I have seen research papers that show that almost anyone will hit worse as a pinch hitter and DH than as a starter. It has to do with adrenaline. It takes lots to hit a ML fastball and DHs and PHs have a harder time getting into a game mentally. Accordingly, I would think the DH and PH penalty to hitting would doubly apply to catchers because they have such a role in the game when they catch that not catching has got to be dull.
Another issue with catchers DH-ing is that most teams only carry two catchers, which means that if for whatever reason the starting catcher needs to be replaced, the team either uses a non-catcher behind the plate or loses the DH. I suspect most managers are more averse to this than statistics would warrant because they’re the sort of things the press is likely to focus on and second-guess.
Mike Piazza would belong on this list, if he hadn’t spent nearly all of his career in the National League. He played in 83 games at DH for Oakland in 2007, putting up a 275/313/414, which is obviously much worse than his peak years.
Well, I only have 2003-2004 data handy, but, I grabbed all players with 100+ PA each at DH/PH and non-DH/PH in the same season and sumemd them up. My sample includes 37 player-seasons with 7761 PA as non-DH/PH and 9649 PA as DH/PH.
The non-DH/PH PAs resulted in .267/.346/.468/.813 vs the DH/PHs at .288/.360/.482/.842
The non-DH/PHs had lower OBP and SLG, but that was largely AVG driven given small edges in ISO and walk rates:
non-DH/PH walk rates 10.8% vs 10.1% for DH/PH
non-DH/PH ISO .201 vs .194
I didn’t think that V-Mart went to first until the tribe traded Broussard and didn’t really have another first baseman. For the sox at least, his bat is significantly better at first (sss), like >900ops.
Can you work something out showing wOBA difference from swapping out from C’ing to a non-catching position? Do the other catcher show similar splits? I don’t recall inge getting much better with the stick going to third.
The issue with players doing worse at DH isn’t necessarily because it’s harder to hit when you’re not also fielding. I think there’s some selection bias going on, as players tend to DH more as they get older and as they get more injured. I’d like to know if there’s some way to tease out that selection bias and find out how much worse players are actually hitting when DH-ing.
Of course, the pinch hit numbers clearly show that players don’t do as well coming in cold, which could be related to the DH issue.