Two very dangerous hitters and a surprise
You never know when you are going to need a “Hit Man” and since this is about Designated hitters and not Tony Soprano I will present one in hard-hitting left-hander named Mike Easler who the Red Sox picked up from Pittsburgh for left-handed pitcher John Tudor.
Easler could hit and finished his career with a .293 average in 14 seasons, but in 1984, Easler had one of the most consistent DH performances in Boston history with a slash of .313/.376/.516 and 27 home runs and 91 RBI in 1984.
The following season the numbers were down a bit and in a rare trade with the Yankees, Easler was sent packing for another DH in Don Baylor. A deal that made sense since Baylor was a right-hand power bat and Easler could take advantage of the tempting right field at The Stadium.
The Red Sox acquired Reggie Jefferson via free agency and plugged in the left-hand hitter as a DH and occasional visits to the outfield and first base. Jefferson in the field would give you an idea of why he was best suited for DH.
Jefferson became a fan favorite when he had a .347 season in 1996 with 19 home runs and 74 RBI in 122 games. Against right-handed pitching Reggie was about as good as it gets.
Jefferson was a line drive hitter who could smoke the ball with one exception – lefthanders. Jefferson hit a career .219 versus .316 against right-handers. The end for Reggie was a self-induced pout over being omitted from the 1999 playoff roster and he simply walked out on MLB and went to Japan for one season before calling it a career at age 31.
The DH dream or fantasy is Ted Williams and he’s on my list, but is there any evaluation tool available to determine just what kind of DH Williams could have been? The only viable one is as a pinch hitter. Williams’ career stat line as a PH is a slash of .292/.442/.500 with six home runs and 29 RBI in 138 plate appearances. Extrapolate that to a full season and it would be similar to David Ortiz. Historically there had been mention of the DH option as Williams neared retirement and that would have been fascinating.