Veteran Miguel Cabrera Was One of the Few DHs Who Managed To Get a Hit On Opening Day
Baseball fans had all sorts of things to look forward to during the opening weekend of the 2022 season, most of all relief that there would finally be games after a three month lockout through the winter. As part of the new settlement between the league and the players union, several changes were to be noted on that first weekend of the regular season.
It was neither the luxury tax, nor the new draft lottery, nor the service time stipulations that most appealed to fans. What we were looking forward to, many of us for the past five decades, was the universal use of the designated hitter.
No longer would we have to see pitchers risk injury, not to mention look foolish, as they stood at the plate burdened with a wood bat. These guys were collectively automatic outs, all too often killing any chance of a rally for the trailing team.
The long-anticipated arrival of the designated hitter for every team should have brought with it a noticeable increase in excitement and improved offense, since every team was replacing an automatic out with a proven slugger.
Judging from the box scores of the Opening Day games, you would never even notice that such a drastic change had been instituted. The DH position, now used by every team, fared not much better than pitchers had in all the years prior.
Designated Hitters got 95 at bats on Opening Day, but they mustered only fourteen hits. That .155 batting average is only about one hit more than pitchers managed in 2019, leaving fans to wonder if having a universal DH is actually going to improve the sport at all.
In three games the DH for both teams went hitless, comprising the Padres at the Diamondbacks, the Mariners at the Twins and the Rangers at the Blue Jays. Those offense-only players were a combined 0-24 in those contests, the last of which the rest of the hitters scored eighteen runs.
As for the rest of the games, the DH had very little impact. Not a single DH managed to get more than one hit, and they accounted for just three runs batted in.
Sure, even the .155 DH batting average is better than the .110 mustered by the pitchers last year, but the latter group specializes on the defensive side of the sport. The guys who traditionally replaced the pitchers at the plate, identified as pinch-hitters, had a collective batting average of .212 in 2021.
Perhaps the sport would be better served to re-think the idea of the universal DH which, based on Opening Day, might as well stand for Doesn't Hit.