new structure would of course require the consent of the players union, and they'd likely want give-backs elsewhere, since this would likely result in a downward market correction insofar as primary DHs are concerned. But this effort embodies, I think, the sensible middle ground between getting rid of the DH altogether (again, not a plausible aim) and allowing the status to remain quo.

So, in summary, the home team gets to decide whether the DH rule applies. Given the breadth of my opinion-shaping powers, I expect implementation posthaste. Or not.

Offline Minty Fresh

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Love this idea...

Offline blue911

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Love this idea...

I don't it allows for too much bullcrap. Livan would never get to bat while Jason Bergmann would have to hit every game. Let each team pick for the season would be a better option IMO.

Offline Slateman

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Teams can have DH so long as the starting pitcher is still in the game. Once the SP is removed, the relief pitcher must hit in the DH's spot.

Offline HalfSmokes

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teams get a DH, but it can't be for the pitcher

Offline imref

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there is no compromise - no DH ever!

Offline welch

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I dislike the DH and, a born-in-the-AL fan, I would never have allowed it. That said, the "home-team decides" DH rule would be interesting. If nothing else, it might tend toward uniform rosters between the leagues. A bad element in the World Series is that an NL team built to use pinch-hitters goes to an AL park and must pick a pinch-hitter as a DH...and the reverse.

The DH has also, I suspect, reduced the batting and base-running skills of all pitchers, even in the NL. This might encourage teams to let their pitchers hit and run the bases...no place to hide them.

Offline ajcartwright

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Offline _sturt_

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Here's another offering to poke the fire...

http://espn.go.com/blog/statsinfo/post/_/id/395/four-hybrid-solutions-to-the-dh-problem

Quote
Debates on the designated hitter rule tend to end in a stalemate because of an "all or nothing" approach -- it's either everyone has a DH, or everyone doesn't. But once you compromise and get creative, it becomes a more reasonable discussion.

For the sake of argument, we're going to say the split rules are a bad thing: The AL and NL should play by the same rules. For further sake of argument, we will presume that the pro-DH and anti-DH people will never accept each other. We need a mixed solution.

So we are looking for hybrid rules that can exist in both the NL and AL. While I didn't create each of these solutions, I am championing them.

Solution 1: House Rules
Let the home manager make the call. Just as in spring training, when the managers decide whether to play with a DH, and just as in the World Series when they alternate the DH, this rule allows for an interesting variance. The marketplace will decide how much DH is too much DH. There is story potential for every game -- the bloggers will cry out that the hometown Cubs should have selected no DH because Carlos Zambrano is a far better hitter than Ben Sheets.

Solution 2: One-and-Done
Make the DH a pinch-hitter for the pitcher, but let the pitcher stay in the game. The manager has to decide how much he wants to deplete his bench. He can go to four pinch-hitters in a game while his pitcher pitches a complete game, or he can let the pitcher bat in low-leverage situations. The marketplace will decide how much DH is too much DH, with an in-game cost. There is story potential if the bench gets depleted.

Solution 3: My Bodyguard
An offshoot to Solution 2: As long as the starting pitcher remains in the game, so does his DH. Once the starter comes out of the game, so does the DH. In short, the DH becomes a pitcher's personal batter. If the starter is pulled for a reliever, the manager can pair a new DH for that reliever. But since relievers rarely come to bat more than once, this DH would become a de facto pinch hitter.

Solution 4: Relay
This is the antithesis to Solution 3: After the DH completes his at-bat, the manager selects either the pitcher or the DH to stay in the game. If the pitcher remains, the DH is one-and-done. If the DH remains, a reliever comes in. Repeat with subsequent pitcher/DH pairings.

So, there you have it: Four solutions that are more interesting, less polarizing (maybe) and possibly unifying. Now it's your turn -- vote for the one you like best. If you have other hybrid solutions, use the comments field -- I'd love to hear them.


Offline _sturt_

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Okay, after about a week of this discussion and giving others a shot at it, I'd like to humbly weigh-in with a proposal.

Most of the proposals any of us have considered either attempt to incorporate the current two versions of the game by varying the times when one or the other is used (e.g., home manager decides), or have focused on changing somehow the use of the DH (e.g., the designated pinch hitter)... this one is different... different from the former, it is an actual compromise so that the two versions of the current game would become one; different from the latter, instead of reshaping how the DH is used, it focuses on recasting pitcher's role as a batter.

Pretty simple... NL fans will cringe with the first line, but hear it out, okay?...

- Regular line-up card looks like any AL line-up card... DH used, and no pitcher appears.

- This rule simply allows the current pitcher to be used in-between batters at any point within a single inning that there is at least one runner on base.


Anti-DH crowd likes it because it adds a significant new instrument to the manager's strategic tool box, while restoring pitchers' plate appearances to the AL game. Though the DH is made universal, it will never more come at the price of eliminating the pitchers' plate appearances and the strategic element that accompanies those.

Pro-DH crowd likes it because it doesn't impose upon the sacredness of the DH as it is currently used, and even expands its use to the NL. Pitchers bat, but they bat at specific strategic times when they can be a real plus for the offense.

When would managers use it?

Most typical would be when you've got the #3 guy on first, and the clean-up is due to bat in a one-run game... you want to move the runner to second so that the clean-up can have a better chance to drive him home. Or, if you don't want to use a pinch hitter to sacrifice the runner. Or, if you've got a Livan Hernandez-type pitching, of course, you may use him in some other key situations.

Now here's where I think I just need to rehearse it again... inherently, any compromise is going to set some new precedent.

In this case, we've never had "in-between" batters as this rule would establish.

But it is a fairly simple addition to the rulebook, and seemingly would satisfy both polarities' most passionately-held tenets, and perhaps moreso than any other proposition, it holds intact all of the familiar elements of both versions of the game... even double-switches (see "Addendum 2" below).

Addendum 1: So the guy who comes in to bat for someone else is called a "pinch hitter," ostensibly under the idea that he is "pinching" out the guy he's subbing for. For now, unless something better comes along, we'll say that the pitcher in this deal is coming in as a WH... a wedge hitter.

Addendum 2: So, you can pinch hit for everyone else in the line-up... can you, then, also "pinch hit" for a wedge hitter? Yes, but of course, that would also require that you are taking out your pitcher, so you can't exactly do so willy-nilly. You'd have to be judicious about it.

Incidentally, because of this, you even preserve the much heralded and hallowed double-switch.

So... let it sink in... and then tell me, how do the "jury members"  :P gathered here react?

Offline varoadking

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So... let it sink in... and then tell me, how do the "jury members"  :P gathered here react?

Just get rid of the DH altogether and get back to playing real baseball in both leagues...

Offline HalfSmokes

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So make a convoluted rule that will almost never be utilized to allow a pitcher to hit (how many time have you seen pitchers pinch hit - maybe a handful over the course of a season?), but instead will be used to get more pinch hitters into the game and call it a compromise?

Offline _sturt_

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Okay, let's talk. Half, I'm not sure if I've communicated it successfully. Pitchers pinch hitting is a misnomer. And we can brand anything "convoluted," since we are necessarily and inherently talking about change of some kind. That's why I think it's helpful to back up and consider what the criteria are, and to evaluate any given idea on the basis of that criteria.

Going back, I had four:

- Simplicity for the sake of casual fans' intelligence
I believe the essential idea is adequately conveyed in one bullet/sentence.

- Minimal imposition on the AL's emphasis on strong offense
Keeps the exact same emphasis on offense as is current.

- Minimal imposition on the NL's emphasis on strategic decision-making by managers
It's at least the same degree of strategy, and arguably an enhanced degree because of the flexibility the manager has in using it.

Bear in mind that there is no inherent strategic decision-making that occurs under the current circumstance when a pitcher comes to the plate with no runners on base. He's just another batter trying to get on, and that's the leading criticism from the pro-DH perspective... ie, why do you so badly want to preserve guys coming to bat who, on-average, hit at a .132 clip in 2013? Though I'm a traditionalist, I respect that perspective.

What the wedge hitter concept does is to bring pitchers to the plate in instances where they can be an asset to offensive production--i.e., situations where your manager (a) has an out or two to play with, (b) the team needs one run to tie or go ahead, and (c) he really doesn't want to waste a good RBI guy--perhaps because he's the best hitter, or perhaps because the fall-off between, say, the #6 batter and the #7 batter is considerable. Being able to insert someone to bunt guys over so that the run producer can try to score them from 2nd and/or 3rd instead of 1st and/or 2nd is nothing to sneeze at.

And that's just if you look strictly at use of the pitcher in the wedge hitter role.

Just as pertinent and maybe just as often used, if not more, would be that this would restore pinch hitting to the American League game. As a manager decides to make a pitching change between innings, he can insert a wedge hitter as long as there is a runner on base.

I disagree, then, that this wouldn't be used. Far from it.

- Familiarity so that the game is not so grossly altered that it is hardly recognizable
What's unfamiliar is one thing--this concept of an "in-between" batter. The DH bats as in AL ball. Familiar. The pitcher bats as in NL ball. Familiar. Pinch hitters and double switches occur. Familiar.

Finally, please take into consideration that the goal here is to respect both kinds of fans' perspectives... the one that wants to see offense, and the other that wants to see strategy. There is a basic, essential respect for the other's inclination that is fundamental to this whole endeavor of figuring out the menu of possible compromise rules.

Offline HalfSmokes

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Baseball players batting is part of NL fans' argument- your plan doesn't address that at all- a pitcher could still throw a complete game without touching a bat. You're completely ignoring that fan's perspective because you've defined the NL category in such a way that your solution works.

Offline _sturt_

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Half, I would say that I'm boiling it down to the fundamentals and what a lifetime of these conversations tells me is important to my fellow NL fans and to the AL fans across the proverbial aisle.

It's not that the pitcher bats per se. It's that, by the pitcher not batting, it creates a notable lack of strategy.

You may take a more concrete position--you want to see pitchers batting four times a game, and no DH.

Well, that's fine, but it also takes you out of the compromise conversation because there simply is no way to achieve that without concurrently not achieving the other side's preference.



Offline blue911

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Kill all the DHs and put their heads on a spike near the center field gates as a warning.

Offline HalfSmokes

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Half, I would say that I'm boiling it down to the fundamentals and what a lifetime of these conversations tells me is important to my fellow NL fans and to the AL fans across the proverbial aisle.

It's not that the pitcher bats per se. It's that, by the pitcher not batting, it creates a notable lack of strategy.

You may take a more concrete position--you want to see pitchers batting four times a game, and no DH.

Well, that's fine, but it also takes you out of the compromise conversation because there simply is no way to achieve that without concurrently not achieving the other side's preference.




So the argument isn't about the pitcher being a baseball player? I realize you've defined it that way (i.e. taken a concrete position), but plenty of people see that as part of the argument. You may may not care if a pitcher bats, but don't extrapolate that to everyone