The Designated Hitter Rule and Team Defensive Strategy in Japan’s Professional Baseball Leagues
Economists have debated whether and why the designated hitter (DH) rule in North American major league baseball led to an increase in hit-batsmen. We use data from Japan's professional baseball leagues, the Pacific League (DH rule) and the Central League (no DH rule), to re-examine this question. Initial empirical findings reveal increases in hit-batsmen in the Pacific League after we control for the DH’s effect on team batting performance. After controlling for interactions between pitcher quality and the DH rule, we find that the DH rule induced changes in team defensive strategies and, consequently, an increase in hit-batsmen. Subsequent rule changes reduced the effectiveness of these strategies.
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