"The most likely result on the designated hitter for the foreseeable future is the status quo... I think the vast majority of clubs in the National League want to stay where they are."
-- Commissioner Rob Manfred
So much for certain seditious, crypto-Socialist outlets making definitive statements such as "The designated hitter is on its way to the National League"... The inspiration for the latest debate was Manfred's statements at the end of the owners' meetings in Florida last week, when he said "Twenty years ago, when you talked to National League owners about the DH, you'd think you were talking some sort of heretical comment. But we have a newer group. There has been turnover, and I think our owners in general have demonstrated a willingness to change the game in ways that we think would be good for the fans, always respecting the history and traditions of the sport."
That triggered a firestorm of commentary, but it appears, reports of the death of pitchers having to hit were severely premature. Speaking on the one-year anniversary of his appointment, when asked if he could have a "do-over" on anything he replied, "I would have been way more negative about the prospect of the DH coming to the National League in my press conference last week. I didn't think I was that positive, so obviously I needed to be more negative." In particular, he compared the subsequent media furor to a similar controversy, after he made a comment seen by some as favoring a ban on defensive shifts.
"When I talked about the defensive shifts, I let myself get into a situation where I speculated about a change I wasn't serious about. I made the same mistake this time when I went back and forth on the pros and cons of the DH issue rather than saying what I've said all along -- that I think we're status quo on the DH, because it is the single most important feature that defines the differences between the two leagues."
There had been suggestions that "sagging offense" might prompt the introduction of a designated hitter in the National League. for much the same reason it was introduced for the American League in 1973. However, there's no apparent indication the absence of the DH is impacting crowds - indeed, last year, National League games had 11.6% more attendance than the American League, despite generally playing in smaller metro areas. If any change happens, it would not appear to be because it would be "good for the fans," but much more likely because the players' union want another roster spot in which aging superstars can receive ten-digit salaries...
I hold no love at all for the DH, even though it would have helped the D-backs last season, when our pitchers were amongst the worst-hitting bunch of all time. Only one NL team (the 2012 Pirates) had gone an entire season without their pitchers getting an extra-base hit, but it took the 2015 Diamondbacks until their very last plate appearance of the year, before Robbie Ray spared our blushes with Arizona's first and only double. Things may be better next season, with Zack Greinke, a career .220 hitter, leading the way. But to me, the strategy lost by the bland presence of the DH far outweighs anything it brings to the game. If it never arrives in the NL, I'm perfectly fine with that.