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SB Nation Reacts: The Universal DH Debate

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MLB: World Series-Houston Astros at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across MLB. Each week, we send 30 polls to plugged in fans from each team. Astros fans, sign up HERE to join Reacts.

If you’d recall, the universal DH was in place for the shortened 2020 season. The rule change was generally met with approval and considered a success last year. While we were robbed of the joy of witnessing a pitcher hit a home run or something unusual as a hitter, the product on the field was arguably better. As noted here by Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs back in November, the DH performance from the NL (96 wRC+) was “pretty indistinguishable” from the AL (97 wRC+). He also brings to the light that for the first time since 1974 the NL actually had more runs on a per-game basis than the AL.

Fans are generally in agreement that more offense is good and makes for an entertaining product on the field. In fact, 71 percent of the fans who voted agree that Major League Baseball should keep the universal DH rule for the 2021 season.

Although the “yes” vote on the next poll saw a small decrease to 67 percent, fans are also in general alignment that the DH rule ought to be a permanent thing.

The biggest loser in this debate is probably the proponents of strategy. Rather, the perception of it. Double switches and late-game changes, for example, are viewed as crucial parts of a manager’s strategy on a game-to-game basis in the NL. Back when the Astros were in the NL, I spent a lot of time wondering when would be the optimal time to pull a pitcher like, say, Tim Redding in the fifth inning considering his spot in the lineup in the bottom half. There were times when it felt like the strategy was important and others were it didn’t impact the game much, if at all. Sorry, but Orlando Merced wasn’t scaring anyone in 2003. All that to say fans are in agreement that more offense is better than double switches or late-game changes.

And I think I am in agreement here with the fans. There is also a part of me — the emotional side — who has missed the “strategy” involved in the NL, but, honestly, not that much.