Sports

Should There Be a DH in Baseball?

For years, baseball fans have been arguing over the use of designated hitters in baseball.

Be Responsible, Designate A Hitter
Andrew Barbin

Hitting in the DH spot is an opportunity for baseball players who are more one-dimensional to have more of an active spot on a roster besides pinch-hitting. All athletes’ careers eventually wind down and get to the point where the body, particularly the legs, just does not allow them to compete at a high level anymore. Ironically, many athletes “past their primes” still manage to be very good at what they do, even if their legs won’t allow them to compete in other aspects of the game (base running, fielding). Late in their careers, baseball players who still can hit are often reduced to a situational role such as a pinch hitter, but even they are often replaced by up and coming prospects who can actually contribute to the bigger picture. Hitting in the designated hitter spot allows these players to continue their careers.

You might make the case that the DH spot takes away the strategy of letting the pitcher hit. Despite popular opinion, I find that there is much more strategy in hiring someone whose only job is to hit the baseball, than to throwing out a pitcher who is practically an automatic out. Really, a DH is just another essential member of the team that immediately contributes and can make a huge difference in the regular season and the playoffs (like David Ortiz and Hideki Matsui).

Also, if you can keep a pitcher, a typical automatic out, out of the lineup, it makes for a much more interesting game (while protecting him from getting injured), and therefore it is in everyone’s best interest to have a DH. Obviously the AL has got it right with the designated hitter. If Major League baseball is smart, it will only be a matter of time till the NL has designated hitters as well.

DH Takes Away From The Game
Julia Pulli

Baseball has changed drastically since it first began. From bat size to interleague play, baseball as it was will never be the same. One of the most recognized changes in baseball was the creation of the designated hitter, DH, implemented in the American League. Originally thought to make the game more exciting, the DH position has consequently taken away from the tradition of baseball with its original thrills.

Baseball was once primarily a game of strategy, finding ways to use all the talent on the roster to win games. However, the DH position has taken away from the strategy involved in winning, turning baseball into a game of brute strength. No more are the high tension games requiring coaches to decide whether to leave in the pitcher with the no-hitter or potential complete game, who comes up to bat with the winning run in scoring position. The drama of the decision is gone knowing a powerful hitter and a talented pitcher are both in the game.

Furthermore, small ball is a thing of the past; sacrifice bunts and suicide squeezes are nearly extinct. It used to be thrilling watching a team try to sneak in a run through potentially the most difficult play in baseball, the bunt. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the number of sacrifice bunts per game has dropped from nearly .5 a game in 1975 to less than .3 in 2013. Small ball and strategy are slowly being diminished in the game of baseball, and, with the diminishment of these art forms, is the diminishment of some of baseball’s greatest excitements.

The DH rule in baseball also takes away from designated hitters and American league pitchers needing to be well-rounded players. Baseball is a game of versatility; players are expected to be productive, both offensively and defensively. Singularly, DHs are the only players who are only expected to perform offensively, while American League pitchers are only expected to execute defensively. During a game, a shortstop could be consistently hitting in clutch situations, but, if he does not play well in the field, his offensive accomplishments are overshadowed. Why should designated hitters and American League pitchers be allowed to focus on only one part of their game when all other players have to worry about both? Each position in baseball requires a specific skill set in order to be successful, not simply the pitcher. The DH position lessens the importance of player adaptability by allowing pitchers and the DH to focus on either offense or defense, while neglecting the crucial counterpart.

Designated hitters in the MLB take away from the nostalgia. With all of the changes in baseball, it would be refreshing to see strategy and versatility in Major League Baseball restored.

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