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):

YEAR G
OPS
NL RANK sOPS+
DESIGNATED DH PA
OPS
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.

 

 

 

Comments

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.

http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/bas...

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...

http://chicagosports.inside-edge.com/cubsPM.aspx?P...

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?

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/official_rule...

(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?!

Cubnut!

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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  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 6 hours 50 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 9 hours 48 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 10 hours 22 sec ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 10 hours 9 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 10 hours 14 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 10 hours 33 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 11 hours 9 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 11 hours 26 min ago view
  • Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.

    The E-Man 11 hours 28 min ago view
  • soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.

    he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.

    crunch 11 hours 46 min ago view
  • j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.

    crunch 11 hours 53 min ago view
  • so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.

    im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.

    crunch 12 hours 49 min ago view
  • That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.

    johann 13 hours 7 min ago view
  • 9 pitches in and this game already rules.

    HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).

    ...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.

    crunch 13 hours 11 min ago view
  • First time I saw Herrera was yesterday. He took like 100 pitches, fouled off a ton off Lester.

    Very nice young player and perfect leadoff guy.

    The E-Man 14 hours 21 min ago view
  • Obviously not Phil. But he mentioned this on Wednesday.

    "Dominican Summer League (DSL) Opening Day is Saturday June 4th, so probably about 8-10 pitchers and position players presently at EXST in Mesa will be sent to the Cubs Dominican Academy (probably sometime this week) and be assigned to either DSL Cubs #1 or DSL Cubs #2."

    In the comments here: http://www.thecubreporter.com/05242016/cub-power-d...

    QuietMan 15 hours 35 sec ago view