OPS/OPS+ by Position
|10 ||-||-||- ||- ||.725||102||.746||106||.789||109||.793||105|
This is just intended as a reference point, but there are a few interesting things to note.
-The DH is not really that close to being the strongest hitting position. First base and both corner outfield spots hit better as groups than DH. The DH position's peak in this sample, relative to the rest of the league, was in the 90s. It might seem as though the AL has adapted to utilize the DH to develop pure power hitters who need do nothing else and that the position is more potent than in the earlier years when teams were just sticking an extra bat off the bench or resting a regular there, but DH production this decade is about the same as it was in the 70s and 80s.
-Middle infield positions become a little less light-hitting. Second base steadily rose up into the low 90s in OPS+ over the decades. Shortstop lagged a little behind, getting considerably worse in the 70s and then making jumps in each subsequent decade to get back to its old position just behind second base. This reflects changes in positional adjustments that statisticians have noted: these positions have come a few runs closer to the field in recent decades (i.e. shortstop being +7 adjustment instead of +10).
-Catcher, despite being the furthest right on the defensive spectrum, having the highest positional adjustment, and having a reputation as a position where teams settle for players who are obviously not ML-quality hitters, has not been the weakest hitting position in decades past. It wasn't until the upward surge of hitting talent in the middle infield positions that catcher has been weaker than them. The worst hitters may or may not be catchers, but there is probably a skew upward from the handful of really good hitting catchers. Since the position is not limited by requirements for quickness and agility like second and short, you can still have big, powerful hitters who drive the overall average up. I don't know if that is why catcher was ahead of those positions in the past or not, but it seems a reasonable possibility.
-Both corner outfield spots usually hit at about the same level even though most people consider left field the more offensive position.
-Pinch hitters are always bad, worse than having any typical starter at the plate, even at a weak position. Fans should probably stop looking at their teams PH stats with the league average in mind as a baseline. It's not good for your health. So if you happen to notice that your team seems to suck at pinch hitting, and you look up the stats and see that they do, don't worry about it. Everyone does.
Feel free to glean whatever else of interest you can out of this chart. Otherwise, I think it's just a useful reference for comparing positions and mapping their changes over time.