AL East 2015: Ranking the Designated Hitters


Sep 20, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) hits a two-run home run in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Trying to find my rankings from last year, it appears I didn’t rank the Designated Hitters. And maybe the reason for that is the fact that most AL East DHs are backups at other positions. However, with David Ortiz in the division, you kind of don’t have a choice. Most of the players mentioned here will have been discussed elsewhere.

To see all of my previous rankings, click on the position for catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field, center field, right field.

1. Boston Red Sox – David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, Allen Craig

Did you expect anyone else? An 18-year veteran, a nine-time All-Star, Ortiz is clearly the best DH ever. And he doesn’t really show any sign of letting up. Last year, Ortiz went .263/.355/.517 with 35 home runs, 104 RBIs and two doubles. Ortiz is not really a consistent guy when it comes to batting average, with fluctuations from year-to-year. However, his ability is unparalleled, and being a DH, he still has some mileage left in his body. If only the Orioles could use Brian Matusz every single time Ortiz bats against them.

Napoli, the starting first basemen, will see some time at DH, and Craig is going to be a utility player all over the field for the Red Sox. But, Ortiz will likely play almost 140 games at DH, if he stays healthy.

2. Baltimore Orioles – Delmon Young, Steve Pearce

Pearce, of course is coming off a career year, and the Orioles hope he can at least replicate those numbers in a full season as a utility player all over the place for the Orioles. But Delmon Young is likely going to see the most at-bats at DH.  The former first overall pick in 2003, Delmon was a pinch-hitter extraordinare for the O’s last year. He played in 83 games and had 255 at-bats, hitting over .300. Young had seven home runs and 30 RBIs last season and will likely have a chance to play more in 2015. But the Orioles also have other players like Everth Cabrera who could see time at DH.

Going back to Delmon Young, he will forever be a part of Orioles lore. In fact, the O’s were pumping crowd noise into pop-up practice recently.  That noise was the sound of Orioles fans after Young’s pinch-hit double that put the O’s ahead in Game 2 against the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS. It was almost assuredly one of the loudest moments in Camden Yards history. That is the kind of ability Young can bring to the Orioles.

3. New York Yankees – Alex Rodriguez, Garrett Jones, Chris Young

Let’s get this out of the way. Rodriguez is listed as the starter. His past ability, accolades, etc. are all known.  But that is in the past.

A-Rod didn’t play in 2014. He played 44 games in 2013.  He is 39 years old. One expects he is steroid free. But, what is left? Most people assume next to nothing.

However, in Garrett Jones and Chris Young, there are two very good options. The question for the Yankees is if the other positions can stay healthy enough for Jones and Young to not have to start at 1B and RF respectively.

Both are coming off the best years of their career, albeit in the NL. I think most people would agree that playing in the NL and then playing in the AL East is a very different game. As with everything else, for the Yankees it all comes down to health.

4. Toronto Blue Jays – Dioner Navarro, Justin Smoak, Edwin Encarnacion

Encarnacion is listed as the starting DH, but I think he will end up starting at first base instead of Smoak. That means that Dioner Navarro will be the main DH, since Russell Martin is the new catcher.  However, Navarro is not happy with his role and wants to be traded.

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So, that means Justin Smoak is lining up to be the main DH if Navarro does indeed get traded (maybe for an outfielder?). And, as I addressed earlier, Smoak has never panned out. The several changes in scenery haven’t helped yet, but Smoak certainly has the potential.

5. Tampa Bay Rays – John Jaso, Brandon Guyer

The Rays list Jaso as the starting DH, I think he should and could be the starting catcher because Rene Rivera offers nothing at the plate. If Jaso is the starting catcher, the Rays will be in decent shape, although I don’t think it would move them up any.  On a light-hitting team, the Rays could use some power hitting from the DH. Jaso offers a decent average, but not much in the way of power. That isn’t a good recipe from the DH in the AL East.

Disagree with these rankings? Think A-Rod is going to be okay? Let me know!

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