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So look for them to replace Butler with 2-3 much inferior hitters.
Back in the early Moneyball days, it seemed like by now every AL team would have found a DH who OBPs and SLGs really well but can't field. There are lots of those guys in the minors! Or bring in an aging slugger and put him at DH! Let him take a load off! But it turns out that somehow, that's almost impossible.
We still have the Indians, who put Nick Swisher at DH when his fielding declined, and his hitting totally collapsed. The Mariners, who put Corey Hart at DH when his fielding declined, and his hitting totally collapsed. The Yankees have put Carlos Beltran at DH, and he's not bad for age 37, but it's his worst season since 2005.
....and the Rays sign Butler on a buy-low deal and he hits .300/.380/.450
Ortiz, Martinez, Hafner, Butler, and (I think) Cliff Johnson, are the guys who were always DHs because they couldn't field a lick.
So more in the class of Baines and McRae than Ortiz.
It's not easy to be a very much inferior hitter to Billy Butler anymore (94 OPS+, second straight year of steep decline). The Royals won't bring him back, by all accounts his defense at first is so bad no NL team will even consider him, and probably how well he hits these last two months is going to decide whether he gets a 1 year/$5 million contract or an NRI next spring.
It's a huge opportunity cost to have a guy who can't do anything else when you can be resting starters and giving bench players at-bats.
Yeah, it's almost as if most of the time the kind of athletic skills required to hit at a high level also lend themselves to being able to at minimum field first base competently.
Thanks, AG#1F. That list demonstrates what I'm trying to say in this way: that there are two types of career DHs. The one, represented on that list by Ortiz, Martinez, Hafner, Butler, and (I think) Cliff Johnson, are the guys who were always DHs because they couldn't field a lick. The other half of that list either were forced into DH by injuries (Baines, McRae) or shifted there in their late 20s because they were big men who got bigger as they aged (Thomas, Baylor).
Zeth, my impression with Edgar Martinez was that while he wasn't a great fielder when he came up, he was acceptable - but a bit fragile, so they moved him to DH from 3b. So more in the class of Baines and McRae than Ortiz.
I think there has to be some effect of lost rest days for regulars and playing days for bench players. In other words, teams with a full-time DH would have the rest of the position players perform worse than we would otherwise expect because they do not receive optimal playing time.
Ortiz was also a perfectly acceptable fielder at first base. Nothing special, but better than plenty of guys who have played the position regularly in the NL (e.g. Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder). He was also moved to 1B mainly for health reasons. The Red Sox were concerned that he wouldn't be able to post 600 PA seasons while playing the field. In other words, all of your examples were moved to primary DH due to health reasons rather than being atrocious in the field.
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