The early season DH production

The Teixeira Analysis: Left-Handed Balls In Play
Yanks welcome Jason Marquis to the AL

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.

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The Teixeira Analysis: Left-Handed Balls In Play
Yanks welcome Jason Marquis to the AL
  • CP

    Ibanez has actually hit .261/.320/.565/.885 as DH (he went 0-4 in his one game in RF and made one horrible defensive play), which is really the one bright spot at DH. A-Rod has been the big drag as DH, going 0-8 with 1 BB and 1 GDP.

  • CJ

    How are you calculating DH, so far and moving forward with a rotating DH? Really, if Arod or Jeter is DH, then Nunez should count or Chavez even if he is at 3B with Arod at DH. As Yankees fans we are really concerned with the production of the ninth bat rather than the DH on a daily and cumulative basis but it is tedious to calculate and follow. This will be a high percentage of the combined production of Nunez, Chavez, Ibanez and Jones.

    • Havok9120

      For this post he used the lineup position instead of the players. It allows him to use comparisons to the rest of the league. We can’t really do that if we’re using a special definition of the DH.

      • Tom

        If he’s pulling wRC+ from Fangraphs he’s not… they assign a players position based on where he plays the most and put all the stats in that bucket. So ARod DH performance goes into the Yankees 3B team stats, Ibanez RF #’s go into the DH bucket, etc….

        So if you look at things by position by team it is not accurate if a player plays multiple positions. It is one of the real problematic things at Fangraphs when trying to compare team to team performance at a given position. (the catcher comparisons also get tricky)

        If you look at Fangraphs , the Yankees team DH #’s = Raul Ibanez season #’s (and the data at “DH” is just 8 games and 30 PA’s and includes his PA’s in RF)

        (he may be pulling it from elsewhere though)

    • Robinson Tilapia

      That wouldn’t make sense to me. If evaluating the DH position, you should be looking at who was in the lineup in that position on that day, not the stats of the backup infielder that day, or whatnot.

      • mike

        However, the DH for the Yanks is a little different than other teams, who aim to put a dedicated offfensive bat ( Morales, Papi, Scott etc) in the lineup rather than use it as a rest-stop

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I get that, but still….I don’t think it makes sense to do what CJ said abve. It seems like his approach would mean not counting the DH but, rather, counting the “collateral damage” of the player who gets put into the lineup due to the half-day off. While it’s an interesting idea, it’s not measuring the output of the actual DH.

        • Havok9120

          True, but by measuring the output of the DH so radically different from the other 13 clubs, you effectively make comparisons useless. Measuring the collateral damage of our use of the DH slot does make for interesting analysis in isolation, but doesn’t actually measure our production out of that lineup spot in a way we can compare to the rest of the AL.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    “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.”

    Repeated for emphasis.

    • jsbrendog

      i’m rooting hard for raul and fat andrew jones to take the bull by the horns and show that they can shoulder enough for arod/jeter to get that one day off fully instead of a half by dhing. go team

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Root away. Rock out with your bulls’ horns out.

        • jsbrendog

          they’re out like the kony video director in san diego.

  • titit

    Mike, the “inferior backups” are going to play in this scenario no matter what. Nunez will take Jeter’s spot or Arods regardless. I rather have Tex, Arod, Swisher, Cano, Jeter get a half day off as the DH as they are all better then Ibanez at DH.

    The keeping them fresh is a bonus.

    It’s either Ibanez and Nunez/Chavez or Nunez/Chaves and the replaced position player.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    I really don’t care about the batting averages of Jones and Ibanez. So long as they slug and hit homeruns, I’m good.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    What are Raul and Andruw’s collective HR and RBI total, compared to the other dedicated DH’s/platoons in the AL?

    • jsbrendog

      but you can’t count the game they have played in the field because then they werent the dh. its a mess

  • Nunez aka the good,the bad and the ugly

    I really wanted carlos pena and johnny damon but if its better than last year so be it.

  • Dummies Playing With Balls (formerly Rainbow Connection)

    Let’s just get to the meat and potatoes…

    How do Jones/Ibanez stack up against Jesus Montero so far?

  • Tom

    Mike – I posted this above but it may get lost in the reply trees.

    It looks like you are pulling the wRC+ from Fangraphs and you can’t really do this to get performance at a position as Fangraphs does not separate out performance at a given position (it just looks at where a player plays the most and assigns all the data to that position)

    If you look at the Yankees DH production it has 8 games and 30PA’s and is the exact same line as Ibanez.

    The Fangraph sort basically looks at what player has seen he majority of the time at a given position and adds up all the players in that bucket. Similarly Yankee SS production will include all of Nunez’s performance regardless of games at 3rd and DH if he plays the most at SS. Yankee 1st base performance will not include Swisher’s start there last night, etc….

    • Needed Pitching

      good point

      BRef’s splits might be more useful here
      Yankees DH’s = .675 OPS, 73 sOPS+
      AL DH split = .779 OPS

      This certainly makes things look a bit worse for the Yankees DH situation, but still way to early to make any judgements.

  • OldYanksFan

    My guess is as long as Jeter and ARod are on this team, we will not have an above average, dedicated DH. It’s just the nature of our lineup… ESPECIALLY when looking at that magic $189m figure. However, it really doesn’t matter. It’s ‘fun’ to look at production by position, but the only thing that matters is the team’s overall offense.

    Let’s just hope that when ARod is the full-time DH, he’s better than Raul.

    • DM

      Another reason why Montero wouldn’t fit unless he could become the f/t catcher. Also, that’s why they turned away from options that could only DH. Raul isn’t playing RF tonight b/c of an emergency. He and Jones will play the field as well as DH.