Whenever the 2022 MLB season starts, it will be played with the universal designated hitter rule.
For decades, the National League had the pitcher go to the batter’s box every nine turns, while the American League used the DH.
This was perhaps the biggest difference between the two leagues.
But MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced this week that they had agreed to unify the DH and use it in both leagues.
While many fans will miss the “strategy” associated with having the pitcher hit and everything that comes with it, the game should be better when every person who steps on the plate is professionally trained to take an at-bat.
It makes the game more attractive and competitive, and it opens up more opportunities for teams and players alike.
These three players, however, should be among the ones who benefit the most.
3. Jorge Soler
2021 World Series MVP Jorge Soler has never been known for his defense.
When he is on, he can be a rock-solid middle-of-the-order threat.
He hit 48 home runs in 2019, and had 27 last season even in a down year.
However, teams don’t want to put him out there in the outfield, because he is extremely bad with a glove in his hand.
He was only in the fourth percentile in Statcast’s Outs Above Average (which means that 96 percent of his peers were better than him).
Over his career, Soler has -49 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS).
He just can’t be deployed in the outfield, and teams know this.
The universal DH will help his market.
2. Nick Castellanos
Nick Castellanos, a free agent, is one of the best and most consistent hitters on the market.
The team that decides to acquire him already knows about his defensive limitations.
He has been tried as a third baseman and in both outfield corners, with no success at any spot.
Teams in the NL would have had to think long and hard about committing top dollar to such a defensive liability.
But not anymore: now, Castellanos can be deployed as the DH, without any undesirable consequences.
After all, his bat merits consideration in MLB’s elite.
He is fresh off hitting 34 home runs, scoring 95 runs and driving in 100 in just 138 games in 2021 with the Cincinnati Reds.
He slashed .309/.362/.576, too.
But his -48 career DRS makes the idea of putting him on the field a bad one.
A universal DH will open so many options for a guy and others like Nick Castellanos. More options = more $.
— Bob Heyrman (@BobHeyrmanDJC) November 19, 2021
1. Kyle Schwarber
Kyle Schwarber proved in 2021 that few MLB hitters can get hotter than him.
Overall, his power/patience combination can help any team win a lot of games.
He just hit 32 home runs in just 113 games between the Washington Nationals and the Boston Red Sox.
Had he played something closer to 150, he could have hit closer to 45 dingers.
However, it’s been proven by now that he is not an ideal defensive player.
He had -5 DRS in 2021 in limited time.
Now that the universal DH has been agreed upon, bring home Kyle Schwarber. pic.twitter.com/uGIDLdcSsy
— Cubs Zone ™️ (@CubsZone) February 10, 2022
Without the universal DH, his market was very much limited to AL teams, but now that the NL will also use the designated hitter, he will likely have more options to sign.