The designated hitter is a position that causes much controversy. Should a DH get into the Hall of Fame? Should the DH be in the National League? Why even have a DH?
This year in the American League, two designated have stood out among all the rest. With David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox retiring at the end of this season, there has been plenty of discussion about his Hall of Fame future. Ortiz and Edwin Encarnacion of the Toronto Blue Jays also raise a lot of questions about whether a DH should win the MVP Award.
If MVP stood for Most Valuable Pokemon, this discussion would be easy, because Charzard would automatically win the award.
But MVP stands for Most Valuable Player, which makes things more complicated.
Encarnacion has 26 home runs with 86 RBIs and an average of .264. Ortiz has fewer home runs and RBIs with 24 and 79, but his batting average (.326) and OPS (1.083) far surpass Encarnacion.
With the numbers close and Ortiz’s final-season narrative, he would have the best shot at winning the AL MVP award between the two of them, but we will consider both Encarnacion and Ortiz in this argument.
The only argument you can make for a DH not winning the MVP is because they don’t play the field. Now, I understand that Encarnacion does play first base here and there, but on MLB.com, his official position listing is DH and that’s how he is widely known.
And if you thought you could make Ortiz play in the field, you’re dead wrong. He cares about one thing and one thing only — and that’s hitting the you-know-what out of a baseball.
But when it comes to how valuable the player is, if you took Ortiz out of that killer Red Sox lineup, things would not be the same. The Red Sox would be down in every single offensive category, and guys after him like Hanley Ramirez and others wouldn’t have as many guys on base. Also, the Red Sox wouldn’t have as many runs due to Ortiz always hitting the guys in front of him in.
For Encarnacion, it would be the same thing. Both guys are the hearts of their respective lineups. Would the Blue Jays still have Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista? Yes. Would the Red Sox still have Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts? Yes. Things just wouldn’t go as smoothly as they currently do.
With regard to Encarnacion, it’s really just his power numbers that are really high. His average still sits at .264, which isn’t exactly MVP caliber. To win the MVP, you have to be the most important player on your team, and even though Encarnacion clearly provides a lot of power, he still doesn’t hit for consistency at an MVP level.
Ortiz, on the other hand, does.
Ortiz takes his job about as seriously as it gets. The preparation that he undergoes for every pitcher before every game is as tedious and culture-setting as it gets.
When it comes to importance, Ortiz ranks high above the rest. There are many other possible AL MVP candidates, but not one provides incredible consistency and incredible power.
If you’re going to make the case that a DH can’t win the MVP award, I would guess that you’d make the same argument that a closer shouldn’t win a Cy Young Award because he isn’t pitching every inning, let alone every day? So do you not consider Dennis Eckersley‘s or Eric Gagne‘s Cy Youngs legitimate? Or maybe you don’t believe a pitcher should win the MVP award because they’re not out there every day? So you don’t consider Clayton Kershaw‘s MVP award legitimate, either?
It’s about being great at your job, and Ortiz is the best at his in MLB. It’s time we make a DH the MVP.
And maybe a Hall of Famer. But that’s another argument for another day.