This week's Sunday Night Baseball game features the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox, two teams that have slugged their way through most of this decade, scoring the most and sixth-most runs in the majors since 2010, respectively.
A lot of that production has come from their designated hitters. But with the retirement of David Ortiz after the 2016 season, the Red Sox had to switch to veteran Hanley Ramirez. The Tigers might have a similar situation when 38-year-old Victor Martinez's contract ends after 2018, as slugger Miguel Cabrera will be a ready replacement.
But with Ortiz and Billy Butler out of the league and Martinez nearing the end of his career, we will have lost the three players who have had the most plate appearances at DH since 2010. One of the offshoots of the sabermetric revolution is an increased awareness of the cost of rostering a player who can't play the field, which has created an opportunity to redefine the DH position. The Tampa Bay Rays have been doing this sort of thing for years, as they don't have a player with more than 600 plate appearances at DH over the past decade combined, but that idea hasn't gained much traction with other teams.
Which teams are getting the most from their DHs?
First, let's take a look at what teams are getting from their designated hitters so far this season and where the DHs are being used. Let's sort the American League's DH production by wRC+ (weighted runs created-plus), which is both park- and league-adjusted; wRC+ measures overall offensive production and scales it so that 100 is average.