During this negotiation process of this MLB vs MLBPA battle, one big thing has come out of it: a universal DH. This season, every single team will have a DH in their lineup. This is a huge step for baseball and I am very excited to see it first hand.
So teams in the NL now need to find a DH to insert in their lineup. The National League East will probably be the most competitive division this year, so let's take a look at possible DH candidates for each club. Let's analyze the top DH fit for the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, and the Washington Nationals.
Atlanta Braves: Adam Duvall
Adam Duvall played an interesting role for the Braves last season. He only appeared in 41 games but hit 10 home runs. He only appeared in a few games because he spent time in AAA as well. In the MLB games that he played, his bat stood out to me. The only problem, and the main reason he stayed in AAA, is that the Braves have an absolute loaded outfield with Acuna, Ozuna, Riley, Inciarte, and Markakis.
In my view, the Braves outfield will look like this: Markakis in right, Acuna in center, and Riley in left. That leaves space for Duval's great bat in the DH spot with the newly acquired Ozuna and long-time Brave, Ender Inciarte on the bench. The Braves are one of many teams who benefit from this rule, as now they can have multiple power bats in the lineup. The Braves are just going to get better with the universal DH.
Miami Marlins: Matt Joyce
The Miami Marlins signed Matt Joyce this past offseason along with a few other outfielders. Joyce is 35 and on a young team; it will be hard for him to find an everyday spot in the lineup. But, now with the DH, he might have found an everyday role - Designated Hitter. Lewis Brinson will probably play right field with Harold Ramirez in center. I think veteran Corey Dickerson is a lock in left field, which leaves Joyce without an outfield spot. DH will be a perfect place for him to play every day but not in the field.
He has a career 145 HR and a .775 OPS. Last season for the Braves he hit 7 HR with an OPS of .858 in only 200 AB. For me, those are good enough stats to have Matt Joyce be the Miami Marlins 2020 Designated Hitter.
New York Mets: Yoenis Cespedes
Yoenis Cespedes spent the entire 2019 season on the Injured List because of a heel injury he suffered during the offseason. In 2018, he only played 38 games due to numerous lower body injuries. The last two season for Cespedes have been unbearable, but it looks as though he is finally healthy. But, let's remember he is 34 and only getting older, so I say putting him in the field might not be the smartest thing to do. Now that the universal DH is in place for the 2020 season, I think Cespedes has a few more years in him.
Cespedes is a great batter and will actually help the Mets if he's healthy. He has a career 163 homeruns in only 6 seasons with an OPS of .826. He also has 31 career errors which isn't awful, but at the age of 34 it's best to keep him as the DH. If Cespedes can stay healthy, we will see him as the DH of the Mets this season.
Philadelphia Phillies: Jay Bruce
After being acquired by the Phillies in early June, Jay Bruce hit his most career home runs since 2017. The Phillies have plenty of outfielders returning, including Bruce, and now they have decisions to make. The Phillies played Bruce at 1B, Left Field, and Right Field during the 2019 season. Now that Andrew McCutchen is returning, Bruce has been basically eliminated from being the starting LF. In right field is Bryce Harper and at first base is Rhys Hoskins. Under normal circumstances, that would move Bruce's big bat to the bench. Now that the DH has been implemented, we might see Jay Bruce in a DH Role.
I think Bruce is the best fit for the DH role this season for the Phillies. In only 310 AB, Jay Bruce hit 26 HR and drove in 59 runs. He has a great power bat and that's what the Phillies were in need of down the stretch last year. He has over 5,834 Plate Appearances and is only 66 RBI short of 1,000. He is a great player and will provide more power in the Phillies 2020 lineup.
Washington Nationals: Howie Kendrick
Howie Kendrick is coming off one of the best postseasons in a very long time. Kendrick, although 36, played in 17 out of the 18 postseason games for the Nationals in the 2019 playoffs. In those games, he played nine at 2B and 4 at 1B. Now that the DH has been applied, we may see the aging Kendrick on an everyday basis.
Right now, the Nationals infield looks like this: Thames at First, Castro at Second, Turner at Short, and Cabarea/Kieboom at 3B. Because Thames is a left handed batter we may see Kendrick every once in a while play 1B. But, overall DH is the best place to put him. The Nationals infield has a lot of questions, but if you want Kendrick healthy and ready for big games, it's best to put the 36 year old at DH.
Kendrick had a career year last season for the Nationals. In only 334 AB in the Regular Season, Kendrick slapped 17 home runs and drove in 62 RBI to go along with a .334 average and a .996 OPS. That is one of (if not) the best seasons in Howie Kendrick's career. In a battle with a top team, Kendrick should be your go-to Designated Hitter.