The adoption of the universal DH could have a significant impact on the offensive output of the league overall,and especially the NL. However, the expected increase in offensive production that comes with taking the pitcher out of the lineup may not truly be seen until next season. This is because of the impact of the delayed start to the MLB season.
It can already be difficult for some players to get themselves ready for live action when they have a full Spring Training in which they can prepare. However, it will be even more difficult for players to prepare themselves when they are coming out of quarantine with just a shorter summer camp in which to prepare.
It is still early, but the offensive results coming out of the Cardinals intrasquad scrimmages are not too promising. For instance, on Saturday the Blue team beat the Red team by a score of 1-0 and there were just three hits and at least nine strikeouts in the game. There were plenty of prospects playing for both teams and it is still early in summer camp, but competitive games are not too far away. Even though this is just one game, it highlights the fact that hitters may have a difficult time getting up to speed. Hitting is all about timing and if these hitters do not have that because they have not faced a live arm in so long, then they will have a sificult time making consistent contact, or even quality contact. This could cause a suppression in offense this season, or at least at the beginning of this season.
The universal DH gives teams the ability to put another bat in their lineup and take a nearly guaranteed out away from their lineup. However, if that bat has yet to find his timing, then it will struggle and the impact of the new designated hitter rule could be minimized.
It is great that the 2020 season is on track to begin soon, but there is plenty of work to be done for the player to get up to game speed, and especially for hitters to find their timing against live arms. The shortened summer camp could cause problems, but due to the lengthy negotiations over the season, it is likely the best possible scenario at this point. This could potentially create a low offensive output across the league at the beginning of this season as hitters may simply need time to get comfortable in the batter’s box again.