Pitchers won't bat in the coming seasons, as the universal designated hitter will be implemented for the 2020 and 2021, according to reports -- and probably for good after that.
The designated hitter arriving in the NL is welcome news to Cubs outfielder Ian Happ, who believes it's time for a change while also being mindful of the traditionalists.
"This is one you're going to have a lot of different opinions on," Happ said on the Dan Bernstein Show on 670 The Score on Thursday. "I think personally for me, I like it for many different reasons. I like it for our team, the way we're constructed. And I like it for the action in the game. I like it for the fans. How many fans out there want to see (Kyle) Hendricks and (Yu) Darvish and Jon Lester hit? I think that it will be a good testing ground for the next two years to see where we're at and we'll have enough games and data under our belt at that point going into the (next) CBA (negotiations) to really understand what the impact has been on the game, how we want to move forward with it.
"But I think you're going to have a lot of baseball purists that are going to miss the double-switches, that are going to miss (the strategy). It's a part of the game. It's been out there a long time."
When the coronavirus halted spring training in March, Happ was in line to be a regular in the Cubs' lineup -- likely as their starting center fielder. The implementation of the designated hitter could lead to a slightly bigger role for Happ, who hit .264 with 11 homers, 30 RBIs and a .898 OPS in 58 games in 2019, when he spent months in the minor leagues to open the season after struggling in spring training.
"What my argument has been is if you look back, we have guys pitcher-only, not hitting since high school," Happ said. "And now it's become so specialized, those guys are now getting to the big leagues and they have absolutely zero chance of putting a ball in play or even bunting a ball in play. And nobody wants to see that. We're not talking about baseball in the '40s where guys would be playing multiple positions all the way to the big leagues. It just doesn't happen anymore. I think it's time."