The KC Royals, along with all the MLB, are still waiting for a plan that will bring baseball back to the fans, but a 2020 season may bring new changes.
It’s a simple request, give the fans some KC Royals baseball. Ok, so, during this strange time that we are living in, simple might not be the correct word for this request. As the days without baseball continue onward, though, there seems to be more and more talk of baseball finally returning.
With each report or rumor comes a large amount of speculation. Questions are posed such as when will games actually begin, what will the rules be, will there be fans in attendance and many many more. It seems that talks are starting to ramp up a bit more, and baseball may be coming around sooner rather than later, but there could be some definite changes.
Some new reports of the continued baseball comeback talk are surrounding the possibility of a universal designated hitter, a huge change for those in the National League. While this would likely have little impact on players in the American League, National League teams could be at a serious disadvantage.
FanGraphs.com has an outstanding outline of the effects a universal DH could have on National Leauge teams, and the disadvantage it could put them at. In a chart showing the projected DH WAR for each team, the American League teams quickly take over the top spots, with only a few national league teams finding themselves towards the top.
The article also covers the fact that at the moment, most National League teams just simply aren’t equipped with the right players to quickly convert to a universal DH. A few teams like the LA Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals could likely make something work, but others would fall short.
What effect could this have on the Royals though? In a regular season, the percentage of games in which the Royals play without a DH is much smaller than their typical American League games. With a universal DH, though, the need to move around players and make space for that DH somewhere else in the lineup goes out the window.
It’s likely that Jorge Soler will see some time in the outfield during the 2020 season, as the Royals have never seemed to enjoy a strictly DH player. With this change to the DH a possibility though, the doors are opened a little more if moving around players for a National League game is no longer an issue.
This leads to the increase in roster size which is another change that has been discussed, possibly increasing to 29 with no telling how continuing talks will go. The Royals typically like to hold onto players that have multiple skills, electing to rotate DH’s in the past and allow players to run the field. An increase in roster size though will take away the “fear” of holding onto a player who only sits in the DH spot.
Going another step further, a universal DH opens the door for another possibility that has been talked about, a total realignment for the 2020 season. Jordan Foote took a look at what the Central Division could look like. The Royals would see more time against teams like the Cardinals and the Brewers, along with multiple other NL teams.
One positive this realignment gives is a serious reduction in travel, hopefully allowing baseball to open back up sooner rather than later. While this idea of the Royals playing their normal AL central rivals along with some NL teams may not sound great, they could be at a bit of an advantage due to the change at DH, against the NL teams, that is.
As was stated above, many NL teams will struggle to fill a DH position if needed and they could see some struggle in the realignment of their own team and filling spots as needed. While it’s not all that likely that the Royals will gain a considerable advantage from this, in a season that is less than conventional, a team like the Royals can use any advantage to help push them forward.
While there is a lot of speculation going into many reports of new rules, or rumors coming out about the 2020 season, it may not be long before some of these changes become a reality. The universal DH will likely be opposed by many of the NL teams who didn’t prepare for the rule change this season, but if necessary to bring baseball back, the change may be just one of many fans see in 2020.
A universal DH may have little effect on the overall alignment of the Royals, but it could change which teams they play and how they assign time to players, especially with an overcrowded outfield that needs to be trimmed down. It will be interesting to see how things play out in the coming weeks with the possibilities of a 2020 baseball season.
As more and more news surfaces about changes to the 2020 season and other baseball comeback news, one can only hope that some is decided sooner, rather than later.