Designated Hitter

It is hard to believe that it has been 30 years since the designated hitter ("DH") position was adopted by Major League Baseball’s American League. What I first thought was a gimmick that would disappear after a few years turned out to be a crucial baseball position, at least in the American League. It was originally adopted to allow teams to boost sagging offensive performances by designating a player to bat in place of the pitcher.The designated hitter spot is an option, so no team is required to use a DH although every American League team does have one. The National League never adopted the DH position. Originally aging sluggers whose defensive skills were suspect were made designated hitters ( Mike Piazza this year will be the designated hitter for the A’s). In recent years robust young players have assumed the role of DH i.e. Travis Hafner of the Indians. In spite of the longevity of the DH position I still have a problem with its use. It is not pure baseball! Baseball was meant to have nine positions not ten! If a pitcher has a poor batting averages it is part of the game and does not warrant cheating by having a slugger replace him in the “ batting lineup”. Many purist also point out that the DH rule diminishes baseball strategy. The World Series loses some luster when the DH is an option for both teams in an American League ballpark. Major League Baseball should be played by the same rules for both leagues.

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