Cleveland Indians All-Decade Team Studs and Duds: Outfield and DH

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Designated Hitter

Folks, we have a battle! The designated hitter position is one that in recent years has evolved into a position that teams use to rotate players in and out of a lot, not always having a set player at the position.

However, the Indians have had a couple of guys that were almost strictly DHs in their time with the Indians this decade: Travis Hafner and Edwin Encarnacion. Ironically these two are also a pair of the largest deals ever handed out by the Cleveland Indians (over $100 million for the pair combined).

Recency bias would lead one to believe the choice is Edwin, and he does have a compelling case. In his two seasons with the Tribe, he hit a whopping 70 home runs while batting .252/.358/.490. He had 214 runs batted in and 170 runs scored while posting a 123 wRC+ and 3.3 fWAR. All very good numbers for just two years.

However…Travis Hafner posted some intriguing numbers of his own this decade. He did not put up the counting numbers Edwin did, hitting just 38 home runs with 140 runs batted in and 110 runs scored. However, he hit an impressive .267/.363/.447 with a 124 wRC+ and 3.7 fWAR. This in 150 fewer plate appearances than Encarnacion this decade.

Some may say that’s still an easy call. Edwin had more HR and RBI so he’s the pick, right? Well…Hafner did post a 4.35 WPA (win probability added) while Encarnacion only posted a 1.81 WPA. Hafner also had a 1.35 clutch rating while Edwin had a -2.26 rating (negative is below average, positive above). Some could argue that’s meaningless (and they wouldn’t be completely wrong at all), but it goes to show just how good Hafner was even at the end of his Tribe career.

So in our first shocker, the stud of the decade DH goes to Travis Hafner.

The dud of the decade isn’t quite so obvious either. Jason Giambi actually had one of the worst fWAR of any position player for the Indians this decade. He posted a -1.4 fWAR while batting .171/.276/.346 including a 72 wRC+. How bad is that? If you recall, Lou Marson posted a 70 wRC+ and was the dud of the decade at catcher. At least he could defend.

However, for as bad as Giambi was, he did have one of the biggest hits of the decade with the walk-off home run against the White Sox in 2013 that helped win the Indians the Wild Card that year. That alone saves him from the honor which then falls to Matt LaPorta, the “prize” of the CC Sabathia.

Where Napoli had a few moments, LaPorta just never could find his swing at all at the big league level, posting a -1.3 fWAR in 291 big league games. He hit 31 home runs….in over 1000 plate appearances. Not exactly what the Tribe expected for the top prospect. He bounced between the outfield, first base and even designated hitter, never finding a home anywhere.

Stud: Travis Hafner
Dud: Matt LaPorta

Next. All-Decade Team Studs and Duds: The Infield. dark

So what did you think of the choices in part two? Do you agree with the studs and duds in the outfield? What about the DH? Be sure to let us know in the comments below and stay tuned for the third and final installment looking the best and worst Cleveland Indians pitchers of the decade.