Though the presence of powerful bats is an undisputed advantage, it creates some uneasy positional overpopulation when drawing up the lineup card.
Through the tumultuous 2018 season, many bad things have happened. Blue Jays fans were this time subject to countless injuries, underwhelming performances, and most importantly, another losing season. Still, it’s not hard to find positives in the 2018 season. Take the youngsters for instance.
This year, Teoscar Hernandez got his first real shot at a full season (436 PA entering play Sunday) and has admirably shown why he deserves a spot in the everyday lineup for years to come. Similarly, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Danny Jansen have risen the major league level and have fared excellently in their maiden voyages.
However, the above success stories, especially that of Teoscar Hernandez, create some crowdedness in 2019, but not in the position you’d think.
Ever since joining the big league squad, Teoscar Hernandez has been lauded for offensive abilities. The man can hit, of that, there is no doubt. However, defensively, the 25-year-old hasn’t exactly been impressive out in right field. This defensive doubt has led many to ponder other positions Hernandez could play to minimize his defensive impact while keeping his potent bat in the lineup every day. The answer – the designated hitter.
While not the most eloquent solution, slotting Teoscar into the DH position would allow other more capable outfielders more time in the field. However, this move (or a move to first base for that matter) could create some incredible crowdedness in two key offensive positions.
Above is a list of all the players who have logged time at DH this year for the Blue Jays as of Friday, August 25th. Of those, seven are under contract beyond this year (bolded names), with three of them either in the minor leagues or no longer with the organization altogether (italicized names). What we can gather from this is that the designated hitter position is already a revolving door of names, with Kendrys Morales and Josh Donaldson headlining the list.
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Next year, this list should prove to be even more expansive, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. likely to get a few cuts in that spot, and Yangervis Solarte running out of places to play in the infield, assuming he’s still part of the team’s plans beyond this year. Justin Smoak, who might have his team option exercised next year, could also add to the glut of hitters who could fit in some capacity.
With that, the picture suddenly becomes more complicated. Now, the Blue Jays could, in order to remedy this hypothetical conundrum, do a number of different things. To name a few, they could force Hernandez to play the outfield, trade or release Morales, take Solarte out of the DH picture entirely, or simply rotate who hits in an even and regulated fashion.
Alternatively, the Blue Jays could not see Hernandez playing in the outfield as that big of an issue and just keep on pencilling him in there. Either way, the DH position is going to be crowded for the Blue Jays of next year.
Still, having too many capable hitters is always a wonderous problem to have, and while the Jays are certainly a little distraught with the situation on their hands, it’s far better than struggling to find powerful bats to eat up plate appearances. I, for one, am supremely interested to see how the above situation will sort itself out next season.