The Red Sox had competent and not so competent designated hitters before David Ortiz. Here are a few that stand out – positive and negative.
The best designated hitters (DH) in Boston Red Sox history are easy to define since the obvious choice would be the ultimate alpha dog – David Ortiz. Others certainly contributed significantly to that position in the batting order. For a few, it would have been a full career except for Ortiz holding court those many seasons.
The Red Sox have been rather fortunate in the DH selection process and have enjoyed some quite productive seasons from others besides Manny Ramirez, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice. All took a turn at the position either by deterioration of positional skills or the necessity to get their bat into the lineup.
The Red Sox could withstand the fielding lapses of “Manny being Manny” as long as he hit. Mo Vaughn won an MVP with Boston, but his eight seasons registered only 170 starts at DH. Others came in who failed miserably in a short span or never registered enough starts at DH to be considered.
With Ortiz, other options existed to upgrade the defense at the only acceptable position for Big Papi – first base. Ortiz was acceptable in the field and would be stationed at first in certain inter-league contests and the World Series. Just ask Jeff Suppan about Papi’s fielding instincts.
What about the others? DH was serviced by some players who contributed either short-term or for a slightly longer time frame with mixed results. Following is a look at those in the second tier of DH talent for the Boston Red Sox. Some have a “history” in Boston and elsewhere.