Exactly who are the DHs in the AL?

In the Time for MLB to get rid of the DH article, there were a few interesting questions by our readers. For example:

  • Who are the DHs
  • How many teams have a dedicated DH vs. using it to rest position players.

This first chart shows for each AL team how the DH role is distributed. About half of the AL teams have a single DH who accounts for most of the games. There are a few where it seems to be spread around a bit more. The chart below shows the pattern of DH usage for each AL team.


The chart above seems to answer the second question. Most teams have a just one or two players as their DHs.

Team Batter Games
ana Pujols, Albert 38%
Cron, C.J. 30%
Joyce, Matt 11%
bal Paredes, Jimmy 50%
Davis, Chris 14%
Clevenger, Steve 11%
bos Ortiz, David 80%
cha LaRoche, Adam 46%
Abreu, Jose 24%
Garcia, Avisail 11%
cle Raburn, Ryan 19%
Murphy, David 18%
Swisher, Nick 15%
Santana, Carlos 11%
Brantley, Michael 10%
Kipnis, Jason 9%
det Martinez, Victor 63%
Cabrera, Miguel 7%
Martinez, J.D. 6%
hou Gattis, Evan 86%
kca Morales, Kendrys 89%
min Sano, Miguel 44%
Vargas, Kennys 18%
Mauer, Joe 13%
nya Rodriguez, Alex 86%
oak Butler, Billy 84%
sea Cruz, Nelson 42%
Trumbo, Mark 18%
Smith, Seth 12%
Weeks, Rickie 6%
tba Jaso, John 25%
Butler, Joey 23%
DeJesus, David 12%
Beckham, Tim 6%
Longoria, Evan 6%
Sizemore, Grady 5%
tex Fielder, Prince 87%
tor Encarnacion, Edwin 53%
Bautista, Jose 21%
Colabello, Chris 8%

In order to answer the first question, lets look at the list of players for each team who play the most games as the DH for their team. The table at right lists the player who, for each team, are the DH in 75% of their team’s games.

Note that you can click on the player’s name and it will open the MLB stats page for that player in a new tab or browser window.

Some of the names are exactly what you would expect: Ortiz, Fielder, ARod and so one.

Most teams have just a couple of players who account for the majority of games as the DH. There are a couple of teams (the Rays and the Indians) who seem to spread it around to multiple players. So maybe these teams are using the DH to provide a rest for their players. Hard to know for sure.

It does seems obvious however than many of the players who are DHs are able to play reasonably good defense. And no one would argue that some of the players (e.g., Ortiz) who are primarily DHs can be exciting when they bat. But are fans really that excited to see a player like Billy Butler (no offense to Billy Butler), who is a .250 hitter, take an at bat?

And now permit me to channel Crash Davis and point out that overall pitchers hit around .125 and have around 2-2.5 plate appearances per game. So in an entire season the difference between a pitcher and a player like Billy Butler is about 125 more hits per 1000 ABs/PAs. If we use 2.5 PAs/ABs per game for a pitcher, that turns out to be around 400 PAs/ABs in a full season. The net result? Around 50 more hits (.4*125=50) over the entire season. Another way to look at it is a little less than 1 hit every 3 games.

The article mentioned above included a poll asking readers about the DH. 93% of the folks who responded said No to the DH in the NL. 69% wanted the AL to drop the DH and 24% wanted to leave things as they are. So lets open up the same poll here.

Note that if you registered your vote in this poll in the previous article, you won’t be able to vote again.

And while I agree that watching a pitcher hit is often frustrating, the bottom line for me is that given how much of the strategy and tactics (e.g., when to replace to replace the pitcher, when to double switch, and so on) is eliminated by the DH, 1 extra hit every 3 games is not worth it. Time for the AL to retire the DH along with Ortiz and (presumably ARod) after the 2016 season.

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