The 10 Worst DH Seasons in History

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

Taking a look at the ten worst seasons by a regular DH and what happened in the seasons after that terrible year.

A topic that received a mention or two by anyone and everyone who covers the Rangers was the unfortunate and sharp decline of Michael Young's production. In 2011 he had one of his very best seasons and the next year one of his very worst seasons.

For context, I compared it to every other qualifying season by a regular DH since the American League implemented the rule in 1973. By OPS+, which tells you a park adjusted and league adjusted comparison of a player's OPS to the rest of league with 100 being average, Michael Young had the fifth worst offensive season ever.

Below is a table of the ten worst offensive seasons by a regular DH. It includes their previous three year average, and in all cases but Ruben Sierra, each of the hitters was an above average offensive performer before suddenly falling off of a cliff.

Additionally, you can see how those players performed in their next year. The results are mixed:

  • Paul Molitor and Dave "Cobra" Parker, the two oldest players on this list by far, retiring after an excellent careers that seemed done.
  • Ruben Sierra performing even worse in limited appearances but eventually rebounding to stay in the league for several more seasons.
  • Alvin Davis having a very slight improvement in OPS+ in a small number of PA before hanging it up. Alvin Davis's drop from a very good hitter to absolutely being terrible is a strange thing at only 30 years old.
  • Every other player rebounded to have either an average to above average offensive year the very next season.

In terms of projecting Michael Young, ZiPS by Dan Szymborski expects him to put up a slash line of .279 / .317 / .401 for an OPS of .718 next year. That still isn't close to the .800+ OPS Michael Young has averaged over most of his career, but it's still regression upwards to his career numbers compared to 2012.

I don't expect Michael Young to come all the way back, but I also think it's reasonable to expect that he'll have an improved year in 2013.

Terrible Year Previous 3 Years Next Season Rest of Career*
Year Player Age PA OPS OPS+ PA OPS OPS+ PA OPS OPS+ PA OPS OPS+
1984 Ted Simmons 34 532 .569 61 1644 .745 111 592 .743 104 1059 .720 96
1996 Ruben Sierra 30 587 .695 75 1685 .736 97 148 .654 69 1998 .742 93
1991 Alvin Davis 30 528 .635 76 1785 .870 142 118 .657 86 118 .657 86
1974 Tommy Harper 33 504 .630 76 1932 .740 110 407 .679 99 495 .675 99
2012 Michael Young 35 651 .682 78 2000 .836 118
1991 Dave Parker 40 541 .653 81 1680 .752 112 Retired Retired
2005 Scott Hatteberg 35 523 .677 82 1828 .772 105 539 .826 109 1017 .823 109
1979 Mitchel Page 27 539 .657 83 1171 .870 145 393 .754 112 688 .706 100
1995 Greg Vaughn 29 451 .725 84 1663 .799 114 609 .903 127 3785 .838 117
1998 Paul Molitor 41 559 .718 86 1924 .809 108 Retired Retired
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