To DH Or Not To DH?: That Is The Question

Jeremy KaufmanSenior Analyst IJune 27, 2008

It's arguably the most controversial question in the history of sports. Should baseball have a designated hitter, or should it allow for the more traditional form of baseball in which the pitcher hits for himself.

This question is so incredibly difficult to answer that the MLB itself has to have two separate leagues, one in which the DH is used and another in which its not, simply because it is almost impossible to settle on a decision.

However, I will attempt to solve this incredibly complex matter by analyzing the pros and cons of the American League and National League ways of play.

American League


1) The DH allows for one extra solid batter to enter the lineup, as opposed to a player who usually isn’t in the Majors for their hitting.

2) The DH gives veteran players who can no longer play the field a great opportunity to extend their careers.

3) In the rare case that an offensively talented pitcher lands on an American League team, that pitcher could possibly play DH on days in which he is not pitching, or even play a position on those days as well.

4) There is no risk of a pitcher being injured while batting or running the bases, thereby better protecting the teams’ investments in their pitching staff.

5) The more productive offense in the American League adds more excitement to the offensively part of the game; there are no easy outs for the pitchers, and the hitters can sustain longer and stronger rallies.


1) Every other fielder has to bat, while should it be any different for the pitcher?

2) The use of a DH parts from the more traditional conceptions of baseball.

3) American League fans can almost never experience the excitement of seeing a pitcher beat the odds by hitting a home run.

4) The art of bunting is scarcely used in the American League.

5) The lack of pinch-hitting takes away from some of the strategy of the game.

National League


1) The National League takes a more traditional approach to baseball; if every other player on the field has to bat, why not the pitcher?

2) The National League maintains the values of bunting and small ball, arts that are sometimes forgotten in the more power-oriented American League game.

3) On the rare occasions in which a pitcher contributes offensively, especially via a home run, it provides an extreme amount of excitement for the fans who witness the feat.

4) A few pitchers, such as Micah Owings, have incredible offensive abilities. The National League gives them a chance to utilize those skills.

5) The role of the pinch hitter in the National League game adds a great amount of strategy to the game.


1) The majority of major-league pitchers do not want to bat, and some managers even go as far as ordering their pitchers not to take a swing, at the risk of the pitcher getting work. If no one wants them to bat, why not give their at-bats to someone who actually wants them?

2) Baseball is often criticized as being a slow sport, as it is. By forcing lineups to include an almost automatic out, the National League is only slowing down the game in terms of excitement and explosiveness.

3) The risk of injury to the pitcher simply may not be worth it, especially considering the fact that they are being paid to pitch, not to bat or run the bases.

4) All too often, pitchers end up being a near automatic out in the game. At most, there are pitchers who contribute offensively. With the exception of a rare few talents, the pitchers role in a National League offense is typically no more than this.

5) The pitcher’s common inability to hit ends countless rallies, thereby taking away some excitement from the game in those situations.

After carefully analyzing the aforementioned pros and cons, I, like most of America, remain someone torn in this matter. While I do believe that the American League game is a better product overall, I can’t help but feel a certain fondness towards baseball in its most traditional form.

Furthermore, I am a huge fan of Micah Owings and other pitchers who can handle the bat, and for that reason, I would be reluctant to say that all of Major League Baseball should adhere to American League rules.

However, this hesitancy could be eliminated if I was assured that Micah Owings and other such pitchers would be given the opportunity to bat as a DH or occasional fielder in the American Leagues.

Well, you now know my take on the battle between the American and National League rules. So, what’s your take?