I want to start this article with the fact that neither Bryce Harper or Manny Machado have signed. I also want to start this article by saying this is my opinion on what would happen to Gabe Kapler and the Phillies if the MLB added the designated hitter (DH) to the national league. For anyone who doesn’t know, the DH is a position where a play only hits. It is currently a rule for only American league teams in their ballparks. The DH is a position player who will hit for the pitcher.
Is a universal DH coming to the MLB?
There was a lot of talks this offseason about making the DH a constant throughout the MLB. Personally, I love that the National league doesn’t have the DH. I think it allows for more strategy throughout the entire game. No DH means that the manager needs to think about when to bring in a reliever, when do they pull their starting pitcher, a double-switch is in play because there is no DH. These are just a few of the variables or options that a National league manager has.
As far as changing the current state of baseball, I don’t think it will happen in the near future. However, there are reasons for the shift to a full DH game. By having both leagues use a DH, it eliminates the chance of a pitcher getting hurt while hitting. It will also add more offense to games. The Commissioner’s office understands that the average age of baseball fans is in the 40s. They believe that adding more offense will help to bring in a younger fan base.
How would the DH change Gabe Kapler?
Again, I want to make sure that everyone knows this is all opinion. I feel like that is obvious because the NL currently doesn’t have the DH.
The addition of the DH could possibly make Kapler a much better manager. To help explain why I think this, let me use an analogy. Kapler is like one of the really smart kids in school. When there is a project or assignment that doesn’t have any restrictions, the smart kid will go above and beyond what is necessary. They often try to include so much material that the original point of the assignment is lost. I feel like Kapler is trying to be that student. He is using an excessive about of analytics to try and prove that he knows what he is doing.
There would only be a limited number of opportunities for Kapler to use a double-switch, however, the only thing that worries me, would be that Kapler would have no reason not to bring in a new pitcher. We have already seen the amount of pitchers Kapler likes to use during a game.
Could it hurt Kapler?
The short answer is no. The addition of the DH to the NL would most certainly not make Kapler a worse manager. Just to be clear, I’m still a fan of Kapler. I think that his first season was just him trying to prove that he belongs. Kapler was hired with no managerial experience. When you pair that with the direction that analytics is taking the game, last season is what you get.
I expect Kapler to use the experience he gained last season as well as the analytics to manage games. All of that as well as his gut. Kapler played this game for a long time, and he knows that sometimes the numbers tell you to do something else. Trusting his gut will be extremely important for Kapler and the Phillies.
Why did I write this?
I’ve said it a lot this offseason, I miss baseball. Harper and Machado haven’t signed yet. I was laying in bed last night and this thought popped into my head. How would the DH affect Kapler’s managing? This was my attempt to show that it would actually make Kapler a better manager because he would have less responsibility. Whether this is fair or not doesn’t matter. Until MLB decides to add the DH, everyone will see the results. And I think Kapler would really benefit from this rule change.