The early season DH productionBy
The Yankees received some of the worst DH production in the American League last year, finishing 11th out of the 14 teams with a 101 wRC+. That’s exactly league average among all hitters for all intents and purposes, but it’s below average in the context of position. The only thing a DH has to do is hit, and a league average performance doesn’t really cut it for a contender.
Early on this season, the Yankees have actually received less production from their DHs than they did last year. Although they moved up a spot and now rank 10th out of the 14 AL teams, they do have a below league average 97 wRC+. The funny thing is that it doesn’t feel like the Yankees are receiving below average DH production, at least to me. Part of the problem is Raul Ibanez, who hasn’t been anything special overall — .222/.267/.481 and 97 wRC+ — but has had a knack for the big hit. The go-ahead double in Baltimore and the moonshot against the Angels standout in my mind, not all the unproductive walks back to the dugout.
The DH situation this season is kinda weird because because the Eduardo Nunez/Andruw Jones-based platoon, and in fact the Yankees have used five different starting DHs in their eleven games. The rotation is going to force us to think about the position a little differently, at least in terms of production. Is a league average DH actually a good thing if it helps keep say, Alex Rodriguez healthy and more productive at third base? That’s obviously what the Yankees are hoping.
The season is too young to start worrying about how certain players are performing, good or bad, and that’s especially true for the rotating DH spot. I don’t like the rotation idea because it means more playing time for inferior backups, but it’s not the gravest misjustice in the baseball world. If it keeps the regulars like Derek Jeter and A-Rod healthy, then it’s doing exactly what it’s designed to do. We did see a bit of a rotation last season and it didn’t keep them healthy, but that’s what will have to happen in 2012 to smother the stink of league average DH production for a second straight year.