Designated hitter

From Academic Kids

A designated hitter, or DH, is a baseball player who is chosen at the start of a game to bat in place of any defensive player in the lineup, however it is used almost exclusively for the pitcher. While in the lineup, the designated hitter may not play a field position, and he may only be replaced by another player not currently in the lineup. If the designated hitter becomes a regular position player at any point during the game (usually by substituting for another player), his team forfeits the designated hitter position and the pitcher must bat in the substituted player's spot in the batting order.

Originally, the rules of Major League Baseball stated that each player had to bat in his spot in the order. This meant that pitchers didn't get to bat every day like other players, as they only took the field every four or five days at most, and so were usually not very effective hitters. (Babe Ruth was one notable exception; he began his career as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.) Decades later, in an effort to combat both declining attendance and declining offense, the American League adopted a rule stating that a team could designate a hitter to bat for the pitcher. This changed the game in several ways; pitchers went deeper into games because they didn't need to be lifted for a pinch hitter, the double switch became unnecessary, and older players whose careers and skills were on the wane had a chance to play for an extra year or two. George Brett, Carl Yastrzemski, and Paul Molitor were all able to extend their careers as designated hitters. Ron Blomberg is regarded as the first designated hitter in major league baseball history, appearing at the plate for the first time on April 6, 1973. He played for the New York Yankees in a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. He was walked by Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant in his first plate appearance.

A team that uses the designated hitter rule has, in general, two options on how to use designated hitters. They can either rotate the DH spot among players in the lineup so as to give the players a bit of a rest without removing them from the lineup, or they can employ a full-time designated hitter. Players in the latter category include Edgar Martinez of the Seattle Mariners, who had a long career as a DH despite problems with his legs and weaker defensive numbers.

There is a great deal of controversy about whether the designated hitter rule should be continued. Purists complain that it breaks up the symmetry of the game, whereas advocates like the increased offensive output. Whether one is in favor of the designated hitter rule often depends on whether his or her favorite team is in the American League (which uses the designated hitter) or the National League (which does not).

The arguments for and against the designated hitter rule extend beyond the theory of what true baseball is. There are more practical reasons argued. Since American League pitchers do not have to bat, they may be more likely to intimidate opposing batters with brush-back pitches and beanballs, knowing that they will not not have to enter the batter's box and deal with possible retaliation from the opposing pitcher. However, the absence of a designated hitter has led to better pitching statistics in the National League, as each team's pitcher is often a weak hitter with a poor batting average.

When games are played between American League and National League teams during regular season interleague play, the All-Star Game, or in the World Series), the rules of the league of the home team are the ones followed. (From 1976-1985, the designated hitter rule was used in all World Series games played even-numbered years, with pitchers batting in odd numbered years.) Thus, when a National League team plays in American League ballparks, the team receives the benefit of a stronger hitter in its lineup instead of the pitcher. Conversely, when American League teams play in National League ballparks, they gain a disadvantage, as their pitchers do not bat very often during the regular season.

See also


de:Designated Hitter ja:指名打者


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