The Rays Tank: Designated Hitter Woes


Examining the current state of the DH market.

The remaining Designated Hitters on the market are Bobby Abreu (age 39), Johnny Damon (39), Travis Hafner (36), Nick Johnson (34), Luke Scott (35), Jim Thome (42), our old friend Delmon Young (27), and maybe Lance Berkman (36).

Ken Rosenthal provided some perspective on Lance Berkman late-Wednesday evening, reporting the slugger is still entertaining returning to baseball. Berkman played only 32 games last season before two knee surgeries, and has been rumored to be retiring.

Berkman has opportunities in his home state of Texas, Rosenthal reports, with the Astros and Rangers interested in his designated-hitting services. If he cannot sign with either, Berkman is still interested in staying in Texas, opting to work for free as a part time coach at Rice.

If you were hoping to see Berkman in a Rays uniform - injury concerns and price tag aside - keep dreaming.

When asked if he could be bought out of retirement, Berkman told the MLB Network:

That is a scenario that could happen, although I don't see that as being extremely likely given the fact that I didn't play hardly at all last year. I'm sure a lot of teams would have a question about if I could hold up over 162 games and things like that so there's some factors there that I think are going to limit the offers that I get from some of these teams.

2011 is still the standout season for Berkman, when he played in 145 games (his most since 2008), with 31 homers, 94 RBI, .408 wOBA, and a .959 OPS with the Cardinals, winning a World Series ring in the process. The chance of Berkman returning to those numbers are probably equal to the chance of Berkman playing in St. Pete.

As for the other listed names for DH, only two really interest me, and most of that has to do with reaching near-100 wRC+ in a pitcher's park in 2012.

- Luke Scott (97 wRC+) was hampered by injuries last season, but knocked 14 home runs in 96 games and would like to return to Tampa Bay. He tallied 34.3 wRC with a .820 OPS against RHP last year.

- Travis Hafner (119 wRC+) tallied only 66 games in 2012 due to an August back injury, but crushed just as many home runs as Scott, walked twice as often, and K'd less. In short, a healthy Hafner against RHP would be a better Luke Scott.

Neither player helps the Rays against southpaws, nor contributes to the platoons. All things considered, I'd rather see the Rays pursue an outfielder to rotate with the current crew than lock themselves in with a player that can only DH.


UPDATED TO SPLITS FEATURE. The link will direct you to the Splits Finder which is part of the Baseball-Reference Play Index Tool.

- Baseball-Reference now has a Splits feature!

- Should-be Hall of Famer Tim Raines will be joining Toronto next season as an Outfield/Baserunning coach. Man, it's so hard to hate the Blue Jays.

- The Indians have claimed Russ Canzler back from Toronto.

- Sam Miller examines the non-pitching value of pitchers (Hint: it's not batting).

- Goodness! This free kick from Everton's Leighton Baines is insane.

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