google.com, pub-3283090343984743, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 2024 Positional Power Rankings: Designated Hitter
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2024 Positional Power Rankings: Designated Hitter


designated hitters
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

We conclude our rankings of the game’s position players with a deep dive on designated hitters.


game

Back when the DH rule was introduced in 1973 (has it really been five decades?), the role was often filled by aging and/or physically compromised sluggers who were in the lineup on a regular basis. Boston’s Orlando Cepeda played in 142 games, while Minnesota’s Tony Oliva played in 146 and the California Angels’ Frank Robinson saw action in 147. All were in their mid-to-late 30s, and save for Robinson’s 17 games in left field, all were exclusively designated hitters. The Tigers differed in that they platooned at the position, but it was with an otherwise similar script. Gates Brown and Frank Howard, both at the tail end of their careers, combined to play in just three games with a glove in hand.

Today’s DH environment is different. The current crop tends to feature players in their late 20s and early 30s, and as often as not, they’re at least capable defenders. Flexible rosters and a desire to help keep players healthy by giving them days off from the rigors of the field are increasingly common. That’s not to say there aren’t any 1973-types hanging around. J.D. Martinez, who last night agreed to a deal with the New York Mets, stands out in that respect. Defensively limited at age 36, he still possesses the ability to square up baseballs, and regardless of if they also play the field, that’s what a designated hitter is expected to do. Still, most players who DH these days find themselves with plenty of chances to break out their glove as well as their bat.

2024 Positional Power Rankings – DH
1. Astros
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Yordan Alvarez 420 .299 .396 .592 .413 34.1 -1.1 0.0 3.7
Jon Singleton 133 .213 .324 .388 .313 -0.2 -0.4 0.0 0.1
Yainer Diaz 56 .269 .305 .471 .330 0.7 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Jose Altuve 35 .275 .353 .466 .353 1.1 -0.0 0.0 0.1
José Abreu 21 .262 .331 .423 .327 0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Corey Julks 21 .240 .307 .394 .305 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Kyle Tucker 7 .280 .359 .518 .370 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Alex Bregman 7 .267 .368 .455 .357 0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .275 .368 .523 .377 36.4 -1.7 0.0 4.1

How good is Yordan Alvarez? One of the best ways to answer that question is to note that it is the Astros, and not Shohei Ohtani’s Dodgers, who sit atop these rankings. Last year’s DH Positional Power Rankings included me proclaiming that Alvarez “is on the short list of the best left-handed hitters in the game,” and that hasn’t changed. In 114 games, the 26-year-old superstar put up a 170 wRC+ last year while slashing .293/.407/.583 and homering 31 times, numbers more or less in line with his career production. Add in his David Ortiz-like postseason résumé, and Alvarez ranks prominently among this generation’s sluggers. The one concern is his injury history, which got a new entry in 2023 in the form of a right oblique strain that kept him on the shelf for more than a month, with a few smaller dings and scrapes at times limiting him to DH duty.

Jon Singleton’s career path has been far different. The 32-year-old left-handed hitter has gone from being the organization’s top prospect to being out of organized baseball for multiple years. Now he’s finally back in a position to help a baseball team win games, though the Astros no doubt hope he improves on his 2023 showing. Yainer Diaz, who is replacing the offensively challenged Martín Maldonado behind the plate, is a bat-first catcher. Jose Altuve is an eight-time All-Star building a Hall of Fame résumé.

2. Dodgers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Shohei Ohtani 651 .266 .368 .548 .379 33.4 -0.3 0.0 3.9
Will Smith 28 .258 .353 .458 .349 0.7 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Max Muncy 14 .220 .341 .442 .339 0.3 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Teoscar Hernández 7 .260 .311 .470 .333 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .265 .366 .541 .376 34.5 -0.4 0.0 4.0

There isn’t much to say about Shohei Ohtani’s skill as a baseball player that hasn’t been said before. No player in his chosen sport gets more coverage — both here and abroad — and for good reason. At age 29, he is already a baseball icon, a unicorn of sorts who is equally dominant on the mound and in the batter’s box. As Ohtani will be limited to the latter this season, speculating about what he might do with his 651 projected plate appearances — by far his most in a hit-only capacity — seems an apt exercise for this snapshot. Our Depth Charts project 39 home runs and a 141 wRC+. Too conservative given his monster talent? I think it is, but by how much? Babe Ruth homered 46 times and had a 203 wRC+ over 681 plate appearances in his age-29 season. Asterisks or not, Barry Bonds put up even bigger numbers in a handful of seasons. While those comps likely present an unreasonable expectation, it’s certainly possible.

On the rare occasions (assuming full health) that Ohtani isn’t in the lineup, Will Smith and Max Muncy will garner DH opportunities. Both are good hitters, but their at-bats aren’t must-see. Ohtani’s are. The unicorn is a superstar.

At this point, Ohtani is used to being the center of attention; his stardom is more akin to that of a movie star than a baseball player. Yet for the first time in his career, as Chelsea Janes detailed in The Washington Post, the uncertainty of scandal is clouding the unconditional adoration that has followed him for years. By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the payments that were wired from Ohtani’s bank account to an illegal bookmaker who is currently under federal investigation, as well as the Dodgers’ firing of Ippei Mizuhara — Ohtani’s longtime interpreter and close friend — for his involvement, so I am not going to detail the conflicting accounts that Mizuhara and Ohtani’s spokesperson offered to ESPN or the allegations that Ohtani’s lawyers made that their client was the victim of “massive theft.” As of now, the situation has no impact on these rankings. None of the parties involved say that Ohtani was the one placing bets, and currently, Major League Baseball is not investigating the matter, so Ohtani is not subject to discipline or a loss of playing time.

This is all obviously still unfolding, and things could well change, but one thing we know for sure is that it’s a very unfortunate situation for Ohtani, Mizuhara and the sport more broadly.

3. Yankees
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Giancarlo Stanton 420 .230 .314 .462 .331 6.3 -2.1 0.0 0.8
Juan Soto 140 .280 .423 .536 .407 10.9 -0.4 0.0 1.2
Aaron Judge 49 .271 .385 .569 .397 3.4 -0.1 0.0 0.4
Jasson Domínguez 42 .232 .312 .380 .302 -0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Austin Wells 28 .230 .304 .406 .307 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Anthony Rizzo 14 .238 .332 .427 .329 0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.0
DJ LeMahieu 7 .257 .338 .382 .317 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .242 .341 .474 .348 20.4 -2.7 0.0 2.4

Reportedly leaner and with a reworked swing, Giancarlo Stanton enters his seventh Yankees season, and his 15th overall, at a crossroads. Once one of the most fearsome hitters in the game, the 34-year-old outfielder/DH is coming off a career-worst campaign in which he batted a below-the-Mendoza-Line .191, with a .275 OBP and an 89 wRC+. His 2022 season, which included a .211 BA and a .297 OBP, was likewise subpar. Injuries have been an ongoing issue. As my colleague Jay Jaffe recently wrote, “Stanton has played 391 regular season games [from 2019-2023], which prorates to an average of 89 over a 162-game season.” Whether he can stay healthy going forward is a question mark, and so is the performance we’ll see when he is on the field. His spring has been promising.

It’s a safe bet that Juan Soto will perform at a high level. Six seasons into his big league career (and now with his third team, which is really quite remarkable), the 25-year-old superstar already has 160 home runs and 28.5 WAR, with our Depth Charts projecting him to add 36 homers and 6.3 wins to those totals in 2024. He’s set to be the team’s starting right fielder, but will see some time at DH and in left. Aaron Judge — projected at 46 home runs and 6.7 WAR — resides in Soto territory, a place where Stanton once dwelled. He’s ticketed for primary center field duty, but like Soto will see time in the corners and at DH.

4. Phillies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kyle Schwarber 539 .221 .347 .481 .354 14.7 -1.6 0.0 1.8
Nick Castellanos 77 .259 .307 .445 .322 0.0 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Bryce Harper 42 .282 .389 .522 .384 2.2 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Alec Bohm 21 .274 .330 .423 .326 0.1 -0.1 0.0 0.0
J.T. Realmuto 14 .253 .319 .438 .325 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Darick Hall 7 .236 .307 .437 .320 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .232 .343 .476 .351 17.0 -1.9 0.0 2.1

Kyle Schwarber is equal parts atypical and productive. He’s also been integral to his team’s success. As beat writer Todd Zolecki pointed out last week, “The Phillies are 151-100 (.602) the past two years when he leads off, including the postseason. They are 45-48 (.484) when he does not.” Coincidence? Schwarber’s numbers suggest it is anything but. Built more for power than speed, the left-handed-hitting slugger homered 47 times last year, the second-highest total in baseball behind only Matt Olsen. Schwarber also drew 126 free passes, a total surpassed only by Juan Soto. As for his .197 batting average and zero stolen bases… let’s just say that he wouldn’t have been a leadoff hitter in most any other era. Kudos to the Phillies for going against the grain with a non-traditional, and successful, strategy.

Nick Castellanos is neither a leadoff hitter nor is he likely to draw a walk when he steps into the batter’s box. The free-swinging outfielder has just a 6.3% walk rate for his career, but also has 210 home runs, including 29 last year. Attack mode is Castellanos’s M.O. He’s set to be the team’s primary right fielder. Bryce Harper hits home runs and draws free passes. At age 30, and with 47.5 WAR, the Phils’ first baseman is likely Cooperstown-bound.

5. Rays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Harold Ramírez 175 .281 .324 .418 .321 1.7 -0.3 0.0 0.3
Jonathan Aranda 168 .255 .341 .412 .329 2.7 -0.3 0.0 0.4
Isaac Paredes 70 .244 .340 .462 .346 2.2 -0.2 0.0 0.3
Yandy Díaz 70 .291 .382 .454 .365 3.2 -0.3 0.0 0.4
Richie Palacios 56 .249 .337 .382 .317 0.4 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Curtis Mead 42 .251 .321 .400 .314 0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Junior Caminero 35 .257 .308 .432 .317 0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Randy Arozarena 35 .262 .351 .449 .346 1.1 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Josh Lowe 28 .259 .322 .439 .327 0.4 0.1 0.0 0.1
Brandon Lowe 21 .240 .328 .456 .337 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .264 .337 .425 .331 12.5 -1.3 0.0 1.7

The Tampa Bay Rays are not only consistently good, they consistently employ quality players who are anything but household names to fans who don’t follow the team closely. In Jonathan Aranda’s case, that’s actually somewhat understandable. The 25-year-old Tijuana-born infielder has played in just 66 big league games, and he never elicited prospect buzz along the way. Which isn’t to say his talent went unrecognized beyond the Tampa Bay brain trust. Eric Longenhagen’s writeup described Aranda as “a stocky, positionless defender… [with] fantastic hitter’s timing and a good-looking, compact lefty stroke.“ Our lead prospect analyst also called him “a high-probability contributor,” a prognostication quietly coming to fruition.

Harold Ramírez is better known than Aranda, albeit not as well known as he should be. (He’s also healthier right now, as Aranda suffered a broken finger on Wednesday that will require surgery, putting him on the shelf for at least the next 4-6 weeks). A Marlin, Guardian, and Cub prior to coming to Tampa in trade in March 2022, the 29-year-old native of Cartagena, Colombia has slashed .306/.348/.432 in his two seasons with the perennial contenders. His 128 wRC+ last year was north of the numbers logged by numerous big-name hitters. Yandy Díaz (164 wRC+) and Isaac Paredes (137) — themselves underrated nationally — performed at even higher levels. As for the planned platoon once Aranda is back, he swings lefty and has received a paucity of PAs versus same-sided pitchers. Ramírez is a righty who rakes (a .966 OPS last year) against southpaws.

6. Red Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Masataka Yoshida 420 .294 .359 .460 .352 9.4 -1.1 0.0 1.2
C.J. Cron 105 .250 .320 .445 .328 0.3 -0.4 0.0 0.1
Rafael Devers 49 .283 .356 .526 .370 1.9 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Triston Casas 42 .262 .369 .484 .366 1.4 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Enmanuel Valdez 28 .250 .321 .430 .324 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Wilyer Abreu 21 .246 .341 .412 .329 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Trevor Story 21 .240 .309 .424 .315 -0.2 0.1 0.0 0.0
Bobby Dalbec 14 .222 .299 .421 .312 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .278 .349 .459 .347 12.7 -1.8 0.0 1.7

The level of production Masataka Yoshida provided over the first four months of his first big league season is what the Red Sox are hoping to get throughout the 2024 campaign. If they do, Boston will boast one of the better designated hitters in the game. From April through July, the former Orix Buffalo slashed .304/.366/.481 with a dozen home runs and a 128 wRC+. Then he hit a wall — and not the 37-foot-high wall he was stationed in front of as the team’s left fielder. Unaccustomed to a more demanding schedule than he’d experienced in Japan, Yoshida cratered to an 88 wRC+ from August onward. Moving his lefty bat to a hit-only position, paired with improved conditioning and with a year of facing big league pitching under his belt, could potentially unlock a full season of impact performance.

C.J. Cron, who was inked to free agent deal on March 3, was brought on board to punish southpaws. A prototypical built-for-Fenway right-handed slugger coming off an injury-compromised (lower back) campaign in Denver and Anaheim, Cron had averaged 28 home runs in the previous four non-pandemic seasons. He has a 1.033 OPS in 69 career plate appearances at his new home ballpark.

7. White Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Eloy Jiménez 539 .278 .333 .480 .347 13.2 -1.3 0.0 1.7
Gavin Sheets 84 .244 .306 .414 .311 -0.5 -0.2 0.0 0.0
Andrew Vaughn 21 .263 .325 .453 .335 0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Mike Moustakas 21 .227 .288 .381 .290 -0.5 -0.1 0.0 -0.0
Yoán Moncada 14 .251 .325 .409 .319 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Zach DeLoach 14 .225 .300 .367 .293 -0.3 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Luis Robert Jr. 7 .267 .318 .492 .343 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .270 .327 .465 .339 12.5 -1.7 0.0 1.7

In the 2023 version of this exercise, I wrote that, “The White Sox were arguably the majors’ most disappointing team last year, and not having Eloy Jiménez available for the full season contributed to that disappointment.” Twelve months later, I can rewrite that sentence to read the White Sox were once again disappointing, and so too was Eloy Jiménez, who homered just 18 times in 489 plate appearances while logging a 105 wRC+. Our projections expect better in 2024, but just how good the 27-year-old Santo Domingo native will be going forward is hard to predict. While there is no questioning his raw power and overall talent, Jiménez’s track record of injury and inconsistency is cause for concern. With one guaranteed year left on his contract, he probably needs to produce if he hopes to remain on the South Side.

Gavin Sheets, who unlike Jiménez swings from the left side, is a workman-like first baseman/DH who has enough hitting chops to contribute to a big league club, yet hasn’t proven to be more than a role player. Andrew Vaughn is a 2019 first rounder who has yet to meet expectations, but the potential remains real.

8. Rangers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Wyatt Langford 371 .265 .339 .479 .350 9.6 -0.3 0.0 1.3
Ezequiel Duran 56 .253 .301 .422 .311 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 -0.0
Justin Foscue 56 .239 .324 .399 .317 -0.1 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Adolis García 56 .244 .309 .466 .331 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.1
Corey Seager 56 .294 .367 .525 .376 2.6 -0.1 0.0 0.3
Jonah Heim 49 .247 .309 .424 .316 -0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Jared Walsh 35 .220 .290 .398 .297 -0.7 -0.1 0.0 -0.0
Josh Jung 14 .254 .306 .449 .323 0.0 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Sam Huff 7 .233 .299 .430 .313 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .258 .329 .461 .339 11.4 -1.0 0.0 1.7

That Wyatt Langford is projected to both be on the Rangers’ Opening Day roster and log the most DH at-bats is exciting news in and of itself. The 22-year-old outfielder was drafted last summer out of the University of Florida and has just 200 professional plate appearances under his belt, more half of them at the A-Ball level. That said, precocious is precocious, and so is talent. No. 2 on our Top 100, Langford has all the makings of a perennial All-Star. An elite athlete who could potentially stake a claim to an outfield position over time (though our prospect team has concerns about his defensive feel out there), he’s slashed .388/.446/.796 with six home runs so far this spring. He won’t do that once the game start to count, but Langford is a strong Rookie of the Year candidate in the American League.

Ezequiel Duran was a versatile contributor to last year’s World Series championship club, putting up a 107 wRC+ and hitting 14 home runs while playing in both the infield and outfield. At age 24, he established himself as a valuable contributor with full-time player potential. Justin Foscue is a bat-first second baseman who has proven himself in the minors. Adolis García and Corey Seager need no introduction.

9. Orioles
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ryan Mountcastle 280 .261 .320 .454 .331 4.2 -0.3 0.0 0.6
Heston Kjerstad 126 .258 .317 .417 .318 0.5 -0.3 0.0 0.1
Adley Rutschman 112 .269 .367 .448 .353 3.8 -0.1 0.0 0.5
Anthony Santander 77 .254 .321 .467 .337 1.6 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Ryan O’Hearn 56 .256 .307 .450 .323 0.5 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Colton Cowser 42 .236 .338 .378 .317 0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Coby Mayo 7 .234 .320 .407 .317 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .259 .327 .442 .331 10.8 -1.0 0.0 1.6

How many of the players listed here would most teams be more than happy to employ as their everyday DH? Personally, I’d set the over/under at four — then proceed to take the over. Ryan O’Hearn, who blossomed after departing Kansas City, is an established big leaguer coming off a season where he slashed .289/.322/.480 with 14 home runs and a 118 wRC+ in 368 PAs. The switch-hitting Santander — projected to hit 29 home runs with a 117 wRC+ — is one of the most underrated hitters in baseball. Kjerstad, who like Cowser got a cup of coffee last season, is a former first-rounder who has excelled with the bat since returning from a health scare. Currently lacking a clear pathway to playing time, he’ll start the year in the minors after a down spring.

As for the hitters we project to get most of Baltimore’s DH reps, Mountcastle has averaged 24 home runs over his three major league seasons and is projected to hit 25 in the coming campaign. He’s also been getting incrementally better in other areas. Last year’s age-26 season saw him decrease his strikeout rate and increase his batting average, walk rate, and on-base percentage. Rutschman — likewise a former first rounder — might be the best catcher in baseball.

10. Braves
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Marcell Ozuna 553 .254 .325 .475 .342 8.8 -1.4 0.0 1.2
Travis d’Arnaud 77 .248 .308 .427 .318 -0.3 -0.3 0.0 0.0
Sean Murphy 42 .251 .345 .464 .349 0.9 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Ronald Acuña Jr. 14 .311 .404 .584 .416 1.1 0.1 0.0 0.1
Austin Riley 7 .278 .349 .518 .367 0.3 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Ozzie Albies 7 .275 .330 .484 .346 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .255 .326 .472 .341 10.9 -1.7 0.0 1.5

Baseball’s most prolific offense includes a designated hitter who homered 40 times last season while putting up a .558 slugging percentage that ranked fifth best in the National League (with two of his teammates in front of him, no less). That would of course be Marcell Ozuna, who along with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Matt Olson is the top bopper on a team that bops like nobody’s business. The projections anticipate somewhat less production this year — 30 homers and a 113 wRC+ that would be markedly lower than last season’s 139 — but it’s not as though that would cause the Braves’ run-scoring machine to crash. As powerful as he is, Ozuna is only one of several Atlanta hitters who torture opposing pitchers on a nightly basis.

Sean Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud handle the club’s catching duties, and while neither is a bona fide beast with the bat, they’re both dangerous. That is especially true for Murphy, whose 21 home runs and 129 wRC+ ranked near the top at his position last year. d’Arnaud’s 118 career home runs include 10 in the postseason. Given the amount of firepower on Atlanta’s roster, it’s almost not fair that the DH rule extends to the NL.

11. Giants
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jorge Soler 462 .237 .328 .456 .336 8.2 -1.3 0.0 1.1
Wilmer Flores 105 .262 .335 .444 .336 1.9 -0.4 0.0 0.2
Michael Conforto 63 .248 .340 .408 .326 0.6 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Tom Murphy 49 .247 .322 .421 .323 0.3 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Mike Yastrzemski 14 .232 .322 .424 .323 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
LaMonte Wade Jr. 7 .246 .353 .418 .337 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .243 .330 .446 .334 11.2 -2.1 0.0 1.5

Jorge Soler will be looking to put up some loud numbers in San Francisco after quietly putting up loud numbers in Miami a year ago. Not a ton of people outside of South Florida noticed — national attention has been at a premium given the Marlins’ mundane W-L records over the past decade — but the slugger slammed 36 home runs, his high-water mark since he topped the junior circuit with 48 in 2019 as a Kansas City Royal. That his new home ballpark is anything but homer-friendly shouldn’t be an issue. Not only are his previous two home venues similarly forgiving for pitchers, Soler specializes in no-doubters.

Wilmer Flores doesn’t clear nearly as many fences, but he did hit a career-best 23 home run last year. Moreover, his 136 wRC+ — also a career best — was the highest among Giants. The projections are understandably skeptical that the 32-year-old can replicate that performance, but the 15 home runs and 114 wRC+ they call for would nonetheless qualify as a successful season. As for Michael Conforto, the erstwhile New York Met had 15 home runs and a league-average 100 wRC+ in his first San Francisco season. His overall track record is better, but ZiPS expects only a slight uptick from 2023. He’ll get the bulk of his playing time in left field.

12. Cardinals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brendan Donovan 301 .274 .365 .397 .337 5.0 -0.4 0.0 0.7
Matt Carpenter 133 .214 .328 .387 .316 -0.1 -0.6 0.0 0.1
Willson Contreras 77 .247 .341 .440 .340 1.5 -0.3 0.0 0.2
Jordan Walker 70 .268 .336 .455 .341 1.4 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Nolan Gorman 63 .243 .321 .468 .338 1.1 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Paul Goldschmidt 35 .268 .358 .460 .352 1.0 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Nolan Arenado 14 .266 .325 .460 .334 0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Luken Baker 7 .236 .310 .431 .319 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .256 .347 .418 .334 10.1 -1.5 0.0 1.5

There’s a good chance that he will be the starting left fielder on Opening Day — this due to a Lars Nootbaar rib injury — but Brendan Donovan is expected to eventually settle in as St. Louis’ primary DH. The versatile, left-handed-hitting infielder/outfielder is a solid offensive contributor wherever he plays. Two seasons and 839 plate appearances into his big-league career, the Wurzburg, Germany-born former University of South Alabama Jaguar has a .283/.381/.398 slash line and a 124 wRC+. He doesn’t supply a lot of power, but that’s not his job. Unlike the vast majority of DHs, Donovan typically serves as a leadoff hitter.

Matt Carpenter, who at age 38 is trying to tap into the fountain of youth that fueled a strong 47-game run with the Yankees in 2022, is reportedly expected to begin the year in a DH rotation that includes Willson Contreras and others. Depending on how much he improves his right-field defense, Jordan Walker could eventually find himself logging a lot of these at-bats; his offensive ceiling is as high as anyone on the roster. Still just 21 years old, Walker is projected by ZiPS to hit 27 home runs and put up a 120 wRC+ (Steamer is less optimistic at 18 home runs and a 113 wRC+). The Cardinals would presumably be plenty satisfied with that.

13. Guardians
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Josh Naylor 350 .279 .338 .474 .344 9.0 -0.9 0.0 1.1
Deyvison De Los Santos 91 .233 .270 .377 .279 -2.5 -0.1 0.0 -0.2
Kyle Manzardo 70 .246 .332 .434 .331 1.0 -0.2 0.0 0.1
José Ramírez 63 .280 .360 .498 .358 2.4 0.2 0.0 0.3
David Fry 35 .236 .305 .396 .306 -0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Estevan Florial 35 .226 .308 .392 .304 -0.3 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Bo Naylor 28 .228 .330 .410 .322 0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Will Brennan 14 .272 .320 .387 .308 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Johnathan Rodriguez 14 .234 .293 .401 .299 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .262 .326 .445 .329 9.4 -1.1 0.0 1.5

The Guardians reassigning Kyle Manzardo to the minor leagues earlier this week makes projecting the team’s DH playing time a challenge — at least until the highly regarded first-base prospect gets called up. When that happens, it’s anyone’s guess. For now, Josh Naylor will be the first baseman, which means primary DH responsibilities will go to… again, that’s anyone’s guess. Rule-5 pick Deyvison De Los Santos is a possibility, but will a 20-year-old who hasn’t played above Double-A prove capable of holding his own against big league pitching? Will he even make the roster and remain in the organization? Moreover, what happens when Manzardo does get his opportunity? Is he the first baseman and the older of the Naylor brothers the designated hitter, or vice versa? For now, Naylor projects to get the lion’s share of time at the position.

Manzardo certainly profiles as a big part of the Guardians’ future. A prized prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays system, Cleveland acquired the sweet-swing left-handed hitter in exchange for Aaron Civale shortly before last year’s trade deadline. Just outside of our Top 100, Manzardo has been described by Eric Longenhagen as “a good player, just not a star.” José Ramírez, on the other hand, is a star. Long underrated, he’s more recently been getting the ample respect he deserves.

14. Mariners
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mitch Garver 427 .234 .328 .430 .329 6.7 -1.2 0.0 0.9
Cal Raleigh 126 .232 .302 .459 .324 1.5 -0.3 0.0 0.2
Mitch Haniger 63 .233 .302 .421 .311 0.1 -0.2 0.0 0.0
Ty France 42 .267 .341 .413 .330 0.7 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Luke Raley 35 .232 .315 .414 .318 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.1
Julio Rodríguez 7 .278 .341 .501 .357 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .236 .321 .433 .326 9.6 -1.8 0.0 1.4

Unlike the majority of teams, the Mariners head into the season planning to employ a full-time DH. Circumstances will require other options from time to time, but by and large, Mitch Garver will be counted on to fill the offense-only role. And the lineup certainly needs more offensive oomph. That’s not to say Seattle is bereft of bats, but pitching is clearly the club’s strength, making reliable run production a key to reaching the postseason. Mariners DHs combined for 25 home runs and a 92 wRC+ last year, while the World Series champion Texas Rangers got 33 home runs and a 116 wRC+ from their own. Moreover, Texas’s primary DH — one Mitch Garver — swatted 19 home runs and put up a 138 wRC+.

Cal Raleigh getting DH at-bats when he’s not behind the plate will provide even more power at the position. No catcher has more home runs over the past two seasons than Raleigh, whose dinger totals the last two season (27 and 30) are the highest in franchise history for a receiver. And then there is Mitch Haniger, who left the yard 39 times in 2021. He’s back in Seattle looking to recapture his old form after a down season in San Francisco.

15. Blue Jays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Justin Turner 217 .259 .333 .412 .326 2.1 -1.0 0.0 0.3
Joey Votto 182 .214 .318 .388 .311 -0.4 -0.9 0.0 0.0
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 126 .282 .362 .507 .369 5.8 -0.5 0.0 0.6
George Springer 63 .256 .330 .440 .333 1.0 -0.0 0.0 0.2
Danny Jansen 42 .239 .320 .459 .334 0.7 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Alejandro Kirk 35 .269 .352 .418 .337 0.7 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Davis Schneider 14 .231 .336 .423 .331 0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Cavan Biggio 14 .227 .333 .367 .312 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Daniel Vogelbach 7 .233 .344 .418 .334 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .249 .335 .428 .331 10.1 -2.7 0.0 1.4

The Blue Jays will distribute the bulk of their DH at-bats to a future hitting coach, a future Hall of Famer, and the son of a Hall of Famer. Justin Turner — signed to a free agent deal at the end of January — is viewed by many as a hitting-coach-in-waiting, and to a certain degree he’s already been playing that role for years. Along with providing punch — Kevin Youkilis and Richie Zisk are close statistical comps — he’s a student of the craft with a reputation for sharing his wisdom in the batting cage. He slashed .276/.345/.455 with 23 home runs last year in his age-38 season – solid numbers, although his 114 wRC+ declined from the previous years’ 124 and 126.

Joey Votto is the future Hall of Famer, one who is coming home to Ontario after 17 seasons in Cincinnati. Himself a hitting guru in uniform, the 40-year-old has slid statistically over the past two campaigns, with his career OBP and wRC+ nudging down to .409 and 145 as a result. How much he has left in the tank is a good question. As for the son of a Hall of Famer, that would be Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is coming off a down season where he logged “only” a 118 wRC+. Still just 25, our projections see him as poised to rebound.

16. Twins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Byron Buxton 189 .237 .309 .488 .337 3.6 0.4 0.0 0.6
Alex Kirilloff 133 .256 .325 .421 .324 1.1 -0.3 0.0 0.2
Carlos Santana 105 .231 .326 .395 .316 0.2 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Edouard Julien 56 .240 .358 .397 .335 1.0 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Ryan Jeffers 56 .233 .317 .424 .321 0.3 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Carlos Correa 49 .262 .341 .443 .338 1.0 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Trevor Larnach 42 .226 .320 .389 .310 -0.1 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Jose Miranda 21 .266 .322 .417 .320 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Matt Wallner 21 .234 .335 .426 .330 0.3 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Willi Castro 14 .248 .308 .389 .303 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Royce Lewis 14 .268 .333 .478 .347 0.4 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .242 .324 .434 .327 7.7 -0.7 0.0 1.3

In a perfect world, Byron Buxton’s name would be on this list only as an afterthought. Once one of the top defensive center fielders in the game — and he’s still just 30 years old — Buxton has more recently been relegated to DH duty due to a torturous inability to stay healthy; he hasn’t played in as many as 100 games since 2017. With a fully operational body, the second overall pick (behind Carlos Correa) in the 2012 draft is a five-tool player who excels on both sides of the ball – and that’s what the Twins hope he’ll return to being this year. Buxton is currently slated to resume center field duties, albeit with the expectation that he will also log time as a DH to help keep him healthy.

Alex Kirilloff is a 2016 first rounder who began to tease his potential last year with a promising 120 wRC+ and 11 home runs in 319 plate appearances. The Twins hope that’s a sign of things to come, as his previous opportunities yielded more frustration than production. Fourteen years into his big league career, and about to celebrate his 37th birthday, Carlos Santana is the Energizer Bunny (albeit one whose production has declined in recent years). He’s also Mr. Reliable, having played in more games than anybody in baseball since debuting in 2010.

17. Cubs
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Christopher Morel 294 .243 .312 .466 .332 3.2 -0.0 0.0 0.6
Seiya Suzuki 140 .268 .349 .469 .350 3.6 -0.5 0.0 0.4
Michael Busch 105 .242 .325 .428 .326 0.6 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Garrett Cooper 98 .249 .317 .410 .316 -0.2 -0.4 0.0 0.0
David Peralta 28 .261 .312 .407 .309 -0.2 -0.1 0.0 -0.0
Patrick Wisdom 28 .210 .296 .445 .317 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Owen Caissie 7 .222 .303 .366 .295 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .248 .321 .449 .331 6.8 -1.3 0.0 1.2

Cubs manager Craig Counsell is all about flexibility when it comes to the DH slot, which means any combination of players could find themselves serving in that role this season. We’re currently projecting Christopher Morel to log the greatest share of the at-bats, although that could change as he is now reportedly “being given a chance to assume the main role at third.” Exactly how that would affect the parceling out of reps is anyone’s guess, but Seiya Suzuki, Michael Busch, and Garrett Cooper all seemingly factor into the equation. Given a strong Triple-A performance — he raked in the Cactus League — prized prospect Owen Caissie could also join what looks like it might be a revolving door. He’s young, but he can crush baseballs.

Regardless of where he gets the most time, Morel profiles as a high-power/ high-strikeout hitter. In 429 plate appearances last year, the 24-year-old bopper fanned 31% of the time, but he also propelled 26 balls over the fence. Eric Longenhagen wrote prior to the 2022 season the then outfielder has “rare power and athleticism,” albeit with a “number of whiffs” to go along with it. Two years later, not much has changed in those respects. What’s changed for Suzuki is going from NPB to MLB, where he performed admirably in his second year stateside, logging a 126 wRC+. Busch is a 26-year-old rookie finally getting a real opportunity after being acquired from the Dodgers. Expectations are equal parts guarded and high.

18. Diamondbacks
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Joc Pederson 357 .252 .343 .452 .341 5.9 -0.8 0.0 0.8
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 133 .279 .328 .449 .333 1.4 -0.4 0.0 0.2
Emmanuel Rivera 98 .253 .312 .404 .311 -0.8 -0.2 0.0 -0.0
Gabriel Moreno 35 .281 .341 .415 .330 0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Eugenio Suárez 28 .229 .320 .406 .318 -0.1 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Jace Peterson 21 .234 .320 .353 .298 -0.4 0.0 0.0 -0.0
Ketel Marte 21 .277 .353 .468 .352 0.6 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Christian Walker 7 .254 .335 .457 .340 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .258 .334 .438 .333 6.9 -1.6 0.0 1.2

Joc Pederson has played in four World Series in the last seven seasons, and inking a free agent deal with the D-backs, which he did in January, gives him a chance to make it five in eight seasons. His new team reached the Fall Classic last year, and given its array of young talent, a return trip is anything but a pipe dream. Pederson himself is no youngster — he turns 32 in April — but that’s one of the reasons he was brought on board. Adding a veteran presence, particularly one with Pederson’s bat, is the type of move that can put a team over the top. While his 2023 season wasn’t one of his best — a 111 wRC+ and 15 home runs — one year earlier those numbers were 146 and 23.

The player who DHed most often for the Snakes last season is now set to spend less time there. Especially effective versus lefties — .301/.363/.452 in 2023 — Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will get many of the reps when a southpaw is on the mound. All told, the Cuban outfielder swatted 24 home runs in his first season in the desert. Emmanuel Rivera, a right-handed hitter being displaced at third base by Eugenio Suárez, will get reps as well.

19. Reds
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Christian Encarnacion-Strand 189 .265 .325 .493 .348 3.1 -0.4 0.0 0.4
Jonathan India 161 .254 .348 .419 .336 1.1 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Jake Fraley 98 .249 .341 .432 .335 0.6 0.1 0.0 0.2
Mike Ford 84 .231 .323 .438 .329 0.1 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Jeimer Candelario 63 .255 .332 .455 .339 0.5 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Spencer Steer 63 .258 .340 .443 .340 0.6 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Nick Martini 28 .240 .331 .396 .319 -0.2 -0.1 0.0 -0.0
Elly De La Cruz 14 .244 .308 .439 .319 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .253 .334 .449 .338 5.7 -0.9 0.0 1.1

Cincinnati made out like bandits when they acquired Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Spencer Steer from the Minnesota Twins at the August 2022 trade deadline. Tyler Mahle, whom the Reds parted ways with in the deal, ended up having Tommy John surgery and made just nine starts in a Twins uniform before moving on to Texas as a free agent. Meanwhile, Encarnacion-Strand and Steer have emerged as stalwarts in Cincinnati’s lineup. The former, who is slated to slot into the bat-only position this season in addition to his first base duties, slashed a solid .270/.328/.477 with 13 home runs after receiving his first big league call-up last July. The latter, who will get DH time when he’s not stationed in left field, got Rookie of the Year votes after slashing .271/.356/.464 with 23 home runs.

Jonathan India, having been nudged off the second base position due to the emergence of Matt McLain and Elly De La Cruz, will also serve as one of the club’s DHs. An above-average hitter as a middle-infielder, he swatted 17 home runs last year and has a 107 wRC+ for his career. Mike Ford had a 123 wRC+ and 16 home runs in part-time duty with the Mariners last year and could play a more important role than expected due to recent Reds injuries. Jake Fraley and new arrival Jeimer Candelario will provide support when not playing the outfield and third base respectively.

20. Padres
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Luis Campusano 154 .262 .319 .422 .321 1.0 -0.5 0.0 0.2
Manny Machado 126 .270 .337 .479 .347 3.6 -0.2 0.0 0.4
Graham Pauley 119 .247 .310 .403 .310 -0.3 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Xander Bogaerts 77 .276 .347 .430 .338 1.6 0.1 0.0 0.2
Jackson Merrill 42 .251 .293 .383 .293 -0.7 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Jurickson Profar 42 .237 .324 .366 .306 -0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Nathan Martorella 35 .228 .306 .374 .299 -0.4 -0.1 0.0 -0.0
Kyle Higashioka 35 .220 .269 .392 .284 -0.8 -0.1 0.0 -0.1
Fernando Tatis Jr. 35 .273 .346 .524 .368 1.6 0.1 0.0 0.2
Brett Sullivan 21 .240 .300 .363 .289 -0.4 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Cal Mitchell 14 .237 .295 .373 .292 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .256 .320 .423 .321 4.7 -1.0 0.0 1.0

San Diego’s DH usage is likely to evolve over the course of the season. Manny Machado is recovering from elbow surgery, so he will be filling that role until he’s ready to move back to his familiar spot at the hot corner. Fast-rising third baseman Graham Pauley, who has enjoyed a strong spring with the bat, will help to hold down the fort for the interim. But what happens once the incumbent is back? That’s probably up to the rookie. If Pauley proves capable of handling big league pitching — he finished last year in Double-A — there is a good likelihood that he will settle in as the DH. If he proves not to be ready, it could be a revolving door.

Luis Campusano, who is slated to be the primary catcher, currently projects as getting the most time at DH, with some combination of Xander Bogaerts, rookie Jackson Merrill, Jurickson Profar and perhaps even Fernando Tatis Jr. also part of the mix. The best-case scenario would presumably be Pauley, as while his defensive ability is suspect, his offensive potential is high. Our lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen is especially bullish on his future with the bat.

21. Angels
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brandon Drury 203 .247 .298 .441 .316 -0.4 -0.7 0.0 0.1
Aaron Hicks 168 .232 .337 .364 .312 -0.9 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Mike Trout 105 .258 .360 .511 .369 4.4 -0.1 0.0 0.5
Jo Adell 70 .225 .289 .434 .309 -0.6 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Anthony Rendon 63 .260 .357 .418 .339 1.1 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Logan O’Hoppe 35 .254 .337 .470 .347 0.8 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Taylor Ward 28 .264 .347 .450 .345 0.6 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Miguel Sanó 28 .216 .301 .442 .319 0.0 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .244 .325 .432 .327 5.0 -1.3 0.0 1.0

The team that topped these ranking a year ago is now significantly lower, and for an obvious reason. Shohei Ohtani is now a Dodger, having departed Anaheim after six seasons of unprecedented performance for a team that somehow failed to post a winning record despite employing both him and Mike Trout. The Arte Moreno-owned club will now go forward with a DH rotation fronted by Brandon Drury, who with all due respect isn’t anything close to Ohtani-quality. With 54 bombs and a 119 wRC+ over the past two seasons, Drury is good, but he’s replacing great on a team that is… well, not so great.

Aaron Hicks, who is likewise not so great, will also log at-bats at the DH position. Six years removed from a 27-homer season with the Yankees, he has 20 taters and a 96 wRC+ over the last three campaigns. Our projections anticipate the 2021-2023 version, which is, again, not so great. As for Trout, he’s undeniably great when fully healthy, which hopefully he will be for the remainder of his career. Jo Adell and the recent-seasons Anthony Rendon? Let’s just say Ohtani will be missed.

22. Tigers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kerry Carpenter 378 .256 .316 .444 .325 2.7 -1.0 0.0 0.5
Colt Keith 98 .257 .320 .431 .323 0.6 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Mark Canha 98 .262 .362 .411 .341 2.0 -0.1 0.0 0.3
Justyn-Henry Malloy 42 .237 .345 .382 .323 0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Jake Rogers 28 .209 .279 .397 .292 -0.6 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Spencer Torkelson 21 .243 .329 .467 .341 0.4 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Akil Baddoo 21 .242 .326 .398 .316 -0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Carson Kelly 14 .226 .305 .370 .297 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .252 .324 .430 .325 5.1 -1.5 0.0 1.0

Kerry Carpenter nailed down a spot in the middle of Detroit’s batting order last season, and that’s where the 2019 19th round pick will be in 2024. With a caveat that he’ll sit against same-sided pitchers from time to time, the left-handed-hitting outfielder has clearly earned that right. Counting his 31-game cameo in 2022, Carpenter has gone yard 26 times with a 122 wRC+ over 572 big-league plate appearances. The Depth Charts aren’t bullish on his chances of replicating those numbers — 20 homers and a 106 wRC+ is the projection — but keep in mind that Carpenter has outperformed expectations since entering pro ball. Last season’s .338 BABIP was admittedly high, but the kid can hit.

As evidenced by the six-year extension he signed in January, Keith is a key part of a young core that the Tigers are counting on to turn the team into a perennial contender. No. 46 in our Top 100, the 22-year-old infielder will make his big league debut on the heels of a 2023 season where he hit 27 home runs and logged a 140 wRC+ between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo. Canha is a wily veteran with an underrated bat. The offseason trade acquisition has a career 117 wRC+, a number roughly halfway between that of his past two seasons.

23. Brewers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Gary Sánchez 203 .213 .301 .423 .313 -1.3 -0.7 0.0 -0.0
William Contreras 161 .270 .348 .454 .346 3.3 -0.4 0.0 0.4
Rhys Hoskins 98 .238 .336 .459 .342 1.7 -0.3 0.0 0.2
Christian Yelich 98 .257 .359 .423 .340 1.6 0.3 0.0 0.3
Jake Bauers 70 .217 .309 .397 .309 -0.7 -0.1 0.0 -0.0
Joey Wiemer 21 .225 .298 .394 .301 -0.3 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Tyler Black 21 .239 .341 .389 .323 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Jackson Chourio 14 .258 .305 .411 .309 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Sal Frelick 14 .269 .338 .390 .319 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .239 .327 .430 .328 4.2 -1.3 0.0 0.9

Like a good many teams, the Brewers appear poised to cycle a number of players into their DH mix. Gary Sánchez and William Contreras project to get the most frequent reps, keeping both in the lineup on at least a semi-regular basis when one or the other isn’t catching. Contreras, who last year posted a 124 wRC+, hit 17 home runs, and showed marked improvements to his defense en route to 5.4 WAR, is set to be the team’s primary catcher. As such, if Eric Haase, who is out of options, makes the team as a third catcher, there is a good chance that Sánchez will get the bulk of DH reps — assuming he squares up enough baseballs to merit regular playing time. The erstwhile Yankee and Twin has unquestioned power, but also a .225/.308/.469 slash line for his career. He hit 19 bombs and posted a .218/.292/.500 slash line last year with San Diego.

Rhys Hoskins, Christian Yelich, and Jake Bauers will also be in the mix, with a healthy Hoskins being especially important to the team’s offensive capabilities. Signed as a free agent this winter after missing all of last year with a knee injury, the former Phillies first baseman has averaged 30 homers over his last four non-pandemic seasons. Yelich got 94 plate appearances as a DH last year when not playing the outfield, and will likely approximate that number in 2024. Bauers is a lefty bat who has never quite fully established himself.

24. Mets
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
J.D. Martinez 546 .243 .309 .449 .324 4.6 -2.6 0.0 0.7
Francisco Alvarez 56 .227 .315 .436 .324 0.5 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Mark Vientos 42 .241 .305 .439 .319 0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Tyrone Taylor 21 .235 .291 .423 .307 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Pete Alonso 14 .248 .339 .505 .356 0.5 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Omar Narváez 14 .244 .323 .367 .305 -0.1 -0.1 0.0 -0.0
Brandon Nimmo 7 .267 .362 .436 .349 0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .242 .310 .446 .324 5.8 -2.9 0.0 0.9

Mark Vientos recently told reporters that he walks around with a chip on his shoulder as he looks to prove himself, and the positioning of that chip took a marked turn yesterday. The Mets have reached a one-year, $12 million deal with J.D. Martinez, meaning that Vientos will no longer be filling the role he’d been earmarked for. That responsibility now falls to the well established Martinez, who has been pummeling big league pitching for over a decade. Just last season, the 36-year-old slugger’s stroke produced a 135 wRC+ and a .572 SLG, with 33 of his airborne blasts leaving the yard. His career-worst 31.1% strikeout rate did represent a potential red flag, but Martinez’s arrival is nonetheless good news for the Mets offense — and bad news for Vientos, who will now have less near-term opportunity to show that he belongs in a big league lineup.

Francisco Alvarez doesn’t have nearly as much to prove as Vientos, although last year’s 25 home runs coming with a 26% strikeout rate, a .209 BA, and a .284 OBP does suggest he still has things to work on. The 22-year-old backstop will have ample opportunity to do so against big league pitching, as he’s now entrenched as the team’s primary catcher. He’ll DH when not behind the plate.

25. Royals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Vinnie Pasquantino 175 .278 .358 .484 .360 5.5 -0.6 0.0 0.6
MJ Melendez 133 .245 .329 .446 .334 1.3 -0.4 0.0 0.2
Nelson Velázquez 119 .238 .303 .435 .316 -0.6 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Salvador Perez 112 .259 .301 .457 .320 -0.1 -0.5 0.0 0.0
Nick Pratto 105 .221 .313 .394 .308 -1.2 -0.3 0.0 -0.1
Hunter Renfroe 42 .250 .312 .445 .325 0.1 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Adam Frazier 14 .266 .326 .381 .310 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .251 .324 .446 .330 4.8 -2.0 0.0 0.9

Despite a low ranking in these projections, the Royals have a real shot at outperforming the majority of their rivals in DH production. Back in action after shoulder surgery derailed his 2023 season in early June, Pasquantino epitomizes the term “pure hitter.” His true talent was on display in his 2022 rookie campaign when he slashed a healthy .295/.383/.450 with a 136 wRC+, 10 home runs, and an 11.4% strikeout rate over 298 plate appearances. Last year’s 103 wRC+ in a similar number of PAs was an injury-influenced anomaly for the left-handed-hitting first baseman/DH.

MJ Melendez, Nelson Velázquez, Nick Pratto, and Salvador Perez are also expected to see time at DH when not playing the field, and all have the potential to produce at a high level. Melendez has averaged 17 home runs annually in his two big league seasons and projects to hit a healthier number of them going forward. Velázquez, who like Melendez is just 25 years old, homered 17 times in just 179 big league plate appearances last year. Pratto ranked as the team’s No. 3 prospect two seasons ago (behind Bobby Witt Jr. and Melendez). Perez is one of the top power-hitting catchers in the game.

26. Athletics
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brent Rooker 350 .231 .318 .448 .329 5.8 -0.5 0.0 0.8
Miguel Andujar 105 .264 .314 .410 .312 0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Tyler Soderstrom 63 .214 .263 .377 .275 -1.8 -0.1 0.0 -0.1
Lawrence Butler 63 .236 .291 .382 .291 -0.9 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Seth Brown 35 .232 .298 .437 .314 0.1 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Ryan Noda 35 .211 .335 .382 .318 0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Abraham Toro 21 .243 .315 .388 .308 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Shea Langeliers 14 .225 .289 .418 .303 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
J.D. Davis 14 .244 .331 .405 .322 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .235 .309 .422 .316 3.7 -1.0 0.0 0.9

Oakland is a good place to be if you want an opportunity, and Brent Rooker has taken advantage of just that. Unable to establish himself with the Twins, Padres or Royals, the now-29-year-old landed in the East Bay and proceeded to bash 30 home runs, log a 127 wRC+, and earn an All-Star berth last season. Rooker did have a league-worst 32.7% strikeout rate, a red flag that merits concern going forward. He’s far from a complete hitter, but he projects to be a productive one.

Miguel Andujar is doing his best to force himself into the A’s lineup, be it in the outfield or elsewhere. Six years removed from a 27-homer season with the Yankees — and having done little in the injury-marred interim — the 29-year-old slugger is 14-for-42 with five home runs on the spring. Whether he can regain his luster in regular season action is anyone’s guess. As for Tyler Soderstrom, the 2020 first round pick is slated to start the season in Triple-A, which isn’t exactly promising news. The potential is there, but so too is a 35 wRC+ in last year’s 45-game cameo, and an equally-abysmal spring.

27. Marlins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Josh Bell 189 .260 .344 .435 .337 2.5 -0.9 0.0 0.3
Avisaíl García 175 .235 .296 .382 .294 -3.9 -0.3 0.0 -0.3
Luis Arraez 105 .317 .371 .426 .344 2.0 -0.2 0.0 0.3
Jake Burger 98 .251 .309 .471 .332 0.9 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Jesús Sánchez 63 .252 .323 .445 .330 0.5 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Troy Johnston 21 .249 .319 .395 .311 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Jazz Chisholm Jr. 21 .248 .312 .453 .327 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Bryan De La Cruz 14 .265 .317 .427 .321 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Trey Mancini 7 .243 .313 .393 .307 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Jonah Bride 7 .239 .339 .365 .314 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .259 .326 .424 .324 1.8 -1.8 0.0 0.6

The Marlins appear poised to rotate an array of players at DH this season. With one notable exception, the position will comprise hitters with power profiles. Corner infielders Josh Bell and Jake Burger combined to hit 56 home runs last year, while outfielder Avisaíl García had 29 with the Brewers in 2021 before being limited to 135 games over the past two seasons due to injuries. With the caveat that Miami’s home ballpark isn’t conducive to long balls, all three are more than capable of leaving the yard when they step to the plate.

Luis Arraez is the aforementioned notable exception, having hit eight and 10 home runs in the previous two seasons. That’s not his game, of course. What the sweet-swinging infielder does is ring line drives all over the field. Arraez has won back-to-back batting titles — one in each league — and while last summer’s .400 average buzz was destined to fade away, he did finish at a Carew-like .354. His left-handed stroke has produced a .335/.384/.445 slash line and a 132 wRC+ over the 2022-2023 campaigns. Merely adequate as a defender, he’s a magician with the bat, regardless of position.

28. Pirates
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Andrew McCutchen 420 .240 .341 .389 .323 -0.0 -1.3 0.0 0.2
Henry Davis 161 .241 .339 .409 .326 0.5 -0.5 0.0 0.1
Edward Olivares 35 .266 .323 .430 .325 0.1 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Rowdy Tellez 28 .245 .323 .438 .325 0.1 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Connor Joe 21 .246 .342 .398 .327 0.1 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Oneil Cruz 14 .248 .322 .451 .332 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Bryan Reynolds 14 .266 .345 .455 .344 0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Jack Suwinski 7 .231 .339 .454 .342 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .243 .339 .402 .325 1.1 -2.1 0.0 0.5

A five-time All-Star center fielder in his heyday, Andrew McCutchen is now primarily a DH as he approaches the end of what has been an illustrious career. The 37-year-old fan favorite is already a Pittsburgh legend. His 47.1 WAR — amassed over 10 seasons in a Pirates uniform — is more than all but eight position players in the franchise’s 120-plus-year history. Counting his five seasons with other clubs, he has 52.1 WAR to go with a 129 wRC+, 216 stolen bases, and a milestone-looming 299 home runs. Moreover, he’s approaching the finish line with gas left in the tank. McCutchen’s wRC+ last year over 112 games was a rock solid 115.

Henry Davis, whom the Pirates took first overall in the 2021 draft — 16 years after they tabbed McCutchen with their top pick — will be looking to rebound from a disappointing rookie season. The 24-year-old catcher-turned-outfielder slashed just .213/.302/.351 with seven home runs in 255 plate appearances. There is no questioning his raw power, but three years into his professional career, Davis has yet to live up to the lofty expectations that come with his draft pedigree. Set to once again don the tools of ignorance, he’s mashed this spring, which the Pirates hope is a harbinger of things to come.

29. Nationals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Stone Garrett 210 .237 .291 .421 .305 -2.7 -0.1 0.0 -0.1
Eddie Rosario 147 .248 .297 .418 .307 -1.7 -0.3 0.0 -0.1
Joey Meneses 147 .267 .316 .428 .320 -0.1 -0.4 0.0 0.1
Jesse Winker 119 .244 .355 .392 .331 1.0 -0.7 0.0 0.1
Joey Gallo 35 .191 .314 .413 .317 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Keibert Ruiz 28 .269 .323 .434 .327 0.1 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Dylan Crews 14 .225 .289 .355 .283 -0.4 -0.1 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .246 .311 .416 .314 -4.0 -1.7 0.0 0.1

In reporting last weekend that Joey Meneses will be returning to the designated hitter role, Nationals beat writer Jessica Camerato added that the well-traveled 31-year-old will be looking to show the offensive power he displayed in 2022. His doing so would certainly help a Washington lineup that hit the fewest home runs (151) in the NL last year. In 657 plate appearances, Meneses contributed 13 of them while logging an uninspiring 96 wRC+. The previous season, he’d gone deep 13 times in just 240 plate appearances while logging a 157 wRC+ as a late-bloomer rookie.

Stone Garrett, who we project to ultimately earn the most time at the bat-only position, is rehabbing a fractured left fibula suffered last August. As the 28-year-old right-handed-hitting outfielder has yet to see action this spring, and his ETA is uncertain — ditto his level of production going forward. Garrett is coming off of a sophomore season where he put up a 115 wRC+ in 271 plate appearance, but much like Meneses, his track record of big league success is limited. Eddie Rosario and Jesse Winker, both of whom have longer track records — albeit uneven ones — are also expected to DH. Roasario has basically been a league-average hitter over his career, while Winker’s historically strong OBP numbers declined last year, as did his overall performance.

30. Rockies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Charlie Blackmon 350 .274 .342 .422 .332 -3.2 -0.9 0.0 -0.1
Kris Bryant 161 .270 .347 .451 .345 0.3 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Elehuris Montero 91 .254 .310 .452 .326 -1.2 -0.2 0.0 -0.1
Hunter Goodman 49 .252 .307 .476 .332 -0.4 -0.1 0.0 -0.0
Sean Bouchard 21 .255 .341 .458 .344 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Michael Toglia 21 .225 .297 .399 .302 -0.7 -0.0 0.0 -0.1
Nolan Jones 7 .271 .361 .477 .360 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .267 .335 .437 .334 -5.1 -1.5 0.0 -0.0

Charlie Blackmon had a bounce-back season in 2023, and while he isn’t the player he was in his prime, a 105 wRC+ over 413 plate appearances suggests he hasn’t quite emptied the tank. The 37-year-old Rockies lifer has certainly filled up franchise annals. Thirteen seasons and counting into his Colorado tenure, Blackman ranks second to Todd Helton in numerous categories, including games played, runs scored, hits, doubles, and total bases. More table-setter than slugger at this point in his career — his last 20-plus home run season was 2019 — Blackmon logged a .363 OBP hitting primarily in the leadoff spot last year.

Kris Bryant will DH versus lefties, and the degree to which he hasn’t been what he once was has been frustrating both for himself and the team that signed him to a hefty free-agent contract prior to the 2022 season. Since coming to Colorado, the 32-year-old former NL MVP has put up a pedestrian 91 wRC+ while playing in just 122 games due to injury issues. Bryant remains a dangerous hitter when healthy and happy (the latter is reportedly in question), but will he be either in 2024? Elehuris Montero is a 25-year-old corner infielder yet to prove himself at the big league level. Ditto Hunter Goodman, a 24-year-old first baseman/outfielder.

Source

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2024-positional-power-rankings-designated-hitter/