How is the Designated Hitter Actually saving  the Sport of Baseball?

How is the Designated Hitter Actually saving the Sport of Baseball?

How is the Designated Hitter Actually saving the Sport o...

The designated hitter (DH) has long been a polarizing element of baseball and has been massively influential in changing the way the game is played since its introduction in 1973. To understand where the DH came from, why it matters, and why it is a change for the better, let's get into how it all started.


The Designated-Hitter Rule And How It Has Changed

Baseball saw one of the biggest changes in its history in 1973 when the DH rule was implemented. In the American League (AL), this rule was implemented, which permitted a hitter to bat in place of the starting pitcher and any proceeding pitcher without removal from the lineup. This not only altered the game but also ignited a decades-old argument about what IF any function pitchers have as hitters.


Historical Impact of the DH


Dropping pitcher batting averages, showed the importance of a pitcher focusing 100% on his defense and pitching became clear. However, as the game developed and it became clear how much pitching impacted it, conversations began about making only pitchers exempt from hitting.


The DH Becomes Part of the AL Reality

The 1960s would be the seed change, as the AL approved the DH rule, and a new era of baseball was born. Over time the increased offense that came from the DHs began to show at the gate, with American league teams drawing significantly better on average.


New Complete Application of the DH

Recent years have seen the DH rule spread to the National League (NL) in 2020— and with it, a major transformation in the way the game is played. The widespread adoption of the DH has greatly evened the offensive playing field and made it much better.


Offensive Improvement


The data should come as no surprise as the onset of the designated hitter has increased the offensive numbers, and the NL designated hitters have produced quite the revelation over pitchers too. The introduction of the DH has done nothing but help the overall league on-base-plus-slugging rate.


Impact on Roster Construction

The DH rule affects roster building, allowing teams to manage a lineup more suitable to score runs. More importantly, it has allowed injured offensive stars like Bryce Harper to stay in the lineup when he was battling an arm injury.


What is the DH Going to Look Like?

Although the DH has made for positive change in some aspects, the game is always going to change. Fewer bunts and pinch hitters speak to a change in offensive philosophy as small-ball dies off. That narrative could be centered around the pitch clock and possible restrictions on defensive shifts that could give the game a different feel.


Looking Ahead

So long as baseball is a game that changes, the DH rule will remain a topic of debate. Advantages of the DH The widespread use of the DH has changed not just the way that offenses think but has also become an important part of the current game


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