Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Designated Hitter: An AL Fan's Perspective

Taking a look at the stats, the American League is a better, more talented league than the National League. Since Interleague Play's inception in 1997, the National League has only bested the American League four times in overall record when the two leagues face off, with the American League leading the National League by nearly 175 games in the all-time record. The American League has won 11 out of the last 13 All Star games, with one being a tie. National League fans can talk about "strategy" and "tradition" all they want, but better talent on the field means a better product on the diamond. The DH has not only made the American League a better league, but it has made it a more exciting one as well.

The stats just keep coming to back up the case of the American League as a better league. My counterpart who wrote the article on the case against the DH cited a stat that stated the American League and the National League have split the last 10 World Series. This is true. But going back to 1973, when the DH rule was instituted in the AL, the American League has won 21 out of 37 World Series. This seems to be the much more relevant and telling stat. With this statistic factored in, the American League is clearly superior and more talented in every head to head category.

The designated hitter makes lineups more potent. 99 times out of 100, a team's designated hitter will be a better hitter than their pitcher. Replacing the pitcher in the lineup replaces an easy out. It makes me sick to see a NL pitcher get an easy out every few innings because the opposing pitcher is up to bat.

I hope you are not sick of the stats by now, but I have to throw a few more out there. The American League has had a higher batting average than the National League every year since 1973, the year of the switch. The runs scored per game, though, are only slightly higher in the American League, with a recent year's ERA comparison being 4.35 for the AL and 4.22 for the NL. So, the AL scores barely over a tenth of a run more per game than the NL, far from the hypothetical 10-8 game that my colleague set out in his article. These stats suggest that the AL clearly has the better hitters. They also suggest that American League pitchers are as good or better than their NL counterparts, since they hold more potent lineups to nearly the same amount of runs.

The designated hitter has vaulted the American League to the top of major league baseball. Head to head, the AL is simply the more talented, superior league. Since 1973 the American League has been putting a better product on the field. Attendance figures can be misleading, but the numbers do not lie: baseball is better because of the designated hitter.

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