It’s been suggested that Bernie Williams could be a useful DH for the Yankees in 2007 – against left-handed pitching. Since Giambi struggles against LHP – maybe Bernie can be an asset in this role?
The last 4 seasons, against right-handed pitching, Williams has been, basically, a .260-hitter with a slugging percentage near .400. Hence, no one is suggesting that he be allowed to face RH-pitchers with any frequency (at this point in his career).
There is evidence to support the notion that Williams can be an effective batter against lefties. He hit them extremely well last season – and, he did a decent job against them in 2003 and 2004. (Bernie was a bust versus lefties in 2005 – but that now appears to be a fluky thing – considering 2003, 2004 and 2006.)
But, here’s the rub: What’s the demand/need for a “Faces Lefties Only DH” in the American League these days?
To answer that question, I turned to the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia to see how many good lefties are presently taking toe to the rubber in the Junior Circuit.
First, I looked at AL LHP RSAA Leaders in 2006:
Since “0″ RSAA means a pitcher is average, there were only about a dozen “stand-out” LHP in the AL last season – and, since Barry Zito has left the league and Francisco Liriano will miss a lot of time this season, there are only 10 pitchers from this dozen who will be possibly pitching against the Yankees in 2007.
How about AL LHP RSAA Leaders over the last three seasons combined? Here’s that list:
OK, so, maybe, based on this list, we can add Mark Buehrle and Gustavo Chacin to the list of 10 from the 2006 cut – bringing the total back up to a dozen tough LH-pitchers who live in the American League.
Nine of these twelve pitchers are starting pitchers. It’s in starts against these guys where you would want Bernie in there (as opposed to, say, Giambi) as your DH this season. However, how many games would we really be talking about here? Maybe something like 16 games over the full season – where the Yankees may actually face these tough LH-starters? If it is 16 games, that’s less than 10% of the season.
Is it worth carrying a player on your roster who will only be a beneficial impact to your team, as a starter, for less than 10% of the season? Sure, maybe it could be – if that player can also help you off the bench as well? If such a player could be used as a key defensive replacement and/or pinch runner, then he could be an asset to your team when he’s not starting.
Now, we are talking about Bernie Williams – who (at this stage of his career) will not only “not help” you in the field or on the bases, but, he “will hurt” you if used in these situations.
Therefore, Bernie Williams only use to the Yankees in 2007 would be to start as a DH in about 10% of the teams games. There has to be someone else who can be given that roster spot who will help the team in more games this season. Carrying Bernie Williams as a “Faces Only LHP” DH this season makes no sense.