The designated hitter will make its debut season in the Senior Circuit this year, but how much of an impact it will have on MLB Futures and season props remains to be seen. Let’s discuss how this seismic rule change could affect the odds and how we bet them at the top sportsbooks.
Offense Gets a Boost
Higher scoring in the National League will be an immediate effect of having a DH in the lineup rather than a pitcher whose sole purpose is to avoid grounding into double plays. Well, let’s be fair, there are some pitchers who can give the ball a ride but they are few and far between.
But even the best hitting pitchers pale in comparison to their teammates when at the plate, so this will provide a greater opportunity for scoring and will, by default, make the game more attractive to the fans who enjoy scoring more than they do a pitcher’s duel, regardless of what the purists might think.
The American League has employed the DH rule for nearly 50 years, so its appearance in the National League is old news. However, we should be aware that the Junior Circuit will no longer have to watch one of their high-paid offensive weapons sit on the bench when they play an interleague game at a National League park.
You will also see the totals bump up a notch or two during the NL regular-season contests but don’t overreact and think that a designated hitter automatically means blindly betting over the posted total of the MLB odds. The oddsmakers are keenly aware of the new realm in the National League and will be adjusting the totals in anticipation of the masses trying desperately to outwit them by routinely going over.
Pitchers Get to Rest
Another byproduct of the universal DH rule is that the National League pitchers will now get ample opportunity to focus on pitching without having to take an obligatory bat in the lineup.
This will be liberating for most pitchers, although some fancy themselves as better hitters than they actually are, and allow them to huddle with their coaches between innings to chat about what went right and what went wrong.
And allowing National League pitchers to concentrate solely on their jobs could very well have an overlooked benefit for better pitching.
Therefore, it could be possible that this elimination of the offensive workload for pitchers could see them more effective on the mound and mitigate, to some degree, the ancillary effect of having one designated big bat in the lineup whose job is to exclusively produce offense.
Therefore, if your season-long prop bets include total runs scored, then you could be betting into an inflated number if you are going over but getting unexpected value if you go low.
Fishing From the Same Pond
It is also important to understand that National League clubs will now be fishing from the same pond as their American League counterparts for players whose strong suit is purely offensive.
This means NL teams won’t have to worry about trotting these big boppers onto the baseball diamond and hoping no balls are hit their way. Thus, the likes of a one-dimensional player like J.D. Martinez from the California team, the Dodgers, will now be attractive to 15 other teams that would never have considered adding him to their lineups.
Lastly, remember that adding a designated hitter to the National League rosters will provide more of an offensive boost but not all DHs are created equal and some won’t provide much more firepower than the pitchers they replace.
Major League Baseball has opted for more sizzle and less strategy by making this move but getting eyeballs on its product and increasing revenues is the name of the game and this latest rule revision is nothing more than that.