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Chris: Would it be fair to select Grape Ape as the best DH ever? How one answers that question is the first step in determining the criteria used to select baseball's best designated hitter. Should any player who ever DH-ed be considered? Should only the statistics players accrued while DH-ing be considered? Or should MLB's best ever DH be chosen like a manager would choose one for a game, that being the best hitter not already in the lineup? Grape Ape seems like he would be an ideal choice.
Brad: The best DH of all time is Frank Thomas because he is what an athlete should be: dedicated to clean sports, appreciative of his opportunity and a solid player.
Joe: So many reasons, let me count the ways: Over 500 HRs, two MVPs (and finished in top four in MVP voting four other times), .421 career on-base percentage, a batting title, over .300 career average, 1,600 walks, eight straight seasons with 100 runs, 100 RBI, 25 HR, 100 walks.
Ralphie: Frank Thomas is not the best DH ever because he only spent 58% of his career at DH. I've got to give a shout out to The Big Hurt, though, for making the Hall of Fame! War Eagle, Frank Thomas.
Chris: Since the position was invented in 1973, I assume this eliminates Babe Ruth from consideration. And since the DH is an American League-only accessory, I would look foolish trying to make a case for Tony Eusebio. Fortunately, since the DH is so recently instituted, I can claim to have actually seen most of the candidates for best DH ever in action. And while Thomas spent a lot of time playing first base, the only circumstance that could prevent David Ortiz from DH-ing would be a World Series game in a National League park. Ortiz has comparable stats to Frank Thomas, three more World Series rings, though hopefully not more PEDs ingested.
Brad: David Ortiz has an impressive record as a player, but it's questionable due to being named as testing positive for steroid use.
Joe: Ortiz is a feared hitter with many walk off home runs. He is a great hitter but does not have the stats to match Thomas.
Ralphie: David Ortiz is not the best DH ever because his stats don't live up to Edgar Martinez's stats.
Chris: Edgar Martinez had a higher batting average than Thomas and Ortiz, but he was not as feared a hitter, mainly due to shaving off his mustache. After having one during the first part of his career, Martinez decided a baby-smooth upper lip suited him more during his latter playing years.
Joe: Edgar had a great career . . . but Frank has more runs, HRs, RBIs, hits, walks, on-base percentage, slugging, basically ever category but batting average, which Edgar currently has a slight edge.
Ralphie: Edgar Martinez is not the best DH ever because he has beaten Reggie Jackson's stats and is called "the real Mr. October."
Brad: I think Edgar Martinez is a good player, but I think his career didn't reach full potential because of injuries.
Ralphie: Travis Hafner is the best DH ever because he has one of the most impressive records of all time.
Joe: Way off the mark in terms of stats. He has a long way to go to catch the above three.
Brad: Same story with Travis Hafner . . . several injuries thru career and doesn't stand out like Thomas.
Chris: Travis Hafner has an MLB-record six grand slams in one season, though my research did not indicate whether the grand slams referred to home runs or meals at Denny’s. Seeing as how Hafner is currently looking for a team to sign him, being named the best DH ever would be considered a hefty unemployment benefit. However, finding Edgar Martinez’ shaved off mustache and affixing said thatch to his upper lip could only help Hafner’s job prospects.
Try on a new pair of Sports Briefs with the Gab Four every Friday. Find out more about Joe, Chris, Brad and Ralphie, and read their solo columns on their individual pages.