Filed under Op-Ed, Sports

Designated Hitter Controversy

Does the designated hitter ultimately affect the game of baseball.

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The World Series trophy is something all teams from the NL and the AL have their sights set on.

The World Series trophy is something all teams from the NL and the AL have their sights set on.

By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA (The World Series trophy will be presented tonight.) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA (The World Series trophy will be presented tonight.) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The World Series trophy is something all teams from the NL and the AL have their sights set on.

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The Designated Hitter is a position in baseball which is hotly debated among fans. Simply put, it is a player who is part of the batting order who only hits, and rarely if ever plays in the field. His job, essentially, is to bat for the pitcher, rather than having pitchers bat for themselves.  The logic behind this position is that it can help avoid injury for pitchers, whose arms and shoulders are vulnerable due to the amount of use per game they are subjected to.  In addition, it offers the distinct advantage to the team of having one player whose sole specialty is hitting.  He can be scouted for his talent in that one skill alone, thus giving the team one singularly strong hitter in their lineup.

The National League does not use a designated hitter, thus requiring pitchers to do their own hiting.

This position is one of the biggest controversies in sports. And there are only two sides you can take on the topic: either there should be no DH at all or both leagues should be required to use the position.

Former DH David Ortiz looks to step into the batters box and cause some damage against his opponent.

By Googie man, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=485916

In the case of the American League many fans like the use of the DH as it increases the pace of play during games, makes the game far more interesting and also appeals to younger fans. For instance, one of the most recognizable players in baseball for a long time was a DH, David Ortiz almost never played the field but was one of the most well-known players in the game. Ortiz in many people’s eyes are a no doubt Hall of Famer and he never had to wear a glove. But an even more compelling example of the DH is J.D. Martinez of the Boston Red Sox. Martinez had a top 3 career season this year, putting up numbers to contend for the Triple Crown award. His numbers show why the DH needs to be used in both leagues. In 2018 Martinez had 569 at bats with 188 hit. He had 130 RBIs, a batting average of .330, with an MLB second place 43 homeruns.

Thanks to the DH, game time is shorter in the AL by an average of 5 minutes., due to the fact that when pitchers are at bat, they will usually stand there and take 3-5 pitches without swinging, then either walk or strike out. A DH eliminates this almost useless at bat.

Noah Synderguard of the New York Mets (see photo, below) is considered one of the best pitching hitters of the past few seasons, but his stats say something different. Granted as a pitcher he will have less at bats so his stats will automatically less as he usual only plays roughly once every 4-6 days, but if he were to play every game like this he would never be on a MLB roster. In 2018 he had 47 at bats with 6 hits. HE had a whopping 3 RBIs and a .128 batting average with no home runs.  These are the stats of someone who is considered one of the better pitching hitters but it sounds like the Bad News Bears from little league. If you were to put a DH in this spot run support for pitchers in the NL would be much higher and the stress of pitching in the NL knowing that you can possibly have more of a run cushion with a DH is possibly there. A pitcher can focus on what they are supposed to do which is throw the ball not hit it.

Lafayette Rams reflect the same opinion as a lot of the baseball community. Juniors Michael and Ryan Labella agree with the American League, saying “Batting a pitcher is one of the worst things you can do, you are basically wasting a spot in your order.” Clearly they have a firm grasp on the situation. Junior Jacob Golub also weighed in saying, “It’s not smart to make a pitcher bat when they won’t even swing or just bunt no matter what.” He couldn’t be more correct: batting a pitcher slows the game down because they almost never swing. Senior Ed Coombs also made a fair point. “The pitcher is payed millions of dollars to throw the ball,” Coombs said. “He is not paid to hit and that is not what he is drafted for.”

But what about the other side? Teacher Mr. Downs is passionate about abolishing the DH rule in baseball. “There should not be a DH at all, because all baseball players at the professional level should be able to field and hit.” Downs said “We need to abolish [the DH] as it allows…the AL to hold an advantage due to the fact that large, slow, powerful hitters can bring in runs without being in the field. They need to level the playing field in both leagues.” Mr. Downs is also correct.  The AL does have an advantage in some cases but also countering what he has to say if every player should be able to hit why don’t you just make a player a DH in the NL hitting is a part of the game and a pitcher batting is not hitting its standing and possibly bunting.

The DH is something nearly everyone has an opinion on. You can form yours using this website https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/ .

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Noah Syndergaard) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Mets at Orioles 8/19/15

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Designated Hitter Controversy