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2019 Rule Change Press Release

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NEWS RELEASE

 

Expanded Designated Hitter Role Coming

to High School Baseball

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                Contact: Elliot Hopkins

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (June 27, 2019) — The role of the designated hitter in high school baseball has been expanded to give coaches an additional option for the 2020 season.

The revision to Rule 3-1-4 was the only change recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee at its June 2-4 meeting in Indianapolis. The change was subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“The game is in the best shape it has ever been in the history of high school baseball,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and liaison to the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee. “This has allowed coaches to coach, players to play and umpires to umpire. This change, which was organic and intuitive, expands the role of the designated hitter and meets the desires of the high school baseball community.”

There are now two scenarios in which a designated hitter may be used.

The first scenario is the traditional use where the designated hitter may be a 10th starter who hits for any one of the nine starting defensive players. The team begins the game with 10 starters: nine defensive players and nine hitters in the batting order, one of whom is the designated hitter hitting for a defensive player.

“The traditional designated hitter role remains intact,” Hopkins said. “However, the committee felt it was necessary to make an additional option available to coaches that could be strategic but also maximize participation.”

The change to Rule 3-1-4 now allows the starting designated hitter to also be a starting defensive player. Utilizing this option, the player has two positions: defensive player and designated hitter. The team would begin the game with nine starters -- nine defensive players -- one of whom also assumes the role of the designated hitter.

“With the change adding pitch-count restrictions to high school baseball, this will allow pitchers to remain in the game as a hitter while removing them from pitching,” Hopkins said. “Typically, pitchers are stronger hitters as well. However, the intent of the rule is not for it to become strictly a pitcher-designated hitter role. The rule provides additional avenues for other position players as well. The change allows coaches to strategize how to keep players in the game to contribute offensively while allowing another player a chance to participate on defense.”

Additionally, a prior rules change involving baseballs and chest and body protectors will take effect on January 1, 2020. As of that date, all baseballs and chest and body protectors used in high school baseball competition shall meet the NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) standard at the time of manufacture.

According to the 2017-18 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, there are 487,097 boys participating in baseball at 16,196 schools across the country, and 1,762 girls playing the sport in 317 schools.

All baseball rules information will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Baseball.”

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This was driven by the coach's association.  Basically, with the mandatory pitch count they want to be able to leave their pitcher (often their best athlete) in the game as a batter without having to make him play a defensive position where he would have to throw.

The DH rule now has three options:

(1) You can start the game with no DH.  If so, you cannot add a DH later.

(2) You can use the DH option that we have had in FED for the last decade or more.

(3) You can have a player start the game as a Defensive Player / DH.  (For example, F4/DH).  This must be marked on the line-up card.  If the player is removed from the game on defense, he remains as the DH for the player who replaced him on defense.  However, under this option of the DH rule, if the DH is substituted for on offense (either by a pinch-hitter or a pinch-runner) the role of the DH is terminated for the remainder of the game.  So, if a team uses this third option, the only player who can ever play the position of "DH" for the entire game is the starter.

PLAY:  Jones starts as P/DH.  He is listed in the fifth spot in the batting order.  In the fifth inning, Smith enters the game as the pitcher.  RULING:  Smith is now the pitcher, and Jones is the designated hitter for Smith.

PLAY:  Same facts as above, only in the sixth inning Jones hits a double.  The coach then enters Williams as a pinch-runner.  RULING:  This is allowed.  However, this terminates the DH for the remainder of the game.  Thus, both Jones and Smith must exit the game.  Williams is now in the line-up as a defensive player batting in the fifth place in the batting order.  Since Smith was a substitute, he is now done for the remainder of the day.  Jones may re-enter (since he was a starter), but he cannot enter as a DH as that role has been terminated.  Furthermore, he is "locked" in the fifth spot in the batting order.  So, Jones can only re-enter for Williams (or any subsequent substitute in that spot in the order).

(As always, I do not speak for the NFHS.  Only they can issue "official" rules interpretations.  The case plays above were drafted by me based on my personal knowledge of the new rule.  However, you should defer to the NFHS Casebook (when it is published) and your state high school association for official interpretations.)

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This doesn't make sense. The point of P/DH is to allow the pitcher to simulatenously occupy 2 positions, pitcher and DH. If one position is replaced, the P/DH remains in the other positions. Further substitutes for the replaced position (a P/DH remaining as DH, but replaced as a pitcher) can replace the original replacement (pitcher) in this example, while allowing the former P/DH to remain in his other role. If a P/DH gets replaced by a P/DH, that new P/DH can be replaced by either a pitcher or another hitter, and remain in the other role. Maybe NFHS will allow that in the official version of the rules for next season. 

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5 hours ago, ilyazhito said:

This doesn't make sense. The point of P/DH is to allow the pitcher to simulatenously occupy 2 positions, pitcher and DH. If one position is replaced, the P/DH remains in the other positions. Further substitutes for the replaced position (a P/DH remaining as DH, but replaced as a pitcher) can replace the original replacement (pitcher) in this example, while allowing the former P/DH to remain in his other role. If a P/DH gets replaced by a P/DH, that new P/DH can be replaced by either a pitcher or another hitter, and remain in the other role. Maybe NFHS will allow that in the official version of the rules for next season. 

The NFHS rule is not the NCAA rule.

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"This was driven by the coach's association."  That says it all.

 Don't let the inmates run the asylum! :)

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Makes sense to me, and it's WAY easier than the NCAA rule.

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I don't think this will be any big deal at all, and is a welcome addition giving flexibility to play players without overly adding complexity. 

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@lawump, could you please provide / post a sample lineup card representative of what we’d expect to see and approve?

Example:

  1. Andrews : F8
  2. Baker : F5
  3. Connors : F7
  4. Davis : DH/F3
  5. Enriquez : F6
  6. Forte : F4
  7. Gregory : F2
  8. Hicks : F9
  9. Pitts : F1 (starting)

Subs:

  1. Movover
  2. Newsome
  3. Oppotaco
  4. Replaismint

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28 minutes ago, MadMax said:

@lawump, could you please provide / post a sample lineup card representative of what we’d expect to see and approve?

Example:

  1. Andrews : F8
  2. Baker : F5
  3. Connors : F7
  4. Davis : DH/F3
  5. Enriquez : F6
  6. Forte : F4
  7. Gregory : F2
  8. Hicks : F9
  9. Pitts : F1 (starting)
  10. Davis F3

Subs:

  1. Movover
  2. Newsome
  3. Oppotaco
  4. Replaismint

Step 1 in red.

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27 minutes ago, MadMax said:

@lawump, could you please provide / post a sample lineup card representative of what we’d expect to see and approve?

Example:

  1. Andrews : F8
  2. Baker : F5
  3. Connors : F7
  4. Davis : DH/F3
  5. Enriquez : F6
  6. Forte : F4
  7. Gregory : F2
  8. Hicks : F9
  9. Pitts : F1 (starting)

Subs:

  1. Movover
  2. Newsome
  3. Oppotaco
  4. Replaismint

I think he gave examples in his post, but:

1) Movover comes in to play first.  The lineup is now:

       4. Moveover F3 / Davis DH

 

2) Newsome comes in to play first, replacingMovover:

      4. Newsome F3 / Davis DH

3) Oppotoco pinch hits for Davis:

     4.  Oppotaco F3 (both Davis and Newsome are out of the game; Newsome cannot re-enter; Davis can;  there is no more DH)

 

 

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To get more players to participate, or to leave your star player in to hit after he has pitched?  Why not add an EH instead?  EH acts like  a position. Switch your SP to EH   when he’s done pitching. Leave the DH rule as is. That gets more kids in the game. 

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14 minutes ago, Richvee said:

To get more players to participate, or to leave your star player in to hit after he has pitched?  Why not add an EH instead?  EH acts like  a position. Switch your SP to EH   when he’s done pitching. Leave the DH rule as is. That gets more kids in the game. 

You're not thinking like a FED rules-maker.

A goal is to minimize changes to the rules (change is challenge for FED officials).

The DH rule already exists. The new provision adds a sub-paragraph to an existing rule, plus a couple case plays.

The EH does not exist in current FED rules, and many umpires (me, for example) have never umpired a game with one. Adding the EH would require a new definition and a new rule, plus new cases.

I seem to recall some experimental rule being added in Florida. Is this change coming from the Sunshine State?

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As a member of our association's instructional staff, I foresee spending a significant amount of time bringing the membership up to speed on this rule change.  There will be a fair bit of confusion among umpires but also among coaches so it's critical that umpires are confident in how to administer this rule on the field and to respond appropriately to the inevitable challenges that will come from coaches that will unintentionally make illegal substitutions.

It may also be difficult to ensure the college umpires in our association don't apply the college DH rule on a HS field.

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32 minutes ago, maven said:

You're not thinking like a FED rules-maker.

 

 

I’m going to take that as a compliment 

Yes, while the EH would be a new rule to FED and new to some, it’s  pretty simple and  straight toward. It’s a 10th position. You bat 10. An EH can switch to f4 and an f4  can switch to EH just like an F3 can switch to F2. Simple, and more kids get to play. ( assuming that actually is the goal). 

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4 hours ago, Lou B said:

"This was driven by the coach's association."  That says it all.

 Don't let the inmates run the asylum! :)

Um, coaches do have a say in this game...including rules.  

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59 minutes ago, maven said:

I seem to recall some experimental rule being added in Florida. Is this change coming from the Sunshine State?

No.  They used something much closer to the NCAA rule...if not the NCAA rule, itself.

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24 minutes ago, Richvee said:

I’m going to take that as a compliment 

Yes, while the EH would be a new rule to FED and new to some, it’s  pretty simple and  straight toward. It’s a 10th position. You bat 10. An EH can switch to f4 and an f4  can switch to EH just like an F3 can switch to F2. Simple, and more kids get to play. ( assuming that actually is the goal). 

That was not the primary goal of the entity (coach's association) that pushed for this rule change.

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Yet we still have the immediate dead ball on a balk because "the other rule is too confusing for umpires". :rolleyes:

Not saying this is a bad rule change. Just saying that it's going to take just as much brain power as waiting to see if a balk can be ignored.

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@lawump, will states be allowed to opt out of this rule?

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11 hours ago, grayhawk said:

@lawump, will states be allowed to opt out of this rule?

No.  If they opt out, they lose the right to have “their person” serve on the rules committee when it’s that state’s turn to place that region’s representative on the committee.

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14 hours ago, yawetag said:

Yet we still have the immediate dead ball on a balk because "the other rule is too confusing for umpires". :rolleyes:

Not saying this is a bad rule change. Just saying that it's going to take just as much brain power as waiting to see if a balk can be ignored.

The baseball rules committee did not believe that FED umpires would have too much difficulty applying a delayed dead ball balk rule.  I’ll just leave it at that.

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8 hours ago, lawump said:

The baseball rules committee did not believe that FED umpires would have too much difficulty applying a delayed dead ball balk rule.  I’ll just leave it at that.

I do.

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10 hours ago, lawump said:

The baseball rules committee did not believe that FED umpires would have too much difficulty applying a delayed dead ball balk rule.  I’ll just leave it at that.

Then why no change?

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