As somebody who grew up with a passionate Yankees fan for a father, I have never questioned the merits of the designated hitter. When comparing plate appearances from a DH and a pitcher, it’s immediately apparent that the former is much more skilled and comfortable. Major League Baseball touts itself as the highest level of baseball in the world, so why not put players in roles that allow them to demonstrate their incredible talents? Every other professional league aside from the National League shares that perspective, adopting the rule for themselves.
Marlins fans would seemingly be easy converts. Yeah, you have had the pleasure of enjoying productive seasons from Chris Hammond and Dontrelle Willis, and both of José Fernández’s career homers were electrifying, but we are closing in on five full years since the last time a Miami pitcher went yard. On average, NL pitchers are close to automatic outs. The Marlins have consistently fallen short of that bar in recent seasons, getting even less offense from that lineup spot than most of their opponents (h/t FanGraphs).
Any MLB games played in 2020, per numerous reports, will utilize the DH. That’s being done to accommodate the frequent interleague matchups caused by geographic realignment—AL East vs. NL East, AL Central vs. NL Central and AL West vs. NL West—and to open up more playing time for members of the expanded active rosters (30 roster spots anticipated instead of 26).
And yet, most Marlins fans are taking the news kicking and screaming, according to this week’s SB Nation Reacts survey (sign up for future surveys here). Although 56% of total MLB fans surveyed want to make the DH universal, only 43% of those with NL team allegiances support it. Among Marlins respondents, 38% voted yes.
Worth noting, Fish Stripes polled our Twitter followers four months ago on the same topic, yielding much different results:
Marlins fans, are you...— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) January 27, 2020
The question’s phrasing wasn’t exactly the same, however, and despite addressing it to Marlins fans, Twitter cannot verify a person’s fandom like SB Nation Reacts can.
Marlins batters who could see substantial action in the DH spot in 2020 include Jesús Aguilar, Garrett Cooper, Matt Joyce and Harold Ramirez. This also presumably improves the chances that former NL MVP and non-roster invitee Matt Kemp makes the club.