If you didn't see last night's game, you missed a solid performance by Samuel Deduno (it feels odd to type that), a defensive clinic by Pedro Florimon, and a 415-foot bomb to straight away center by Ryan Doumit that established a new career-high in home runs (16) for our resident DH/Danzig enthusiast.
Doumit isn't quite having a career year at age 31, as he's posted better overall offensive performance, WAR ratings, and power numbers in the past. He is, however, providing the Twins a heck of a lot of value for his meager $3MM salary, and making Terry Ryan, Wayne Krivsky, and Friends look pretty good for signing him to a dirt-cheap extension this summer.
Designated hitters are batting .261/.331/.440 as a whole this season, and catchers have fared worse a .248/.318/.402. Both of those make Doumit's .282/.326/.465 batting line look pretty solid. Compare that to his primary predecessor at DH, Jason Kubel, who posted a combined .259/.327/.430 line in two seasons at Target Field, and Doumit looks even better. Kubel signed for two years and $15MM, meaning he'll make more in one year of his contract than Doumit will in 2013 and 2014 combined. Doumit's $3MM salary in 2012 is less than half of what Kubel is making this season. I hated to see Kubel -- a personal favorite of mine -- go, but it's tough to complain about the production received out of his replacement.
The Top 10 designated hitters in baseball (by at-bats) make an average of $8.42MM. Granted, this includes bloated salaries to guys like Adam Dunn, Travis Hafner and David Ortiz who signed large contracts to do nothing more than serve as the DH and hit homers/get on base. Doumit has received only 157 at-bats as the DH this season, but that's actually good for 12th-most in the American League at a fraction of the going rate for designated hitters.
Doumit also allows the Twins to have a competent offensive catcher on days in which Mauer isn't behind the dish. This has led to a career-high 61 games as either a DH or first baseman for Mauer, which will likely result in new career-highs in games played and plate appearances. Mauer's produced best when catching by a long shot actually (.335/.449/.490), but it's hard to imagine the extra time off from catching isn't boosting that production. Doumit himself has also benefited from the split workload, having established a new career-best in plate appearances last night.
Doumit's numbers on the road are better than at Target Field, but he's holding his own at home, particularly in the power department. Doumit entered the season with a career .171 isolated power (slugging minus batting average), but has posted a .175 mark in home games this season. It's a step down from the strong .194 he's registered on the road, but that's more a testament to how well he's slugged on the road than it a knock on his home performance.
FanGraphs values Doumit's 2012 season at $8.1MM, which is nearly as much as he's due to make over the course of his entire three-year span with the Twins. In hindsight, it's likely that he could've exceeded the $7MM guarantee he received from the Twins through 2014 if he'd kept hitting this well and re-entered free agency. He seems to really enjoy playing here, however, which is a good thing for the Twins, because he needs only to be a league-average bat as a DH/catcher combo to vastly exceed the value of that contract. Even if he were to turn in a down season in 2013, odds are he'd provide that value simply by heightening Mauer's game with some time away from catcher.
It hasn't been a pretty season for the Twins, but securing Doumit for three years at a below-market rate has been a bright spot and a small triumph for the front office in another frustrating year for the organization.
Steve Adams also writes for MLBTradeRumors.com, RotoAuthority.com and MLB.com Fantasy Baseball. You can follow him on Twitter: @Adams_Steve