Next up in our position by position debate, we are going to review the DH. If you are just catching on we have been doing a debate on who has the better player at each position between the Red Sox and the Yankees. To be clear, this is not a debate on who has the better team, just the better player at each position. A debate on who has the better team would require much more than a position by position evaluation.
Red Sox DH
David Ortiz is known throughout the league as one of the most feared hitters in the game. Having the distinction of being a left-handed power hitter in fenway park, Ortiz has shown his ability to hit in the clutch time and again. He also bears the distinction of being a true DH, someone who hits well despite not having the defensive innings to keep them warmed up. Last season, Ortiz had problems with his left knee that was hurting his ability to push off on his swing. I for one thought his power numbers would suffer, which they did, but only slightly, and he made up for the lack of homeruns with the highest average he's ever batted for. Ortiz batted .332 with 35 homeruns and 117 RBI's. The only way 35 homeruns can be considered a down year, is when you've hit at least 40 in the previous 3 seasons, and 54 the season before. With his career high batting average, he also hit a career high in doubles, slugging 52 two basers. Another distinction Ortiz has is that he's one of those power hitters who walked more than he struck out. His body type and age tell me he won't hold up forever, but the fact that he takes the field only a few times a year, tells me he'll last longer than the average heavy set baseball player. Ortiz is still one of the hitters I fear the most in that lineup, though watching Kyle Farnsworth strike him out with that non-moving slider of his back in 2006 is one of the sweetest memories I have.
Who the Yankee DH is going to be is a big question. Giambi has typically served in this role, but he wants to get back on the field. Matsui is currently out of a fielding position and Girardi will probably want him to DH. Last season there was talks of Damon DHing to keep his legs fresh, but that's all fallen to the way side. Shelley Duncan seems to be a good candidate along with Morgan Ensberg. My guess is that it will be between Giambi and Matsui, both of which had hampering injuries last season. Giambi had an off season, while Matsui had a pretty good season. Neither of those guys are really full-time DH types, at least not that we know. Giambi has typically batted worse DHing then he does when he takes the field, and Matsui hasn't been used as a DH that much to really know how he'd take to it. Giambi has more power, but needs to prove healthy, and Matsui needs to show that his ailing knee won't slow his bat.
Winner: Red Sox. Whether the Yankees have Giambi, Matsui, Damon, Ensberg, Duncan, Betemit, Texeira, Bonds, or Morneau DHing it doesn't really matter. David Ortiz mashes, and he is more productive than all those guys. I always wondered what his numbers would look like if he were a Yankee with that short porch in right field. One thing I will say about him is that he's seriously under paid by the Red Sox. I don't know how Ortiz ended up with that contract but he needs to fire his agents.