Designated hitter

In baseball, the designated hitter rule is the common name for Major League Baseball Rule 5.11,[1] adopted by the American League in 1973. The rule allows teams to have one player, known as the designated hitter (or DH), to bat in place of the pitcher. Since 1973, most collegiate, amateur, and professional leagues have adopted the rule or some variant.[2] MLB's National League and Nippon Professional Baseball's Central League are the most prominent professional leagues that do not use a designated hitter.[3]

Edgar Martinez 1997
Edgar Martínez, who spent most of his career as the full-time designated hitter for the Seattle Mariners was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2019.

Major League Baseball rule

In Major League Baseball, the designated hitter is a hitter who does not play a position, but instead fills in the batting order for the pitcher. The DH may only be used for the pitcher (and not any other position player), as stated in Rule 5.11. Use of the DH is optional, but must be determined prior to the start of the game. If a team does not begin a game with a DH, the pitcher (or a pinch-hitter) must bat for the entire game.

The designated hitter may be replaced as DH only by a player who has not entered the game. If a pinch hitter bats for, or a pinch runner runs for, the DH, that pinch-hitter or pinch-runner becomes the DH.

The designated hitter can be moved to a fielding position during the game. If the DH is moved to another position, his team forfeits the role of the designated hitter, and the pitcher or another player (the latter possible only in case of a multiple substitution) would bat in the spot of the position player replaced by the former DH. If the designated hitter is moved to pitcher, any subsequent pitcher (or pinch-hitter thereof) would bat should that spot in the batting order come up again (except for a further multiple substitution). Likewise, if a pinch-hitter bats for a non-pitcher, and then remains in the game as the pitcher, the team would forfeit the use of the DH for the remainder of the game, and the player who was DH would become a position player (or exit the game).

Unlike other positions, the DH is "locked" into the batting order. No multiple substitution may be made to alter the batting rotation of the DH. In other words, a double switch involving the DH and a position player is not legal. For example, if the DH is batting fourth and the catcher is batting eighth, the manager cannot replace both players so as to have the new catcher bat fourth and the new DH bat eighth. Once a team loses its DH under any of the scenarios discussed in the previous paragraph, the double switch becomes fully available, and may well be used via necessity, should the former DH be replaced in the lineup.

Interleague play and exhibitions

In Major League Baseball, during interleague play, the application of the DH rule is determined by the identity of the home team, with the rules of the home team's league applying to both teams. If the game is played in an American League park, the designated hitter may be used; in a National League park, the pitcher must bat or else be replaced with a pinch-hitter. On June 12, 1997, San Francisco Giants outfielder Glenallen Hill became the first National League player to DH in a regular-season game, when the Giants met the American League's Texas Rangers at The Ballpark in Arlington in interleague play.[4]

At first, the DH rule was not applied to the World Series. From 1973 to 1975, all World Series games were played under National League rules, with no DH and pitchers batting. For 1976, it was decided the DH rule would apply to all games in a World Series, regardless of venue, but only in even-numbered years. Cincinnati Reds first baseman Dan Driessen became the first National League player to act as a DH in any capacity (regular season or postseason) when he was listed as the DH in the first game (he was the DH in all four Series games that year). This practice lasted through 1985. Beginning in 1986, the DH rule was used in games played in the stadium of the American League representative.

There was initially no DH in the All-Star Game. Beginning in 1989, the rule was applied only to games played in American League stadiums.[5] During this era, if the All-Star Game was scheduled for an American League stadium, fans would vote in the DH for the American League's starting lineup, while the National League's manager decided that league's starting DH. Since 2010, the designated hitter has always been used by both teams regardless of where the game is played.[6]

In June 2010, the Philadelphia Phillies' scheduled 2010 series against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre was moved to Philadelphia, because of security concerns for the G-20 Summit. The Blue Jays wore their home white uniforms and batted last as the home team, and the designated hitter was used.[7] The game was the first occasion of the use of a designated hitter in a National League ballpark in a regular-season game with Ryan Howard being the first player to fill the role.[8]

In spring training games, the home team chooses whether the designated hitter is used. Occasionally National League teams opt to use the designated hitter, usually when a player is recovering from an injury.

Background and history

The rationale for the designated hitter rule arose comparatively early in the history of professional baseball. It was observed that, with a few exceptions—most notably Babe Ruth, who began his career as a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox—pitchers are usually selected for the quality of their pitching, not their hitting, and that most pitchers were weak hitters who had to be batted ninth in the batting order and pinch-hit for late in games when their team was trailing. The designated hitter idea was raised by Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack in 1906,[9] though he was not the first to propose it. The rumors were that he grew weary of watching Eddie Plank and Charles Bender flail at pitches when at bat. Mack's proposal received little support and was even lambasted by the press as "wrong theoretically". The notion did not die. In the late 1920s, National League president John Heydler made a number of attempts to introduce a 10th-man designated hitter as a way to speed up the game, and almost convinced National League clubs to agree to try it during spring training in 1929.[9]

However, momentum to implement the DH did not pick up until the pitching dominance of the late 1960s. In 1968, Denny McLain won 31 games and Bob Gibson had a 1.12 ERA, while Carl Yastrzemski led the American League in hitting with only a .301 average. After the season, the rules were changed to lower the mound from 15 to 10 inches and change the upper limit of the strike zone from the top of a batter's shoulders to his armpits. In addition, in 1969 spring training, both the American League and National League agreed to try the designated pinch hitter (DPH), but they did not agree on the implementation. Most NL teams chose not to participate. On March 6, 1969, two games utilized the new DPH rule for the very first time. Two newly formed expansion teams, the Montreal Expos and the Kansas City Royals, would participate in one such game, and the New York Yankees and Washington Senators in the other. On March 26, 1969, Major League Baseball nixed the idea for the time being. However, a four-year trial in which the International League and four other minor leagues started using the DH for their games began that year.[10]

Like other experimental baseball rule changes of the 1960s and 70s, the DH was embraced by Oakland A's owner Charlie O. Finley. On January 11, 1973, Finley and the other American League owners voted 8–4 to approve the designated hitter for a three-year trial run.[9] On April 6, 1973, Ron Blomberg of the New York Yankees became the first designated hitter in Major League Baseball history, facing Boston Red Sox right-handed pitcher Luis Tiant in his first plate appearance. "Boomer" Blomberg was walked.[11] The result of the first season of the DH was that the American League posted a higher batting average than the National League, something which has remained consistent to this day.

In response to increases in American League attendance because of the designated hitter, the National League held a yes/no vote on August 13, 1980, to determine whether or not the league would adopt the designated hitter. A majority of the 12 member teams was necessary to pass the rule, and the measure was expected to pass. However, when the teams were informed that the rule would not come into effect until the 1982 season, Philadelphia Phillies vice president Bill Giles was unsure of how the team owner, Ruly Carpenter, wanted him to vote. Unable to contact Carpenter, who was on a fishing trip, Giles was forced to abstain from voting. Prior to the meeting, Harding Peterson, general manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates, was told to side with the Phillies. The final tally was four teams voting for the DH (Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Diego Padres), five votes against (Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, and San Francisco Giants), and three abstentions (Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Houston Astros). Five days after that meeting, the Cardinals fired their general manager, John Clairborne, who was the leading proponent for the adoption of the DH rule, and the National League has not held another vote on the issue.[12]

As time passed, the designated hitter rule has ended up offering American League managers multiple strategic options in setting their teams' lineups: they can rotate the DH role among part-time players (for example, using a left-handed batter against a right-handed pitcher and vice versa) or they can employ a full-time designated hitter against all pitchers. It also allows them to give a healthy everyday player a partial day off, or to give an injured player the opportunity to bat without exposing him to re-injury while playing in the field.

In recent years, full-time DHs have become less common, and the position has been used to give players a partial off-day, allowing them to bat but rest while the other team is batting. This option comes in very handy when a team's lineup includes several older players. The 2012 Yankees, for example, rotated five players through the DH spot during the season, all of them over 34 years old.[13] Only a handful of players compile over 400 at-bats as a DH each year.

With the Houston Astros having moved to the American League for the 2013 MLB season, which requires interleague play season-round (as well as the Astros to start using a DH full-time), there is debate within MLB to unify the rules of the two leagues, with either the American League returning to its pre-1973 rules and having the pitcher hit, like the National League, or the National League adopting the DH.[14]

In January 2016, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred indicated that consideration was given to the National League adopting the DH for the 2017 season when a new collective bargaining agreement would take effect.[15] However, he later backtracked on this statement to say that he does not see unification coming any time soon.[16] Accordingly, the DH rule was not adopted by the National League for 2017.

Awards

Major League Baseball presents an annual award to the most outstanding designated hitter of the season, called the Edgar Martínez Award. Renamed for the former Seattle Mariners DH after his retirement in 2004, the Outstanding DH Award was introduced in 1973 and has been handed out every season since, except 1994 due to a players' strike. Notable winners include Martínez (five times) and David Ortiz (seven times, five consecutively).

DHs have generally not made much impact on the Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player Award or National Baseball Hall of Fame voting, because of the relative rareness of the full-time DH and the fact that the DH does not contribute on defense.

During the 1993 season Paul Molitor became the first player to win the World Series Most Valuable Player award while playing 137 of 160 games (85.63%) as a designated hitter; David Ortiz did the same in 2013. Ortiz was also the first designated hitter to win the ALCS MVP in 2004. Ortiz and Molitor played games at first base in their World Series MVP seasons, leaving Hideki Matsui in 2009 as the only World Series MVP to never play the field that season.

Among Hall of Famers, Paul Molitor and Jim Rice were, until 2014, the only inductees to even have played at least 25% of their games at DH. In 2014, Frank Thomas became the first Hall of Famer who played the majority of his games at DH. In 2018, Edgar Martínez was elected to the Hall of Fame having played over 70% of his games at DH.

Debate

There is considerable debate over whether the designated hitter rule should be removed,[17][18] while some[17] have argued that the National League should adopt it. On the other hand, there are also fans who enjoy the fact that the American and National Leagues use different rules. Two generations of fans of American League teams have grown up with the designated hitter rule being in place, so some may consider the designated hitter to be as much a traditional part of baseball as the pitcher taking his turn at bat is for fans of National League teams.

Critics often argue that use of the designated hitter introduces an asymmetry to the game by separating players into classes, creating offensive and defensive specialization more akin to American football. Opponents of the rule believe it effectively separates pitchers, other fielders, and designated hitters into separate roles that never cross, possibly causing issues with promoting 'batting cage' players whose scope of experience is extremely limited. However, when the pitcher bats alongside everyone else, all nine players must take turns at the plate and in the field, and the hybridization of roles requires that everyone knows other roles in addition to their own.

The designated hitter rule also changes managerial strategy in late innings. In the National League, a manager must decide when to let a pitcher bat or remove him, as well as with whom to pinch-hit and where or if that player should take the field afterward. When the decision to remove a pitcher is made, the manager may also elect to double switch, delaying the new pitcher's turn at bat. A designated hitter reduces the need for late-inning pinch hitters.[19]

Advocates of the designated hitter[17][18] point to the fact that it has extended many careers, and, in a few cases, created long, productive careers for players who are weak fielders or have a history of injuries, such as Edgar Martínez and David Ortiz. Hall of Fame members George Brett, Carl Yastrzemski, Paul Molitor, and Martinez continued their careers longer than they ordinarily would have without the rule.[20] Barry Bonds, who spent his entire career in the National League and actually won eight Gold Gloves earlier in his career, was used strictly as a DH later in his career when the San Francisco Giants played away interleague games due to his poor fielding.[21] Some believe that extending careers of older players is less of an advantage and more of a disadvantage, filling spots that otherwise may have been taken by younger players who end up not finding a place in the major leagues.

Interleague play has added a new wrinkle to the controversy. Some feel that it is not fair to ask an AL team to play without their DH when their roster has not been set up to do so, or on the other hand, to ask an NL team to use a DH when they may not have an appropriate player. Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig once proposed that the road team's rules should be followed for interleague games in order to combat this advantage for the home team, but the idea has not received traction.[22]

The decline of pitcher Chien-Ming Wang due to an interleague game injury has been cited in support of the designated hitter. On June 15, 2008, Wang, at the time one of the Yankees' best pitchers, was taken out of an interleague game versus the Houston Astros due to a right foot injury he sustained while running the bases, something he was not used to doing, since pitchers do not bat in the American League. Wang was diagnosed with a torn Lisfranc ligament and a partial tear of the peroneus longus of the right foot. The cast was removed on July 29, but the extensive rehabilitation process prevented Wang from being an effective pitcher at the major league level since. Yankees part-owner Hank Steinbrenner showed frustration with pitchers having to bat in the National League and suggested that the League "join the modern age".[23]

Designated hitter outside Major League Baseball

Minor League Baseball

Among Minor League Baseball teams, Rookie and Single-A level leagues use the DH in all games. At the Double-A and Triple-A level, when both teams are National League affiliates, pitchers may bat. In the Pacific Coast League, pitchers only hit when both clubs are NL affiliates and both clubs agree to have their pitchers hit. The reason for the difference is that as players get closer to reaching the majors, teams prefer to have the rules mimic, as closely as possible, those of the major league teams for which the players may soon be playing.[24]

International baseball leagues

The DH is used in most professional baseball leagues around the world. One notable exception is the Central League of Japan, where pitchers bat as they do in the National League. Japan's Pacific League adopted the designated hitter in 1975. When teams from different leagues play against each other in the Japan Series or interleague games, the DH rule is adopted if the Pacific League's team hosts the game. The DH rule is used in the Japanese minor leagues.

Amateur baseball

In American high schools and other amateur baseball leagues that use National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules, a DH may bat in place of one player in any position, not just a pitcher. Many coaches use a designated hitter in place of the weakest hitter in the lineup, if they use one at all. In amateur baseball, many pitchers are also good hitters and will often play another position (or even DH) when not pitching. Japanese high school baseball is one of the few amateur baseball leagues in the world that has never used the designated hitter rule at all. In high school baseball in South Korea, the rule has been adopted since 2004. American Legion rules, on the other hand, allow the DH only to bat for the pitcher; prior to 1995, the use of the DH was not allowed in Legion baseball at all.

In college baseball, NCAA rules state that the designated hitter must hit for the pitcher, but in many instances the pitcher is also a good hitter, and the coach may elect to let the pitcher bat in the lineup. If the pitcher opts to bat for himself, he is treated as two separate positions – a pitcher and a designated hitter (abbreviated P/DH on the lineup card) – and may be substituted for as such (i.e. if he is removed as the pitcher, he may remain as the designated hitter and vice versa). However, if a player who starts a game as a P/DH is relieved as the starting pitcher, he may not return to the mound even if he remains in the game as the DH, and he may not play any other defensive position after being relieved as the pitcher unless he immediately moves to another defensive position, in which case the new pitcher must assume the spot in the batting order of the fielder the P/DH substituted for, and the DH is lost for the remainder of the game. Conversely, a player who begins the game as the DH, but not as the pitcher, may come into the game as a reliever and remain as the DH (in effect becoming a P/DH), be relieved on the mound later in the game but continue to bat as the DH.

In Little League Baseball, the DH is not used. However, a league may adopt a rule which requires all players present and able to play to be listed in the batting order (such that the order contains more than nine players), and thus all players will have a turn to bat even when they are not assigned a fielding position. Players in the batting lineup without a position on the field are given the position designation extra hitter (EH), a position seen occasionally in other amateur organizations (both youth and adult).

Sources

  • Will, George F. (1990). Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball.
  • McKelvey, G. Richard (2004). All Bat, No Glove: A History of the Designated Hitter.
  • Dickey, Glenn (1980). The History of American League Baseball.
  • Johnson, Lloyd (1999). Baseball's Book of Firsts.
  • Mahony, Phillip (2014). Baseball Explained. Archived from the original on August 13, 2014.

References

  1. ^ "Official Baseball Rules 2015 edition" (PDF). December 10, 2014. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  2. ^ Alexander, Charles C. (1991). Our Game: An American Baseball History. Macmillan. p. 290. ISBN 9780805015942.
  3. ^ Ringolsby, Tracy (January 20, 2016). "Tide is turning toward a universal DH". Major League Baseball. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  4. ^ "June 12, 1997 San Francisco Giants at Texas Rangers Box Score and Play by Play". Baseball-Reference.com. 1997-06-12. Retrieved 2011-06-19.
  5. ^ "July 11, 1989 All-Star Game Play-By-Play and Box Score". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2011-06-19.
  6. ^ John Schlegel / MLB.com. "Modifications in place for All-Star Game | MLB.com: News". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved 2011-06-19.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Bastian, Jordan (May 11, 2010). "Jays' set vs. Phillies moved to Philadelphia". Major League Baseball. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  8. ^ Zolecki, Todd; Schonbrun, Zach (June 25, 2010). "Howard is first DH at Citizens Bank Park". Philadelphia Phillies. MLB. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  9. ^ a b c Wulf, Steve (1993-04-05). "Distinguished History". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2008-03-31. The following excerpt is from the article "Why the Pitcher Ought to Bat", which first appeared in the Philadelphia North American and was reprinted in the Feb. 3, 1906, edition of Sporting Life: The suggestion, often made, that the pitcher be denied a chance to bat, and a substitute player sent up to hit every time, has been brought to life again, and will come up for consideration when the American and National League Committees on rules get together. This time Connie Mack is credited with having made the suggestion.
  10. ^ http://sabr.org/research/historical-evolution-designated-hitter-rule
  11. ^ "April 6, 1973 New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox Box Score and Play by Play". Baseball-Reference.com. 1973-04-06. Retrieved 2011-06-19.
  12. ^ ESPN Baseball Tonight, airdate Friday, 12am, July 12, 2013
  13. ^ Baseball Explained, by Phillip Mahony. McFarland Books, 2014. See www.baseballexplained.com Archived August 13, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Debate over the designated hitter still rages | MLB.com: News". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  15. ^ "The National League is getting closer to adding DHs, maybe in 2017". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved 2015-01-21.
  16. ^ Crasnick, Jerry (January 26, 2016). "Rob Manfred: No foreseeable change to DH rule coming". ESPN.com. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  17. ^ a b c "Renewing the DH debate". USA Today. September 7, 2004. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  18. ^ a b "ESPN.com: MLB – Designated place in history". Static.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2011-06-19.
  19. ^ Votano, Paul (2013). Stand and Deliver: A History of Pinch-Hitting. McFarland. pp. 172–73. ISBN 0-7864-1588-6. OCLC 52047315.
  20. ^ "Sports". M.startribune.com. 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  21. ^ "Who should sign Barry Bonds?". Hardballtimes.com. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  22. ^ Antonen, Mel (2005-06-24). "Interleague: Natural rivals, but more often than not". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
  23. ^ McCarron, Anthony (June 16, 2008). "Irate Hank Steinbrenner blames Chien-Ming Wang's injury on NL rules". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  24. ^ General Minor League information (at "6. Do pitchers hit in the Minor Leagues?"). MiLB.com. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved 2009-09-26.

Further reading

  • Chen, Albert (April 11, 2011). "Going, Going ... Gone?: Adam Dunn is powerful, plodding, productive and very well paid—and in today's game, he's a dinosaur. In an era that values run prevention and lineup flexibility, the DH as we knew it is a dying breed". Sports Illustrated. p. 53.

External links

Andre Thornton

André Thornton (born August 13, 1949), nicknamed "Thunder", is a former first baseman and designated hitter in Major League Baseball who played for the Chicago Cubs, Montreal Expos and Cleveland Indians during a 14-year career.

Billy Butler (baseball)

Billy Ray Butler (born William Raymond Butler, Jr.; April 18, 1986), nicknamed "Country Breakfast", is an American former professional baseball designated hitter and first baseman. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Kansas City Royals from 2007 to 2014, the Oakland Athletics from 2015 to 2016 and the New York Yankees in 2016. Butler was an MLB All-Star in 2012, and won the Silver Slugger Award and Edgar Martínez Award that season.

C. J. Cron

Christopher John Cron (born January 5, 1990) is an American professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter for the Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played in MLB for the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays. He bats and throws right-handed.

Edgar Martínez

Edgar Martínez (born January 2, 1963), nicknamed "Gar" and "Papi", is a Puerto Rican professional baseball player and coach. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a designated hitter and third baseman for the Seattle Mariners from 1987 through 2004. He served as the Mariners' hitting coach from 2015 through 2018.

Martínez grew up in Dorado, Puerto Rico. He was not a highly regarded prospect, and signed with the Mariners as a free agent in 1982 for a small signing bonus. He made his major league debut in 1987, but did not establish himself as a full-time player until 1990. In the 1995 American League Division Series, he hit "The Double", which won the series and increased public support for Mariners baseball as they attempted to find a new stadium. He continued to play until 2004, when injuries forced him to retire.

Martínez was a seven-time MLB All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger, and two-time batting champion. He is one of 18 MLB players to record a batting average of .300, an on-base percentage of .400, and a slugging percentage of .500 in 5,000 or more plate appearances. The Mariners retired his uniform number and inducted him into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame. Martínez was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.

Edgar Martínez Award

The Edgar Martínez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, commonly referred to as the Edgar Martínez Award and originally known as the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, has been presented annually to the most outstanding designated hitter (DH) in the American League (AL) in Major League Baseball (MLB) since 1973. The award is voted on by club beat reporters, broadcasters and AL public relations departments. All players with a minimum of 100 at bats at DH are eligible. It was given annually by members of the Associated Press who are beat writers, broadcasters, and public relations directors. The Associated Press discontinued the award in 2000, but it was picked up by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, which has administered it since.In September 2004, at Safeco Field ceremonies in honor of Edgar Martínez, Commissioner Bud Selig announced that the award would be renamed for the five-time recipient (1995, 1997–98, 2000–01). In an 18-year career with the Seattle Mariners, primarily as a designated hitter, Martínez batted .312, with 309 career home runs and 1,261 runs batted in.David Ortiz has won the award eight times, more than any other player (2003–2007, 2011, 2013, 2016). Other repeat winners of the award include Martinez himself (five times), three-time winner Hal McRae (1976, 1980, and 1982) and two-time winners Willie Horton (1975 and 1979), Greg Luzinski (1981 and 1983), Don Baylor (1985 and 1986), Harold Baines (1987 and 1988), Dave Parker (1989 and 1990), and Paul Molitor (1993 and 1996). Boston Red Sox players have won the most Edgar Martínez Awards with eleven.

Frank Thomas (designated hitter)

Frank Edward Thomas Jr. (born May 27, 1968), nicknamed "The Big Hurt", is an American former first baseman and designated hitter in Major League Baseball who played for three American League (AL) teams from 1990 to 2008, all but the last three years with the Chicago White Sox. A five-time All-Star, he is the only player in major league history to have seven consecutive seasons (1991–97) with at least a .300 batting average, 100 runs batted in (RBI), 100 runs scored, 100 walks, and 20 home runs. Thomas also won the AL batting title in 1997 with a .347 mark.

Thomas was named the AL's Most Valuable Player by unanimous vote in 1993. That year, he became the first White Sox player to hit 40 home runs and led the team to a division title. He repeated as MVP in the strike-shortened 1994 season, batting .353 and leading the league in slugging average and runs. Following two sub-par seasons, Thomas lost a close MVP vote in 2000 despite posting career highs of 43 home runs and 143 RBI. Still, he was named AL Comeback Player of the Year, and Chicago finished with the AL's best record. Later in Thomas's career, a variety of foot injuries and minor ailments reduced his productivity and often limited him to a designated hitter role. In 2005, his final season in Chicago, he helped the White Sox to their first World Series title in 88 years.

By the end of his career, Thomas was tied for eighth in AL history for home runs (521), ninth for RBI (1,704), and sixth for walks (1,667). Among players with at least 7,000 at bats in the AL, he ranked eighth in slugging average (.555) and ninth in on-base percentage (.419). With a .301 lifetime batting average, he became the seventh player in history to retire with at least a .300 average and 500 home runs. He holds White Sox franchise records for career home runs (448), RBI (1,465), runs (1,327), doubles (447), extra base hits, walks (1,466), slugging average, (.568) and on-base percentage (.427). The White Sox retired Thomas's uniform number 35 in 2010 and unveiled a statue of him at U.S. Cellular Field in 2011. Thomas was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014 in his first year of eligibility—the first White Sox star to achieve that distinction.Thomas was one of the few major league stars who never fell under suspicion during the performance-enhancing drugs controversies of the late 1990s. An advocate for drug testing as early as 1995, he was the only active player who agreed to be interviewed for the Mitchell Report in 2007.

Hal McRae

Harold Abraham McRae (; born July 10, 1945) is a former left fielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Cincinnati Reds (1968, 1970–72) and Kansas City Royals (1973–87). Utilized as a designated hitter for most of his career, McRae batted and threw right-handed. He is the father of former major league outfielder Brian McRae.

History of the American League

The history of the American League of Professional Baseball Clubs stretches back into the late-19th century. Prior to 2000, when the AL and NL were dissolved as separate entities and merged into the organization called Major League Baseball, the American League was one of the two leagues that made up major league baseball. Originally a minor league known as the Western League, the league later developed into a major league after the American Association disbanded. In its early history, the Western League struggled until 1894, when Byron Bancroft “Ban” Johnson became the president of the league. Johnson led the Western League into major league status and soon became the president of the newly renamed American League. The American League has one notable difference over the National League, and that is the designated hitter rule. Under the rule, a team may use a batter in their lineup who is not in the field defensively, compared to the old rule that made it mandatory for the pitcher to hit.

Hong Sung-heon

Hong Sung-heon (Hangul: 홍성흔, born February 28, 1977 in Hoengseong County, Gangwon-do, South Korea) is a former South Korean designated hitter. He batted and threw right-handed.

Hong was a catcher, and had been regularly called up to the South Korea national baseball team as a starting catcher until he was converted to a designated hitter in 2007.

John Lowenstein

John Lee Lowenstein (born January 27, 1947) is an American former professional baseball outfielder and designated hitter, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, and Baltimore Orioles. He attended the University of California, Riverside, where he played college baseball for the Highlanders from 1966–1968.

José Morales (designated hitter)

José Manuel Morales Hernández (born December 30, 1944) is a former designated hitter in Major League Baseball who played for five different teams between 1973 and 1984. Listed at 5' 11", 187 lb., Morales batted and threw right-handed.

Kevin Witt

Kevin Joseph Witt (born January 5, 1976) is an American former professional baseball player he is currently the hitting coach for the Jupiter Hammerheads. Witt spent parts of five seasons in the major leagues, appearing with the Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, most often as a designated hitter. He also played parts of two seasons in Japan, spending time with the Yokohama BayStars and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

Witt was drafted in the first round, 28th overall, by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1994 Major League Baseball Draft. Originally a shortstop, Witt was converted to first base while in the minors. He made his major league debut for the Blue Jays as a September call-up in 1998. His only significant playing time came with the Tigers in 2003, when he batted .263 in 93 games while splitting his time between designated hitter, first base, and left field.

After spending the 2004 season back in the minor leagues, Witt signed with the BayStars in 2005. He returned to North America the next season, and earned International League Most Valuable Player honors after leading all of minor league baseball with 36 home runs, while setting a Triple-A Durham Bulls franchise record and a Rays' organization record. That earned him one last major league stint, where he batted .148 in 19 games for the Devil Rays. He returned to Japan in 2007 for Rakuten, but hit just .174 in 40 games in what turned out to be his final professional season.

List of Silver Slugger Award winners at designated hitter

The Silver Slugger Award is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League (AL) and the National League (NL), as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball (MLB). These voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, in addition to "coaches' and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value". Managers and coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their own team. The Silver Slugger was first awarded in 1980 and is given by Hillerich & Bradsby, the manufacturer of Louisville Slugger bats. The award is a bat-shaped trophy, 3 feet (91 cm) tall, engraved with the names of each of the winners from the league and plated with sterling silver.Designated hitters (DH) only receive a Silver Slugger Award in the American League because the batting order in the National League includes the pitcher; therefore, pitchers receive the National League award instead. David Ortiz has won the most Silver Sluggers as a designated hitter, capturing four consecutively from 2004 to 2007, and winning again in 2011, 2013 and 2016. Two players are tied with four wins. Paul Molitor won the award four times with three different teams: the Milwaukee Brewers in 1987 and 1988; the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, when the team won the World Series; and the Minnesota Twins in 1996. Edgar Martínez won the award four times with the Seattle Mariners (1995, 1997, 2001, 2003). Don Baylor won the Silver Slugger three times in four years (1983, 1985–1986) as a designated hitter with the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, and Frank Thomas won it twice with the Chicago White Sox (1991, 2000). Harold Baines won the award while playing for two separate teams in the same season; he was traded by the White Sox to the Texas Rangers in the middle of the 1989 season. J. D. Martinez is the most recent winner.

Martínez set the records for the highest batting average and on-base percentage in a designated hitter's winning season with his .356 and .479 marks, respectively, in 1995. Manny Ramírez' slugging percentage of .647 is best among all winners at the position. Ortiz hit 54 home runs during the 2006 season, when he won his third consecutive award, and his 2005 total of 148 runs batted in is tied with Rafael Palmeiro's 1999 mark for best among designated hitters.

Mike Sweeney

Michael John Sweeney (born July 22, 1973) is a former Major League Baseball designated hitter and first baseman. Sweeney played his first 13 seasons in the majors with the Kansas City Royals, first as a catcher, then at first base and designated hitter. Sweeney also played for the Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, and Philadelphia Phillies. On March 25, 2011, Sweeney retired from baseball. He now works as a special assistant for the Kansas City Royals. Sweeney was inducted into the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame on August 15, 2015.

Pinch hitter

In baseball, a pinch hitter is a substitute batter. Batters can be substituted at any time while the ball is dead (not in active play); the manager may use any player who has not yet entered the game as a substitute. Unlike basketball, American football, or ice hockey, baseball does not have a "free substitution rule" and thus the replaced player in baseball is not allowed back into that game. The pinch hitter assumes the spot in the batting order of the player whom he replaces.

The player chosen to be a pinch hitter is often a backup infielder or outfielder. In the major leagues, catchers are less likely to be called upon because most teams have only two catchers, while pitchers are almost never used as pinch-hitters, because they tend to be worse hitters than other players on the team. The pinch hitter may not re-enter the game after being replaced with another player.

The American League of Major League Baseball, the Pacific League in Japan, the KBO League in Korea, and various other leagues use the designated hitter rule, such that pitchers seldom bat. This removes one possible situation where a pinch hitter may be desired.

For statistical and scorekeeping purposes, the pinch hitter is denoted by PH.

Pitcher

In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throws the baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the pitcher is assigned the number 1. The pitcher is often considered the most important player on the defensive side of the game, and as such is situated at the right end of the defensive spectrum. There are many different types of pitchers, such as the starting pitcher, relief pitcher, middle reliever, lefty specialist, setup man, and the closer.

Traditionally, the pitcher also bats. Starting in 1973 with the American League and spreading to further leagues throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the hitting duties of the pitcher have generally been given over to the position of designated hitter, a cause of some controversy. The National League in Major League Baseball and the Japanese Central League are among the remaining leagues that have not adopted the designated hitter position.

Position player

In baseball, a position player is a player who on defense plays as an infielder, outfielder, or catcher. This is generally all players on a team except for the pitcher, who is considered separate from the position players; in the American League, there is also a designated hitter, who bats but does not play any defensive positions (and is therefore not a position player). Position players are eligible to pitch, and a manager may have a player do so in the case of a blowout during a game, or if he runs out of eligible pitchers in a game, usually occurring when the game goes into many extra innings. However, this is rare.

The term is also used in hockey, to refer to all non-goaltender players, although skater is the more common term in hockey.

Silver Slugger Award

The Silver Slugger Award is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball. These voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, in addition to "coaches' and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value". Managers and coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their own team. The Silver Slugger was first awarded in 1980 and is given by Hillerich & Bradsby, the manufacturer of Louisville Slugger bats. The award is a bat-shaped trophy, 3 feet (91 cm) tall, engraved with the names of each of the winners from the league and plated with sterling silver.The prize is presented to outfielders irrespective of their specific position. This means that it is possible for three left fielders, or any other combination of outfielders, to win the award in the same year, rather than one left fielder, one center fielder, and one right fielder. In addition, only National League pitchers receive a Silver Slugger Award; lineups in the American League include a designated hitter in place of the pitcher in the batting order, so the designated hitter receives the award instead.Home run record-holder Barry Bonds won twelve Silver Slugger Awards in his career as an outfielder, the most of any player. He also won the award in five consecutive seasons twice in his career: from 1990 to 1994, and again from 2000 to 2004. Retired former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza and former New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez are tied for second, with ten wins each. Rodriguez' awards are split between two positions; he won seven Silver Sluggers as a shortstop for the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers, and three with the Yankees as a third baseman. Wade Boggs leads third basemen with eight Silver Slugger Awards; Barry Larkin leads shortstops with nine. Other leaders include Ryne Sandberg (seven wins as a second baseman) and Mike Hampton (five wins as a pitcher). Todd Helton and Albert Pujols are tied for the most wins among first baseman with four, although Pujols has won two awards at other positions. David Ortiz has won seven awards at designated hitter position, the most at that position.

Willie Horton (baseball)

Willie Wattison Horton (born October 18, 1942) is a former left fielder and designated hitter in Major League Baseball who played for six American League teams, primarily the Detroit Tigers. He hit 20 or more home runs seven times, and his 325 career home runs ranked sixth among AL right-handed hitters when he retired. He enjoyed his best season in 1968 with the world champion Tigers, finishing second in the AL with 36 homers, a .543 slugging average and 278 total bases. In the later years of his career, he was twice named the AL's top designated hitter.

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