SoSH Glossary: Designated Hitter

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Designated Hitter

The designated hitter, or DH, is a player who takes the pitcher’s spot in the lineup. This role was implemented in 1973 by the American League to increase offense and make the game more entertaining for fans. A designated hitter may not take a position in the field without forfeiting the DH position in the lineup; however, he may be pinch hit or pinch run for. Since the DH is not used in the National League, the designated hitter rule is only in effect when games are played at AL parks. There is no DH at NL parks. The World Series and all exhibition games follow these same rules, but All-Star games only use the DH if both teams and leagues agree to it.

How Is the Designated Hitter Chosen

Before the game starts, each manager hands his team’s lineup card to the home plate umpire with ten names on it if he wishes to use the DH (a manager may choose to have his pitcher bat). If ten names are listed but no player is listed as the designated hitter then there are three possible outcomes:

  1. If the mistake is found before “Play” is called then the manager may correct his error as if it was not made.
  2. If the mistake is found and the team which made the error has taken the field, then the pitcher will bat for the player who did not take a position on the field.
  3. If the mistake is found and the team has not taken the field, then the manager may decide whom in the order the pitcher will replace.

The Earl Weaver Rule

The DH must bat at least once unless there is a pitching change by the opposing team. This rule came about because during the 1980 season Earl Weaver would routinely start the game with a starting pitcher who was off that day, then pinch hit for him depending on the situation. Weaver would wait until the DH spot in the order came up and then pinch hit with the batter best suited for the situation (for example, a left-handed batter against a right-handed pitcher).

Loss of the Designated Hitter

A team will lose the designated hitter under the following circumstances:

  1. If the DH is pinch hit or run for and the replacement player takes a position in the field, then the pitcher will bat for whomever was replaced in the field.
  2. If the DH takes over a position in the field, then the pitcher will bat for whomever the designated hitter replaced in the field.
  3. If the pitcher moves from the mound to a position in the field, he will take the spot in the order of the player he replaced in the field, and the relieving pitcher takes the designated hitter’s spot in the lineup.
  4. However, if there are multiple substitutions in any of these circumstances, the manager may select in which spot in the order the pitcher bats (assuming it’s one of the substituted spots).

Pete Hodges has written about the call up of a top prospect, an odd tradition, and Leo the Lip.

Follow Pete on Twitter @PeterWHodges.

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