Universal DH: Who Benefits the Most?
The 2020 MLB season is in for some unusual changes. One of the main rules is the National League will now employ a DH for the 2020 season. Every National League team will benefit from the Universal DH, but some National League teams will benefit more than others. Here are the 4 NL teams that will benefit the most from the Universal DH.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Last season there was no team that had a higher offensive WAR than the Los Angeles Dodgers. There was also no team that scored more runs in the National League than the Dodgers. A team that raked a season ago only gets to add an additional bat to their already potent lineup. The Dodgers, whose depth was already a key strength considering they had 14 different players (non-pitchers) who started at least 35 games last season, are now ready to play for matchups as well as anyone in all of baseball. The majority of designated hitter starts for Los Angeles should belong to AJ Pollock who’s a career .280 hitter but has only had one season playing more than 140 games and only two seasons playing more than 113 games. However after Pollock, the Dodgers have a plethora of options including lefty crushers Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez as well as left handed bat Matt Beaty and righty Austin Barnes. The Dodgers could also use this DH spot to rest a few of their starters which include Justin Turner and even Mookie Betts. The Dodgers are going to use this luxury of the DH to their advantage in a big way.
The Dodgers expect AJ Pollock to stay healthy in 2020 with the added DH position (Photo: CBS Sports)
The Cubs might have the best DH hitter in all of baseball for this coming season. Yes, there may not be a player more suited in all of baseball for a DH position than Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber is a power bat that has always been seen as a DH and has even been rumored to have a bad fit for the Cubs considering his below average glove. Schwarber should be leading the way for a list of many candidates for the Cubs DH position. But should the Cubs decide to leave Schwarber in left field, they have several options for the new position. They may decide to use righties David Bote and Nico Hoerner or switch hitter Victor Caratini. They could also move Kris Bryant to the OF and use lefty killer Albert Almora Jr in that role or they could put veteran Steven Souza as DH. The Cubs new manager David Ross is going to have a wide variety of options for the DH and there could be more players in the Cubs DH role than any other team in baseball.
Cubs expect big things from power bat Kyle Schwarber in the upcoming season (Photo: NBC Sports)
There might not be a team that benefits more than the Reds with having an extra hitter in the lineup. The Reds had a really good offseason, adding multiple good pieces to the lineup. The problem the Reds would’ve faced without a DH is they would’ve had too many bats. They now have the ability to play 4 of their 5 outfielders, all which could be everyday starters in the big leagues. Without the Universal DH, the Reds would be forced to sit 2 of Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Shogo Akiyama, Aristides Aquino and Nick Castellanos. The Reds benefit even further from this because Castellanos, while a great hitter, is not good defensively. Expect the Reds to use him in the DH spot frequently.
Nick Castellanos was a big addition for the Reds as he led the MLB in doubles in 2019 (Photo: Red Reporter)
New York Mets
The Mets are a team that many people think could be competing for a wild card spot this season. What might help them do that is an extra hitter in their lineup. The Mets would’ve been set at almost every position if it wasn’t for the return of Yoenis Cespedes. Since his MVP season in 2015, Cespedes has played 100+ games in one season. In the last 3 seasons, he has played 119 games combined. After missing all of 2019 to get healthy, Cespedes will be ready to go this season. Cespedes’ heel surgeries and ankle fracture sidelined him for most of 2018 and all of 2019, but with those injuries, being the DH for the Mets could actually fit him perfectly. He wouldn’t have to run a ton on defense, plus Cespedes has been in the DH spot before in his career when he was in the AL. The Mets could also use that spot for guys who aren’t good on defense like J.D. Davis. The Universal DH could end up being the reason the Mets get into a playoff spot for 2020.
The Mets expect Cespedes to be ready for Opening Day (Photo: New York Post)