All the talk about bringing in a designated hitter like Nelson Cruz (oops, gone), Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Martinez to Houston has triggered thoughts of the not very long, but not very good history of the Astros’ designated hitters. The Astros have had only to fill the DH spot full time since their move to the AL in 2013.
Truth to tell, just remember that the vast majority of teams do not have the equivalent of “Big Papi” David Ortiz sitting around waiting for his chance to hit. One of the best in the AL these days is……former Astro J.D. Martinez. So, if the Astros get so-so production from the DH spot they will be pretty much in the middle of teams in the AL. The problem has been that they have spent most of the 6 seasons of DH’ing in the bottom third or worst of the AL.
Here is a quick look at the Astros DH production as a team year-by-year with a quick look at what Tyler White did as a DH last season.
|2013||.199||.276||.615||52||16||59||C. Carter/J.Castro /M. Krauss/JD Martinez|
|2015||.244||.291||.743||72||27||92||Gattis / Carter|
|2016||.223||.304||.696||62||19||62||Gattis / P. Tucker|
|2018 Tyler White as DH||.299||.365||.977||13||4||18||Only 77 ABs|
The best DH year of the last six seasons may well be Chris Carter‘s 2014 season. Yikes! The last time the Astros went out and got what they thought was a solid veteran DH was 2017 when they picked up Carlos Beltran one year too late.
Evan Gattis was good when he was good, but Antarctica cold when he wasn’t. And he has been allowed to move along and find his worth on the FA market. Which has not happened yet.
Tyler White was very good in limited DH at bats in 2018. Can he do that over a whole season?
Choices Going Forward
- Give Tyler White the main spot at DH at minimum MLB wage. Let Michael Brantley help out and give Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, et al a day off here and there at the DH spot.
- Trade for Edwin Encarnacion and perhaps not sending too much to the Indians depending on how much of his $21+ million salary the team wants to pick up. Oh, and he is about to turn 36. Oh, and though last season was a “down” year for him he did drive in 107 runs.
- Trade for Jose Martinez and let him be the DH, because he apparently is a butcher in the field. Even though he is already 30, he is available for 4 years of team control and will still be paid minimum in 2019. He has had a very strong slash of .309 BA/ .370 OBP/ .850 OPS in two seasons in the majors.
- Wait out the market and see if you can pick up an Evan Gattis or similar type at a discount since there is a glut of guys who can hit and are not very flexible in the field.
- Try number 1. above and if it does not work – chase a bat at the trade deadline which might include Cruz, Encarnacion and/or Martinez.
#5 sounds good to this writer. What do you think?