Finally, the last post in this series about the position players of the American League East. I'm not sure how much the Designated Hitter really counts, but we'll go with it anyway. Quite a bit of shuffling has happened at DH in our division this season, but plenty of familiar faces are still hanging around. Luke Scott went from Baltimore to Tampa Bay, the Orioles signed former Yankee Nick Johnson to eventually get injured, I'm sure, and the Yankees brought in Raul Ibanez to
give an outfield defense clinic be the left handed version of Andruw Jones.
In a division with so many strong, exciting players, the DH spot is not very interesting in comparison. You don't get the benefit of talking about how great Matt Wieters is at throwing out runners, or how Evan Longoria is a master of third base defense. The guys who DH are mainly there because they can't be trusted to not be a highlight reel of failure in the field, so that takes a little away from the comparison. However, they generally make up for their defensive shortcomings by being highly proficient with the bat, so there's that.
Designated Hitter is different than the rest of the positions we've covered so far, in that there isn't one specific person who plays the position at all times for every team. The Yankees and Orioles, specifically, platoon the DH position, so the graphs below won't tell the full story of what the teams are asking from their respective players. Follow the jump for those graph things and more words.
Once again, this is pretty much a landslide. David Ortiz tops every other DH in triple slash and WAR, making him by far the most valuable at the position in the AL East last season. His 29 home runs led all other players here last season, in addition to striking out at the lowest clip at this position.
Edwin Encarnacion for the Blue Jays is known not-so-affectionately by the nickname E5 and for good reason. In the field he's pretty brutal, but the American League smartly allows good hitters to not hurt their team so he retains value by only adding what he's good at, and that's offense. Being a DH in general takes away from the WAR available to a hitter, so being 2nd in the division last year certainly isn't bad, even if he wasn't near Ortiz levels of value.
Raul Ibanez knows a thing or two about hurting his team by being in the field, and the gifs exist everywhere on the internet to prove it. The Yankees signed him to platoon with Andruw Jones, who is not a bad fielder, but most of us knew Ibanez would be in the field before long. I didn't think it would be in the first series of the season, but Joe Girardi and his binder are sneaky like that. As a pure hitter, you could do worse than Ibanez. He's not what he used to be at the plate, but he'll run into enough slop over the course of a season to provide the team with some dingers. Just keep him out of the outfield, please?
The Orioles are also platooning the DH position with Wilson Betemit and Nick Johnson of on base percentage fame. Now, maybe this is giving the Orioles too much credit, but it's possible they are just hedging their bets until Nick Johnson inevitably ends up on the 60-Day disabled list with a paper cut. I'm sure they'd prefer to get Mark Reynolds out of the field and back into the DH position, as well.
Luke Scott of the Rays will not blow you away with his triple slash numbers here, but he played in only 64 games last season. If he stays on the field in 2012, he should provide better numbers than this graph suggests. He's hit 20+ home runs in the three seasons prior to 2011, so he adds plenty of welcome power to the Rays lineup.