Interleague – Designated WHAT?

Interleague play gives Central League teams a chance, for nine games, to imagine what it must be like to have an extra big bat in the lineup. For teams who have been sacrificing sound defense for having a good bat in the lineup, this is a chance to shore up the fielding issues without losing the powerful bat. For teams who have been keeping sluggers on the bench because of their detriment to pitchers’ numbers, this is a chance to keep their defense strong while plugging a potential cleanup hitter into the batting order.

So what does it mean for Hanshin? One panelist on the awesome (Japanese) podcast Tigers Cast suggested they continue on as usual, using the same lineup they would with a pitcher in there. I thought he was nuts. For my part, before the interleague schedule began, I suggested on my podcast that the team use Eric Campbell in that spot as much as possible. Of course, there was also a need to address the aging fielders by letting them contribute on offense while resting their legs. And that’s the option Hanshin opted for most nights. There are no more games to be played in PL parks, so the rest of interleague will be played with pitchers in the hitting orders. This is what Hanshin during their 9 road games, and the results.

 

Date Opponent DH Inning Score Situation Result
30-May Chiba Lotte Yoshio Itoi 1 T 0-0 M 1 on, 1 out 2-run HR
3 T 3-4 M 1 on, 0 outs BB
5 T 4-4 M 1 on, 0 outs BB
6 T 10-7 M 0 on, 0 outs BB
7 T 12-7 M 1 on, 0 outs K
9 T 13-7 M 0 on, 0 outs BB
31-May Chiba Lotte Itoi 1 T 0-0 M 0 on, 2 outs BB
2 T 3-0 M 2 on, 2 outs BB
4 T 3-0 M 0 on, 2 outs K
7 T 3-0 M 0 on, 1 out H, CS
9 T 3-0 M 2 on, 1 out H, RBI
01-Jun Chiba Lotte Itoi 1 T 1-0 M 1 on, 0 outs Groundout
3 T 1-3 M 2 on, 2 outs K
6 T 1-4 M 1 on, 0 outs K
8 T 1-4 M 1 on, 0 outs Groundout
06-Jun Orix Campbell 2 T 0-2 B 1 on, 2 outs K
3 T 6-2 B 0 on, 2 outs K
6 T 6-2 B 0 on, 0 outs Infield fly
6 T 11-2 B 3 on, 2 outs K
Fumiya Hojoh 9 T 11-2 B 0 on, 0 outs Fly out
07-Jun Orix Kosuke Fukudome 1 T 0-0 B 2 on, 1 out BB
3 T 1-0 B 0 on, 2 outs Fly out
5 T 4-0 B 0 on, 2 outs K
8 T 4-4 B 0 on, 2 outs K
08-Jun Orix Itoi 1 T 0-0 B 0 on, 0 outs Groundout
3 T 1-1 B 0 on, 2 outs Groundout
6 T 2-1 B 0 on, 0 outs BB, R
8 T 3-2 B 0 on, 0 outs K
09-Jun SoftBank Fukudome 1 T 0-0 H 1 on, 2 outs K
4 T 0-3 H 0 on, 0 outs K
6 T 0-3 H 2 on, 1 out K
9 T 0-3 H 0 on, 0 outs K
10-Jun SoftBank Fukudome 2 T 0-0 H 0 on, 0 outs BB, R
3 T 4-0 H 0 on, 0 outs K
5 T 4-0 H 0 on, 1 out Groundout
8 T 4-1 H 0 on, 0 outs HBP, R
11-Jun SoftBank Fukudome 2 T 0-2 H 0 on, 0 outs K
3 T 0-2 H 2 on, 2 outs Groundout
6 T 1-3 H 0 on, 1 out H
8 T 2-3 H 0 on, 0 outs Groundout

So the results are:

40 plate appearances, 30 at bats, 4 hits (.130 AVG), 3 RBI, 9 walks, 1 HBP (.350 OBP), 16 strikeouts (.400 K%), .583 OPS

Granted, some of these poor numbers are due to one slumping veteran, but it leaves you to wonder all sorts of things:

  1. How could our “best hitters” have struggled so badly in all those games? (First two games aside, there was ONE hit, THREE walks and the plunk.)
  2. Would we have been any worse off using our pitchers as hitters in those games? (For the record, we went 5-4 on the road.)
  3. Do hitters who are used to playing in the field really benefit from being given the DH role? Do they need the time in the field to establish some rhythm in their games?
  4. Should the Central League really adopt the DH starting in 2019, as there has been speculation about lately?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these issues. How would you have employed the DH if you had been in charge? (I still stick with my Soup theory, despite the fact that he got farmed immediately after his one chance at DH-ing. For the record, Campbell played in two other road games, standing in at first base while Masahiro Nakatani played in right field, replacing Itoi.)

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T-Ray is the founder, chief writer and Junior Executive Vice President of Hanshin Tigers English News (H-TEN). Find him on Twitter @thehanshintiger.

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