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The DH

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So I was curious the other about my believed ineptitude of the Twins at the DH position. So I looked up basically the last 10 years of position specific hitting. Surprisingly, the Twins have utilized the DH pretty well. Obviously, they are not Boston with David Ortiz, but it hasn't been Rondel White numbers either.

In the recent history, they had Thome which clearly boosted their numbers. For a few years they were right at the top of the league! I stopped a second, made sure I was looking up the right position (not catcher/1b) and said "good play Twins, we'll see how long that lasts." Despite their lack of a true DH, they have usually been middle of the pack. However, the one that hurts is in 2006 when the DH posted a .676 OPS only slightly above Seattle.

While I can accept the Twins haven't been completely inept at the position, it still bothers me the way they handle it. Obviously using Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Micheal Cuddyer, Jason Kubel at DH have boosted the numbers since 2006. Needless to say, they are all position players, and using them as a DH inserts a back-up into the line-up..... and most likely, a futility infielder or no-hit catcher. That, is the part the bugs me. So while the DH numbers have looked ok, it is covering up the fact that position in the line-up is actually being occupied by someone that has no business getting 400 MLB AB's in a year.

Things are starting to come together a little now, right? I'm advocating for a legitimate full-time DH. One that can post an .800+ OPS for the position without help from other players, one that can hit for power, and one that MN fans like. I'm advocating for Josh Willingham to move to DH for the next 3 years. His contract is only through next year? If he is healthy all off-season you extend him 2 years at about the same money he is at now an move him to DH where he can stay healthy.

This does a few things. First, and best of all, it takes AB's away from futility INF like Florimon, Escobar, Carroll (wait, that is like all our MI INF... whaaaat). Next, when guys like Mauer, Plouffe, ect. need a day off, they can actually take a day off and not just DH. That is one of the things that bugs me about Gardy. If you want a guy to take a rest (Mauer) give him an actual rest! I get the keeping the bat in the line-up thing, but the Twins have a pretty decent bat in Doumit now, and have an ok option in AAA once Doumit leaves in Herrmann. He could still do this on day Willingham gets off, but I'd accept more games without Mauer in the line-up at all if we had a DH like Willingham where the drop-off in the line-up is only one position. I think it would also allow Mauer to catch more games, which would be another added bonus.

The Twins have a glut of OF coming in the near future (Hicks is already here). Arcia coming up could push Willingham to DH instead of Parmelee to 1b like many are speculating. This would allow the Twins to bring Arcia up as soon as this year. I'm in favor of a real DH. An asset to the line-up. A RH power bat to drive in runs. I want this team to win, regardless of my distaste for ineptitude of the front office. I hope they consider it, because moves like this are what teams that want to compete do.
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  1. spycake's Avatar
    I like it. Willingham is a good option too because he's not incapable of playing in the field like Thome and others, so you still have some flexibility (i.e. you wouldn't need two backup outfielders with Willingham on the roster).

    I'd be curious if Willingham would be interested -- some players are averse to being a full-time DH, which may be a reason why he came to the Twins in the first place (a team that is historically averse to having a full-time DH). Hopefully Arcia and/or other improving youngsters make this a viable option later this season.
  2. Physics Guy's Avatar
    Don't disagree with your premise, but I think it depends on the team. The Twins used the DH spot as a way to keep players healthy (Morneau and Mauer) yet still keep them in the lineup. Last year, here were the top 4 in AB for the Twins at DH:

    Doumit 200
    Mauer 187
    Morneau 140
    Willingham 108

    This is the strategy that most contending teams use. The Tigers were the only team in the AL playoffs that had a player have more that 300 AB's at DH (Delmonzie). They use the DH as a rotation for their older players to stay fresh.

    I'd say Morneau and Mauer's numbers will decrease this year. Quite a bit of the time Mauer was at DH, Doumitt was catching so that isn't really changing the lineup. Those two will eat up the bad AB's given to Butera last year. I guess my point is that you should get what you want to some extent, it's just going to be Doumit and not Willingham this year.

    Teams that employ a nearly full-time DH should have young position players that play nearly all of their games. This likely describes the Twins either in 2014 or 2015. Teams like the Yankees have to use it for Swisher/Ibanez/A-Rod.... You could very well get your wish in the near future.
  3. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
    I don't mind the Twins rotating through the DH. If their best hitter wasn't a catcher who has been known to fatigue and/or get injured, I might feel differently about it.
  4. Willihammer's Avatar
    I broke down the career numbers for Doumit, Mauer, Morneau, and Willingham by when they played as a position player, and when they DH-ed (throwing out Pinch Hitting appearances).

    Batting Avg OBP Slg OPS
    Position DH DH Penalty Position DH DH Penalty Position DH DH Penalty Position DH DH Penalty
    0.264 0.245 -0.019 0.33262 0.31325 -0.019 0.44569 0.45909 0.013 0.873 0.807 -0.066
    0.328 0.306 -0.022 0.40788 0.39658 -0.011 0.47697 0.42642 -0.051 0.921 0.869 -0.052
    0.274 0.260 -0.014 0.35312 0.32079 -0.032 0.49642 0.43384 -0.063 0.797 0.776 -0.020
    0.282 0.235 -0.046 0.36209 0.36789 0.006 0.49012 0.40756 -0.083 0.886 0.816 -0.071
    There's a pretty significant DH penalty for all of them.

    Might be Wililngham (or someone else) could 'grow' into a full-time DH role though.

    edit: Just realized I didn't copy in the names. They are in alphabetical order
    Updated 03-28-2013 at 05:32 PM by Willihammer
  5. Physics Guy's Avatar
    I noticed the "penalty" on the top DH for each of the playoff teams as well. Michael Young was the one who noticed the least decline and his numbers weren't great (under .700 OPS as DH and when in the field).
  6. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
    I've been a fan of using the DH position to let these guys get a rest and still keep their bats in the game. As a former catcher, I can certainly see how a day at DH would occur to Mauer as a day of rest.
    The 'DH Penalty' above is certainly interesting.
    Mauer @ .328 last year without the DH at bats? Interesting, indeed.

    Damn it! Now I have to think.
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