One of the reported aspects of MLB owners’ proposal they plan to send to the players for a 2020 season is the use of designated hitter in the National League for this year only.
Dodgers designated hitters have not fared very well in the 23-year history of inter league play, hitting just .238/.319/.343. LA’s .662 OPS from DHs since 1997 ranks 29th among 30 major league teams, ahead of only the Expos/Nationals (.615). The Dodgers’ 12 home runs from designated hitters (in 869 plate appearances) is the fewest of any team.
The DH is also a “position” they rarely use, only 10 times per season in road interleague games since 2013. Even though no National League team had an offseason to plan for using a designated hitter, the Dodgers are probably best positioned to take advantage of an extra hitter in the lineup because of their incredible depth.
Heading into a normal 2020 season, the Dodgers already had Joc Pederson and A.J. Pollock vying for playing time in left field, and Gavin Lux in the mix for second base along with Kiké Hernandez and Chris Taylor. That’s before finding at-bats for Matt Beaty.
With the designated hitter, it opens up a whole new spot in the lineup to rotate just about everyone through, with the Dodgers’ defensive versatility allowing them to mix and match lineups as needed.
In the last three seasons, Justin Turner leads the Dodgers with 12 starts at designated hitter, and has done quite well, hitting .367/.446/.469 with a home run and nine RBI. Of the players currently active and on the team, only Matt Beaty has more than one DH start (he has two).
But having a designated hitter doesn’t just mean an extra hitter. It means the pitcher isn’t batting, so the ninth spot in the lineup becomes a variable. Sometimes the extra player inserted into the lineup might bat ninth, and sometimes that hitter might be toward the middle of the lineup, with everyone else moving down a slot.
One of the questions from Craig Minami on this week’s podcast was which Dodgers batter would lead the team in plate appearances batting ninth. I guessed Lux, but would like to know your guess.
If the National League adds a DH for the 2020 season, which Dodgers player will have the most plate appearances batting ninth this season?
This poll is closed
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- Jason Martinez continued his series of how award winners were acquired. The latest is the National League Cy Young Award winners in the 1980s, which include Dodgers Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser.
- If you’re keeping score of where major league games might be held once the 2020 season starts, Los Angeles County public health director Barbara Ferrera said Tuesday “with all certainty” stay-at-home orders will continue in the county for the next three months. Meanwhile, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey says major league sports can return in the state beginning as early as this Saturday, with no fans.