Introducing a new installment of Baseball Questions We All Must Answer. There are questions that, within our lifetimes, every baseball fan -- each one of us -- must account for. These questions are of utmost importance. This is one of those questions.
Who is the least designated hitter designated hitter?
That's kind of confusing. In other words:
Who is the most non-DH player ever to make a plate appearance as a DH?
This question is a little less open to interpretation than other questions we have pondered in this space, such as, "who is the most forgotten baseball player?" It ought to be fun all the same, especially if we open up the guidelines. We're not necessarily limited to career designated hitters, nor even a player who DH'd for just a season. Let's open this up, and consider every single player who has ever made a plate appearance as a DH.
To kick things off, I'll suggest David Eckstein, the poster boy for anti-stats, pro-sentiment admiration. For starters, dude is a career middle infielder, and seeing a regular 2B/SS penciled in as a DH is... well, it's just weird. As is typical of a middle infielder, Eckstein is not a particularly great hitter; in fact, he's managed an OPS+ of 100 or greater only once in his career.
Of course, a hitter doesn't have to be a home run hitter to be effective offensively, but we can probably agree that the giant home run-mashing dude is the stereotypical DH. You picture a guy who hits 35 home runs in a season. Well, David Eckstein has hit 35 home runs across 10 major league seasons. To boot, at 5'7", he's really short for a DH.
The kicker: Eckstein's designated-hitting career wasn't simply a one-off result of a single unusual circumstance. He's appeared as a DH in 29 games, and in five different seasons with two different teams.
In previous discussions, y'all have proven that your encyclopedic knowledge of baseball eclipses mine, so I have no doubt that you will come up with better answers. Your participation is highly encouraged. Please leave your answers in the comments section below, or tweet me at @jon_bois.
I cannot think of any more productive means of spending a Tuesday afternoon.