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Which National League Teams Will Benefit From the Universal DH?

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

We are pretty sure of one thing that has come out of the recent MLB/MLBPA talks to resume the season: that 2020 will see all teams employ a designated hitter. National League teams did not come into 2020 expecting to have the DH available, so they will have to adjust on the fly should the season resume at some point. Expanded rosters will give many players the opportunity to see extra playing time with the additional hitter added to all rosters. Most teams will likely employ multiple hitters at the position in what should be a fairly condensed schedule.  However, some National League teams are better suited to benefit from this.

1. Philadelphia Phillies – Andrew McCutchen

He is coming back from last season’s torn ACL and it makes sense to ease him back into action at DH. It gives the Phillies some time to make sure McCutchen is fully healed, and when he is ready to go back into the outfield, it would allow Jay Bruce to get some time there. Bryce Harper and Rhys Hopkins should also see time there to give them a breather.

2. Milwaukee Brewers – Ryan Braun

Ryan Braun was ticketed for a first base platoon with Justin Smoak. The Universal DH will allow them both to see bats on a regular basis. This definitely helps the Brewers to get both their bats in the lineup at the same time. It will also allow Christian Yelich some respite if needed.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers – Multiple Players

If there was any team that could benefit from a rotating DH, it is the very deep Dodgers. Matt Beaty, Enrique Hernandez, and Joc Pederson would seem to benefit as they are already part of a crowded and talented outfield group. A real strong team just got stronger.

4. Chicago Cubs – Kyle Schwarber

The DH will allow the Cubs the flexibility to take Schwarber out of the outfield and allow more defensive-minded players to roam the outfield. Another player who could benefit would be Steven Souza, who was expected to platoon but may now see everyday at-bats if an outfield position opens up. Injuries have really taken their toll, but Souza put up nice numbers back in 2017, hitting 30 homers and stealing 16 bases.  David Bote is also a candidate to see more time if the Cubs want to place Kris Bryant in left field or give him a chance to rest as the DH.

5. St. Louis Cardinals – Matt Carpenter

Carpenter and his 35-year-old body would benefit at some time at DH. He still puts up numbers but this expected condensed schedule gives the Cardinals that opportunity to pace him. Tyler O’Neill would pick up some bats as Tommy Edman should switch to third. The DH might also give some at-bats to their young power-hitting prospect Dylan Carlson.

6. Cincinnati Reds – Multiple Players

The Reds are similar to the Dodgers in that they had more positions that available lineup positions. The Reds will use their depth at outfield to rotate Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel and Phillip Ervin to rotate between the OF and DH. Also in the mix is Aristides Aquino, who hammered the ball in August before coming back to Earth in September. This depth will help an improving team making a run at a playoff spot, regardless of what alignment MLB has in store for 2020.

7. New York Mets – Dominic Smith

Reigning Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso and former Smith would likely be the duo to alternate at 1B and DH. The wild-card in this mix? Yoenis Cespedes who is still recovering from last year’s wild boar-related ankle injury and could be ready sometime this season. You may remember that while recovering from heel surgery, Cespedes was injured at his ranch while trying to release a wild boar from a trap. Being a DH would be a nice way to ease him back into baseball.

8. Atlanta Braves – Multiple Players

The Braves are another team that has depth in the outfield and can use one of the extra players at DH. Adam Duvall and Nick Markakis would make a nice platoon there. Another player who could eventually work his way into a lineup is their top prospect, Cristian Pache. Another prospect who could end up there is Austin Riley, who many believe has 40 HR potential.

9. Arizona Diamondbacks – Jake Lamb

Lamb is not in the projected starting lineup, making him the obvious DH option. He has been injured quite a bit in the last couple of years, so being a DH should keep him healthy and hitting, especially against lefties. A platoon partner, Kevin Cron, put up outstanding numbers in the hitter-friendly Triple-A Pacific Coast League last season. His .777 slugging percentage was the highest in the minors in at least 40 years. A Lamb/Cron DH platoon could be a formidable combination.

10. Washington Nationals – Howie Kendrick

Since there is no reason to believe Kendrick‘s late-career resurgence is legitimate rather than a fluke, he will get the majority of at-bats leaving Starlin Castro, Carter Kieboom and Asdrubal Cabrera to rotate at the other spots. Not a bad spot for the defending champions to be in.

While these teams are listed one to 10, that is not necessarily the order that ranks them from best to last. However, these 10 teams clearly have the roster talent to benefit from having a full-time DH. The next teams listed, not so much.

11. Colorado Rockies – Daniel Murphy

Arizona is not a bad place for hitters, but it will not be quite like playing at the Rockies home park. Murphy as a DH would help keep him healthy, while also giving some opportunities for a young prospect like Brendan Rodgers to play second while pushing Ryan McMahon over to first. Garrett Hampson could squeeze in some of these slots as well.

12. San Diego Padres – Will Myers

Myers and his very large contract need a spot on the lineup and DH will do just fine.

13. San Francisco Giants – Multiple Players

The Giants have four players who should rotate among two outfield spots and DH: Alex Dickerson, Hunter Pence, Austin Slater, and Mike Yastrzemski. Not exciting options but workable in the right spots. If the Giants can find or develop another catcher, DH would fit the aging Buster Posey just right.

14. Miami Marlins – Garrett Cooper/Matt Joyce

Joyce and Cooper could end up in a DH/OF rotation. The wild card is Lewis Brinson, who could man the outfield because of his defensive skills, and leave Cooper and Joyce rotating at DH based on pitching matchups.

15. Pittsburgh Pirates – Yasiel Puig

I do fully realize that Puig is still unsigned, but this is a perfect landing spot for him. Otherwise, the best option here is utility man Jose Osuna.

 

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