By Joe Pantorno
As Major League Baseball and the players union inch closer to an agreement of the commissioner’s implemented 2020 season, more details are emerging on the specifics of baseball’s format.
For the first time in MLB history, the designated hitter will take effect in both the American League and National League — the latter forcing pitchers to bat since its inception in 1876.
The move is expected to bring an injection of offensive excitement to the National League, which has often lagged behind the American League in terms of offensive affluence. The top-four scoring teams in Major League Baseball last year were from the American League.
It remains to be seen if the DH will stay in the National League permanently.
Amongst other notable changes come reports that MLB will adopt Minor League Baseball’s concept of placing a runner on second base to start each inning after the ninth, according to insider Jon Heyman.
While it will be considered an unpopular move amongst a fan base that has been stuck in the middle of nightmarish negotiations dating back to May, such a decision is with the players’ health in mind.
Starting each extra inning with a runner in scoring position increases the likelihood of games ending promptly. That’s going to be important in a jammed-pack schedule that is expected to see 60 games played over a 66-day stretch.
Last season alone saw 208 extra-inning games played which only stresses pitching staffs and every-day players tasked in carrying their teams over what will be a sprint of a 2020 season.