Designated Hitters and the MVP Award
In Major League Baseball history, has a designated hitter ever won a league MVP award?
The designated hitter is a player used in the batting lineup in place of the pitcher. The designated hitter rule has never been adopted by the National League.
Since 1973, which was the first year DHs were used by the American League, three players have won the MVP award in years they played a significant amount of games as a designated hitter.
The first was Boston's Jim Rice who in 1978 played 49 of his 163 games (remember the one-game playoff against New York) as a DH. The next season California Angels league MVP Don Baylor played 65 of 162 games at DH, and finally in 1996 Texas' Juan Gonzalez played 32 of 134 games at DH.
For more information about the designated hitter rule in baseball read our Infoplease Feature: Rules That Needed to be Broken.