MLB insider says the National League will start using the designated hitter rule in 3-5 years

  • Prominent ESPN baseball insider Buster Olney believes the designated hitter will come to the National League in "three-to-five" years. 
  • Olney says that pitchers are paid too much for teams to risk them getting injured by batting. 
  • The designated hitter rule has become a staple of the American League, but its use in the National League remains a source of debate among baseball fans. 


ESPN MLB reporter Buster Olney believes that the great "will they or won't they" between the National League and the designated hitter rule will finally be resolved soon, due to concerns over pitcher's health. 

"Look, it's only a matter of time before the National League rules go away, and both leagues have the Designated Hitter," Olney said in an appearance on ESPN's "Get Up."

Citing a recent injury to New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, Olney said: "So the conversation among executives is very much like it was four or five years ago around home-plate collisions. They don't see putting players at risks, high assets at risks, for outlier plays. Pitchers batting is an outlier play. That's why eventually National League rules will go away, and I think it will be within three-to-five years."

Olney clarified that he was personally a traditionalist and a fan of the National League style of play, but that ultimately this issue comes down to finances — pitchers are paid to pitch, so keeping pitchers healthy is a team's number one priority. 

The impetus for Olney's comments on "Get Up" appear to be Yankees reliever Dellin Betances batting in an inter-league game against the Philadelphia Phillies Monday night, much to the baseball world's amusement.

The National League is one of the only in the world where pitchers are still required to hit, while the American League has used Designated Hitters since 1973. Whether or not the National League should add the Designated Hitter has become a major source of debate among baseball fans since then, and the differences between the two leagues a unique quirk of baseball. 

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World Series odds for each MLB team: May 31

Chicago White Sox

Chances of making postseason: <1%
Chances of winning World Series: <1%

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Baltimore Orioles

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Chances of winning World Series: <1%

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Cincinnati Reds

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Chances of winning World Series: <1%

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Miami Marlins

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Chances of winning World Series: <1%

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Kansas City Royals

Chances of making postseason: <1%
Chances of winning World Series: <1%

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Detroit Tigers

Chances of making postseason: 1%
Chances of winning World Series: <1%

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San Diego Padres

Chances of making postseason: 2%
Chances of winning World Series: <1%

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Texas Rangers

Chances of making postseason: 2%
Chances of winning World Series: <1%

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Toronto Blue Jays

Chances of making postseason: 4%
Chances of winning World Series: <1%

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
San Francisco Giants

Chances of making postseason: 11%
Chances of winning World Series: <1%

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Minnesota Twins

Chances of making postseason: 12%
Chances of winning World Series: <1%

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Oakland Athletics

Chances of making postseason: 12%
Chances of winning World Series: <1%

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New York Mets

Chances of making postseason: 13%
Chances of winning World Series: <1%

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Pirates

Chances of making postseason: 13%
Chances of winning World Series: <1%

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Tampa Bay Rays

Chances of making postseason: 17%
Chances of winning World Series: <1%

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Colorado Rockies

Chances of making postseason: 26%
Chances of winning World Series: 1%

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Los Angeles Angels

Chances of making postseason: 31%
Chances of winning World Series: 2%

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Philadelphia Phillies

Chances of making postseason: 33%
Chances of winning World Series: 2%

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Seattle Mariners

Chances of making postseason: 42%
Chances of winning World Series: 2%

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Atlanta Braves

Chances of making postseason: 40%
Chances of winning World Series: 2%

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St. Louis Cardinals

Chances of making postseason: 42%
Chances of winning World Series: 3%

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Arizona Diamondbacks

Chances of making postseason: 44%
Chances of winning World Series: 3%

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Los Angeles Dodgers

Chances of making postseason: 44%
Chances of winning World Series: 5%

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Milwaukee Brewers

Chances of making postseason: 74%
Chances of winning World Series: 5%

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Chicago Cubs

Chances of making postseason: 77%
Chances of winning World Series: 9%

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Washington Nationals

Chances of making postseason: 80%
Chances of winning World Series: 9%

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Cleveland Indians

Chances of making postseason: 92%
Chances of winning World Series: 9%

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Boston Red Sox

Chances of making postseason: 96%
Chances of winning World Series: 12%

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New York Yankees

Chances of making postseason: 96%
Chances of winning World Series: 13%

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Houston Astros

Chances of making postseason: 95%
Chances of winning World Series: 21%

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