Posted by: gravessack | June 16, 2012

Should Pitchers Really Be Batting?

What’s the point of pitchers batting? Ever since the formation of the National League (NL) in 1883, the league has had pitchers hit in ballgames (the American League (AL) instituted the Designated Hitter rule in 1973.) There has been some chatter lately about the NL instituting the DH, too. The AL dominates the NL in inter-league play because the team from the NL is missing a potentially good hitter by having to include the pitcher as a batter.

Since inter-league play was formed in 1997, the AL has had the most wins in 11 of the 15 years, resulting in a brutal beating by them with a 1939-1773 record coming into the 2012 season. Currently, the AL is leading the NL this year in wins. The National League should really put the Designated Hitter rule into place to build an equal platform for Major League Baseball.

Pitchers hitting doesn’t do anything for baseball. Most pitchers don’t even practice batting, as they focus exclusively on pitching. Every time a pitcher comes to bat, there’s a pretty good chance he will either fly out or strike out. If runners are on base with less than two outs, there are few doubts that a manager will tell a pitcher to bunt. On top of that, pitchers run slow because they don’t want to risk injury. And what is with the ball boy bringing a jacket out to a pitcher while on base? Pitchers don’t want to get cold while running the bases? Pitchers often can’t go an extra base when the opportunity arrives because they are told to take it easy on the base paths. When a pitcher comes to bat when a team has a threat in the making, it immediately cuts down on the chance to score. Often there’s a lull in a game because they rarely do anything productive.

During the 2011 regular season, Major League Baseball saw pitchers hit a .128 batting average (AL with .112 and NL with .142) with an average of one home run and 10 RBIs. Also, on average, pitchers recorded just 24 hits throughout that season. Baltimore’s pitchers were the best at hitting in 2011, where they combined for 9 hits and 2 doubles in 22 at-bats going .409. The worst hitting pitchers were in Oakland, where they did nothing in 18 at-bats. The Twins pitchers had a batting average of .150 with 3 hits and 1 double in 2011. To view stats from 2000 until now about how pitchers hit, please click here.

Some reports have indicated that the NL could start using a Designated Hitter in 2013, which is the same year that Houston is scheduled to move to the AL. I firmly believe, overall, that pitchers don’t contribute enough on offense. The Designated Hitter will give both leagues an equal opportunity to win an All-Star Game or World Series. Pitchers should be focusing on pitching and hitters on hitting.

Written by: Michael L. Sack

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Responses

  1. While I think you are right, I think it’s sad that the game has become this specialized. Just look at Babe Ruth’s pitching record along side his hitting. Or Don Newcombe’s or Bob Gibson’s! I think we should get back to those days and lose million dollar salaries that keep manager and players from just cutting loose and playing the game.

  2. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it, you’re a great author.

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  3. I have trouble understanding why NL pitchers, for the most part, are bad hitters. Typically some of the best athletes on the field, these are guys that I’m sure were the stars of their team when it came to hitting from little league through high school. And some of them can’t even lay down a bunt now – at least get that right!

    Incidentally, since the DH was introduced in 1973 the AL holds a 21-18 lead in World Series Championships.

  4. I’m an American League fan (Red Sox) that couldn’t disagree more. The fact is, baseball is a game of strategy, more than it is a game of action.

    It frustrates me that the effect of the DH on the game is often overstated. Fans say, “I’d rather see David Ortiz hit than the pitcher.” Of course, even with a team built for the DH like the Sox, Ortiz would play first, Mike Napoli would catch, and it is Jarrod Saltalamacchia that would be the odd man out. I like Salty but his career average is .242, if the pitchers could hit even .150, over 400 at bats (since pitchers will be pinch hit for), that translates to 37 more hits over a 27 week season – that’s just 1.4 hits per week!

    My main point is, the beauty of baseball lies in the many strategies of the game, and the DH eliminates many of those. When the pitcher hits, he will be batting in place of one of the worst hitters on the team. Is that extra occasional hit worth sacrificing the essence of the game?


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