03 Jul A Mid-Season Look at The Top 3 Designated Hitters In 2017
By: Chris Northrop
My curiosity about how Edwin Encarnacion and Kendrys Morales compared after half a season with their new teams led me to question who is at the top of the DH heap? As it turned out, Encarnacion and Morales are within .01 of each other as we approach the All-Star Break, with Encarnacion batting .260 for the Indians and Morales batting .259 for the Blue Jays. Both Encarnacion and Morales have found moderate success with their new teams. Surprisingly, neither Encarnacion nor Morales can lay claim to the top DH performances so far in 2017.
1. Corey Dickerson: Tampa Bay Rays
The surprising star of designated hitters in 2017, however, has been Tampa Bay’s 24 year old Corey Dickerson. After an injury-plagued 2016, Dickerson is batting .321/363/.562 with 17 homeruns and is batting .357 with RISP. The AL East is a tight race with the Rays only 5 games behind front runner Boston Red Sox and two behind the 2nd place Yankees. The Rays have been a consistent team in 2017 hovering most of the season within 4 games of .500, currently 43-41. Dickerson has played a major role in the success of the Rays, particularly with the loss of CF Kevin Kiermaier for the season. Dickerson has earned a trip to the All-Star Game, being just the fourth Rays’ player voted in as a starter.
2. Nelson Cruz: Seattle Mariners
At 37 years old, Nelson Cruz is performing above his career numbers this season with a .287/.370/.502 slash line for the Seattle Mariners. Despite a 21 game homerless streak as of July 1st, Cruz still ranks 7th in RBIs in the AL. Cruz likes home-cooking as he bats .324 at home and .254 on the road. Currently day-to-day, Cruz was removed from the 7/1 game against the Angels when he jammed his knee sliding into a base. The injury is not believed to be too serious.
3. Matt Holliday: New York Yankees
Another surprise at DH this season has been Matt Holliday for the Yankees. After a disappointing 2016 with the Cardinals, in which his batting average had dropped to a career-low .246, Holliday was optimistic about a rebound with the Yankees in 2017. At 37 years old, Holliday joined the Yankees to provide the sting with his bat that he’s known for, along with veteran leadership for the young guns, such as Aaron Judge. Holliday is batting .262 with 15 homers and 47 RBI’s; although he has been on the DL since June 25th with illness, he has contributed to a Yankees team which still ranks as the 2nd best team in the AL behind the Astros, despite recent losses.