The designated hitter rule was established in the American League in 1973, and many baseball leagues throughout the world have also adopted the rule. The National League does not have a DH position, and instead allows pitchers who do not possess the skill to hit at a consistent level to swing the bat. Many are in favor of expanding the designated hitter rule to the National League, but there is also a large contingent of people who would prefer that the National League just stay the way it is.
The large crowds in favor of expanding the designated hitter rule are more than likely fans of teams that play in the American League. There is always the argument that a DH can produce more scoring chances for a team, and as a result the game will be more exciting. Pitchers that hit also are at greater risk of being injured while trying to swing a bat. The counter argument is that some pitchers are actually not terrible at hitting. It is also the traditional way that the game is played, and DHs are sometimes seen as lazy players who can’t play defense.
Even though the DH is not traditional in baseball there is no denying that there are some proficient hitters that are currently playing the DH position. Some of them are atrocious on defense, and it is a hilarious sight to see players like David Ortiz try and play out in the field during inter-league play. The DH position also allows older players to prolong their careers. Some older players struggle with fielding at the levels they used to when they were younger, and the designated hitter position allows these players to still make a contribution to an American League team.
Here, we rank all 15 designated hitters in the American League.
15 15. Pedro Alvarez - Baltimore Orioles
14 14. Evan Gattis - Houston Astros
13 13. Billy Butler - Oakland Athletics
12 12. Corey Dickerson - Tampa Bay Rays
11 11. Carlos Santana - Cleveland Indians
10 10. Avisail Garcia - Chicago White Sox
9 9. Byung Ho Park - Minnesota Twins
8 8. Kendrys Morales - Kansas City Royals
7 7. Prince Fielder - Texas Rangers
6 6. Carlos Beltran - New York Yankees
Carlos Beltran is a potential hall of famer once he finally decides to hang up his cleats, and he is still putting up pretty good numbers. His batting average is a little low at .274, but his power numbers have been great a quarter of the way through the season. There are not many 39-year-olds who are hitting 9 HRs and gathering 27 RBIs.
5 5. Albert Pujols - Los Angeles Angels
4 4. Victor Martinez - Detroit Tigers
3 3. Edwin Encarnacion - Toronto Blue Jays
2 2. Nelson Cruz - Seattle Mariners
Nelson Cruz spent a good chunk of his career playing the outfield, but has been the Seattle Mariners DH for the 2016 season. The Mariners are unexpectedly off to a hot start through the first month and a half of the season, and Nelson Cruz has been a key contributor to the team. He has 9 HRs and 29 RBIs which ranks towards the top of all of MLB in both categories. He is also batting .280 which is better than his career average of .273.
1 1. David Ortiz - Boston Red Sox
If you were to look up designated hitter in a Google image search David Ortiz’s picture would more than likely be one of the images located toward the top of the page. David Ortiz has made it apparent that 2016 will be his last season in the majors. He is 40 years old, but he is not playing like his age. David Ortiz through 152 at bats is batting .329, which is over 40 points higher than his career average. Ortiz is not just hitting for average either. He has 11 HRs and 37 RBIs, and many are wondering why he is even retiring.
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