Apr 22, 2022 - Sports

MLB's universal DH, two weeks in

 <span style="background: #3fb4ff; padding:3px 5px;color:black;">National League DH</span> and <span style="background:#054f9f; padding:3px 5px;color:white;">MLB pitcher</span> batting average, 2002-2022
Data: FanGraphs; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

You'll never believe it, but it turns out professional hitters are a lot better at hitting than professional pitchers.

By the numbers: We're two weeks into the universal designated hitter era, and National League DHs are batting .248 with 33 HR and 141 RBI.

  • Compare that to last year, when MLB pitchers, in their last hurrah at the plate, hit an anemic .108 with 14 HR and 166 RBI.
  • Since 1973, when the AL first implemented the DH, pitchers have never batted above .165. Last year's .108 average was the lowest.
  • Of note: We got to preview these results when the universal DH was temporarily installed during 2020's pandemic-shortened season. NL DH's that year batted .236.

Batting average by position: NL DH's aren't just outperforming their pitching predecessors — they're hitting better than any position besides first base, and are significantly out-hitting their AL counterparts:

  • 1B: .250
  • NL DH: .248
  • 3B: .245
  • LF: .237
  • SS: .234
  • 2B: .222
  • CF: .220
  • AL DH: .217
  • RF: .212
  • C: .209
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