Red Sox: A look back at Boston’s designated hitters legacy

Oct 10, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) salutes the fans after the loss against the Cleveland Indians in game three of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 10, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) salutes the fans after the loss against the Cleveland Indians in game three of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mike Easler had the nickname “Hit Man” for a reason. A left-handed hitter who could manufacture line drives that had gap written all over them. Acquired from Pittsburgh for lefty John Tudor in the 1983 off-season Easler had an exceptionally productive first year as Boston’s DH.

As a DH Easler had 544 plate appearances and slashed .330/.392/.548 with 23 home runs and 79 RBI and Easler also saw service time of 29 games at first base hitting only .239. In 1985 Easler’s DH numbers deteriorated to .259 with just 14 home runs and 63 RBI and the Hit Man was traded in the off-season to the New York Yankees for Don Baylor.

The 1984 season Easler was the top-ranked DH and posted an fWAR of 4.0 for his efforts. In 1985 the fWAR sunk to 0.5 and the Red Sox moved on to a right-handed option in Baylor. Easler finished off his playing days with two seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters hitting .302.

For that one season – 1984 – Easler hit some baseballs as hard as anyone I saw. The nickname was well deserved. A career .315 hitter at Fenway Park.