Has the Red Sox DH become the elephant in the room?

(Photo: Scot Tucker)
Eric D. Schabell
Contributing Writer

It might be the least noticed problem in the American League.

Maybe it's escaped our attention due to all the injury woes that the Red Sox have had to endure this season.

Could the lack of production at third base by an over paid Pablo Sandoval be covering up another black hole in the Red Sox lineup?

Whatever the reason, the designated hitter (DH) role for the Red Sox has gone unnoticed due to the underwhelming offensive numbers that have been put up so far this season. Red Sox Nation has been spoiled over the years with David Ortiz manning the DH role, but this year has been nothing short of a disaster.

Hanley Ramirez has struggled to rank 10th in any important statistical category used to evaluate DH performance, for example (looking only at the 13 qualified AL DHs with more than 160 at-bats):
  • 11th in AVG
  • 7th in OBP
  • 9th in SLG
  • 12th in RBIs
  • 10th in home runs
  • 13th in doubles (while living at Fenway?)
  • 12th in hits
  • 11th in at-bats
  • 12th in runs scored
The two that really jump out at you should be the HRs and RBIs. To put these in perspective, let's look at the output of the rest of the Red Sox lineup:
The Red Sox have been hurt offensively by the lack of DH output. How many games where the Red Sox lost by a run (eight times in 2017) could have gone the other way if their DH put up 5-7 more HRs or knocked in another 10 RBIs?

It's a stretch to assume that these all would have been wins instead of losses, but the baseline is that more runs lead to more wins.

In 2016 Ramirez had 30 HRs and 111 RBIs, but this year he is on pace for  +20 HRs and +60 RBIs.

With the Red Sox finding excuses to sideline Sandoval at 3B, it might be time to consider the lingering shoulder issues severe enough to sideline Ramirez in favor of another DH?

The elephant's a non-productive bat in the lineup, one where you're paid to hit. Take a look at Kevin Millar hitting after seven years out of pro baseball.

Maybe the Red Sox can talk Millar into coming back as the DH?

Post a comment or via twitter @erics_redsox with your thoughts.

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