I am a big baseball fan. There’s just something about sitting down in front of my seventy two inch television, cracking open a Mountain Dew, and trying to determine what type of pitch is being thrown by watching the laces of a baseball as it travels across the plate and into the catchers glove. No time clock, just sheer strategy dependent upon the threat of the batter.
In the American League of the pro’s, it’s likely that batter. no matter where he is in the lineup, is a threat to put the ball in play. The Designated Hitter, only used by American League teams, creates a very tough match-up for the opposing pitcher. The designated hitter is a player that only has to focus on hitting, and he’s usually one of the best hitters, often times with power. That allows the pitchers in the American League to focus primarily, and solely on pitching and relying on the eight fielders, and the DH to give him the insurance of hitting the ball and scoring runs.
The National League doesn’t utilize a DH, rather, having all nine fielders in the batting lineup. That includes the pitcher. With the five man pitching rotation, and the relievers in the bullpen, pitchers don’t get to bat very often and consequently, they aren’t usually good hitters. The only time the NL teams use a DH, is during interleague play, and in the World Series when playing in the American League team’s home stadium
I am a proponent of the Designated Hitter. I believe it creates a more competitive edge to the game of baseball, having another threatening hitter in the lineup. It also allows for pitchers to only be pitchers. In my opinion, having to bat occasionally can be detrimental to a pitchers rhythm. Most of the time, we see pitchers lay down a bunt whether or not anyone is on base. Why have an automatic out in the batting order? A designated hitter, hitting in place of the pitcher, increases the amount of competition, and allows the pitchers to focus on their effective exercise programs for their arms, without the added exertion and risk from batting.
Of course, this is a topic up for debate. Many feel the “traditional” style of baseball is to have all nine fielders in the batting lineup. That’s just the way baseball is played. At least until 1973, when the Designated Hitter was adopted into the league. I have had this conversation on more than one occasion recently, and it seems that I am actually in the minority, in favor of the designated hitter. In my circles, the traditional style of baseball is preferred, and that is hard for me to argue against. It is a great game. And on those occasions that a pitcher takes the opposing pitcher yard, doing himself a favor, relieving his own pressure from the mound, is just great baseball. Though it happens so rarely.
I believe the instigation of the DH across baseball would benefit both the hitting lineup, and the pitching rotation. Being on the mound can be in the forefront of the Pitchers minds, and the hitting coaches and managers can have more options to interchange their batting lineups. It would make the game better, more competitive, and more exciting.