Cincinnati Reds: While not popular, a universal DH could really benefit the team

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 22: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates with Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds after scoring a run. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 22: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates with Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds after scoring a run. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

The potential of a universal DH has been discussed a lot recently. While usually unpopular with fans of teams in the National League, the Cincinnati Reds could really benefit from it.

I know, I’m not a fan of it either. But, while the designated hitter has never been part of the National League before, it appears more and more likely that Major League Baseball is going to adopt a new rule that has a DH in both leagues. While a lot of fans, myself included, may not like the idea, the Cincinnati Reds could really benefit from it.

Call me old school, but I’ve always been a fan of making pitchers hit. I think it’s part of the game. I’ve always enjoyed watching the double-switch, seeing one manager trying to outthink the other, and seeing pitchers lay down sacrifice bunts. It’s just good fundamental baseball. Watching Michael Lorenzen launch 4 homers out of the park last season didn’t hurt either.

However, those days appear to be on their way out, as the Major League Baseball Players Union, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, are seeking to make the designated hitter part of both the American and National Leagues for the upcoming season. This proposal from the union was in response to MLB’s suggestion that each pitcher must face a minimum of three batters – don’t get me started on that one.

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While we may not like it, this could be a real benefit for the Cincinnati Reds in 2019 and beyond. The Reds have a plethora of outfielders and are likely to be struggling to find a way to get every bat into the lineup on a consistent basis. A universal DH makes that problem go away, and gives the Reds an even more potent lineup.

We already know the power bats of Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez, and Joey Votto are going to be part of the lineup, right? Yasiel Puig seems destined to be the starter in right field, while Jesse Winker may have to shift his focus to left field in order to get adequate playing time next year. Or will he?

Winker would be the perfect candidate for the Cincinnati Reds DH. Winker’s power and patience at the plate make him a nightmare for opposing pitchers. However, Winker is not the most skilled defensive player. Having a versatile player like Winker able to be the team’s designated hitter could help get Scott Schebler, who plays much better defense, on the field and into the batting order without sacrificing Winker’s bat.

What about Nick Senzel? Couldn’t he be a candidate for the Reds designated hitter? We heard all last season that the Reds didn’t have a place on the field for Senzel to play with both Suárez and Gennett having All-Star seasons. The Reds’ management are desperate to get Senzel’s bat into the lineup. A universal DH would provide the team with that opportunity without sacrificing playing time for Suárez or Gennett.

Don’t forget Matt Kemp. The Cincinnati Reds traded for the slugging outfielder in late December, and while many Reds fans were excited to see Homer Bailey‘s salary off the books, Kemp comes with a $21M price tag of his own. Though he has a career batting average of .286 and a career OBP of .338, his defensive skills have deteriorated. However, as a designated hitter, his bat could still be a factor while his sub-par fielding would not affect the team.

Finally, we come to Joey Votto. He is, without question, the best player on the Reds team and has been for the better part of eight years. However, Father Time has a way of catching up with all of us, and it may be doing that to Joey Votto. Last year, Votto saw his power numbers drop considerably, and he had some of his worst offensive numbers of his career.

While I fully expect Votto to rebound from a down year, there’s no denying the fact that we’re likely to see his skillset decline before his contract expires in 2023. Having a universal DH would give the Reds a place to utilize Votto when his defensive skills inevitably begin to waver, yet his hitting ability is still second to none.

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So, while I’m not a fan of the idea of a universal designated hitter, it definitely has its perks for the Cincinnati Reds. Not just this year, but beyond. Fans have been wondering all year long how the Reds were going to get all their bats into the lineup; this solves that problem.