Antoine Schibler / Unsplash
When Major League Baseball announced their new rules for the 2021 season, many fans were disappointed with their choices. The most notable decision was the players association’s rejection of a proposal to add the universal designated hitter.
During the modified 2020 season, every game featured a designated hitter in the lineup for the pitcher. With the shortened season, games occurred more frequently and pitchers were removed from the hitting lineup to preserve their energy.
The universal DH was designed to protect pitchers and add a new entertainment factor to the game by including another talented hitter in each lineup. Historically, pitchers have struggled as hitters, and are almost always a guaranteed out. This takes away from the eventfulness of the game that a declining amount of people enjoy.
Viewership in the MLB has been consistently declining since 2007, when it reached its peak. Another surprising statistic is that only 7% of current MLB viewers are under the age of 18. Many of these children watch games for entertainment and their favorite players.
Adding the universal DH could be a way to gain back viewership in the league, since younger viewers have preferred big hits of plays over seeing pitchers throw strikeouts. Another talented hitter could add to the thrill of the game and attract younger viewers.
If the MLB were to decide to make this change, they would need to give a notice a few years in advance. This is because the cap space and rosters would need to be adjusted to include an additional player to fill this space. Nonetheless, this announcement has not been made, so fans should not expect a universal DH to come for at least another season.
Some would argue that adding the universal DH would take away from the tradition of the game. However, all games played in an American League park already feature a designated hitter, which is approximately half of the games. If the MLB and fans truly cared about tradition, the AL would not already have a designated hitter.