DH by committee?

NoXInNixon

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Mar 24, 2008
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This is an idea that's been floating around my head lately. Not sure if it's fully formed enough to be main board worthy, but it's still the offseason and news is slow.
 
What I'd like to see when David Ortiz retire is for the Sox not to replace him with another full-time DH, but instead make the DH position a way to achieve increased flexibility. It would work like this:
 
You have on your roster 4 OF who are good enough to start.
You have a starting 3B, SS, 2B, and a super utility guy backing up all three of those positions.
You have a starting 1B, and if your 3B is capable of playing 10 or so games at 1B, he's your backup.
 
That's nine players for eight spots in the lineup. You have your C and backup C as usual for the other spot. On any given day, one of them gets the day off. Given the usual day to day bumps and bruises and needed days off, there will almost certainly be enough chances for each one of them to get at least 500 AB over the course of the year. The obvious advantage is that you don't have to worry about what to do about the annual NL road trip. Also, it allows you to be deep enough at every position that if any single player gets injured, or in the case of the young players is ineffective or mired in a horrendous slump, you've got a starting-caliber replacement.
 
If Ortiz retired this offseason, it would work something like this:
 
The tricky part would be finding a guy capable of playing three infield positions well, and who hits well enough that the offense doesn't suffer when he plays DH. Guys like Ben Zobrist aren't easy to find. But they are out there, and since the Red Sox in this paradigm would be playing their Super Utility guy more than most teams, they'd be able to allocate more of their budget for it, and so if and when a player like that becomes a free agent, they'd value him the most and offer the best deal.
 
You could fill out your bench with a fifth OF whose primary use would be pinch-running, a backup 1B if your 3B can't play 1B, or use the flexibility to carry one more pitcher.
 
Have any teams ever tried a setup like this? Whattayathink, sirs?
 
 
 

Snodgrass'Muff

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Mar 11, 2008
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If you have flexibility all over the field, your DH wouldn't need to be able to back up a lot of positions.  Mike Carp may be the answer here.  He can back up 1st base and left field.  Then you need someone who can start in left and back up right (Nava), someone who can start in right and back up center (Victorino) and your stating center fielder (Bradley).  Carp gets 80 games as the DH, 40 as the 1st baseman and 30 in left field allowing for 82 games a season where other players can take a breather without being out of the lineup.  And this allows the team to avoid getting too cute with roster spots while leaving plenty of room for a true utility type.
 
Carp DH, Vazquez or FA, Napoli 1B, Pedroia 2B, Bogaerts SS, Middlebrooks or Cecchini 3B, Nava LF, Victorino RF, Bradley CF and a bench with an infield utility player, a true 4th outfielder, your backup catcher and then a pinch runner type or just the best overall player they can acquire or promote to give you 13.
 
And this is essentially what most teams use the DH slot for.  The Red Sox are one of the few who have a true, full time DH.
 

JimBoSox9

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I'll leave it to others to break down the ins and outs of utility and roster impact; instead let me say that I prefer the "Ortiz Model" because of the competitive advantage it gives them.  The fun thing about being rich is having luxury items.  The Red Sox are one of the few teams who are in a position to A) stash an excellent hitter in a position that requires no defense, and B) have the payroll to be able to be a little inefficient in spending on an offense-only player.  Furthermore, thanks to Fenway's LF, the Sox can (and repeatedly have) do thing same thing in LF.  My belief is the 'ideal' Sox lineup construction is with Cadillac bats (cheap or expensive) at both DH and LF.  If that sort of player isn't available, by all means pursue a more flexible approach, but I'd prefer Plan A continue to be maximizing their offensive head start in every AL-rules game.  
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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That's arguably how half the teams in the AL utilize the DH spot now.  Perhaps it isn't a matter of rotating five starter caliber players through four defensive positions and the DH spot or something of that nature, but not every team has a dedicated or even a primary DH.
 
Team - players used at DH in 2013 (most frequent DHs)
KC - 3 players (Butler 150)
DET - 4 players (Martinez 139)
BOS - 5 players (Ortiz 129)
SEA - 5 players (Morales 121)
CHW - 6 players (Dunn 73, Konerko 50)
MIN - 8 players (Doumit 47)
CLE - 9 players (Giambi 53, Santana 47)
TOR - 10 players (Encarnacion 55, Lind 50)
LAA - 10 players (Pujols 65)
TB - 10 players (Scott 67)
TEX - 12 players (Berkman 65)
OAK - 13 players (Smith 46)
NYY - 14 players (Hafner 67)
HOU - 15 players (Carter 46, Pena 37)
BAL - 16 players (Valencia 38)
 
I don't know that it's a conscious effort to use the DH slot as a way to rotate players so much as there just isn't enough offensive talent to go around to allow for a dedicated DH on every roster.
 

nattysez

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Sep 30, 2010
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Given some of the recent contracts teams have entered, I suspect you're going to see more and more teams using the DH spot for their unmovable aging slugger.  Teams are not going to want to risk Pujols, Fielder, Cabrera, Mauer, etc., getting hurt playing first, so those players will DH as much as possible.  And, of course, there will be the Edgar Martinez-types like Victor Martinez, Morales, etc., who can still hit but can't field a position anymore.  My suspicion is that while most teams would like to use the DH as the "rest day" spot for one of their regular fielders, most teams wind up with a regular DH out of necessity.  
 
Although people have been expecting this to start happening for years, I wonder if it will become more common for high-priced position players from the NL to move over to the AL as late-in-their-career DHs, with their original teams eating half of their remaining contracts in a trade.  Ryan Howard (assuming he shows he can hit again), Kemp (ditto), Adrian Gonzalez and Votto are guys who I could see needing to move to DH before their deals are up.  But, of course, that only works if the guys show they can still hit.
 

twothousandone

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who was the manager who often argued a day off is a day off? He didn't even want guys to PH late in a close game on their day off? Sparky Anderson? ( If it was also Francona, I'm not goofing, I just forgot