The designated hitter is coming to the National League for the first time in baseball history. And with this change coming for the 2020 season, the Philadelphia Phillies will have a few options for the DH spot this year.
Veteran Jay Bruce is still under contract this season, and prospect Alec Bohm seems to be on the verge of making the majors. Left fielder Andrew McCutchen will be returning to the field, but did just suffer a torn ACL last year. With these players and others available to play the new position, one big question entering the season is apparent: Who should be the primary DH?
The staff members at Phillies Nation came together to give their answers regarding who should be the DH for the Phillies.
John Leuzzi, Intern: Jay Bruce
There are numerous options that the Phillies can go with come Opening Day on July 24 at DH. Of course, the team can choose to go with the young bat to give excitement to fans of what the future holds. But, if I were the Phillies and want to be contenders for a playoff spot, there is an obvious choice.
The best option at DH for Joe Girardi is Bruce. Bruce fits this role and rule change almost to a tee as there simply is nowhere on the field for him to play on a daily basis. Andrew McCutchen is back to full strength in left field. Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn will share duties in center field. Using Bruce as the team’s DH allows a power bat to stay in the lineup.
The Phillies, for the most part, will be facing right-handed starting pitchers this year making the use of Bruce make more sense. He is a .250/.320/.480/.800 hitter with 501 extra-base hits, 733 RBIs lifetime against right-handed starting pitchers, making this the obvious safer option for the Phillies in what is going to be a sprint of a season.
Destiny Lugardo, Deputy Editorial Director: A vast array of characters
Being top-heavy offensively will work in their favor during the 60-game sprint. If the team can get lucky and avoid as many soft-tissue injuries as they possibly can, they can maximize their offensive prowess to the fullest with an additional lineup spot.
The biggest reason why J.T. Realmuto played more games than he should have in 2019 was that too often than not, the offense seemed thin when his bat wasn’t in the lineup. Realmuto could either serve as a DH at least once a week or he could play first base with Hoskins as the DH. Realmuto said in the past that he prefers to play a position rather than DH if he had an off-day from catching but still had a place in the lineup.
While McCutchen is expected to be healthy, it may not be the best idea to have him play left field full-time in 2020. Bruce and McCutchen can alternate in left, with one serving as the DH and the other playing in the field. Of course, McCutchen is the better hitter and fielder and should get most of the reps.
I haven’t even touched on Bohm. His bat is major-league ready, but his glove is not, so the best bet might be to have him DH.
The point is that the Phillies shouldn’t limit themselves at the designated hitter position. Heck, throw Vince Velasquez into the discussion.
Brandon Apter, Contributor: Jay Bruce
If the Phillies have hopes of reaching the playoffs in 2020, their offense will need to have as many weapons as possible. With the DH now in both leagues, it would make the most sense for Bruce to take the primary role as the designated hitter. Now, this could mean that outfielders, and even Hoskins, could shift to that spot to get a day off in the field, but either way, Bruce is the guy whose job it should be to lose. McCutchen could be another strong candidate as he looks to get 100 percent healthy from his torn ACL in 2019, which sparked the acquisition of Bruce.
I’m certainly intrigued at the prospect of Bohm getting an opportunity in this spot, but unless the Phillies vastly underperform and play themselves out of the mix for a playoff berth, I’d be shocked if Bohm sees regular time as the designated hitter.
Bruce showed he still has pop, hitting 12 homers in just 51 games for the Phillies last season. Consistent time in the lineup should give him the opportunity to at least match that total and raise his batting average closer to his career-average of .245. Sure, that’s not anything to write home about but his home run power alone should be enough for the Phils to have him penciled in as the DH.
Jonny Heller, Assistant Editorial Director: Jay Bruce
Bruce simply gives the Phillies the best possible lineup to succeed considering their current roster makeup. Assuming that Alec Bohm mans third base in this scenario, the Phillies would move Scott Kingery to center field full-time and make Jean Segura the everyday third baseman.
The trade-off here is defense. By adding Bruce to the lineup as the DH, Bohm is forced to play the field. The outfield defense doesn’t suffer, since Kingery is above average in center field, but Bohm is much worse at third than Kingery or Segura would be in the scenario that Bohm is the DH.
Ty Daubert, Staff Writer: Jay Bruce
Bohm may end up being the long-term option at DH (assuming it is implemented in the NL past 2020), but seeing what he can do in the field this season is probably the best way to go. There are legitimate questions about his defense, and this shortened season is a great opportunity to see whether or not he can handle third base. Plus, the team has another option at DH this season that it might not have going forward.
Bruce is a legitimate hitter, but most likely cannot handle the field on a regular basis at this point in his career. Still, the lineup is best when Bruce is getting regular at-bats, and DH is the only spot where he can get those. This option lets the Phillies keep Bruce in the lineup for their push toward their first playoff appearance since 2011, while also getting a feel for what Bohm can do defensively as they plan for the future.
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