Universal DH: Winners, losers when NL adopts the rule

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 09: Kike Hernandez #14 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his solo home run with teammate Joc Pederson #31 to take a 3-0 lead in the second inning of game five of the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium on October 09, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 09: Kike Hernandez #14 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his solo home run with teammate Joc Pederson #31 to take a 3-0 lead in the second inning of game five of the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium on October 09, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

Some NL teams are better-positioned than others to take advantage of the universal DH rule in a shortened 2020 season. Let’s take a closer look.

Among the few things certain about this coming baseball season – assuming there is one – is that the National League would adopt the designated hitter rule (aka Universal DH).

The rationale is to lighten the load and protect the futures of pitchers who may be asked to do more on the mound during a shorter, more intense schedule.

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But that raises the question of which National League teams would stand to benefit most strongly from the immediate imposition of a DH rule. The teams’ roster, obviously, was created over the winter with no expectation that a universal DH might come into play for more than the 10 or so times NL teams find themselves playing inter-league road games.

With spring training possibly re-opening in a month, it’s a good time to consider which teams – by planning or fortune – appear to be best positioned to adapt to such a meaningful rule change.

Some are better positioned than others merely because they are more fully stocked with offensive talent. Others have positional overloads that can be alleviated by moving a potential bench-warmer into a DH slot.

At the other end of the scale, the talent bases of some NL teams simply are too imperfectly established to comfortably incorporate a universal DH rule. Those teams could be hurt by the rule change.

What follows is a look at the rosters of all 15 NL clubs with an eye toward DH candidates. The clubs are listed in a rough order approximating the ease with which they could transition to a full-time DH, those teams having the easiest time listed first.