A designated hitter (abbreviated as DH) is a position in baseball. Designated hitters do not play defensive positions, and only bat. The designated hitter was controversially introduced by Major League Baseball's American League in 1973, and most leagues use the position now, the most notable exception being Major League Baseball's National League. In Major League Baseball the designated hitter bats in place of the pitcher. Under many amateur leagues, the DH can replace any player in the field, usually the weakest batter. To this day, many baseball purists feel that this dilutes the game and that pitchers should bat. Although American League teams are not required to assign a designated hitter, in practice, all do.
In inter-league games featuring American League and National League games, when the American League team is the host, the National League team may assign a designated hitter and almost always does; conversely when the National League team is the host, the American League team must have the pitcher hit. This rule was waived during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, possibly as a prelude to making it a National League rule as well.
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- The last exception was in 2018 when the Oakland Athletics hosted their Bay Area rivals San Francisco Giants; the Giants scheduled starting pitcher (Madison Bumgarner, one of the best-hitting pitchers in Major League Baseball who has actually been used successfully as a pinch-hitter) hit in his position for the game.