After a long offseason in baseball, the national league finally added the long-overdue designated hitter in 2022. To no surprise, through the first 2+ months, the DH is proving to add significant value to NL offenses.
In 2022, NL DHs are hitting .233/.315/.389, making the designated hitter the fourth most productive lineup spot in the NL this year, according to Andrew Simon of MLB.com. That spot replaces pitchers who had a historically bad hitting season in 2021 slashing only .110/.149/.140 with only 14 home runs for the entire season.
Not only has the DH given NL teams more production than pitchers have in the past, it is also giving NL teams much more flexibility with their lineups. One team reaping the full benefits of the DH is the Philadelphia Phillies. While Nick Castellanos was originally slated to be the designated hitter for the Phils this year, an unfortunate injury changed that plan quickly.
On May 13, Reigning MVP Bryce Harper was diagnosed with a UCL tear in his throwing arm. Due to the nature of his injury, Harper cannot throw a baseball let alone play in the outfield. The DH has allowed the Phillies to continue to play Harper and get his MVP production. While their defense has taken a significant hit by moving a below-average fielder in Castellanos to the outfield, without the DH Harper’s season would’ve likely been over a month ago. Instead, Harper has been in the Phillies lineup every day slashing a monster .322/.379/.639 with 15 home runs and 45 RBI.
Another team that has benefited from the DH is the St. Louis Cardinals. The NL DH has allowed the Cardinals to bring back franchise legend Albert Pujols. Without the DH the Cardinals never would’ve had the opportunity to bring Pujols back as he’s no longer fit to play every day in the field, especially on a team that has Paul Goldschmidt.