FanGraphs Baseball

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  1. John Kruk (once, in 1992, when he hit .323/.324/.458)

    should be OB% of 424

    Comment by Telo — May 26, 2011 @ 11:10 am

  2. Isn’t part of the reason that DHs tend to big power guys that more athletic, less powerful guys are more likely to be good a defense? Wade Boggs could have been a fine DH but that would have been a waste of his defense (admittedly not as much of a positive in ’88, at least from my cursory glance on the player page, but i doubt even his worst year defensively made him a good option to DH). You certainly could get value from a non-power hitter at DH, but if you choose to use someone who could play solid defense you’re probably paying him more for no additional value.

    Comment by juan pierre's mustache — May 26, 2011 @ 11:39 am

  3. Bilyl Butler reminds me of a poor mans Edgar Martinez. He’s not going to hit a ton of homers, but he hits for average, can take a walk, and has gap power. Billy Butler isn’t the prototypical DH, but hes still going to provide value at his position

    Comment by j6takish — May 26, 2011 @ 11:54 am

  4. Is league average really good enough? I mean, there are pitchers in that league average, right? There are guys that can’t hit at all, but are super defenders, right? Wouldn’t you need your DH to be better than them, to be worth anything? I mean, if your DH is as good as a pitcher, you can just hit your pitcher, so pitcher hitting should be taken out of your calculation of average, shouldn’t it?

    I don’t care if a DH has power, I care if a DH doesn’t make outs, and has some power (nope, can’t quantify “some” right now, sorry).

    Comment by mike wants wins — May 26, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

  5. I like the comparison, but I think its too early to qualify the comparison with “poor man’s”.
    Edgar through his age-25 season: 84 PA, 25 H, 0 HR
    Butler through his age-25 season 2388 PA, 640 H, 58 HR

    Edgar become full-time player at age 27, but didn’t clear 20 HR until age 32.

    I think Butler’s ceiling could be Edgar-like.

    A bigger question is: which type of player do the models think have bigger upside?
    Age 25-player with Edgar’s to-age numbers
    or
    Age 25-player with Billy’s to-age numbers.

    Comment by Slacker George — May 26, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

  6. I think the reality that a DH is usually a power hitter has to do with the type of players who profile as someone who doesn’t play defense well, and this causes people to get confused when they see a non power-hitting DH. DH’s are usually the same kind of guys who are 1st basemen, large, lumbering characters who don’t have the mobility to effectively man a defensive position that requires even average mobility, actually lots of time DHs are aging 1st basemen like Jim Thome. The misconstrued perception that a DH can ONLY be effective by hitting for lots of power flows from that, though obviously a player can be a good enough hitter to be effective in that role without hitting for a ton of power, like Butler or the current version of Travis Hafner. It’s just extremely rare to be a good enough hitter to be effective in that way while also being a slow dude. Both Butler and Hafner have career BABIP’s above .320, when he’s been healthy Hafner’s been more like .340, to do that while running with the speed of a donkey, you have to hit a really abnormally high number of line drives.

    Comment by isavage30 — May 26, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  7. Klassen is lazy.

    Comment by Brax — May 26, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  8. FYI – Leagues with the DH don’t have their pitchers hit.

    Comment by JohnnyComeLately — May 26, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

  9. Yeah, I would think this should be obvious. Not only do DH’s have to be good offensively to be of any value, they are naturally awful defenders. In other words, they’re usually non-athletic big slow lugs.

    The reason you don’t see Ichiro Suzuki, or Denard Span, or Brett Gardner, or Jacoby Ellsbury, or Chone Figgins at DH is because the same skillset that makes them valuable offensively also makes them valuable defensively.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — May 26, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

  10. i was gonna say, a 151 wRC+ with no walks? that would be pretty impressive

    Comment by fredsbank — May 26, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  11. You know, maybe I was misunderstanding the calculation for “replacement level” but I was under the impression it had to do with “readily available” talent…

    Isn’t replacement level different for different positions? I’m pretty sure it is. The positional adjustment for WAR is above what a replacement player would produce at that position compared to league average wOBA. What you look at is the backups who play if a starter is injured (or given an off day) and consider that level of production as readily available talent. Then, you add that value to those playing that position.

    So, realistically, a replacement DH might or might not be better than league average. But he had better hit more robustly than a “replacement” level hitter because you’re factoring in those crappy second basemen and catchers into that league average. Not someone you’d use to replace your DH. The point of the article is legitimate, but replacement, I think, is poorly defined here. Replacement DHs are not the same as replacement shortstops. You can’t just say that replacement level is 20 runs below a league average player especially for the DH.

    Comment by Mike Savino — May 26, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

  12. Edgar Martinez was a solid defender, but was moved to DH because of his bad knees and likelihood of injury. If you do not believe me then go check out his UZR/150 for when he played 3rd early in his career. Pretty good. The same is usually said of Mike Sweeney (former royals DH). That he was a solid defender moved to DH to reduce the likelihood of injury.

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — May 27, 2011 @ 2:59 am

  13. One other point on the profile of a DH: teams usually reserve the position for an aging player. It’s very, very rare for a team to call up a top hitting prospect just to be a designated hitter, even when the prospect has no defensive value (look at the Yankees’ handling of Jesus Montero, for example.) Power tends to be the last of a player’s offensive tools to develop, and often older players hit for more power than younger players. So it makes sense that the kind of players who end up DHing are also sluggers.

    Butler breaks the mold in a few ways, since he’s a 25-year-old designated hitter. And I say, good for the Royals. They’ve given the man a role that fits his talents perfectly.

    Comment by Ian R. — May 27, 2011 @ 3:56 am

  14. Might want to check the Kruk stats.

    Comment by Ted Williams Head — May 27, 2011 @ 7:46 am

  15. Except during interleague play, and in that meaningless world series thingy.

    Comment by Neuter Your Dogma — May 27, 2011 @ 9:07 am

  16. This feels like a straw man. Thinking of the DH most often as a hulking slugger is not tantamount to assuming a low HR hitter can’t get the job done. Then using Boggs, Raines, Gwynn, Carew to prove your point is like saying that some of the best hitters in the history of the game would have been fine at DH despite limited HRs – does that even need to be stated?

    Comment by Tim K — May 27, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  17. Kind of in agreement with this comment. I was wondering what prompted this article, or to whom it’s directed. Most fans who are familiar with wOBA recognize offensive value can come in a few forms. As it’s been mentioned, players who are good enough to play in the majors but do not field well tend to not field well because they are larger, and more likely able to hit for power.

    Comment by hey — July 7, 2011 @ 8:56 am

  18. UZR/150 didn’t exist then.

    Comment by AA — July 9, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

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