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AL West: A Quick Comparison of Designated Hitters

CHICAGO - JULY 8:  Milton Bradley #21 of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Atlanta Braves during the game on July 8, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Taylor HContributor IJanuary 14, 2010

Vladimir Guerrero, Texas Rangers

Age: 35
Number of games played in 2009: 100
2009 wOBA: .343
2009 HR total: 15
2009 K-BB ratio: 56-19
2009 WAR: 0.8
Ability to play in the field if necessary: Absolutely not.

Replacing David Murphy: It's an upgrade.  As Matthew inferred at the LL/USSM event, David Murphy is no one special.

Jack Cust, Oakland A's

Age: 31
Number of games played in 2009: 149
2009 wOBA: .342
2009 WAR: 1.0 2009
K-BB ratio: 185-93
2009 HR total: 25

Ability to play in the field if necessary: Absolutely not.

Hideki Matsui, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Age: 36
Number of games played in 2009: 142
2009 wOBA: .378
2009 HR total: 28
2009 K-BB ratio: 75-64
2009 WAR: 2.4

Ability to play in the field if necessary: Absolutely not.

Replacing Vlad: It's a fairly significant upgrade.

Milton Bradley, Seattle Mariners

Age: 32
Number of games played in 2009: 124
2009 wOBA: .345
2009 HR total: 12
2009 WAR: 1.0
2009 K-BB ratio: 95-66

Ability to play in the field if necessary: Fair (2.8 UZR in 2008)

Replacing Sweeney/Griffey: Team chemistry goes down, but offensive production goes (presumably) way up.  Stat nerds cheer, and the casual fan weeps.

Even considering his awful 2009 campaign, Milton Bradley performed at a similar level as both Guerrero and Cust.  We certainly need to account for the "DH penalty," which is to say that Bradley's 2009 WAR was bolstered by his decent performance in the field, as he played over 100 games in left field for the Cubs, whereas the other three rarely played the field, if at all.

Guerrero and Matsui, being in their mid-30s, are candidates for significant downgrades in offensive production.  Bradley and Cust, however, are 32 and 31 respectively; both underperformed in 2009 and are likely to bounce back.

It's not unreasonable to expect something along the lines of .280/.370/.470 from Milton Bradley in 2010.  It isn't likely that he repeats 2008—Safeco being much less hitter-friendly than the Great American Ballpark in Arlington—but Bradley certainly has the ability. 

If he feels comfortable in the Mariners' clubhouse and gets off to a good start, don't be surprised to see Bradley put up a better WAR than Cust, Guerrero, and Matsui by the end of the season.

Or, as Jack Zduriencik would say, at the end of the day.

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