A recent AOL-AP survey showed that 69 percent think the designated hitter rule should be expanded to both leagues or scrapped. American League fans were more likely than National League fans to favor the current system.
(Summarized from the AP) - The survey found 40 percent of fans think neither league should have the rule, while 29 percent say the National League should adopt it and 30 percent said things should stay as they are.
The American League designated hitter rule has been in effect since 1973. Many purists believe the DH takes away from the strategy of the game by not forcing a manager to decide when to pinch hit for a pitcher, among other things.
White Sox slugger Frank Thomas, a DH in his later years, believes the rule is a good idea.
"It's extended many careers. I think it should be universal - it would mean more jobs in baseball," he said. "Who wants to see pitchers hit? Nobody."
Beer Leaguer take
The “more jobs in baseball” and “extending careers” argument in favor of the DH is a little blind to how it impacts the National League. The rule extends and creates careers in both leagues, perhaps opening up more diverse opportunities in the NL.
Having no DH creates more chances for versatile specialists, like utility infielder Tomas Perez, who wouldn’t have the same opportunites at his age in the American League. Perez played for Toronto from 1995-2000, and has been with the Phils ever since.
If I had a vote, I'd elect for the DH to stay as it is. If American League fans want the DH rule to stay, then it should stay. I don’t watch the American League, so it isn’t my place to make the call.
The strategy involving pinch-hitting goes without saying. NL teams are also forced to make tougher choices with the 25-man roster, from bench to bullpen. Some teams will carry players specifically because they’re good at bunting (Pete Orr, Atlanta). Others, like the Phils, carry two or more utility infielders, like Perez and Ramon Martinez. Having Perez, a switch-hitter who can man all four infield positions, makes life a little easier for a NL manager.
Personally, I’d rather see a career extended for doing the little things right, rather than strict offense. That’s what’s happened with Perez, who did not commit an error in 206 chances last season, did not homer, and hit .233 with a futile .277 SLG.
He's one of the worst hitters in baseball, but he’ll almost certainly return next season ... and deserves to. Just as long as he lays off the high ones.