The Oakland A’s added yet another piece of hardware to their growing pile this winter. On Tuesday, Khris Davis received the 2018 Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter award, the team announced.
As the name suggests, this award goes to the top DH every year, as voted by writers, broadcasters, and PR departments. It’s been around since 1973 but was renamed after five-time winner Edgar in 2004, though David Ortiz is now the all-time leader with eight. This is the third time an Oakland player has been selected, after Dave Kingman in 1984 and Dave Parker in 1989 — so, two Daves and a Davis.
As for Khrush’s 2018 campaign, what is left to say? We covered him extensively all summer, and you can relive his progress by clicking here and here and here and here and here and here. He even finished eighth in the MVP voting, which is particularly impressive for someone who only plays on one side of the ball. His raw numbers speak for themselves:
Khrush, 2018: .247/.326/.549, 135 wRC+, 48 HR, 123 RBI, 9.0% BB, 26.8% Ks
He led the majors in dingers, and six of them stood as outright game-winners including a pair of walk-offs. He also leads the sport in long balls since 2016, having just become the 25th player in history to swat 40+ in three straight seasons. He can hit them in bunches, whether that means an Oakland-record six in four games, an MLB-leading 27 after the All-Star break (in 64 games), or an MLB-best seven multi-homer contests. He doesn’t even care if the A’s are down to their last strike on the road.
There was really only one other competitor for this award. Sure there are big names like Giancarlo Stanton and Edwin Encarnacion and 2017 winner Nelson Cruz, but they all had slight off-years relative to their own monster standards. Khrush outdid them all in wRC+ and blew them away in homers, and this is one conversation where raw dinger total really does play a big role.
No, the only other real contender was J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox. He unquestionably had a better season than Khrush, coming close in homers but outpacing him by nearly 100 points of batting average, 60 points of OBP, and 35 points of wRC+, all as the centerpiece of one of the only offenses that has any argument as being better than Oakland’s top-five lineup.
However, Martinez played just 93 games at DH, and another 57 in the outfield. He only needed 100 at-bats as a DH to be eligible for this award, and in fact he did finish runner-up, but the only way Khrush wins this is if J.D. got docked by some voters for not being a full-time DH. If you want to get technical, DH Martinez hit a relatively mediocre .297 with 27 homers in 400 plate appearances, whereas OF Khrush only accounted for 47 PAs and two round-trippers and the rest came as a DH.
All of this serves as a reminder of how completely stupid it is that Martinez won two Silver Slugger awards, since voters couldn’t decide which position to place him at. He should absolutely have won one of them, because he was a top-three hitter in the sport, but pick one spot for him and stick with it. Giving him an outfield award on the strength of 57 games makes about as much sense as giving Rafael Palmeiro a Gold Glove for 28 games of defense. It’s not like he was so amazing that he graded out as the best outfielder even in part-time duty, he was simply double-credited for what he did at the plate because the voters forgot to exercise any level of critical thinking or logical faculty. That particular award process needs to be fixed.
Personally, I would have given J.D. the DH Silver Slugger without question as his position of best fit (and chosen some other outfielder for the other OF Silver Slugger), but I can understand reserving the Edgar award for someone who truly played DH full-time. And if there is a particular distinction for being full-time at the position, then Khrush was the only correct pick for this award. Either way, I’m certainly not complaining about the result, because he deserves some recognition for his 2018 brilliance.
Congrats to Khrush on a well-earned award!