When the Designated Hitter was brought to the National League, it was assumed that the move would help improve offense. The Brewers have prioritized position player depth in recent years, which you would think would make it easier for them to have a productive player at the DH spot. But that hasn't been the case.
The Brewers acquired veteran Jesse Winker over the offseason, planning to install him as the nearly everyday DH. His defensive metrics are poor and it's a crowded outfield picture with plenty of better defenders, making him an ideal DH. Except he hasn't really hit. He's not the only one to struggle in the role.
Six different players have at least 15 ABs as the DH for the Brewers this year, led by Winker and followed by Rowdy Tellez, William Contreras, Luke Voit, Darin Ruf, and Christian Yelich. None of them have thrived in the role.
If you've been wondering just how bad the Brewers DHs have been, they are in fact the worst performing offensive group on the team as we close in on the halfway mark of the regular season.
Brewers DHs have a combined .191/.281/.289 slash line with just six homers, 95 strikeouts, and a .570 OPS. That's the worst batting average, worst slugging, worst OPS, and highest strikeouts among any position group on the team.
The designated hitters for the Brewers have the second-fewest HRs among any position and are tied for second fewest doubles. They strike out more than any other group and do less damage than any other group.
It's astounding how the Brewers have gotten such little offensive production from a position where your sole job is to hit. The only job of the DH is to hit, they don't have to worry about anything else and they don't bring anything else during a game.
Brewers DHs struggled last year as well but that group wasn't the worst position on the team at least. Even with all the struggles of Andrew McCutchen and Keston Hiura in that spot, they at least were able to do some damage and bring mild levels of production. This year has just been atrocious.
The Brewers have shown a willingness to sacrifice some offense in order to have exceptional defense. Amid all their offensive struggles, defense and pitching are the reasons they're winning games. They can stick with Joey Wiemer's offensive struggles because of his defense. They will stick with Willy Adames through his slump because he's an excellent defender. When it comes to the DH, there's no defense to bring value to the team through a slump. This is their only job.
Jesse Winker is the primary DH and likely will be for the foreseeable future. They will need him to get hot and perform up to the expectations he had coming into the year. He just hit his first home run the other day, hopefully that's a sign he's heating up, but if he can't, it's a position they'll need to address at the trade deadline. You can't be a contender and have a black hole in the lineup at the one spot that was added in order to remove the black hole in the lineup of pitchers having to hit. The DH's only job is to hit and that can't be a black hole every single day.
If the Brewers are going to get this offense to reach it's full potential, they'll need their DH spot in the lineup to stand for something other than "Doesn't Hit".