A Short History of the Short History of Cubs Designated Hitters

In the opener of the Cubs' just-completed series in Toronto, Derrek Lee, playing the part of Designated Hitter, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout; Aramis Ramirez, in his regular third base role, went 2-for-5.

On Saturday, Ramirez took over the DH role and went 1-for-5 with two K's and left five men on base; Derrek Lee returned to his accustomed position at first base and went 3-for-4 with two runs scored.

Always one to jump to a quick conclusion, on Saturday night, I got to thinking that just maybe this DH thing was a little trickier than one might imagine, especially for National League players who don't know what it is to have four or five at-bats in a game separated not by time in the field, but by long idle stretches in the dugout, or back in the clubhouse, doing whatever it is DH's do when they're not sitting idle in the dugout.

Anyway, I took a look at how the Cubs' designated hitters have fared since the onset of interleague play in 1997. Here's what I found (numbers are cumulative figures for Cub DH's season-by-season):

1997 6 923 3rd 134 Dave Clark 15 1082
1998 8 833 3rd 102 Henry Rodriguez 21 812
1999 6 717 10th 72 Glenallen Hill 17 735
2000 9 690 11th 65 Glenallen Hill 42 690
2001 6 864 4th 118 Roosevelt Brown 15 1400
2002 6 826 5th 109 Moises Alou 9 1000
2003 9 807 9th 103 Moises Alou 40 807
2004 6 1157 2nd 184 Todd Hollandsworth 13 1538
2005 6 943 4th 140 Jason Dubois 10 1189
2006 9 490 15th 26 Todd Walker 20 628
2007 6 949 4th 136 Aramis Ramirez 13 1051

(The numbers all come from Baseball-Reference.com; sOPS+ compares the split in question—in this case, the OPS of Cubs Designated Hitters—against the same split, the OPS for Designated Hitters, in all of Major League Baseball; and the "Designated DH" is the Cubs player who had the most plate appearances in a given season as the team's DH.)

Some notes and observations:

— The Cubs have handled this DH thing pretty well. In 7 of the 11 seasons of AL/NL competition before this year, the performance of Cub DH's has been in the top half of the National League. Comparing Cub DH's to all Major League DH's, in all but three of these years—'99, '00. and '06—the Cubs have been better than average.

— Roosevelt Brown's name has never been juxtaposed with such sweet numbers as it is in this chart. His '01 performance was hugely influenced by a single, 5-for-6 game against the Tigers, a game the Cubs won 15-9, thanks in no small part to Brown's double, HR and 3 RBI. Similarly, Todd Hollandsworth was a DH dandy in '04, when he had a pair of 2-for-4 games at Anaheim and then another one in June, when the Cubs visited the South Side to play the Sox.

— In 2003, Dusty Baker's first year with the Cubs, he gave all of the team's DH plate appearances to Moises Alou, and Moises fared okay, with a homer, 8 RBI and a .286 batting average. The problem was, while Moises was DHing, the left field duties were being handled by Tom Goodwin, Dave Kelton, and Troy O' Leary.

— Dave Clark not only was the DDH in the Cubs' first year of interleague play, he was also, literally, the first Cubs DH ever. When the Cubs visited the White Sox on June 16 of that year, Clark hit fifth in the order and delivered a first-inning single off of Jamie Navarro in a game the Cubs would go on to win, 8-3.

And, oh, yeah, about jumping to conclusions regarding the difficulty of National Leaguers trying to fill the DH role...if I had waited until Sunday, I might never have jumped at all. Derrek Lee, returning to the DH role, went 3-for-4 and scored twice in the Cubs' 7-4 win over the Jays.





apparently Soto is next to DH. Blanco expected to catch Tues & Thursday.

Orange guy up, EPat down...at least according to PSullivan article in the trib.


Showcase for trade time. Murt needs to get mad and do something with this opportunity. It could be his last shot.

I'm honestly intrigued...

I think he does, but more to keep him happy than anything.

EDIT: Checking wikipedia (the trustworthy source that it is) for precedent, I see:

On June 11, 1988, New York Yankees manager Billy Martin made the unusual choice to insert a starting pitcher into the DH slot, Rick Rhoden, who was known as a superior hitting pitcher. Rhoden went 0 for 1 with a groundout and a sacrifice fly to right field, earning him an RBI. He was pinch hit for by José Cruz in the Yankees' 8-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.[5]

There were three occasions where a team elected not to start a designated hitter in an American League ballgame. The pitchers for those games were Ferguson Jenkins on October 2, 1974 for the Texas Rangers at Minnesota,[6], Ken Brett for the Chicago White Sox on July 6, 1976 against the Boston Red Sox,[7], and Brett again on September 3, 1976 for Chicago against the Twins.[8]

I thought Lou already shot this down.

Why bring up EPatt for, what, 5 days if you're just going to send Murton down? Has Patterson really been given that much of a shot? I understand showcasing Murton, and honestly he should have been the one called up originally, but I don't understand the move now.

Kazmir has only given up 1 earned run in four starts at home this year. It'd be nice to ruin that for him...

Wow. I couldn't believe that. So I checked. And it's one run period. Earned or otherwise.

That's amazing.

Yikes. 0.36 ERA with a 0.808 WHIP.

Wes sent sound: gasp

Looks like patience may be the key to this guy. Check out his favorite spots to throw...


as a way to let the thumb he hurt catching heal a little. The downside of course is that you have to bring up Koyie Hill to replace the Patterson/Murton spot on the roster incase Blanco gets hurt. Sharing it bewteen Lee and Ramirez made little sense as both guys are not comfortable in the role and were replaced by players who were downgrades in the field. If he did not want to have 3 C on the roster, he should have just DH'd Hoffpauir who I would guess is Iowa's DH when the play on the road vs. AL AAA teams.

Why would they need Koyie? If Hank gets hurt, Soto can move to catcher. Did I misread?

Which if an injury happens in the first four innings means you could end up taking a pitcher out earlier than you would like in case you need a pinch hitter if you have a good scoring chance with the pitcher's spot up.

Maybe I just don't know the rule. If Hank gets hurt, couldn't they substitute a bench player with him then swap positions with Soto?

And on a related note, who's our emergency catcher?


(The DH rule is on the bottom of the page, once the DH is used as a postion player you lose the DH)

As for our emergency catcher it is currently Dero, but Murt was that guy last year and I imagine he will be in that role as long as he is up.

Gotcha, thanks. Still, I wouldn't be so concerned about an injury to Hank (resulting in a DH loss) that I'd bring up a another catcher solely for the purpose of DH'ing Soto. The pitchers can hit, if we lose the DH halfway through the game, so be it.

is probably Murton while here, and then Marmol.

I wonder if DeRo could be a catcher, too?!


The Cubs should have their best opportunities in Wed. and Thurs. games against the Rays. Of course I thought Halladay would shut them down, too. These ain't my father's Cubs. Yet.

Anyway - weirdly, righties do better against Sonnenstine. Check the splits:

Quick Splits:
vs. Left: .289 vs. Right: .315 Home: 5.32 Road: 4.38
Day: 8.10 Night: 4.10 Grass: 4.12 Turf: 5.56
Current Month: 4.50 Last 30 Days: 5.67

He is no Kazmir. Good - but not "lights out".

Thanks, E-Man.

After seeing the Toronto official scorer wipe 4 earned runs off of Halliday's record by (I think) changing his ruling after the runs had scored -- I am beginning to wonder about the validiity of Halliday's stats.

Recent comments

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  • based on what SF has been doing every other year lately, getting access to the postseason playoffs seems to be what's important. bring on dat short series!

    that said, skipping the sudden death 1-game WC would be nice from here on out.

  • I know what you are saying, but I feel compelled to point out that there's no such thing as luck, curses, etc. The Cubs this year have as good as a chance as the Pirates to move on to the next round. If the Cubs proceed to the next round or not tomorrow, it will not be because of luck, but because one team outlasted the other. When/if the Cubs are lucky enough to make it to the league series, that's where they may find their biggest challenge. The Dodgers have a good, deep pitching staff.

  • debuting the new format 1 game "sudden death" WC matchup at yankee stadium does a perfect job of showing the intense emotion and drama this game can be.

    that said, i'm ready to not see yankee stadium or hear fans at yankee stadium for another 5 and 1/2 months. at least i don't have to sit through the braves with their "tommy hawk chawp" this postseason.

  • i'd like to know why the mlb.tv internet radio feed of the game (which is always delayed by a few seconds at best) is almost a minute faster than the ESPN cable TV coverage. wtf?

  • i dont know what order they'll be in, but i pretty much expect fowler/schwarb/rizzo/bryant/montero/castro/lastella/arrieta. any change at all (aside from the first 4 guys) wouldn't shock me, though. coghlan is still a wildcard in the lineup equation...plus joe could always march d.ross out there with very slow arrieta pitching.

  • Yup. Have to agree. Baseball, like golf, certainly has that psych component for the player. There is no real reason why a fielding position should affect a batting average. The Cubs are 106 years over due for a little luck. Don't you guys think so? Maybe the rookies can bring some dumb luck on.

  • probably stacking capable lefties vs cole while keeping the "hot" castro in the game. fwiw, he's 1-6 lifetime with 0 bb/k vs cole (double).

    i chalk bryant's issues at the plate while playing OF up to coincidence so far.

  • I will call your dead horse, "Trigger".

    In one game, when anything is possble, I am glad that Joe Maddon is our Manager.

    He knows the stats better than all of us. It would seem, IF La Stella gets the start at 3B, it will be only up to the point that they were to get the lead (crosses fingers). From everything I have read, the game will be managed like a hoops game: offense/defense. So expect La Stella to be out of the game by the 5th. This team is incredibly deep which is so surprising. We never woulda thunk it.

  • i don't know what their roster plans are, but j.herrera is out there practicing with the team.

    i can't imagine him making any roster, though. dude had 4 PA the entire month of sept. him being a good dude to be around while keeping the clubhouse loose seems to be his main role at this point.

  • I know it's my own personal dead horse to beat --but Bryant has been a lousy hitter when playing the OF this year. Given that it's his first playoff game, I really hope they keep him in his natural position and don't mess with his routine.

    Lousy as in 8-for-45 with one XBH and no HR. Small sample and all that -- but why take the chance?

  • hard to tell what's up given they'll probably want to stack as many good lefties into the lineup as possible.

    castro being a bit hot doesn't help things. if he was still cool they'd probably stick la stella at 2nd and call it a day.

  • Madden won't announce lineups but Stella is practicing at 3rd and Bryant in LF today. I'd rather see Bryant at 3rd but I guess Stella has been hotter than Coghlan.

    /edit. Though I guess they could be practicing this with the idea Stella would come in as a PH then double switch him to 3rd base and Bryant to LF. Hope that's the plan instead

  • I really like the sound of that idea about expanding the AFL to ten teams. Each org. gets to field more players.
    They should do that anyway, regardless of Adv. Instructs.

  • Dallas Beeler, Corey Black, David Garner, Pierce Johnson, Steve Perakslis, James Pugliese, Duane Underwood Jr, and Rob Zastryzny threw early-morning bullpen side-sessions at Riverview yesterday.  

    Underwood threw last, and received specific one-on-one instruction from pitching coach Mike Mason. 

  • HAGSAG: There are only five advanced instructs squads left, and presently the only "co-op" team operating is the Angels/Cubs.

    The league was originally established as a "parallel" league to the AFL (a sort of "junior AFL"), for players too advanced for traditional ("basic") instructs but who were unable to get placed on AFL rosters due to AFL player-limits.

  • He is but I would think it'd be better to start out with offense and then bring in Jackson and LaStella once they have a lead. Stella has very good PH #s too.