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TODAY: Monday, May 15
Player ratings: Designated hitter

Welcome to the player ratings. Our panel of baseball authorities will rank the top 10 players at each position. The basic question is this: Which player do you want at that position for the 2000 season?

For more about our panel, check the the catchers page. The numbers used in the chart below are explained at the bottom of the page.

Other positions: | C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | LF | CF | RF | SP | CL

Ranking the designated hitters
1. Edgar Martinez 50 142 .447 .554 1.001 132 .792
2. Frank Thomas 43 135 .414 .471 .885 99 .667
3. Jose Canseco 40 113 .369 .563 .932 90 .666
4. John Jaha 29 142 .414 .556 .970 112 .734
5. Harold Baines 23 135 .387 .533 .920 85 .664
6. Richie Sexson 17 134 .305 .514 .819 69 .462
7. Mark Quinn 15 17 .385 .733 1.118 17 .822
8. Brian Daubach 13 110 .360 .562 .922 78 .683
9. David Segui 9 121 .355 .468 .823 72 .570
10. Brad Fullmer 8 100 .321 .464 .785 46 .461

Position comments
Brandon Funston:
Give John Jaha an inch of health and he'll take a mile. He's played over 100 games in a season just three times in his eight-year career, but he's averaged 30 home runs and 100 RBI during those healthy stints. What impresses me most is his ability to draw walks, piling up 101 last season.

Underrated: Robert Fick doesn't figure into the Tigers' plan at catcher, but he certainly still figures into their plans at the plate. He's a patient, knowledgable hitter who goes to all fields with pop. He should enjoy a coming-out party in 2000.

Overrated: David Segui. If he's not playing first base, his value diminishes. Despite being a contact hitter with a great physique, he develops little power and is injury-prone.

Graham Hays:
Robert Fick should shine for Detroit in 2000 unless the team deludes itself into thinking the DH slot needs a veteran presence like Luis Polonia for the Tigers to make a playoff run (because it doesn't and they won't). A terrific hitter whose power should grow with time, Fick would bring patience to a Detroit batting order loaded with free swingers.

Underrated: Darin Erstad shouldn't be on this list, but access to the outfield in Anaheim remains tricky as long as the team holds on to Jim Edmonds and remains inexplicably infatuated with Garret Anderson.

Overrated: David Justice (who will be rated among left fielders). Still a terrific designated hitter when healthy, but his value is somewhat overstated thanks to his 1997 season and the general fearsomeness of the Indians lineup

Keith Law:
For all the talk about Harold Baines making a late bid for the Hall of Fame, you'd think Edgar Martinez had never picked up a bat. Healthy for most of the last five seasons, he hasn't hit under .320, drawn fewer than 97 walks, or recorded a slugging percentage under .550. His career OPS stands at .950, giving him the best argument any DH has had for a Hall bid.

Underrated: Yes, that's Mark Quinn on that list. He has hit everywhere he's played, but has to fight for a job this spring.

Overrated: Jose Canseco's game is completely wrapped up in his homers, which means the Devil Rays will employ him forever for shtick value.

David Schoenfield:
Frank Thomas wasn't the Big Hurt the past two seasons, but he was the best hitter of the 1990s. Remember, he won two MVP awards despite having little defensive value. Not since Ted Williams did a hitter combine his ability to hit for average and power and draw walks. Unfortunately, while still a good hitter, two mediocre seasons probably mean he won't duplicate those .450 OBPs and .600 slugging percentages again.

Underrated: We all know how good Edgar Martinez is, but he's still underrated as one of the game's great hitters. Tony Gwynn has never had seasons at the plate as good as Edgar, who gets on base more, hits for more power, scores more runs and drives in more runs.

Overrated: If Darin Erstad hits like he did last year, the Angels are in big trouble. They may be anyway.

Rany Jazayerli:
Does it make any sense to anyone that David Segui is now a DH? Segui is one of the best defensive first basemen in the game, but out of fear of displeasing Carlos Delgado, the Blue Jays used Segui at DH after acquiring him last year. Now Segui has been traded to Texas, where Rafael Palmeiro "won" a Gold Glove despite playing fewer games at first base than Frank Catalanotto. Segui is an adequate hitter, but his value drops with his glove in his locker.

Underrated: Mark Quinn gets very little respect -- even from his own team -- but he's won batting titles in Double-A and Triple-A the past two seasons, and is quite capable of hitting .320 with 15 homers this year, making him a great sleeper for Rookie of the Year.

Overrated: Richie Sexson is one enormous player and got everyone's attention with 116 RBI in just 134 games last year. He's not that good. The Indians put more runners on base than any team in baseball, giving Sexson plenty of RBI opportunities. Sexson himself drew only 34 walks all season, and you can't be a top-flight hitter with a .305 OBP.

The numbers
We've avoided most of the traditional numbers in favor of "sabermetric stats":
Pts: Total points from our panel (10 for first, etc.)
G: Games played OBP: On-base percentage SLG: Slugging percentage
OPS: On-base + slugging
RC: Runs created. Using all of a player's offensive statistics, tells how many "runs" a player was responsible for. Added together, individual runs created match closely with a team's overall run total.
OW%: Offensive winning percentage. The percentage of games a team would "win" with nine of that player in the lineup, given average defense and pitching.