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The Designated Hitter Rule in Baseball as a Natural Experiment

Listed author(s):
  • Akihiko Kawaura


    (Department of Policy Studies, Doshisha University)

  • Sumner La Croix


    (Department of Economics, University of Hawaii at Manoa)

All but two professional baseball leagues have adopted the “designated hitter” (DH) rule, which allows a team’s manager to designate a player to bat at the plate and run the bases in place of another player, usually the team’s pitcher. Unlike the team’s other players, the designated hitter does not take the field to play defense. This paper provides a survey of a large literature investigating the DH rule’s effect on the incentives of pitchers to hit batters and on changes in the number of hit batsmen. We also consider whether the DH rule provides a good example of a natural experiment, as some professional baseball leagues were “treated” with the DH rule and others were not treated.

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Paper provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 201005.

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Length: 16 pages
Date of creation: 07 Apr 2010
Handle: RePEc:hai:wpaper:201005
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  1. Robert D. Tollison & Octavian Vasilescu, 2011. "The Designated Hitter Rule and the Distribution of Pitching Talent Across Leagues," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 12(4), pages 448-463, August.
  2. Akihiko Kawaura, 2010. "Designated Hitter Rule Debate: A Search for Mr. Hyde in Pitchers," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 11(3), pages 349-357, June.
  3. Rodney Fort & James Quirk, 1995. "Cross-subsidization, Incentives, and Outcomes in Professional Team Sports Leagues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 1265-1299, September.
  4. Trandel, Gregory A & White, Lawrence H & Klein, Peter G, 1998. "The Effect of the Designated Hitter Rule on Hit Batsmen: Pitcher's Moral Hazard or the Team's Cost-Benefit Calculation? A Comment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 679-684, October.
  5. E. Stephenson, 2004. "A new test for moral hazard and hit batsmen," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 32(4), pages 360-360, December.
  6. Goff, Brian L & Shughart, William F, II & Tollison, Robert D, 1997. "Batter Up! Moral Hazard and the Effects of the Designated Hitter Rule on Hit Batsmen," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(3), pages 555-561, July.
  7. Bruce R. Domazlicky & Peter M. Kerr, 1990. "Baseball Attendance and the Designated Hitter," The American Economist, , vol. 34(1), pages 62-68, March.
  8. Levitt, Steven D, 1998. "The Hazards of Moral Hazard: Comment on Goff, Shughart, and Tollison," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 685-687, October.
  9. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 313-336, June.
  10. La Croix, Sumner J & Kawaura, Akihiko, 1999. "Rule Changes and Competitive Balance in Japanese Professional Baseball," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(2), pages 353-368, April.
  11. John Charles Bradbury & Douglas J. Drinen, 2007. "Crime And Punishment In Major League Baseball: The Case Of The Designated Hitter And Hit Batters," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(1), pages 131-144, 01.
  12. Zorn, Christopher & Gill, Jeff, 2007. "The Etiology of Public Support for the Designated Hitter Rule," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 2(2), pages 189-203, May.
  13. Goff, Brian L & Shughart, William F, II & Tollison, Robert D, 1998. "Moral Hazard and the Effects of the Designated Hitter Rule Revisited," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 688-692, October.
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