Is the DH a real position?
Posted by Rich Stowe on May 12, 2011
In my latest article discussing position changes by players after the age of 35, there was a discussion in the comments regarding the designated hitter. Several people don’t consider it a real position and thus shouldn’t have been included in the article (love when a discussion in one article spurs another article to be written!). I plan on covering several of the areas of concern brought up in those comments in this article.
Let’s start with the first area of concern; should the designated hitter be considered a position when discussing all-time greats or best ever at certain positions?
Baseball Reference will list designated hitter as a position under a player’s name on their player’s page. Take a look at David Ortiz’ page and you’ll see this. If you also scroll down further on that page, under Fielding, you’ll see games spent at DH in each season.
What this tells me is that Baseball Reference considers Designated Hitter an actual position.
If you go the "member search" area of the Baseball Hall of Fame site, under the position drop-down menu, you’ll notice that Designated Hitter is an option. Last year or the year before, if you ran that search, one name came up; Paul Molitor. Molitor played more games as a Designated Hitter than any other position. Now, the search returns zero members (site was changed over the last couple of years).
So, even though there are no members of the Hall of Fame listed under Designated Hitter, the site itself considers it a real position.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
What this means is basically the two best sites for historical baseball information, Baseball Reference and the Hall of Fame, both consider Designated Hitter a real position.