Since 1973, the American League has had a designated hitter (which is a player that bats in place of the pitcher), and 43 years later, Major League Baseball has brought forth a plan that would adopt the designated hitter rule in the National League as well.
Cardinals GM John Mozeliak stated in an interview last week that momentum was shifting towards adding the designated hitter to the National League, although when the owners met this week, there was no discussion on the subject matter.
“It hasn’t even been talked about,” said Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer, as the meetings ended on Thursday.
But over the years, the idea of added it to the National League has risen, and one of the main reasons is because of the simple fact that some teams don’t want to risk their starting pitchers getting injured. Perhaps the best example came last season when, during an April 25th game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright ruptured his Achilles Tendon while batting, and missed the remainder of the season (sans October).
Another reason many do want to make the switch to the designated hitter is because of giving veterans and underutilized bench players a good chance to receive more playing time. The Seattle Mariners’ Edgar Martinez redefined the designated hitter position, and now has an award named after him given to the best designated hitter in baseball each year.
However, not everyone is keen on the idea.
“We would like to remain real baseball,” said Philadelphia Phillies chairman Dave Montgomery when asked about potentially switching to the designated hitter rule.
The National League is looked at as the “old-school” league, where some of the oldest franchises come from (Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Braves, Giants, Dodgers), and while the American League has some of the oldest teams as well (namely the Yankees, Red Sox, and Tigers), the rise of the league had come when baseball was becoming more modernized in the latter half of the 20th century.
It’s been said that as early as 2017, there could be a designated hitter in the National League. That is, if there is one. Otherwise, things will remain just the way they are now in the world of Major League Baseball.