Having A Great DH Can Mean Winning The AL Pennant: For Other Teams – The Position Is A Waste!

David Ortiz has been the quintessential DH in the AL over the last 11 years.  Boston is in contention perenially because he put up great #s compared to his competition.

David Ortiz has been the quintessential DH in the AL over the last 11 years. Boston are perennial contenders because he put up great #s compared to his competition.  Ortiz had a great 2013 campaign – where he 3 Slashed .309/.395./.959 – with 30 HRs and 103 RBI in just 137 Games Played.  Ortiz is .292/.390/.962 in 11 Years with Boston, with 373 HRs and 1191 RBI.  The Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007 with him at DH, and are looking to win again this year.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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Watching the 2013 season, something really resonated with me while watching the American League:  ‘Where have all the great designated hitters in MLB gone?’  

It is surprising to me that teams haven’t figured out that having a dominant DH in the league could mean the difference in winning the AL pennant or not.

I also believe that players should be moved their earlier than in their mid 30’s.  If they can’t play the field at all, or are not superior at offense, they should be made to Pinch-hit in the NL. 

It seemed only a few years ago that every team had a bopper capable of hitting .300 with 30 HR’S and 100 RBI’s.  Upon further investigation, I found out some interesting facts.

When Victor Martinez was injured for the whole year in 2012, the club signed Prince Fielder to a 9 year contract.  Now that the DH is back, he is one of the top 2 Designated Hitters in the game.  The 34 Year Old had an incredible Post ALL - Star campaign in 2013 - .363/.413/.913, and has continued the hotstreak in the Playoffs - hitting .421/.450/1.055 so far.  The Tigers only have him locked for one more year in 2014 ($12 MIL) before he hits Free Agency.

When Victor Martinez was injured for the whole year in 2012, the club signed Prince Fielder to a 9 year contract. Now that the DH is back, he is one of the top 2 Designated Hitters in the game. The 34 Year Old had an incredible Post ALL – Star campaign in 2013 – .363/.413/.913, and has continued the hotstreak in the Playoffs – hitting .421/.450/1.055 so far. The Tigers only have him locked for one more year in 2014 ($12 MIL) before he hits Free Agency.

David Ortiz and Victor Martinez are so far superior at the DH position, they might just meet up again for the 2014 season.

The rest of the DH’s were average to below average.  

Tampa used Luke Scott, Delmon Young and Sean Rodriguez. They are a team that can get away without using the DH for a key guy for the spot.  I would expect the same style of combination again next campaign – with the little amount of payroll they can spend on players.

New York featured Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells and a cast of others at DH this year.  You can tell that they actually missed 40 something Raul Ibanez.  The Yankees should sign Carlos Beltran to man this job, or at least bring back Mark Reynolds to potentially take on a Adam Dunn like role.

Baltimore – Until they found some production late in the year from Danny Valencia, it was a heavy dose of Nolan Reimold, Steve Pearce- and a catches catch can – of others.  I wouldn’t trust Valencia to maintain a .888 OPS.  They should try to resign Mike Morse, and give him the key to the DH reigns.

Toronto – Surprisingly enough, Adam Lind resurrected his career – with an OPS of .854, 23 HRs and 64 RBI in 465 AB.  Having said that, they should move Jose Bautista to the position permanently.  The former HR champ can’t seem to remain healthy.

Kansas City – One of the reasons why the Royals will have a shot in the next couple of years – is because of Billy Butler.  He did actually have a slower year by his standards – collecting just a .787 OPS – and 82 RBI.  Look for him to be more near .300 again next year, with about 100 RBI.

Cleveland – Okay Jason Giambi is not going to cut it at DH for the 2014 year.  He did have 31 RBI in 183 AB, but seriously Cleveland, you should have someone better at the spot next season.  Here is an idea, how about picking up a guy like Adam Lind?

Minnesota – Having a tandem of Ryan Doumit and Joe Mauer is not that bad really.  Unfortunately is Mauer going to move to 1B now that Morneau has vacated the team?

Chicago – Having Adam Dunn club 34 HRs (tops for DH) and drive in 86 RBI (2nd to Ortiz) – put him in the top few players out of the Designated Hitters. The Pale Hose better hope Mr. Dunn does not hang them up this winter.  At the  very least he could be traded before the Trade Deadline next season

Seattle – Kendrys Morales did a great job for them in 2013, with a 3 Slash Line of .277.,336/.785 – with 23 HRs and 80 RBI.  They should try and resign him for a 2 – 3 year deal.  He is perfect for a DH.

Texas – Having Lance Berkman hurt for more than half of the year had to cost them.  They had Vladmir Guerrero and Michael Young put up ALL – Star numbers in their two World Series Runs of 2010 and 2011.

They should resign Nelson Cruz – and make him a permanent DH.

Houston – Chris Carter would be the logical choice for the spot.  He is a below average defensive player in every place he may play.  Carter still cracked 29 HRs and added 82 RBI in just over 500 AB.  You hope he can mature a little as a hitter.  The man also Walks, so if he can cut down on his Strikeouts (Led AL with 212), and bring his average north of .250, he would be one of the better slugging DH’s in the game.

Oakland – Seth Smith and Nate Freiman could probably keep the team afloat.  In going forward, the behemoth (Freiman at 6 FT 8) might be the permanent guy as Smith is only signed for one more year.  You could add John Jaso as a guy in that mix for 2015.  He walked a ton, and would provide the LHB/RHB platoon.

LA Angels – This club should definitely think about moving Mr. Albert Pujols to this job permanently as quick as possible.  You need his offense more than anything else.  You have Mark Trumbo to play the 1B position until 2016 – unless you trade him,  Either that, or move Josh Hamilton to the post.

So what is the underlying theme here?  If you have a great DH, you may just make the playoffs and win it all.   Martinez, Ortiz had their teams in contention all year for the playoffs.

One could definitely say that David Ortiz vs. the Yankees Taxi Squad of 2013 wass worth a definite amount of wins at that position, considering what they each produced in the AL West.  

I am going to go through the last 22 years of ALCS Pennant Winners as part of my study.  77.2% of the time (the team with a great DH) was in the World Series: (17 out of 22)

1992 TORONTO-Dave Winfield .290 26 HRs 108 RBI.
1993 TORONTO-Paul Molitor .332 22 HRs 111 RBI.
1994 WORLD SERIES CANCELLED
1995 CLEVELAND-Eddie Murray .323 21 HRs 82 RBI.
1996 NEW YORK-Cecil Fielder 39 HRs 117 RBI (Acquired at deadline by NYY).
1997 CLEVELAND-David Justice .329 33 HRs 101 RBI.
1998 NEW YORK-Darryl Strawberry 24 HRs 57 RBI (295 AB IN 101 GAMES)
1999 NEW YORK-Chili Davis/Darryl Strawberry (not the greatest year-but in middle of NYY dynasty of 6 ALC Pennants IN 7 YRS).
2000 NEW YORK-David Justice .286 41 HRs 118 RBI.
2001 NEW YORK-David Justice (not the greatest year but it was a solid NYY team.)  Edgar Martinez led SEA to a 116-46 record.and were prohibitive favorites but lost to the Yankees-Martinez year was .306 23 HRs AND 106 RBI.
2002 ANAHEIM-Brad Fullmer (hit .289 with 60 XBH in 130 games and a slugging % of .531).
2003 NEW YORK-Jason Giambi 41 HRs 107 RBI.
2004 BOSTON-David Ortiz .301 41 HRs 139 RBI.
2005 CHICAGO-Carl Everett 23 HRs 87 RBI in 135 games.
2006 Detroit Tigers-Dmitri Young (They did not have a definite DH after Young’s injury so this year so was the worst out of the 20 years.)
2007 BOSTON-David Ortiz-.305 35 HRs 117 RBI.
2008 TAMPA BAY-Cliff Floyd/Wille Aybar 22 HRs 72 RBI combined (Again great pitching carried TB.)
2009 NEW YORK-Hideki Matsui .274 28 HRs 90 RBI IN 456 AB.
2010 TEXAS-Vlad Guerrero .300 29 HR’S 115 RBI.
2011 TEXAS-Michael Young .338 11 HR’S 106 RBI
.

2012: DETROIT – Delmon Young .267 18 HRs 74 RBI – however he hit for a .313/.365/.913 Slash line with 3 HRs and 9 RBI – including winning the ALCS MVP.

2013: DETROIT –  Victor Martinez .301 – 14 HRs and 83 RBI

2013:  BOSTON –  .David Ortiz .309 – 30 HRs and 103 RBI.

In 2006, half of the league possessed great DH’s:  Ortiz .287 54 HRs 137 RBI, Travis Hafner .308 42 HRs 117 RBI, Jason Giambi 37 HRs 113 RBI, Jim Thome .288 42 HRs 109 RBI, and Frank Thomas hit 39 HRs 114 RBI.  

This group is far more productive than the 2013 bunch.  

Given this Information, why wouldn’t more teams elect for permanent DH slots just to gain an edge over their competition?  

The Seattle Mariners had an incredible run from 1994 – 2004 with Edgar Martinez as a permanent DH.  The Boston Red Sox have won 2 World Series titles and are perennial playoff contenders with David Ortiz as their DH.  

The Yankees have not been the same since Hideki Matsui and Jason Giambi have left the club as their permanent DH’s.

The Angels signing of Albert Pujols prior to 2012 made all of the pundits ask when do they move him to DH? The question is: why wait to move him to DH right now when they already possess Trumbo until 2017?  Maybe it will take some burden off his lower legs.

It is my belief that aging players should be shipped off to the National League when they can’t post impressive offensive numbers. 

A good example of this are recent NL pinch hitters Jason Giambi and Matt Stairs making a living off pinch such roles after failing as DH’s late into their careers.  

If the AL teams persist in signing aging players past their prime for the DH role, then I believe they will struggle.

So whichever AL teams have the best Designated Hitters in the league for the 2014 season will likely have the best shot at winning the  Pennant.

Will 2014 be the last season for David Ortiz.  At age 38 next year, he shows no visible signs of slowing down yet.  It could mean the difference between Boston winning the pennant or not if he has a great year.  In the American League, if you have the top DH at any current time, it probably means you will have a good chance to win the AL Pennant.  With Ortiz and Martinez only in their mid 30's - the future of the position looks really bleak.

Will 2014 be the last season for David Ortiz. At age 38 next year, he shows no visible signs of slowing down yet. It could mean the difference between Boston winning the pennant or not if he has a great campaign. In the American League, if you have the top DH at any current time, it probably means you will have a good chance to win the AL Pennant. With Ortiz and Martinez already in their mid 30’s – the future of the position looks really bleak.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***

Chuck Booth – Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames:   To learn more about my  “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” and how to purchase it, click here .

You can also follow my Guinness Book of World Record Successful Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 Days – click here

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Anthony Salter (Left) and Chuck Booth (Right) During 2012 Streak.

Anthony Salter (Left) and Chuck Booth (Right) During 2012 Streak at Comerica Park.

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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the www.mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker

Posted on October 18, 2013, in Playoffs, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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