Friday, June 03, 2005

« Leveling the DH voting field »

By Suss
David OrtizThe race for designated hitter won't even be close. It will go to David Ortiz, like it does every year. The only person who has come close to matching Ortiz's numbers (.300 BA, 13 HR, 43 RBI) is the Rangers' David Dellucci (.283, 8 HR, 20 RBI) who also leads the league in on-base percentage (.462) and walks (41), but those numbers are flaky at best because he only has 127 at-bats on account of his dismal performance against left-handed pitchers.

And only four players who DH are currently qualified for the batting average title: Ortiz, Travis Hafner, Erubiel Durazo and Carl Everett. But there are 14 teams with DHs on their team ballots, Dellucci being the Rangers' representative.

Here's the flaw: DH hasn't been solidified as a legitimate position in the hearts of many baseball fans.

The short list of players known as DHs include: Edgar Martinez, Hal McRae, Paul Molitor, Harold Baines, Andy Thornton, Chili Davis and Frank Thomas. And how many of those players will make the Hall of Fame? Just Molitor.

Not many players can make a living out of the position. The place is reserved for older players who can't field as well as they used to.

The Great Carl Yastrzemski began DHing predominantly in the '80s. He earned his 3,000th hit in 1979, when he played 87 games in the field and 60 at DH.

Back to this year: since the All-Star game is played in an AL stadium (Detroit), fans can vote for a designated hitter in the American League only. There are no NL DH's, but once the lineup card is filled out someone not voted in as a starter will start as DH.

Sound fair?

Why vote for a DH if it's a few-and-far-between position? Why not vote in a utility infielder or pinch runner? If Ortiz is the only legit player, why give it to him every other year?

The argument against it could be that he doesn't get consideration on the even-numbered years, or he is measured against first basemen.

Perhaps instead of voting for a DH, the highest vote-getter who doesn't win their category gets to DH in the AL games.

So if Ortiz was not to be the DH, as of votes released May 31 the race would be as follows:

1. Derek Jeter.......448,439
2. Alfonso Soriano...432,011
3. Johnny Damon......415,882
4. Gary Sheffield....377,511
5. Ivan Rodriguez....365,533

This levels the playing field a bit, rather than being squared up against teams who use their second first baseman or fourth outfielder as their DH representative. Of course, these numbers don't include Ortiz, because since he is the only All-Star-caliber player in the DH field, he dominates the voting with 680,834, the most by any AL player, and by no means is he the best player this year.

The fact that I can't come up with a clear-cut way to solve this matter should be enough testament to the thought MLB might want to put into fixing the discrepancies between the AL and NL's designated hitter. My way probably isn't flawless but it would guarantee another deserving player a chance to start the All-Star game.

(Also seen on BLOGCRITICS)


Anonymous uncle mike said...

When it comes to DH's,Big Daddy Ortiz is God...Signed, uncle mike

June 10, 2005 10:34 PM  

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