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Looking At The Rays DH Options

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While growing up in the 1970's one of my favorite television shows was In Search Of which was hosted by Leonard Nimoy. The show was devoted to analyzing the mysterious and other phenomena in the world . The results of the investigation were often controversial and the shows opening included a disclaimer which stated that "this series presents information based in part on theory and conjecture. And the producer's purpose is to suggest some possible explanations, but not necessarily the only ones, to the mysteries we will examine." Since rumors of any coming transaction seldom emanate out of the Rays front office we spend a lot of time attempting to decipher the mystery of what moves the front office will make.

The Rays will certainly be in search of a DH over the winter as Johnny Damon who was the Rays primary DH in 2011 is currently a free agent. The Rays DHs combined to finish 10th in the league in batting average at .260, 11th with a .322 OBP, 9th with a .402 SLG%, 10th in OPS at .724, and 9th in home runs with 18. The Rays could re-sign Johnny Damon or alternatively, the Rays could look to fill the position with others from the free agent market.

There is a common feeling shared by some that Johnny Damon will return as the Rays DH in 2012, but the Rays do have several other options.Since the Rays work with a limited budget and seldom extend a multi-year contract offers to free agents the list of player the Rays might choose from all have their own flaws. Some have been on decline, others are battling the effects of age, and others are attempting to overcome injury. Of course there are several other candidates that may find themselves in Port Charlotte and trying to work their way up from Durham such as Russell Branyan, Marcus Thames, Dimitri Young, and Ryan Shealy.

The following is a look at some of the free agent DH candidates that could find their way to Tropicana Field in 2012. Included is a brief look at the player and the SB Nation Scouting Report for each player. Below is the last three years of data including plate appearances, wOBA, and fWAR.


Johnny Damon (LHB)

Damon earned 5.25 million dollars and played in 150 games for the Rays in 2011. He started 133 games as the Rays DH. He finished the season with a .743 OPS (.264/.328/.433) with 17 home run, 69 RBI, and 19 stolen bases.

He will be 38 during the 2012 season, is a leading candidate to return to the Rays in 2012 but at a reduced salary.


Possesses a quick bat and is tough to strike out in key situations. Excels at setting the table for the big bats in the lineup. Is one of the game's best clutch hitters.


Has an arm that's well below average. Wear and tear (along with age) has hurt what used to be a great power/speed combination. His gung-ho style leads to injuries.

Luke Scott (LHB)

Scott earned 6 million dollars and only played in 64 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2011 before undergoing season ending shoulder surgery to repair a torn right labrum. The Orioles non-tendered him on December 12th making him a free agent after posting a slash line of .220/.301/.402 with 9 HR.

He will be 34 years old during the 2012 season and durability has not been a concern with Scott in the past. The 2011 season represented the fewest games played and least production since the 2006 season. In 2007 he played in 132 games with an OPS of .855 and 18HR, in 2008 he played in 148 games with an OPS of .807 and 23 HR, in 2009 he played in 128 games with an OPS of .828 and 25 HR, and in 2010 he played in 131 games with an OPS of .902 and 27 HR. Over the past 3 seasons he has played 186 games as a DH, 85 games in LF, and 41 games at 1b.


Owns a streaky bat that can pile up doubles and hit an above-average number of home runs. Can go red-hot for stretches and carry an offense.


Takes a big cut, resulting in a lot of strikeouts. Is a bit too streaky and generally doesn't bat for a high average. Isn't great with the glove at any position.

Jason Kubel (LHB)

Kubel earned 5.25 million with the Minnesota Twins in 2011 and like many of the Twins missed time due to injury (lingering foot issue). Overall, Kuble posted a slash line of .273/.332/.434 with 12 HR and 21 doubles in 401 PA.

He will be 30 during the 2012 season and although he can play the OF he is best suited to be an everyday DH. In 2011 he started 48 games in RF, 9 in LF, and 37 at DH.


Shows discipline at the plate and a quick swing that generates power. Is also a very good low-ball hitter. Can play either corner outfield position.


Has no speed on the bases and struggles with routes in the outfield. Tends to hit much better against right-handers. Is a little injury-prone.

J.D. Drew (LHB)

Drew earned 14 million during the 2011 season with the Boston Red Sox but missed 62 games due to a left shoulder injury. He played in 81 games in 2011 posting a slash line of .222/.315/.302 and 11 extra base hits in 286 PAs.

He will be 36 years old during the 2012 season and has had trouble remaining healthy over the past few seasons. When healthy he has been able to produce. In 2007 he played in 140 games with11 HR and an OPS of .796, in 2008 he played in 109 games with 19 HR and an OPS of .927, in 2009 he played in 137 games with 24 HR and an OPS of .914, and in 2010 he played in 139 games with 22 HR and an OPS of .793.


A great natural athlete with supreme baseball instincts, he owns a sweet swing with big power and excellent plate patience. Can produce in the clutch. Is also a good fielder with a strong arm and mobility.


Lacks durability and is injury-prone. Can also be quite streaky and has particular trouble hitting left-handed pitching with consistency. Hasn't quite lived up to the expectations that have come with his talent level.

Hideki Matsui - (LHB)

Matsui earned 4.25 million during the 2011 season with the Oakland A's and posted a slash line of .251/.321/.379 with 12 HR. He saw limited action in LF where he made 27 starts while he made 108 starts at DH.

He will be 38 years during the 2012 season and will look to rebound from a disappointing 2011 season where he posted career lows in batting average, OBP, and SLG%.


An excellent hitter, he has a great approach at the plate, waits for his pitch, takes a quick, short swing and produces consistently with power. He's also a clutch performer.


Injury-prone, he has lost range in the field with age. Therefore, he is pretty much reduced to designated hitter duties in the American League.

Raul Ibanez (LHB)

Ibanez earned 12.2 million during the 2011 season with the Philadelphia Phillies and posted a slash line of .245/.289/.419 with 20 HR and 84 RBI.

He will turn 40 during the 2012 season and may be best suited to be a full time DH. In 2011 he logged 1196.2 innings in LF and had a -21.7 UZR/150 and in 2010 he logged 1294 innings in LF and had a -7.2 UZR/150.


Has good power and a knack for driving in runners when in scoring position. Doesn't strike out as much as you might expect from a slugger of his caliber.


His power is a lot less prevalent against southpaws. Defensively, he has trouble adjusting to fly balls and isn't quick enough to overcome mistakes.

Vladimir Guerrero (RHB)

Guerrero earned 7.16 million with the Baltimore Orioles in 2011 and posted a slash line of .290/.317/.416 with 13 HR.

He will be 37 during the 2012 season and after making 2 starts in the OF in 2009, 16 in 2010, and 0 in 2011 it is assumed that Guerrero will be strictly used as a DH in 2012.


A natural hitter, he has a huge frame with a long reach and incredibly quick wrists, helping him turn on balls wherever they're pitched. Has a rocket arm in the outfield. A prolific power hitter who bats for a high average without a lot of strikeouts, his plate coverage is exceptional.


Age and bad knees have sapped him of his mobility and made him more injury-prone, limiting him mostly to the DH role at this stage of his career. Has always been error-prone in the outfield, especially mental mistakes.

Andruw Jones (RHB)

Jones earned 1.5 million with the New York Yankees in 2012 and posted a slash line of .247/.356/.495 with 13 HR. Jones was used primarily against left handed pitching (146 of his 222 PAs) and posted a slash line of .286/.356/.495 with 8 HR.

He will be 35 in during the 2012 season and is still able to play the outfield as he made 34 starts in LF and 14 in RF for the Yankees in 2011.


Still is a dangerous power threat, as well as a good hitter versus left-handed pitching in general. Can get red-hot with the bat. Throws well.


Has lost a lot of range, speed and defensive acumen over time. Is a free swinger, so he can be all or nothing at the plate. Goes into funks.

Magglio Ordonez (RHB)

Ordonez made 10 million dollars with the Detroit Tigers in 2011 and posted a slash line of .255/.303/.331 and only played in 92 games after only appearing in 84 games in 2011.

He will be 38 during the 2012 season and although he made 68 starts in RF in 2011 he but posted a -20.0 UZR/150.


Has a knack for driving in runs. Doesn't strike out a lot. Consistently hits for an elite batting average. Has a strong right field arm for assists.


Age has seen his home-run power and base-stealing speed decline. Has become somewhat injury-prone over the years.

Jorge Posada (SWITCH)

Posada earned 13.1 million with the New York Yankees in 2011 and posted a slash line of .235/.315/.398 with 14 HR. He had the majority of his plate appearances as a right handed bat where he posted a slash line of .269/.348/.466 with all 14 of his home runs.

Posada will be 41 during the 2012 season and may be a strict DH as he has seen his catching duties reduced from 100 games in 2009, to 83 in 2010, to just one game in 2011.


Is a legitimate switch-hitting power bat and a natural leader. In the clutch, he's money at the plate. Could still call a good game.


Years of overuse behind the plate led to a sharp decline in his catching skills. Has had trouble adjusting to the DH role.

Jonny Gomes

Gomes earned 1.75 million with the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals in 2011 and posted a slash line of .209/.325/.389 with 14 HR. He mashed LHP and had a slash line of .311/.407/.456 but hit 11 of his HR against RHP where he posted a .167/.292/.362.

Gomes will be 31 during the 2012 season and may be best suited in a platoon role only and may be able to play an occasional game in the outfield. A great piece was written by J.C. Mitchell detailing how Gomes could be a perfect fit as the Lefty Masher with the Rays.


Generates good bat speed with his quick wrists and huge forearms. Can play either corner outfield spot, thanks to a good throwing arm. A hard-nosed player, he hustles and has some leadership ability.


Is way too streaky. Swings far too freely at the plate, leading to a lot of strikeouts and few walks. Sometimes struggles with the glove in the outfield.