2016 Positional Power Rankings: Designated Hitter


And so we come to the end of the positional player positional power rankings (say that three times fast). If you’re not familiar with this series, please read the introduction. Designated hitters are actually a little bit more in vogue this year than last year. At this time last year, I was bemoaning the downfall of the DH. This year, it could be back with a vengeance.

OK, perhaps vengeance isn’t the right word. After all, not a lot of teams actually have good designated-hitter situations. The National League teams, who don’t appear in this PPR but do show up on the DH depth chart, pop in first at sixth place overall. This is a little tough for them to do. For starters, NL teams don’t usually use a DH, so their standing there is part-DH, part pinch-hitter, and to reflect this lighter usage At the time of the piece, only six players were projected to garner 400 or more plate appearances as a DH: Billy Butler, Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnacion, Kendrys Morales, Mitch Moreland and David Ortiz. This year, that list has expanded to 13, as every AL team except for the Athletics and White Sox suddenly have full-time DHs. That’s nice to see, even if it won’t last with a couple of teams.

DH PPR

Enough preamble. Let’s do this!

#1 Blue Jays


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Edwin Encarnacion   525 .267 .359 .513 .371 21.7 -0.4 0.0 2.7
Chris Colabello 105 .257 .312 .443 .326 0.5 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Jose Bautista   35 .259 .374 .510 .379 1.7 0.0 0.0 0.2
Michael Saunders 35 .246 .324 .415 .321 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .264 .351 .497 .362 23.9 -0.4 0.0 3.1

Edwin Encarnacion is a staple here. In 2014, he and the Blue Jays ranked second here, and both this and last year he helps deliver the Blue Jays the top spot. The man sometimes known as E5 seems to get better with each passing year. Last year, partially thanks to the second positive fielding mark of his career, he tallied a career-best 4.5 WAR. He’s not quite slated for that this season, but you could be forgiven if you are expecting that sort of production again.

One thing you can expect is consistency. Since he’s taken off with the Blue Jays, he’s been the absolute picture of consistency. Over the past four years, Encarnacion’s wRC+ marks have been 150, 146, 151 and 150. It’s pretty hard to line up four seasons within a five point band like that. Over that time, he’s been the seventh-best hitter by wRC+ overall, and the six ahead of him haven’t matched him in consistency.

wRC+ Spans for wRC+ Leaders, 2012-2015
Player 2012 2013 2014 2015 Span
Mike Trout 167 176 167 172 9
Miguel Cabrera 166 193 148 165 45
Joey Votto 178 155 127 172 51
Andrew McCutchen 158 156 169 146 23
Giancarlo Stanton 157 135 159 152 24
Paul Goldschmidt 124 156 155 164 40
Edwin Encarnacion 150 146 151 150 5

Now, I’m not saying that this makes him better than the other six. Obviously, you’d rather have the guy who is capable of getting into the 170s and above. But being more consistent than Mike Trout is quite the feat.

Speaking of feats, that Chris Colabello recovered from his two sub-replacement seasons with the Twins – seasons that came when he was 29 and 30 – to become a productive major-league player for the first time at age 31, is quite the feat. At least in my book. He is an easy player to root for, and if he can cut into his K rate again, then he will be even more so.

Encarnacion and Colabello will take the bulk of the DH duties, but the sometimes frail Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders also seem to be good bets to make an appearance here. Neither will do much to drag the position’s overall production down, and that is a minor reason why the Blue Jays ascend to the top here.

#2 Red Sox


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
David Ortiz 595 .269 .355 .510 .361 17.6 -4.1 0.0 1.9
Hanley Ramirez 70 .280 .351 .462 .351 1.5 0.0 0.0 0.2
Chris Young 28 .239 .310 .418 .315 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
David Murphy 7 .264 .314 .398 .309 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .269 .352 .500 .358 18.8 -4.2 0.0 2.1

He might be below Encarnacion once again, but it’s David Ortiz that Encarnacion likely wants to emulate going forward. Ortiz hasn’t been quite as consistent as Encarnacion’s last four seasons, but Ortiz has posted at least a 130 wRC+ for the last six seasons. That’s remarkable in and of itself, but it becomes even more so when you realize that they were his age-34 through -39 seasons. Ortiz is expected to post similar numbers, and barring something catastrophic, it looks like his farewell tour will look more like Chipper Jones’ than Derek Jeter’s.

When he is getting a day, and he will need a few, Hanley Ramirez will likely get some time preparing for what will become his fourth new position in four seasons in 2017. Chris Young figures to sneak a few starts in, too, against left-handed pitching.

#3 Twins


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Byung-ho Park 476 .261 .331 .476 .346 10.5 0.0 0.0 1.5
Oswaldo Arcia 77 .247 .305 .450 .323 0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Miguel Sano   63 .253 .341 .501 .360 2.1 -0.1 0.0 0.3
Kennys Vargas 56 .247 .309 .421 .316 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Joe Mauer 28 .275 .355 .388 .323 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .258 .328 .467 .342 12.9 -0.2 0.0 1.9

While we tend to think of the Twins as a contact-first, power-second team, thanks in large part to their handling of the aforementioned Mssr. Ortiz, this is not always a well-founded belief. From Jim Thome to Jason Kubel to Kennys Vargas and then Miguel Sano last year, the Twins have employed a few big boppers since Ortiz shipped off to Boston. The latest is Byung-ho Park, who is projected to combine decent plate discipline with above-average power. His depth-chart projection calls for a .215 ISO, which would have ranked 24th last season, just behind Evan Gattis and Manny Machado and just ahead of Ryan Howard, Ryan Braun and Kris Bryant. This is a welcome addition to the Twins, and after ranking 14th as a team in ISO last season, they might actually have a shot at cracking the top 10 this season.

Joining Park should be Oswaldo Arcia, who was more or less buried by the Twins last season. I believed in Arcia heading into last season, and while I don’t think he is primed for a breakout this season, I have not given up on him yet. He doesn’t really have a clear path to a starting job anymore, but he could be a great depth piece for Minnesota.

Filling out the roster are three more than capable hitters in Sano, Vargas and Joe Mauer. As you’ll see as we move down the list, these players filling out the roster can drag down a team’s overall standing. Depth matters, and being able to expect that the bottom 147 PA will be taken by guys capable of posting a .316 wOBA or better is a whole lot better than having sub-.300 players there.

#4 Mariners


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Nelson Cruz 546 .258 .323 .482 .343 13.4 -2.0 0.0 1.7
Jesus Montero 42 .263 .304 .423 .313 0.0 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Seth Smith 35 .245 .331 .409 .321 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.1
Franklin Gutierrez   35 .237 .291 .410 .303 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Steve Clevenger 14 .256 .309 .352 .289 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Adam Lind 14 .263 .337 .415 .325 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Stefen Romero 14 .249 .286 .403 .298 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .257 .320 .466 .335 13.1 -2.2 0.0 1.7

Last year turned into a season-long best-case scenario for both Cruz and the Mariners. At age 34, he posted the best season of his career in terms of both home runs and WAR. He even posted just his third season with a .300 average, which was really surprising. Coming into 2015, his career average was .268. Expecting a repeat of this season would be a fool’s errand, but Cruz should remain a solid contributor.

The Mariners have a lot of options beyond Cruz — one more than we even show above, actually, as we still don’t have a player page for Dae-ho Lee. While he still needs to be added to the 40-man roster, the fact that Lee is still in camp is encouraging. As a right-handed hitter, he doesn’t necessarily complement Nelson Cruz well, but Cruz is still likely to get in some outfield time, and when he does, Lee may be there waiting to scoop up at-bats. While Lee has not torn the cover off the ball this spring, he has not been overmatched, either, and that’s the more important takeaway. Signed just before spring training, all the Mariners likely want to see is if he can handle big-league pitching, and he has shown he can (or what passes for it in March, anyway).

In terms of a more natural platoon partner for Cruz, the obvious choice here would be Seth Smith. Smith remains one of the best role players in the game, though he will also see plenty of outfield time as well. Last year, Smith’s 122 wRC+ against right-handed pitching ranked 55th in the game. Smith is never going to be a star, but his consistent ability to be a one- to two-win player in less than a full season’s complement of games should keep him gainfully employed for some time.

The Mariners were hoping for something better than role player status from Jesus Montero, and while that ship may have sailed, getting some positive production out of him isn’t exactly the worst-case scenario. And perhaps if Montero (or Lee) gets more reps at first base, then Adam Lind will see a few more at DH than he is projected for, which would help beef up the position.

#5 Indians


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Carlos Santana   420 .242 .365 .425 .345 9.6 -0.7 0.0 1.3
Marlon Byrd 140 .246 .290 .402 .297 -2.1 -0.2 0.0 -0.1
Mike Napoli 63 .229 .334 .418 .329 0.6 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Michael Brantley   35 .299 .362 .449 .350 0.9 0.1 0.0 0.1
Zach Walters 21 .238 .280 .435 .306 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Jesus Aguilar 14 .246 .306 .399 .305 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Joey Butler 7 .259 .327 .400 .319 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .245 .343 .420 .332 8.6 -0.9 0.0 1.4

Here is where we drop under the 1.5 WAR mark, and drop into one long tier. Counting Cleveland, the next eight teams here are separated by just 0.4 WAR. Try to remember that before you flip out a team’s specific ranking here. It’s a tightly compacted group.

If you’re surprised to see Carlos Santana’s name here, you’re probably not alone, but this transition was inevitable. Santana last played significant time at catcher back in 2013. The great third-base experiment of 2014 only lasted 26 games, and while his metrics at first base were mixed, if a one-time catcher can’t turn in overwhelmingly positive numbers at first base, it’s likely that he’ll just slide all the way to the end of the defensive spectrum and land at DH.

The Indians signed Marlon Byrd this offseason, making the Indians his eighth team, though his avoidance of teams that would make for an easy joke with his name is frustrating. What might also be frustrating is Byrd’s performance at the plate. While he may make for a nice platoon with Lonnie Chisenhall in right field, Byrd’s presence doesn’t add much to the DH side of things. Santana is a switch-hitter, so he doesn’t need to be platooned, but if you were going to platoon him, you’d ideally want a left-handed hitter to take some of the weight against righties.

Behind Santana and Byrd, the Tribe has a lot of DH types, and in addition to them, Michael Brantley may log some time there as he works himself back into peak form. So, there will be no shortage of players to fill in on the wings if Byrd goes all 2012 on Cleveland.

#6 Rangers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Prince Fielder 595 .281 .363 .448 .347 10.1 -2.7 0.0 1.3
Josh Hamilton   70 .257 .313 .438 .321 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Mitch Moreland 14 .257 .314 .439 .324 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Joey Gallo 14 .216 .299 .446 .319 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Ryan Rua 7 .232 .289 .382 .293 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .276 .355 .446 .343 9.6 -2.7 0.0 1.3

A year ago, some were eagerly anticipating a return to form from Prince Fielder. And to a certain degree, he delivered that. He moved past his lost 2014 season and got back to the business of hitting baseballs with aplomb, but his stats more closely resembled his down 2013 season that led the Tigers to trade him, rather than the 2011 numbers that led the Tigers to sign him. And there’s nothing wrong with that – Fielder put up a line that is perfectly acceptable, and is slated to do so once again. But it’s probably best to put the dream of him being a star to bed.

Speaking of comebacks, Josh Hamilton is also listed on this depth chart, and if he plays this season it will be after yet another comeback for the former No. 1 pick, this time from a knee injury. While I’m not holding my breath, I remain hopeful that we’ll at least see him on the field again.

Of course, if something goes wrong with Fielder and/or Hamilton, the Rangers have Joey Gallo ready on Alert Five. That could become very fun very quickly, but unfortunately for Gallo, he’s got a raft of veterans in his way – not just Fielder and Hamilton and Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland, but now also Ian Desmond for some reason. Finally, there’s Ryan Rua. Last season, Ryan Rua garnered 86 plate appearances for the Rangers. If he gets to that number again, something tragically wrong will have happened (no offense, Ryan Rua).

#7 Tigers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Victor Martinez   560 .284 .344 .448 .335 7.2 -3.8 0.0 0.8
Justin Upton 49 .267 .349 .481 .356 1.4 0.1 0.0 0.2
Miguel Cabrera 42 .310 .393 .524 .387 2.3 -0.2 0.0 0.3
Steven Moya 28 .235 .268 .429 .298 -0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0
Tyler Collins 21 .243 .299 .380 .296 -0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .281 .343 .452 .337 10.1 -3.8 0.0 1.3

We’ve reached our first perhaps optimistic projection. Victor Martinez is no slouch to be sure, but I’m not exactly sold on him playing even 80% of the season. He didn’t hit that mark last year, and while he had been reached that mark in the three seasons prior to that, Martinez is not someone I expect to age well. You’ve heard that before, of course, but it has to be mentioned. His power evaporated last year, and if that’s a trend, the Tigers might not even want him starting consistently.

Unfortunately for them, they don’t have much choice. The Tigers have precious little depth, and need their starters to play nearly every game at every position (catcher and center field being the two exceptions). So while Justin Upton and Miguel Cabrera have a chunk of the playing time here, them logging time at DH is going to be at best a zero-sum game.

Last year in this space, I was optimistic about Steven Moya, but after a down year at Triple-A that earned him just 25 stray September plate appearances, I’m not quite as optimistic as I was last year. Twenty-four this season, he’s not yet a lost cause, but he’s getting close.

#8 Angels


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Albert Pujols   441 .263 .321 .469 .335 8.7 -2.5 0.0 1.0
C.J. Cron 175 .258 .296 .432 .313 0.5 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Daniel Nava   42 .238 .323 .337 .296 -0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0
Ji-Man Choi 42 .243 .316 .373 .302 -0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .259 .314 .447 .325 8.4 -2.8 0.0 1.2

It makes me sad to think about Albert Pujols as a decrepit DH. It’s hard to think about, to be honest. Let’s take a short break so we can collect our thoughts.

short shorts

OK, that’s better. Let’s keep the good vibes rolling and talk about what Pujols still does well:

  • He hits home runs.
  • He doesn’t strike out a lot. Last year, he tallied his best SwStr% in an Angels uniform.
  • He’s never hit fewer than 19 doubles in his career.
  • He still handles four-seam fastballs, sinkers, sliders and curveballs well.
  • He, um, makes a lot of money?

Elsewhere, it was nice to see that C.J. Cron was drawing more than zero-to-two walks per month in the second half. He only peaked at six in September, but I suppose you have to start somewhere. Also, it’s nice to see that Daniel Nava still has a major-league job.

#9 Orioles


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Pedro Alvarez 490 .246 .322 .478 .339 7.2 -0.1 0.0 1.2
Nolan Reimold 105 .233 .307 .360 .293 -2.3 0.0 0.0 -0.2
Mark Trumbo 77 .257 .311 .475 .336 0.9 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Jimmy Paredes   28 .252 .286 .382 .290 -0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .245 .317 .456 .330 5.1 -0.2 0.0 1.1

This just feels right, doesn’t it? Back in 2012 and 2013, when Pedro Alvarez swatted 30 and 36 home runs, we had conclusive proof that he had the power to become a DH. And when he in 2014 and 2015 when his defensive troubles mounted – at third in 2014 and then again after switching to first in 2015 – it seemed as if the universe was really just pushing the DH position upon Alvarez.

If you’re the optimistic sort, you’d say that being loosed from defensive responsibility will give Alvarez the freedom to focus more on his hitting and might lead to a career year. That’s certainly on the table. If you’re a realist, you’d say that Alvarez has posted wRC+’s of 112, 112, 103 and 114 the past four seasons, and that since he’s 29 this is probably who he is – a slightly above-average hitter and a well below-average fielder. Being in Baltimore could help his home run total – according to StatCorner, last year PNC Park was a 99 park factor for left-handed hitters’ home runs, and Camden Yards clocked in at 128. That’s a nice bump, but it’s also not as easy as plugging in those numbers and pegging Alvarez for a 40-home-run season.

Elsewhere, we’ll keep dreaming on the very tiny chance that Nolan Reimold can replicate his 2012 numbers, but like, over more than 69 plate appearances. On a more realistic note, Mark Trumbo should help on days when Reimold is injured and they want to give Alvarez a blow against lefties (though Alvarez was nearly league average against lefties last season). And Jimmy Paredes is always lurking.

#10 Royals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kendrys Morales 609 .273 .336 .442 .336 8.3 -3.1 0.0 1.1
Travis Snider 70 .250 .322 .398 .314 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Cheslor Cuthbert 21 .252 .301 .378 .296 -0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .270 .333 .435 .333 7.6 -3.2 0.0 1.1

Last year, Kendrys Morales partied like it was 2009. Before he slipped on home plate, before he voluntarily sat out half a season, Morales hit .306/.355/.569 for a 136 wRC+ that was 21st in the game. His 3.7 WAR that season will almost certainly end up being his career-best mark, but he showed last season that he wasn’t finished. He got his ISO back in line with his non-2009 good seasons, and he chased fewer pitches outside the zone than he had in the prior three seasons.

This is good news, since he’s going to get the lion’s share of playing time at DH. Last season, Morales started 141 times at DH. No one else started more than twice. The story should be the same this season. Travis Snider is ostensibly the second man on the depth chart, but he may only last with the Royals until Jarrod Dyson is healthy. If the backup DH doesn’t end up being Snider, there’s a decent chance that it ends up being whichever outfielder needs some at-bats. For now, Snider is a good proxy.

Chelsor Cuthbert could also figure in here, but he doesn’t really have the bat to stick at DH. He’s an infielder by trade, but with the Royals having one of the more stable infields in the game, Cuthbert doesn’t have much opportunity for playing time.

#11 Rays


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Corey Dickerson 420 .261 .310 .457 .327 5.1 -0.6 0.0 0.8
Steve Pearce 140 .238 .315 .420 .319 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.2
Logan Morrison 70 .242 .316 .404 .312 0.0 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Richie Shaffer 35 .214 .282 .385 .290 -0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0
James Loney 35 .275 .321 .374 .302 -0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .253 .311 .437 .321 5.0 -0.9 0.0 1.0

If you want my pick for the one team who could vault out of this eight-team 1.0-1.3 WAR quagmire, the Rays are it. Corey Dickerson’s 110 wRC+ projection here seems overly pessimistic. Dickerson is clearly capable of better, as he showed when he rocked a 140 wRC+ in the major league season where he saw the most playing time. In 2014, that 140 wRC+ ranked 21st among hitters who logged at least 400 PA. Last season, he battled injuries on multiple occasions, and his offense suffered, but even a hobbled Dickerson put up a 119 wRC+. If he is healthier this season, and logs most of his time at DH, then injuries shouldn’t be as big of a concern. He’ll have to show the ability to keep his strikeouts in check, but at least he won’t have to face Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke anymore (he went a combined 5-for-30 against them in Colorado).

Dickerson will have some legit backup here. Steve Pearce and Logan Morrison have both had their shining moments in major-league baseball uniforms, and can be counted on for league-average offense. While this trio may see their projections run a little lighter thanks to their inability to stay on the field for a full season, as a unit they could be formidable. Don’t sleep.

#12 Yankees


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Alex Rodriguez 553 .238 .332 .429 .330 4.7 -1.4 0.0 0.8
Carlos Beltran 105 .257 .316 .430 .322 0.2 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Mark Teixeira 42 .235 .329 .456 .337 0.6 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .241 .329 .431 .329 5.6 -1.7 0.0 1.0

Another player who most assumed wouldn’t put together a full season was Alex Rodriguez, but he disappointed all his haters by logging a vintage era A-Rod 151 games played. It was his most since 2007, when he swatted 54 home runs and interrupted the World Series with his contract extension announcement. The projections still see the few seasons that came before 2015, so his numbers here are more modest. Realistically, Rodriguez is a wild card. It would not at all be surprising to see him post another 2.7 WAR season like he did last season. Rodriguez, for once, seems to have everything running on all cylinders. He cleaned up his image last year with appearances not only on playoff telecasts but also with Katie Nolan on “Garbage Time,” and elsewhere. Let’s watch one of those clips real quick, shall we?

Can you imagine if he had been like this his whole career? Or perhaps he was, but we just didn’t know? Anyway, he also announced today that he will retire after the 2017 season. If you’re reading between the lines, A-Rod wants to do the impossible: he wants his farewell tour. While 2016 will belong to David Ortiz, A-Rod wants 2017 to be his. Whether it is will depend on how he handles himself both in between and outside of the lines this season, but I’m sure as hell not going to bet against him.

When Rodriguez needs a breather, the Yankees will swap in the other two members of their trio of wise baseball men, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira. Both count themselves among the greats of the past 15-20 years, though they’re trending a little closer to “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” territory than is Rodriguez, though it was nice to see Teixeira get back in his groove when he was able to play last season.

#13 Astros


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Evan Gattis   525 .251 .297 .469 .326 3.4 -1.0 0.0 0.7
Preston Tucker 105 .248 .302 .420 .312 -0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0
Jon Singleton 35 .221 .321 .420 .323 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Tyler White 35 .258 .340 .396 .324 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .249 .301 .456 .324 3.3 -0.9 0.0 0.8

Good news! We’re out of that block of eight teams bunched incredibly close together. The bad news is that we’re getting down into the dregs here. Over the last couple years, we’ve had our eyes opened with regard to Evan Gattis. First, we put the notion of him as a catcher to bed, and then as a fielder altogether. At this point, we can also put the notion of “Evan Gattis, star hitter” to bed. He is certainly capable of parking a baseball in the cheap seats, but his already poor walk rate dipped again last season, as did his ISO. It was a lot of fun to watch him leg out 11 triples, but the flip side of that coin is that he grounded into 13 double plays and in general hit far more grounders last year than he ever had before, and that’s probably not a good trend for the big man.

Gattis actually won’t be ready for the start of the season, as he is finishing his recovery from sports-hernia surgery. So there is a sliver of an opportunity for Preston Tucker and Jon Singleton to horn in on Gattis’ playing time with a hot start to the season. Singleton should actually be at first base in the early part of the season, but when A.J. Reed lands in Houston, Singleton may be out of a regular job. A hot start from Singleton could help him get more DH at-bats when Reed is ready. His development will be one of the stories I’ll be watching most closely.

#14 White Sox


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Avisail Garcia 329 .264 .313 .400 .310 -2.6 -0.6 0.0 -0.1
Melky Cabrera 182 .282 .329 .410 .321 0.1 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Jose Abreu 154 .284 .348 .503 .361 5.1 -0.3 0.0 0.6
Jerry Sands 35 .233 .312 .411 .316 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .272 .325 .426 .324 2.6 -1.1 0.0 0.7

Odds are the White Sox would have occupied this space on the list even with Adam LaRoche in the fold, so they aren’t losing that much now that he’s gone. But what is here certainly isn’t palatable. The White Sox have been getting some sleeper buzz lately, but if you’re looking for the anti-White Sox case, start here. The depth charts project Avisail Garcia to be worth 0.1 WAR overall, and that would be his career-best mark. So, yeah. I’m a little confused as to why the White Sox are continuing the charade that Garcia is a major-league baseball player, but they are.

Logging time with Garcia will be Melky Cabrera, who has only put together back-to-back productive seasons once – 2011 and 2012, coincidentally (wink, wink) the final two seasons before he hit free agency. He was bad last season though, so maybe this will be one of the good seasons. Perhaps the Giants’ even year magic rubbed off on Melky in his one year there? White Sox fans would likely be just happy to see him be league average.

Realistically, this is a bad combo, and the only reason they’re not projected to be the worst overall is Jose Abreu’s presence. He has started 35 and 39 games at DH the last two seasons, so we don’t just have him in there for show, he’ll play there. Otherwise, they have just Jerry Sands, who has never been able to replicate his solid rookie-season production, but never seems to be wanting for teams to sign him anyway.

#15 Athletics


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Coco Crisp 245 .243 .317 .367 .301 -2.4 0.8 0.0 0.0
Billy Butler 245 .265 .333 .402 .319 1.2 -1.6 0.0 0.2
Mark Canha 70 .254 .320 .408 .318 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.1
Jed Lowrie 35 .250 .320 .385 .306 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Khris Davis 35 .241 .311 .431 .321 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Stephen Vogt 35 .257 .322 .413 .317 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Chris Coghlan 35 .242 .320 .379 .306 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .253 .323 .390 .312 -1.1 -0.8 0.0 0.4

With the Athletics’ acquisitions of Chris Coghlan and Khris Davis and the emergence of Billy Burns, Coco Crisp has been pushed off of the field. Perhaps that will help him stay out of the trainer’s room, but his presence on the DH depth chart isn’t helping Oakland much. Oakland not only finishes last here, but if you look at the full DH depth chart, they actually finish dead last – behind all the National League teams! That’s bad. So was Crisp last season. For the first time in his 14-year career, he failed to hit a home run, so he seems an odd fit for DH. The A’s will probably rotate a cast of other players in with Crisp at DH, including Billy Butler.

Butler is looking like one of the sorrier acquisitions by the A’s under Billy Beane. In his final season with the Royals, Butler logged -0.6 WAR, but in his first season with the A’s, he trumped that and logged -0.7 WAR. For most players not named Avisail Garcia, it’s hard to log consecutive sub-replacement seasons and retain a starting job. And that appears to be what has happened with Butler. The A’s couldn’t get anyone to take his contract off their hands this offseason, but by pushing Crisp and others into his territory, they’re attempting to fix the glitch.

If you see Billy Butler mumbling to himself in the dugout this season, watch out!

We hoped you liked reading 2016 Positional Power Rankings: Designated Hitter by Paul Swydan!

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Paul Swydan used to be the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for Boston.com and The Boston Globe. Now, he owns The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Acton, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan. Follow the store @SilUnicornActon.

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Dan
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Dan

Edwin’s year to year consistency is interesting because he can be very inconsistent month-to-month. He had a 112 WRC+ in the first half and a 201 wrc+ in the second half.
2015 wrc+:
Apr: 63, May: 128, Jun: 152, Jul: 120, Aug: 262 (!!), Sept/Oct: 170

There’s nothing quite like when Edwin goes on one of those Aug 2015-style tears (which he seems to do at some point each year).