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A View from the Couch: American or National League?


Baseball is different than any of the other major sports in North America, those being hockey, basketball, and football, because Major League Baseball has two leagues, which have a few different sets of rules.

The debate of which league is more entertaining, American or National, started in 1973, when the Designated Hitter (DH) rule was introduced to the A.L. Since then, fans have been going back and forth defending their league and its superiority.

The DH rule was introduced after several managers raised the point that pitchers are weak hitters and therefore they should not hit and a player would replace him to just hit. Connie Mack raised this issue as early as 1906 ( so it took a while to come to fruition.

There are several pros and cons to the DH as it pertains to the game of baseball.

Proponents of the rule say it eliminates poor hitting by pitchers, leads to more offense, and keeps jobs for those players who have the capacity to hit but due to injuries or age are unable to field as they used to.

The American League traditionally has better offensive teams and more runs and home runs per game than the National League. Fans of this league like the offense and the unofficial motto for the league has been “get two singles and wait for the three-run home run.”  While every team does not employ this strategy, the majority of the successful teams are built like this, save for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The National League has kept the same rules since its inception. Fans of this league say that with the pitcher hitting, every player has to field and hit, so they are asked to do both parts of the game, not just one.

With the pitcher usually assumed an automatic out, “small ball” is routinely applied in the National League. Examples of small ball include bunting runners over to move them into scoring position, stealing bases to create scoring opportunities, putting on hit-and-runs, and going from first to third on a hit.

This league relies less upon the home run and puts more emphasis on the basic fundamentals of baseball. With pitchers batting and no DH, the National League pitchers tend to have better records, lower earned run average, and more shutouts.

The National League is also looked upon as a league that requires more strategy, as the double-switch can be implemented. The double switch is typically used to make a pitching substitution, while  simultaneously placing the incoming pitcher in a more favorable spot in the batting order than was occupied by the outgoing pitcher. (

The discussion on which league is better will go on as long as the DH rule is only in the American League. Some argue both should have it, others say both should not have it while others say leave it like it is. Personally, I like the National League style of play better.

Which do you prefer?

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4 thoughts on “A View from the Couch: American or National League?

  1. @GoBlueJays_2012 Reply

    American League Only, NL is so boring and having pitchers hit is almost a guaranteed out, it’s pathetic. Soon it will be All DH only within the next 5-15 yrs, bet on it!

  2. Aaron Reply

    I think last time we chatted about this I said I liked the AL more, but can’t really remember the rationale. One positive of the AL is that there are fewer chances to 1) have the opposing pitcher throw at your pitcher on purpose; 2) to have your pitcher pull a Stottlemyre / injure themselves… but I have no backup to demonstrate that NL pitchers are injured due to baserunning very often.

    I didn’t really consider the strategy in the NL, being mainly an AL follower, but I must say that the NL style is more along the lines of what I’ve grown up playing. Small ball/base stealing are more interesting to me than the home run strategy… Look how ugly Bautista has been looking this year with the pop ups on the golf swings.

  3. Brad James Reply

    I appreciate both for what they are. That’s such a beauty thing about baseball. Two different style of games being played in one sport.

    I can see both sides of the argument. With the NL, yeah you see a lot of guaranteed outs but that’s when the strategy comes in to play. I’m also a fan of small ball as Nick and I too grew up playing on a very “small ball” team… and who doesn’t love the very random occurrence when a pitcher helps themselves out and goes yard. (except when it’s Tim Hudson vs. Jays)

    But I can also appreciate the AL and the DH role providing a place for hitters with a deteriorating glove (or no glove at all) to still contribute. Where would Ortiz be without the DH?

    If I had to choose one to watch for the rest of my life though, AL. I grew up primarily watching AL so it’s what I know best.

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