Who Should Hit?

I am here to try and tackle one of the age old arguments in baseball. Should all of Major League Baseball get a designated hitter (DH) or should every team have to put their pitcher in the batting order? Right now, the American League (AL) allows teams to use a designated hitter in place of their pitcher in the batting order. While the National League (NL) does not allow a DH, forcing pitchers to step up to the plate. Now, it does not make a lot of sense why different teams have different batting rules for their pitchers. The rule was implemented in a three year trial period for the American League in 1973 and they decided to keep the DH spot. The National League then held a vote to change to the same rule which was outvoted 5-4 against the DH spot with three teams abstaining from the vote. Since then, the American League has always kept the DH spot and the National League has never voted to incorporate it into their play. There likely will not be any changes to this rule any time soon, but it is always fun to speculate what would and would not make sense to do. There are three reasonable decisions that the MLB could make pertaining to the DH spot.

Allow all teams to use a DH.

If there were to be a rule change making National League teams eligible to use a designated hitter, there would surely be a rise in overall batting average in the NL like there has been in the AL since they adopted the rule. However, gone would be the days of watching Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta slug home runs just like any other guy playing the field. As much fun as it is to see your favorite pitcher show off his batting skills, this would be the most practical method for batting. Having a designated hitter bat in place of the pitcher makes sense because pitchers are signed based on their skills on the mound, not at the plate. This rule change would allow pitchers to focus on the skills that got them to the league in the first place, and would allow a player who can hit well but does not have a place in the field still get his chance to shine.

Force all teams to put their pitchers in the batting order.

My personal favorite. Having pitchers go up to bat is part of baseball. It involves a level of strategy that makes the game interesting. If a pitcher is coming up in the order late in the game, the manager is forced to decide whether to send him up or pinch hit and send a new pitcher out for the next inning. It also forces teams to be strategic when trying to score runs knowing the pitcher is coming up soon. Ultimately, I believe changing the rule to force pitchers to step up to the plate would lead to a new era of Madison Bumgarners and Jake Arrietas that have put in the extra effort to stand a chance when on the other side of a 96 mile per hour fastball. Guys who have worked hard to master their work on the mound and at the plate would become more valuable for organizations, and fans would get the excitement of watching a pitcher swing away. Lastly, forcing pitchers into the batting order would send baseball back to the original pastime. Baseball would go back to the way it was when legends like Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio were playing it. Baseball would be historic once again.

Leave the rule as is.

This option is the most likely, and the most boring. Leaving the rule as is just continues the lopsided hitting in the AL and NL. The two leagues should play by the same rules. If the AL continues to use a designated hitter while the NL pitchers hit, then the game will seem off just a little bit. Until the two sides find a middle ground there will continue to be a debate about which side is right. Even after the decision is made, the side that loses the argument will fight to get the rule changed back. I imagine there is more support from the NL in favor of the DH spot, but there are enough teams that would disagree, leaving no actions to be taken on this rule change.

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