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Entries in Designated Hitters (1)

Wednesday
Jan092013

Best DH Seasons For Greybeards

Can Lance Berkman, 37, make like Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas by raking as a greybeard DH?Since the Yankees' Ron Blomberg stepped to the plate as Major League Baseball's first designated hitter on April 6, 1973, the DH has been a saving grace for slow-footed or injury-prone sluggers looking to prolong their careers. Case in point: Lance Berkman, who recently signed a one-year, $11 million deal with the Texas Rangers. "Big Puma" was once nimble enough to patrol center field, making circus catches on Tal's Hill. But these days, the 37-year-old's brittle knees would make his still-potent bat irrelevant if he had to cover ground in the field.

The Rangers hope that Berkman can stay healthy and at least partially make up for the loss of Josh Hamilton. It's not a totally crazy notion, considering Berkman's OPS+ over the past three seasons (139) is close to that of the Angels' latest free agent mercenary (146). If Berkman's bat remains that dangerous, he'll join an elite list of greybeard DHs. Courtesy of Baseball-Reference's Play Index Tool, here are the highest OPS+ totals posted by DHs at age 37 or older (minimum 400 plate appearances):

RkPlayerOPS+PAYearAgeTm
1 Edgar Martinez 160 581 2001 38 SEA
2 Edgar Martinez 158 665 2000 37 SEA
3 Frank Robinson 151 630 1973 37 CAL
4 Edgar Martinez 141 603 2003 40 SEA
5 Frank Robinson 141 579 1974 38 TOT
6 Frank Thomas 140 559 2006 38 OAK
7 Edgar Martinez 139 407 2002 39 SEA
8 Ellis Burks 139 570 2002 37 CLE
9 Paul Molitor 138 516 1994 37 TOR
10 Dave Winfield 138 670 1992 40 TOR
11 Rico Carty 138 593 1978 38 TOT
12 Harold Baines 136 486 1999 40 TOT
13 Harold Baines 132 572 1996 37 CHW
14 Brian Downing 132 476 1991 40 TEX
15 Chili Davis 131 567 1997 37 KCR
16 Eddie Murray 129 480 1995 39 CLE
17 Hal McRae 129 654 1983 37 KCR
18 Brian Downing 128 590 1988 37 CAL
19 Frank Thomas 125 624 2007 39 TOR
20 Jim Thome 124 602 2008 37 CHW