Is this the year that the National League will finally get the designated hitter?

Cubs

Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs watches his two-run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the seventh inning at Wrigley Field on September 15, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – From the moment that the season was suspended on March 12th, the biggest question has been when Major League Baseball might return.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still going on, that date has been the subject of much debate, with a number of reports floating around about when and where baseball might be played.

On Monday, it appears the league has taken a step closer to getting the season going again.

Per multiple reports, the first from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the owners have approved a plan for the 2020 season in which they can present to the MLBPA for approval by the players. Per the report, a meeting between the two sides will take place tomorrow.

Other details of this proposal, also reported by Rosenthal, include spring training at home ballparks where possible, a regionalized schedule, and playoffs featuring 14 teams.

Yet the most interesting may come from Joel Sherman of the New York Post. On Sunday, he reports that both leagues might use the designated hitter during the reduced season.

The DH has been one of the most contentious debates among baseball purists and the modern fan for the past few decades. After consideration for it started in the 1920s, MLB’s rule 5.11 was finally established in January of 1973 yet was only implemented in the American League.

It was brought in as an attempt to raise batting averages, and in the American League it worked that season, and it has stuck ever since. The National League, despite a few attempts through the years, has always remained firm in not implementing the DH, with teams only doing it during Interleague or World Series games in American League parks.

This would be great news for the Cubs, who could use Kyle Schwarber effectively in the role like they have in the past. In 22 career regular season games as a designated hitter in American League ballparks, the outfielder has a slash line of .299/.367/.678 with nine home runs and 20 RBI.

Since he was still recovering from a knee injury, Schwarber served as the Cubs’ designated hitter for games in Cleveland during the 2016 World Series. He collected seven hits in 17 at bats with three walks, a double, and two RBI in those four contests.

Maybe Schwarber will get the chance to do that more often if the this proposal sticks for whatever portion of the 2020 season ends up being played.

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