March 13, 2017
The Strategic Argument Against the DH
Last week I attended the SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix. The Society for American Baseball Research, as I assume you know, is dedicated to researching the game. Many of you are SABR members, as am I. This isn’t an advertisement (though it is a great organization!); I just wanted to provide the background.
The Analytics Conference, as its name implies, is analytically focused. It’s more for baseball numbers nerds than general baseball nerds. That being said, everybody there’s a baseball fan and baseball fans have opinions.
One of their strongest is about the designated hitter. The DH was adopted by the American League in 1973, after a season in which scoring fell to 3.47 runs per game, the fourth-lowest in league history (3.41 in 1968, 3.441 in 1908, 3.443 in 1909). The intent of the DH was primarily to improve scoring, since the changes adopted in 1969 (lowered pitchers’ mound, smaller strike zone) proved to be only a temporary fix.