Baseball is unique from other professional sports in multiple ways, one of the biggest ways being the distinct rule difference between two leagues at the highest level.
It’s a simple change, really—in the National League, the pitcher bats, while in the American, a designated hitter is used in place of the pitcher.
Ever since the adoption of the rule in 1973, there has been a hotly contested debate as to which brand of baseball should be adopted across the entire league.
On one side, you have the more purist argument of having the pitcher hit. The main argument is that every player has to bat, why exclude the pitcher? There’s nine players on the field while the other team is at bat, there should be those same nine players batting.
However, some support the designated hitter rule. These people feel that the pitcher shouldn’t have to worry about hitting, since baseball has evolved to the point where pitchers aren’t just another fielder, they are heavily specialized to pitch.
Plus, it gives a major role to a player that would otherwise be a liability due to their defense—take Edgar Martinez, for example.
For the past forty years, the DH debate has raged on every offseason. Personally, I really enjoy the current layout, and wish for nothing more than status quo.
The discrepancy between the leagues is one of the major unique parts of baseball. The rule gives the best of both situations, having good hitters but subpar defenders excel in the American League, while having pitchers that can hit well showcase their skills in the National.
Additionally, it shows the interesting difference in strategy between the leagues, with the additional hitter.