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Our first-ever Universal DH Power Rankings for all 30 MLB teams
May 21, 2020
  • Bradford DoolittleESPN Staff Writer

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    • Sports reporter, Kansas City Star, 2002-09
    • Writer, Baseball, Baseball Prospectus
    • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus
    • Member, Baseball Writers Association of America
    • Member, Professional Basketball Writers Association

Let me get this part out of the way: I don’t like the idea of the universal designated hitter. At the same time, I recognize it as the best option for what will already be a strange season, if we get even that. However, we shouldn’t let this be the end of one of baseball’s most prevalent debates. We’ll just table the discussion for now.

Obviously, the temporary institution of the DH-for-all rule will help some teams more than others. American League teams have already built their rosters around the idea of having a DH for almost all of their games. National League teams obviously have not, and it makes for an intriguing subplot when and if baseball’s 2020 season restarts. Depth in quality hitters will be a key. But don’t overlook defense in this calculation. Some teams have chosen offense over defense at a key spot, a choice that they might be able to avoid in a DH world. Thus, not only could these teams adding a DH help their run production with another bat, they could actually improve their defense, as well.

Here, I’ve ranked each team’s DH situation according to projected run production from that spot, as measured by projected runs created per 162 games in a ballpark-neutral context. However, defense must be taken into account: For some NL teams, I’ve forecast DH plate appearances based on moving former regulars into that slot while getting a better glove in the field. In the commentary accompanying each team’s ranking, I’ve noted these decisions.

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