This year of baseball brought us many things we’ve never seen before: the lockout, new rules and female minor league coaches. But, one of the most distinctive changes to the game was the addition of the designated hitter in the National League.
As an avid Chicago Cubs fan since childhood, nearly every game I had watched had both teams’ pitchers hitting during the game. When I did watch games where the Cubs played an American League team and utilized a designated hitter. I called the American League team a cheater because they always used designated hitters, so they were probably better at it, though I knew that wasn’t true.
According to the Major League Baseball glossary, a designated hitter rule is defined as “a rule that allows teams to use another player to bat in place of the pitcher. Because the pitcher is still part of the team’s nine defensive players, the designated hitter – or “DH” – does not take the field on defense.” This rule has been used by the American League since 1973 and has just been put into use by the National League this year.
Honestly, when I first saw the rule change, I was a bit angry. Not having a designated hitter left opportunities for pitchers to swing for the fences, though a lot of times, they struck out.On the rare occasion where something awesome happened, it was amazing. In 2016, my family attended a Reds-Dodgers game where Michael Lorenzen, a relief pitcher playing in his first game off the bereavement list, hit a three-run home run. My family still talks about this game today.
But, despite me missing the exciting pitcher going to the yard moments in games, I think that using the rule is a great idea for the National League, and could make games more exciting. It could also bring about opportunities for older players, in an article by Claire McNear, “The DH position has long offered an everyday role for players who might not otherwise have one: principally those that we in the biz like to call aging. This means it will be easier for managers to utilize the entire bench, including the older players whom playing every day is out of the question for.
In an article by Derrick Goold, he evaluated how changes will shape performances on the mound in an interview with Cardinals Manager, Oliver Marmol, “You’re truly now just weighing if they’ve got enough to keep going, You’re not worried about the deficit as far as you’re down two (runs) and you have to weigh the option of that bat over three more outs out of that pitcher, and what that looks like. That’s where it comes into play most.” The rule completely changes the way pitchers are utilized in a game and makes it easier for managers to pull pitchers when it’s time.
Overall, though I didn’t love the idea at first, I think the addition of the designated hitter is something that needed to happen. It will give players opportunities off the bench, will make games more exciting and will make it easier for managers to pull pitchers when they are worn out.