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Tuesday January 1st, 2013
Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Intern): Follow @RyanDana1
The Designated Hitter in the American League has morphed into many different roles for teams over the years since its adoption in 1973. At times it has been used to put lethal bats into the lineup without having to put the player’s subpar defense on the field too. At times the DH was a great place to use aging veterans who could still hit, but could not handle the rigors of playing every day in the field and stay healthy at the same time. The former use of the DH has been more common amongst larger market teams, and the latter more common avenue for smaller market teams to take. Not all that long ago, the DH was a position of prominence and was a great advantage to teams that had one of the league’s best, but there has been a recent trend that has put the DH position into a role of diminished importance.
There are a lot of things happening in Major League Baseball that have contributed to the decline of the DH in one way or another. For one, the “steroid era” has seemed to fade and gone are the days of 16 players hitting 40+ HRs a year (like in 2000). Not to bring up a debate about steroids, but there were only 6 players in 2012 that hit 40+ HRs, and only 15 players to accomplish this in the past 4 seasons combined. So whether the reason for the decline in HRs is a decline in steroid use, or something completely different, the numbers are the numbers regardless. There has simply been a decline in availability of players to fill what was the prototypical, power hitting, DH of the past. Power numbers are down, and aging sluggers seem to be aging faster in recent times.
David Ortiz Highights: