Sometimes, the baseball rules seem very simple and clear.
However, certain situations on the field can bring some confusion and make the apparently simple rule seem not so straightforward anymore.
One of those rules refers to who gets to bat during a baseball game.
As most people know, teams have to follow strict batting orders that they submit before the game.
The batting order includes nine players and their field positions.
Things seem pretty simple; nine players play when the team is on the defense and nine players take turns in the batting box.
However, you’ve probably noticed that sometimes a player who doesn’t play in the field appears at-bat and vice versa.
So, it’s understandable that many people ask the question does everyone bat in baseball?
You can find the answer to this below as well as an explanation of how batting rules apply at different levels of baseball.
Does Everyone Bat In Baseball?
The answer to the question does everyone bat in baseball is more complex than it may seem at first.
The answer can be both yes and no, mainly depending on the league and the level a game is played at.
Each baseball association governing certain competitions has its own rules regarding which players get to bat during a game.
Of course, the rules on who can bat have a great influence on managers’ strategies, the number of points scored, and the ways the games are played out.
To make things clearer, I’ll take look at every level of baseball to see how they approach these kinds of rules.
Little League baseball involves players aged 5-13. Commonly, it’s the first step into the world of baseball for young players.
This means that the emphasis is on introducing kids to baseball, developing fundamental skills, and building relationships.
This can all be done only in an atmosphere that is far less competitive than on the higher levels of the game.
So, the whole point is to get every kid some game time and to provide each of them with a chance to throw, hit, run, and field.
To achieve this, the Little League, among other regulations, has a rule in place that says that each player on the roster must participate in at least six defensive outs and bat at least once during the game.
This way, every kid can develop their game and gain valuable experience. Therefore, to answer the question from the beginning, in Little League everyone bats.
High school is the level of baseball where games start to get really competitive.
Players come to high school already possessing a certain level of skill and, while there’s still a lot of focus on development, winning games matters a lot, too.
This means that only the best get to play and players have to earn their playing time and turn at bat by proving themselves to coaches.
The players on the batting order in high school are the same 9 players that start the game on the field.
Any batter replacement can come later in the game when a bench player, called a pinch hitter, can replace a starter.
However, this is also the first level of competition that introduces the designated hitter rule.
This means that teams can have a player in the lineup whose only duty is batting and who has no position on the field.
In college ball, rules on who can bat are not that much different than in high school.
The only distinction is that a designated hitter in college must always bat in place of a pitcher.
In high school, DH can replace any player in the lineup.
Still, teams in college are not required to use the designated hitter and the decision is left to head coaches.
In case they have a pitcher on the roster who is also a good hitter, coaches may opt not to use a designated hitter at all.
Another caveat to the batting rule in college is that pitchers can also be listed as the designated hitters.
Minor leagues are the first professional level of baseball and when it comes to who can bat things get a bit complicated.
You should first know that there are six separate levels in minors.
These include Rookie Ball, Class A Short Season, Low-A, High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A.
At the first four levels, Rookie Ball, Class A Short Season, Low-A, and High-A, the designated hitter rule is applied.
Just like at any other professional level, DH can only replace the pitcher.
As the main purpose of these leagues is to develop players for upper levels of baseball, this is important as it gives pitchers more time to work on their game and develop pitching skills.
In Double-A and Triple-A leagues, until this year, designated hitter rules depended on whether a team is an affiliate of the National League or American League team.
Those rules are now changed which I’ll explain below.
Until recently, who can bat in the MLB was determined by whether a team was in the National or American League.
The AL had the designated hitter rule in place, so pitchers didn’t have to bat. In the NL, pitchers had to bat for themselves, and DHs were not allowed.
In the case of the interleague play, the rules were implemented based on which team plays at home.
However, in the 2022 season, the MLB has introduced the universal DH rule.
This means that NL pitchers will no longer have to hit and teams in this league will also be able to use the designated hitter.
Still, MLB also has the rule allowing pitchers to hit in order, but they will also have a separate designation as a DH.
In practice, this means that once the pitcher is pulled from the game, he can still bat as a designated hitter.
As you can see, who can bat in baseball depends on various factors. Different rules are applied based on players’ age, experience, and skill level.
The main difference between various levels and competitions in baseball is whether the pitcher must take his turn at bat or teams can use the designated hitter.
The designated hitter rules have many benefits.
It prevents injuries to pitchers, improves their conditioning and durability, and allows them to dedicate more time to work on their pitching.
Plus, it brings more offense which is what fans always like to see.
However, old-school baseball enthusiasts believe that this rule endangers the spirit and purity of the game and removes some strategic nuances some fans enjoy.