The Universal DH: Pros and Cons

Callen Elslager examines the pros and cons of the universal DH.

One of the first new rules that came into effect with this 60 game season was the designated-hitter being added to the National League. With that came a stark debate between the old school, traditional fans and the new-school, younger fans.  In this article, you will see a few arguments for both sides, and allow you to decide where you stand on the debate.




  • More Offense: Everyone always mentions that Madison Bumgarner, as the most dangerous hitting pitcher, yet he is a career .177 hitter. The American League has scored more runs than the National League throughout the years since they have nine normal hitters in each of their lineups compared to the eight in the National League. While the gap had been closing in recent years, since 1973 the American League scored more runs per game than the National League in almost all of those seasons. Though runs have been on the rise recently, the addition on the DH in the National League helps to continue that rise, by evening the playing field in terms of hitters in the lineup.



  • More Available Lineup Positions: The most obvious example of this is the Colorado Rockies, who before this season refused to play their young hitters, such as Garrett Hampson and Brendan Rodgers. While they have not exactly used that position to play these young players, having the extra hitter in a lineup gives the opportunity for these young players to earn a spot in their team’s lineup.


  • Allows for Longer Careers: As players approach the end of their careers, they lose out on playing time and aren’t willing to be signed by certain teams because they no longer can play the field. Therefore for the longest time, only American League teams would be willing to take the chance on them as a DH. With the universal DH throughout baseball, these players now have fifteen more teams that may be willing to take the chance on these guys who still can hit, but may no longer be able to play the filed every day. This will help extend the careers for guys such as Nelson Cruz.


  • Both Sides Playing by the Same Rules: In all other sports, the two conferences play with the same rules as each other. It is only in baseball where one league plays under different rules than the other and with a series of interleague play taking place every day, it is hard to have that continue to be the case.




  • Less Small Ball/Strategy: The biggest critique of the National League adopting the DH was that it would take away the strategy in the National League of when to pinch-hit for your pitcher and when to use a double switch. It also eliminates the National League strategy of small ball and sacrifice bunts and squeezes with the pitcher. It is definitely an element of baseball that is missed today.


  • No More Pitchers who Rake: As poor as pitchers are hitting, it was always fun to watch pitchers go yard, especially when it was those pitchers who looked like they could never hit. One of the craziest days on social media was the day that Bartolo Colon hit the home run in San Diego, and it is a bit disappointing that we won’t see any of those unexpected pitchers go yard anymore.

(Photo by Scott Kane/Icon Sportswire)

Callen Elslager

Callen is a law school student at Widener Law Commonwealth. When he doesn't have his head in the books studying law he can be found with his head in a Fangraphs or Baseball Savant page learning more about the sport he loves.

5 responses to “The Universal DH: Pros and Cons”

  1. ROBERT SHAW says:

    Instead of a universal DH, I would like the home team manager to decide on a game to game basis whether the game is to played with or without a DH.


    I’m surprised lack of silly injuries for pitchers wasn’t mentioned. Jimmy Nelson is one I remember where he was sliding to base and he’s still pretty broken and hasn’t been the same. If there was a universal DH, there wouldn’t be these silly injuries.

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