It's a new weapon for St. Louis
Here are some of the players the National League has run out as designated hitters in the past decade: Greg Dobbs, Chris Coste, Ryan Spilborghs, Marlon Anderson, So Taguchi, Pedro Feliz, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Shawon Dunston.
Not exactly a who's who of dangerous sticks.
For the first time since -- well, maybe ever -- the NL will have a decided edge in the games with the DH in play. Tony La Russa will use the DH to get Allen Craig into the lineup, with Craig likely playing right field and Lance Berkman slotting into the DH role.
The Rangers, meanwhile, will use the DH to get Yorvit Torrealba into the lineup. Or Mitch Moreland. In Game 3, Torrealba will catch, Mike Napoli will move to first base and Michael Young will move from first to DH. Moreland has been struggling but could see a start at first base at some point.
Here are the regular-season OPS numbers for the hitters in question:
Obviously, a huge advantage there goes to the Cardinals. But there's another reason the DH favors St. Louis. La Russa could slide David Freese to DH and play the defensively superior Daniel Descalso at third base. As Dave Cameron suggests on ESPN Insider, with left-handers Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson going, La Russa can still get Craig's bat in the lineup by playing him over the switch-hitting Berkman, who is much weaker from the right side. By doing that, La Russa improves his defense at third base and right field, while still keeping the strong right-handed bats of Freese and Craig in the lineup.
Doing so also offers a final edge: La Russa can use Berkman as a pinch hitter when the Rangers turn to one of their power righties out of the bullpen. Without having to worry about saving pinch hitters for his pitchers, La Russa could use Berkman to hit for one of his weak-hitting second basemen (Nick Punto or Ryan Theriot) or Descalso, preferably in a key situation with runners on base. Down by a run with the bases loaded in the fifth and Alexi Ogando coming in? Use Berkman to hit for Punto. If trailing in the game, Berkman can slide into right field and Craig to second or third.
No matter what La Russa ultimately does (it appears Berkman will start Game 3), DH is another weapon for the Cards.
Deep Texas lineup becomes deeper
After two games of pitchers struggling to make contact and a slew of pinch hitters parading to home plate, the World Series shifts to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. And that means the designated hitter is back in the lineup.
That news disappoints C.J. Wilson, Texas' Game 5 starter, who loves to hit. But it doesn't upset the Rangers' coaching staff and front office. The Rangers won the American League West and disposed of Tampa Bay and Detroit thanks in large part to a deep lineup comfortable swinging the bats at home.
Part of the reason for their success is having one of the top hitters in the AL in the past decade at DH.
Michael Young, who has played second base, third base and shortstop for the Rangers in his career, moved over to DH in 2011 when the club signed free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre. The move strengthened the offense but also helped the defense. Beltre has one of the best gloves at the hot corner in the big leagues, and his productive bat was used in the cleanup spot for most of the season. (He now is batting fifth behind Young and has been since he returned from the disabled list in September.)
The addition of the DH for Games 3, 4 and 5 in Arlington allows manager Ron Washington some options. He can put both his catchers in the lineup, something he did at times during the 2011 season. The skipper is leaning toward that configuration in Game 3, putting Yorvit Torrealba behind the plate and Mike Napoli at first, while keeping Young's bat in the lineup at DH.
He also can put Young in the field and utilize the DH in other ways, if he chooses.
It makes a deep lineup deeper and puts an important bat into the offensive mix in a ballpark that is primed for scoring runs.
Having the DH means the bottom of the order is stronger. The Cardinals won't be able to pitch around guys lower in the order knowing the pitcher's spot is waiting for them. And Washington can insert his pitchers in the game and have more freedom to allow them to pitch longer if needed. In Busch Stadium, he wasn't able to get more than a few batters out of Alexi Ogando because the pitcher's spot in the order popped up and the manager needed to pinch hit. That won't be an issue in Texas.
So by the simple shift of the series to the AL, the Rangers get to take better advantage of their deeper lineup. And they'll feel a lot more comfortable in the process.