There's no question where Los Angeles Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw stands when it comes to Major League Baseball potentially expanding the designated hitter.
Speaking at a team function at Los Angeles City Hall on Friday, the former three-time Cy Young Award winner made it clear he is firmly against it, stating that baseball is meant to be a 'two-sided' game.
“It’s just a better game. It really is,” Kershaw told J.P. Hoornstra of Inside the Dodgers. “Baseball’s a two-sided game. You’ve got to play offense, you’ve got to play defense. I know there’s a lot of great hitters that DH, I’m not trying to take anything away from them, but they all started somewhere. They all played first base, all played a position. They all still could do it if they had to. That’s the truer fun of baseball."
When people make the argument against the DH, it often begins with the fundamental thought that baseball is meant to be played both ways. Specialists are not needed or welcomed. If you pitch, you should hit. If you hit, you should play the field. Nine players belong in the starting lineup, not nine players and a hitter, or nine hitters and a pitcher.
That seemed to be the prevailing thought for a long time, but it does seem there has been a shift more toward expanding the DH. That has certainly been aided by recent injuries to pitchers suffered while batting or running the bases, and also a desire to see offenses move away from small-ball strategies like bunting.
At this point, it seems like there's little chance the tide will turn the other way again, making a universal DH almost inevitable.
It's a hot topic now, because St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak indicated the DH was gaining momentum among NL owners and executives. Commissioner Rob Manfred then fanned the flames a few days later, confirming that more people on the NL side were getting on board.
Before things got too crazy though, Manfred tossed some cold water on the idea, stating this week that he doesn't expect any changes to the DH in the forseeable future. So that's where things stand right now, but that doesn't mean the topic is going away anytime soon. Especially now that spring training is nearing and players are becoming more accessible to the media.
Where they stand on the DH is a question every player will be asked at least once between now and the start of the season. That means we'll have a pretty decent idea where they all stand as individuals, and where the players stand as a whole.
As for Kershaw, he just wants to keep things simple.
“Selfishly, I love taking batting practice. Hitting in the game is fun, too. I would miss that part of it for sure.”
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