I’m gonna whip (like throw, not WHIP) some stats at your dome:
.258/.342/.431 17.0 WAR
.237/.320/.421 3.8 WAR
Those are the production stats the Twins and the White Sox have gotten out of their DH position since 2010 according to Fangraphs. Care to guess which is which? I chose 2010 when I ran these stats because 2009 was the last time the Sox got positive production from the DH position, and it was Jim Thome that was providing it. The next year the Sox let him walk, and he jumped right on I-94 and went north to Minnesota. Wanna get more depressed? Here’s the list of primary DH players for the two teams in that time span:
2010: Mark Kotsay .239/.306/.376
2011: Adam Dunn .159/.292/.277
2012: Adam Dunn .204/.333/.468
2013: Adam Dunn .219/.320/.422
2014: Adam Dunn .219/.337/.414
2015: Adam LaRoche .207/.293/.340
2016: Avasail Garcia .245/.307/.385
2017: Matt Davidson .220/.260/.452
2018: Matt Davidson .228/.319/.419
2010: Jim Thome .283/.412/.627 (!!!)
2011: Jim Thome .243/.351/.476
2012: Ryan Doumit .275/.320/.461
2013: Ryan Doumit .247/.319/.396
2014: Kennys Vargas .274/.316/.476
2015: Miguel Sano .269/.385/.530
2016: Miguel Sano .236/.319/.462
2017: Robbie Grossman .246/.361/.380
2018: Robbie Grossman .273/.367/.384
Those numbers could not be any more different (and provided by BaseballReference.Com). It’s pretty damning that the Twins worst year of production at DH was still better than five of the years for the Sox. It also shows that the White Sox tried just one time to address the DH position via free agency. It failed pretty spectacularly (though Dunn made the AS game one year), and since then they’ve just plugged in random dudes and any production gotten out of that spot was just a bonus. The Twins, meanwhile, have made a concerted effort to man the position with people who will make a difference in the lineup. This season was no different, when they went out and got Nelson Cruz off the free agent market at a pretty good one-year, $14 million salary with a club option for 2020. Cruz has rewarded the Twins with a .269/.396/.549 worth 1.7 WAR thus far in the season. The Sox attempted to address the position in a different way, namely signing Yonder Alonso (supposed left handed power bat and noted Good Friend of Manny Machado) to a one-year deal that netted them a solid .176/.265./.290 good for a -1.9 WAR. HOORAY!
I bring this up because I was at the game against the Marlins on Tuesday night where Caleb Smith took a perfect game into the 6th inning. Smith is by far and away the Marlins best pitcher, and he also happens to be left handed. The Sox big counter to the Fish’s best pitcher was to trot out Astros castoff and winner of the “If Sami Zayn Ate Too Many Moon Pies” lookalike contest AJ Reed. Reed also happens to be left-handed, and have absolutely terrible splits against lefties. With James McCann needing a night off, Reed was really the only option (in reality, McCann should’ve gotten Wednesday night off and started at DH against Smith, but Renteria’s lineup construction is an entirely different battle altogether). However, he’s just the latest in a long line of examples of how the Sox don’t care about the position while other teams take it deathly serious.
Perhaps this is the ultimate destination for Jose Abreu or Eloy Jimenez. Abreu definitely fits the profile, but his career numbers at the DH position are worse than when he’s playing in the field. He’s also made it clear that he’d rather play 1B as opposed to DH, so I’m sure that’s something that needs to be taken in account if/when the Sox resign him this offseason. Perhaps this is where Andrew Vaughn ends up long term, but it’s going to be at least a year (probably two) before he can provide any help at the position. Maybe Jake Burger, but both his Achilles tendons were last seen passing Jupiter after they snapped off his body. The other thing to consider is if the National League decides (as they absolutely should) to get rid of pitchers hitting and adopting the DH position full time is that availability of people like Nelson Cruz is going to thin out rapidly as the market for their services doubles. At some point the Sox front office is going to have to start taking this position seriously, as their current system of “random dudes” is not sustainable for any team that has any deigns on competing long term in the AL.
I just don’t have much hope that it will ever happen.