Phillies: Adding the DH would solve a lot of problems

J.T. Realmuto #10, Rhys Hoskins #17, and Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
J.T. Realmuto #10, Rhys Hoskins #17, and Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Phillies could get a lot done if the designated hitter is expanded

Pure baseball fans will rue the day they see the Phillies, Dodgers, Giants, and every other National League team add the designated hitter, but that day is coming, and sooner than you might think.

Former Reds and Nationals general manager Jim Bowden tweeted Monday morning that the “growing belief amongst NL GM’s that the DH will be instituted for NL as early as 2021.”

Bowden’s colleague from The Athletic Ken Rosenthal noted in a subsequent tweet that the collective bargaining agreement ends after the 2021 season, meaning the earliest, and possibly, likeliest, implementation would be for the 2022 season.

However, the league and union would have to come to some form of an agreement and potentially swap one thing for another.

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Regardless of when the designated hitter comes to the National League, because someday it will, the Phillies stand to benefit more than the average team.

One of the biggest questions in the Phillies organization is the potential collision of Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm. Phillies executives would love nothing more than to see Hoskins find his home run swing and for Bohm to prove he’s an everyday third baseman. If Bohm can’t stick at third base, his only home would be at first base or designated hitter.

Adding the designated hitter gives the Phillies so many more options with Hoskins and Bohm, and allows them to keep both if Bohm simply isn’t up for playing third base for the next decade.

Regardless, Hoskins might be best suited for the designated hitter role.

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Beyond the Bohm/Hoskins dilemma, the Phillies have several other veteran players who would stand to benefit from getting off their feet.

Adding the DH would extend the career of catcher J.T. Realmuto, taking him out from behind the plate while not losing his bat. Coming off his age 28 season, Realmuto has spent more than 5,300 innings squatting at home.

Since it was first recorded in 1915, the average time for a major league game has NEVER dropped. Games have historically gotten longer and longer. The average game is now 190 minutes, which is about 21 minutes per inning, and about 10.5 per half inning.

That means Realmuto has spent about 55,650 minutes (almost 39 days of his life) squatting. That doesn’t count the minor leagues, practice, workouts, etc.

If you don’t get the point, his knees are going to wear down as he enters his 30s, potentially forcing him to play first base more often. You could also look at adding a second catcher who would start on any other team, possibly platooning him and Realmuto between catcher and DH.

Adding the designated hitter would extend the career of Realmuto and many other catchers in the game.

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The Phillies also have a certain 13-year, $330 million investment they need to protect.

If Philadelphia wants Bryce Harper to be the same player in 2031 that he is today, they’ll need to get him off the grass while keeping him in the lineup. Not only will it keep him off his feet, similar to Realmuto, but it will also give the team the flexibility to add more outfielders who may be better defenders when Harper is 38-years-old.

And these are just the problems we see right now for the Phillies. In 2022 when Giancarlo Stanton, J.D. Martinez, Freddie Freeman, Christian Yelich, and other hitters are set to be free agents, the Phillies will likely be out of the conversation for all of them because there won’t be room for them without the designated hitter.

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Regardless of what it does for the Phillies, implementing the designated hitter will only do good for the game. It adds 15 more full-time jobs, improves the flow and entertainment value of a game, and extends the careers of power hitters who are locked into one position.