Sport: Baseball
Improved DH rule   (+1, -2)  [vote for, against]
Put strategy back in American League baseball

For many years, American League baseball teams have played with a rule which allows a team to have a "designated hitter" bat for the pitcher. While this rule does have a few good features (it helps protect pitchers from injury, and allows some players to have longer careers than they otherwise would) it removes some essential aspects of baseball strategy. In a non-DH game, a team whose pitcher comes up to bat must decide whether to let him bat (and be allowed to pitch) or pull him out for a pinch-hitter (who would then be replaced by a new pitcher at the start of the next half-inning). The DH rule eliminates these strategic aspects by allowing teams to make pitching or batting changes independently of each other.

To retain some of the DH's advantages while restoring some of the strategy aspects it loses, I would propose that teams be allowed to select a designated hitter BUT require that pulling either the pitcher or DH out of the game would require pulling both and replacing them with either one or two new players. This would thus require team owners to make strategic decisions and commitments.

For example, suppose a team's pitcher is doing very badly with none out, and there are five people remaining in the batting order before the pitcher/DH. Pulling the pitcher (and DH) is a no-brainer, but a team would have to decide who (if anyone) to put in as DH. If a team puts its best player in as DH, the team would have to hope the pitcher is good for two full innings or else it would 'lose' that DH without him having batted. On the other hand, if no DH is put in and the team gets three hits in its next time at-bat, the team would be confronted with the need to either pull the pitcher (who may have been pitching fine) or accept the risk of him being put out (which, if three are on base and two are out, could be costly).

I would expect that if this rule were in place, teams would usually put a DH in with their starting pitcher, but usually not with relievers. There would be some exceptions, however, which could serve to make the game more interesting.
-- supercat, Jun 19 2002

The NL does it much better. No DH rule at all. Saturday afternoon at Shea, Clemens at his first at-bat in five years, and he doubles. So what's the problem?
-- waugsqueke, Jun 19 2002

Indeed, I suspect some baseball purists had torn emotions about inter-league play last Friday; to be sure, including such games in season win-loss standings should be a crime, but last Friday had fourteen games with NO DESIGNATED HITTER.

Still, if the DH can't be done away with, I think my rule might reduce the damage it causes.
-- supercat, Jun 19 2002

This rule is perfect. The current DH rule is effective because when the pitcher comes up to bat it is usually a rally killer. Plus, in the NL a manager is sometimes forced to pull out a pitcher who is still pitching well just because they need runs.
-- Thread7, Jun 19 2002

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