Ghost of Greg Vaughn: Rays DH History By The Numbers

Easily the hottest topic during this Rays offseason has been adding a "front-line bat." Going into the off-season we did not know if this would come in the form of a right fielder or a designated hitter. The acquisition of Matt Joyce cleared that up and the Rays will most likely add a DH from the following group: Jason Giambi, Milton Bradley, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu. There are also less likely possibilities such as Ken Griffey Jr., Garret Anderson or Rocco Baldelli.

Over the course of the last 11 years the DH has been a revolving door like many other positions with the Rays. But unlike third base, which now belongs to Evan Longoria, or the rotation that has four to five starters who should be together for a while, the DH spot remains wide open. Thinking back on the Rays history, they've never really had a DH that served as a DH in a true sense. When people think of a designated HITTER, they think of David Ortiz and Edgar Martinez not Robert Fick, Al Martin and Greg Vaughn. I wanted to take a look back at the production the Rays have received from a position that is all about offensive production.

For most of the Rays 11 seasons they did not have a primary DH. Only six times have they had one player with over 240 ABs in the position. If a player had 240 ABs I used him as the primary DH for that season, otherwise, I took the top two or three or even four (2004) players in terms of ABs for the position and came up with the average for that season. Here are the results.

Year

Player

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

98

Sorrento

286

0.228

0.311

0.391

0.702

99

Canseco

319

0.271

0.363

0.547

0.910

00

Canseco

305

0.259

0.383

0.456

0.839

01

Vaughn

283

0.216

0.317

0.357

0.674

02

Platoon

267

0.167

0.284

0.290

0.574

03

Platoon

432

0.266

0.345

0.417

0.762

04

Platoon

334

0.187

0.277

0.333

0.610

05

Platoon

322

0.279

0.362

0.479

0.841

06

Gomes

352

0.202

0.314

0.403

0.717

07

Platoon

323

0.236

0.340

0.375

0.715

08

Floyd

240

0.271

0.348

0.458

0.806

Avg

3463

0.235

0.331

0.410

0.741

Nothing pretty about most these numbers especially compared to the American League averages for DH over the same time frame, which is represtend here:

Year

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

98

0.277

0.36

0.466

0.826

99

0.278

0.365

0.476

0.841

00

0.276

0.361

0.463

0.824

01

0.26

0.34

0.446

0.786

02

0.264

0.342

0.439

0.781

03

0.26

0.349

0.439

0.788

04

0.263

0.345

0.445

0.79

05

0.259

0.338

0.44

0.778

06

0.264

0.349

0.469

0.818

07

0.268

0.355

0.447

0.802

08

0.256

0.339

0.435

0.774

Avg

0.266

0.349

0.452

0.801

And for the side by side OPS comparison

Year

TB OPS

AL OPS

98

0.702

0.826

99

0.910

0.841

00

0.839

0.824

01

0.674

0.786

02

0.574

0.781

03

0.762

0.788

04

0.610

0.79

05

0.841

0.778

06

0.717

0.818

07

0.715

0.802

08

0.806

0.774

Avg

0.741

0.801

As you can see the Rays DH's have only been above league average four times. Jose Canseco was above average in 1999 and 2000. The Jonny Gomes/Josh Phelps platoon worked out pretty nicely in 2005 and Cliff Floyd was above average in 2008.

The other years? Pretty awful. The Rays finished at least .100 points below average in five of the remaining seven seasons. In fact, just look at the 2002 platoon of Greg Vaughn and Steve Cox, who combined to finish .207 points below league average to see how bad the DH has been at times. It's not a question if the Rays add a Dunn, Burrell, Giambi, Bradley or Abreu that they will be an upgrade, but the significant amount of upgrade, however, could be pretty staggering.

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