The Ole Ball Game

What does the term "American League Lineup" mean?

by Dave
(Buena Park, CA)

Photo Bill Stanton:

Photo Bill Stanton:

Dave asked: I heard the term used to describe the St Louis Cardinals batting order.

Rick answered: Dave, thank you for your question.

The term "American League Lineup" is in reference to the Designated Hitter Rule used in the American League; but not used in the National League.

In the American League, pitchers do not bat; but are replaced in their lineup spot with a Designated Hitter.

In the National League, there is no Designated Hitter, pitchers in the National League hit for themselves, unless the manager decides to pinch hit for them at some point, thus they are removed from the game when that occurs.

The only time National League teams use a designated hitter is in the World Series, when playing in the American League's stadium, or during inter-league play, when they are on the road in an American League stadium, or the All Star game is held in an American League stadium.

The Designated Hitter rule allows a team to have 9 everyday hitters in their lineup, instead of the pitcher. Pitchers are generally considered to be poor hitters, or at least lesser hitters than everyday position players, if for no other reason than they don't play every day.

The Designated Hitter position is a spot in the batting order where a team can utilize a player with a defensive weakness; but who is a great hitter. American league teams are generally loaded offensively and tend to not play as much "small ball" as National League teams, as they do not need to work around the pitcher's spot in the order.

The National League managers have to consider the pitcher's spot in the order and it is a factor to be considered, as when you pinch hit for the pitcher, he is no longer in the game, you have to put in another pitcher.

National League teams, if the situation is right, will pitch around hitters that come up before the pitcher, so they can increase their odds of an out by pitching to the pitcher, or forcing the manager to decide whether to take the pitcher out or not. This area of the game creates a lot of strategical situations.

There are teams in the American League who are compared to National league teams, as they will bunt, hit and run and do other "small ball" types of things, even with the DH. The Angels are a team which leans somewhat to a National League style, even though they are in the American League.

The reference to the Cardinals may be in the amount of power they have throughout their lineup, where they might rely less on manufacturing runs than letting their hitters hit and see what happens.

I have not seen them play much this year under their new manager; but that may be their style of play with the talents they have put together.

Yours in baseball,


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