The Rays have had a dandy of time filling their DH slot. This year, Johnny Damon did an admirable job, but can they improve it in 2012?
Hey everyone! I'm told Steve is buried in six tons of snow, so until he digs or eats his way free, we'll be mixing things up around here. As such, I figured I could share a little Tableau doc with you guys.
The Tampa Bay Rays got stung early this year when Manny Ramirez Manny Ramirez'd the club, retiring like 15 minutes into the season. So, the team rolled with the juiced punches and slid outfielder Johnny Damon into the designated hitter (DH) role. Damon went ahead and hit 16 homers with a .328 wOBA and 109 wRC+ -- and, frankly, that ranks among the best DH offerings the Rays have seen in a long time.
According to Damon's yearly wins above replacement level (WAR), 2011 was his 4th worst season -- partly because he did not do a whole lot of fielding. Still, Damon's year at the plate nonetheless pleased me, albeit mildly -- but especially so in light of our previous DH woes and the other DH problems around the league (see: Adam Dunn and his -2.9 WAR).
If we break the Rays' historical DHs into WAR per plate appearances (PA), we can see Damon ranks among the best:
- First, and most obviously, Joe Dillon for DH!
- In Jose Conseco's 766 PAs, he clobbered a .386 wOBA. That little sliver of amazing still ranks tops for the Rays. Of course, Conseco was more horse hormone than healthy in his time with the Rays, so it's hard to crown him for anything.
- In just one season, Damon matched Jonny Gomes at 1.5 WAR. I believe Gomes is a free agent this year, and I imagine some Rays fans want a little reunion, but there's a good chance he's just an expensive Brandon Guyer, sans fielding ability.
- Cliff Floyd had an admirable WAR rate in his time with Tampa Bay, but geez, only 284 PAs? That's hardly half a season.
- Greg Vaughn looks impressive up there, but consider this: His WAR rate is almost identical to Johnny Damon's. That makes me think Damon could quite easily be a solid option for 2012, assuming Jason Giambi or Jim Thome or Russ Canzler are off the table (and I believe Giambi is off the table).
- Note that the thickness of the bar graphs indicate the amount of PAs they received.