2022 Positional Power Rankings: Designated Hitter

© Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, Jay Jaffe rounded out the outfield with his look at right fielders. Now we conclude our rankings of the game’s position players with a deep dive on designated hitters.

As Meg Rowley did when she introduced this year’s positional power rankings, I’ll begin with a quick refresher: All 30 teams are ranked here based on the projected WAR from our Depth Charts, which is arrived at using a 50/50 blend of the ZiPS and Steamer projections and our manually maintained playing time estimates. In other words, the teams and players populating the bottom of this list aren’t there based on any one person’s opinion. You’re free to disagree, or even to yell, but doing so in this author’s direction would be misguided.

That said, this particular list is twice as long as it used to be. The National League — to the whole-hearted appreciation of some, and the consternation of others — has finally adopted the designated hitter. Five decades (minus one year) after the junior circuit introduced the rule, pitchers will no longer hit. Of course, Shohei Ohtani still will, but only because he can do something few pitchers in history have been capable of doing: swing the bat like a DH. Now, on to the rankings!

2022 Positional Power Rankings – DH
1. Astros
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Yordan Alvarez 595 .285 .362 .565 .388 37.0 -0.4 0.0 4.2
Michael Brantley 84 .295 .350 .442 .342 2.0 -0.1 0.0 0.3
Jake Meyers 14 .246 .308 .421 .315 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Chas McCormick 7 .236 .312 .393 .307 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .285 .359 .545 .380 39.0 -0.5 0.0 4.5

Yordan Alvarez had his coming-out party on the national stage against the Red Sox in last year’s ALCS. Culminating in a six-game series that saw him bat .522 with a 1.408 OPS, the left-handed-hitting slugger went 7-for-9 with three doubles, a triple, and a home run over the final two games, helping catapult the Astros to the World Series. Fans in Houston already knew that the former American League Rookie of the Year could hit. In three major league seasons, the underrated basher boasts a .393 wOBA and a 153 wRC+ in just under 1,000 plate appearances.

Alvarez is poised to produce at a similar level in 2022. The 24-year-old Cuban DH projects to hit a career-high 39 home runs — he had 33 a year ago — with a .388 wOBA and a 151 wRC+. The overall sample is still too small to call Alvarez one of the premier hitters in the game, but there would be validity to the claim nonetheless.

Pitchers won’t get much of a break when Alvarez gets a day off, not with Michael Brantley moving in from the outfield to fill the DH role. “Professional hitter” is admittedly a bit eye-rolly, but if the term fits anybody, the second-generation big-leaguer is your man. Mickey Brantley’s kid has batted .300 or better in each of the past four seasons.

2. Angels
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Shohei Ohtani 623 .260 .363 .550 .378 31.6 0.3 0.0 3.8
Justin Upton 56 .222 .307 .421 .315 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Mike Trout 21 .273 .412 .566 .407 1.6 0.0 0.0 0.2
Total 700 .257 .360 .540 .374 33.0 0.3 0.0 4.0

Last season, the Angels placed ninth out of the 15 AL teams in these rankings. Then Ohtani showed that he was more than just a talented two-way player. Along with displaying high-octane heat when he took the mound, the modern-day Babe Ruth obliterated any idea that he couldn’t also be a force with his bat. Emerging as an elite power hitter, Ohtani homered 46 times while logging a .592 slugging percentage that ranked second to only Vladimir Guerrero Jr. among junior-circuit batters.

Predicting a home run explosion of that ilk would have been downright Nostradamian, but at the same time, Ohtani’s ability to drive baseballs far distances wasn’t exactly a secret. Prior to the now-27-year-old’s 2018 rookie season, this reporter asked an Angels coach which of the team’s players had the most-impressive batting practice power. The answer was Mike Trout, with Ohtani ranking a close second. To say that his BP power has translated to in-game power would be an understatement. Ohtani posted a 152 wRC+, though his second half mark (121) was admittedly more modest than his first (177), hurt by an August swoon.

As for the game’s best overall player, Mike Trout will likely log DH time when he’s not roaming the outfield. So too will Justin Upton, who has 324 career home runs and will be looking to rebound from a pair of subpar seasons.

3. Dodgers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Max Muncy 413 .249 .370 .509 .373 19.1 -0.1 0.0 2.2
Justin Turner 105 .269 .349 .444 .344 2.3 -0.2 0.0 0.3
Will Smith 91 .252 .351 .505 .362 3.4 -0.1 0.0 0.4
Edwin Ríos 56 .220 .286 .446 .311 -0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.0
AJ Pollock 21 .265 .320 .480 .338 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.1
Freddie Freeman 14 .293 .385 .527 .382 0.8 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .251 .357 .492 .362 25.6 -0.5 0.0 3.1

It’s almost not fair to opposing pitchers that Dodgers hurlers won’t be hitting anymore. Not only does baseball’s deepest lineup barely even need a DH, their options at the new-to-the-National-League position are plentiful and robust. Be it Max Muncy, Justin Turner, or Will Smith — just to name three — quality in that spot will be plentiful.

Muncy is one of the most-under-appreciated hitters in the NL. Overshadowed by L.A.’s plethora of stars, the former Baylor Bear boasts a 138 wRC+ since becoming a Dodger five years ago — and that number would be even higher if you took his lackluster 2020 campaign out of the equation. His home run totals in his last three full seasons are 35, 35, and 36. This from a player who was claimed off waivers after being released by the Oakland A’s in spring training of 2017.

As for Turner, the 37-year-old’s track record is well known. Occasional DH duty should help keep him fresh, just as it should help spare Smith’s knees some wear and tear. There’s also Gavin Lux, who isn’t even listed on the depth chart here. He’s a breakout candidate — assuming that he earns, or otherwise gets, an opportunity to break out. A former first-round pick, the 24-year-old Kenosha, Wisconsin native slashed a disappointing .242/.328/.364 in 102 games last year. The untapped potential is considerable, and some of his opportunities could come in this role.

4. Yankees
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Giancarlo Stanton 539 .261 .345 .517 .364 21.9 -1.3 0.0 2.6
Josh Donaldson 84 .246 .355 .472 .355 2.7 -0.2 0.0 0.3
DJ LeMahieu 56 .283 .348 .412 .331 0.7 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Miguel Andújar 14 .267 .306 .461 .326 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Aaron Judge 7 .275 .369 .539 .384 0.4 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .262 .346 .502 .360 25.9 -1.5 0.0 3.1

The team Brian Cashman constructed last year was criticized for being too one-dimensional, and that’s understandable. Seemingly every player in New York’s lineup was a slow-pitch softball club’s dream. There was power aplenty, and Giancarlo Stanton is a poster child for power. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound behemoth crushed 35 home runs, a total that ranked fifth-best in his 12-year career. Few players hit the ball as far, and no one hits it harder.

Stanton is a Statcast darling. The erstwhile Miami Marlin finished in the 99th percentile for average exit velocity, while his max exit velocity was in the 100th percentile. Nary a third baseman is inclined to creep in on the dirt when Stanton is in the box, because the ball comes off his bat like it was shot out of a howitzer. There is swing-and-miss to his game — Stanton’s 27.1 K% was 20th-highest last year among qualified hitters — but that didn’t stop him from posting a 137 wRC+.

Other Bombers will see time at DH as well, and the majority of them try to knock down walls. A notable exception is DJ LeMahieu, who has become somewhat of a spare part following the acquisitions of Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. The two-time batting champ is more line-drive than long-ball.

5. Guardians
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Franmil Reyes 630 .257 .327 .519 .356 20.4 -1.5 0.0 2.5
Josh Naylor 49 .266 .326 .448 .331 0.6 -0.0 0.0 0.1
José Ramírez 14 .271 .363 .536 .376 0.7 0.1 0.0 0.1
Bobby Bradley 7 .213 .288 .447 .312 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .257 .328 .514 .354 21.6 -1.5 0.0 2.6

The Guardians can be offensively-challenged at time, but they do have power at the DH position. Franmil Reyes, who was acquired at the 2019 trade deadline in a three-team deal, is the consummate slugger. Built to bludgeon the ball at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, Reyes had 30 home runs last year, and 37 in 2019.

Getting on base isn’t Reyes’ strong suit. While his lifetime .503 slugging percentage is impressive, his .260 batting average is pedestrian, and his .325 OBP leaves a lot to be desired. Ditto his 29.5 K%. Power has value, of course. Reyes had a 125 wRC+ last year, and our Depth Charts forecast that number to be 126 this coming summer. His home run projection is a healthy 41.

Josh Naylor has been a bit of an enigma. Drafted 12th overall by the Marlins out of a Mississauga, Ontario high school in 2015, the left-handed-hitting outfielder/first baseman has thus far failed to live up to expectations. Acquired by Cleveland from San Diego as part of a nine-player deal at the 2020 trade deadline, Naylor has an 87 wRC+ over parts of three seasons. He’s coming back from a season-ending leg injury suffered last July. Bobby Bradley likewise has a lot to prove. He has a 92 wRC+ over parts of two seasons.

6. Phillies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kyle Schwarber 336 .244 .350 .519 .367 12.0 -0.7 0.0 1.4
Nick Castellanos 245 .273 .330 .496 .348 5.0 -0.2 0.0 0.7
J.T. Realmuto 56 .258 .329 .447 .332 0.4 0.2 0.0 0.1
Rhys Hoskins 28 .239 .351 .496 .361 0.9 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Bryce Harper 21 .271 .399 .540 .393 1.2 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Didi Gregorius 14 .247 .303 .427 .312 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .257 .342 .503 .357 19.4 -0.9 0.0 2.4

The Phillies have options aplenty at the DH position, in large part because they have no shortage of bat-first players. Kyle Schwarber — signed as a free agent on March 20 — tops that list, while Nick Castellanos — inked to a deal two days later — is likewise limited defensively but a force on the offensive side of the ball. Both will be utilized as designated hitters when not playing the field, and each will present a formidable challenge for opposing pitchers.

Schwarber logged 32 home runs and a 145 wRC+ last year, while Castellanos was every bit as impressive, finishing the campaign with 34 home runs and a 140 wRC+. Projection systems don’t have them quite matching those numbers, but even slight downturns will yield plus results. Barring injury or the unexpected, both should provide plenty of pop.

Prior to the duo being brought on board, Matt Vierling appeared to be first in line for the position. Instead, the 25-year-old University of Notre Dame product — No. 5 on our Phillies Top Prospects list — is likely to be the team’s starting center fielder, at least until Odúbel Herrera returns from an injury in late April. Wherever Vierling plays, he promises to swing a productive bat. The same is true for the already-well-established J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins, both of whom will also garner occasional DH at-bats.

7. Rays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Austin Meadows 399 .252 .329 .482 .343 11.5 -0.9 0.0 1.4
Yandy Díaz 154 .268 .362 .409 .336 3.5 -0.3 0.0 0.5
Harold Ramirez 77 .273 .313 .423 .316 0.5 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Randy Arozarena 49 .256 .339 .450 .339 1.2 -0.0 0.0 0.2
Ji-Man Choi 21 .231 .342 .411 .329 0.4 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .258 .335 .455 .338 17.1 -1.3 0.0 2.2

The Tampa Bay Rays have made an art out of being sneaky good, and that’s a good way to describe many of their players. They don’t necessarily look great on paper, but when all is said and done, they’ve helped put the team in the win column. Austin Meadows and Yandy Díaz are prime examples.

Meadows slashed .234/.315/.458 last year, a line that does little to enthuse. But then there were his 27 home runs and club-best 106 RBI. Moribund with the bases empty — a .638 OPS — Meadows slashed a meaningful .299/.382/.612 with runners in scoring position. Predictive of future performance? Not in terms of how he does with RISP; that’s anyone’s guess. As for overall output, Meadows projects for a wRC+ of 124, up from last season’s 113.

Díaz augmented a .256/.353/.387 slash line with a 111 wRC+ in 2021, with the projections anticipating modest improvement in each of those numbers. That they will again be more workmanlike than sexy is indicative of the Rays way. It’s akin to Lake Wobegone, where all the children are above average. A dozen Tampa Bay batters had 275 or more plate appearances last year, and all but one had a wRC+ of 100 or better.

8. Nationals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Nelson Cruz 560 .269 .340 .510 .355 14.4 -1.9 0.0 1.7
Keibert Ruiz 49 .269 .328 .465 .339 0.6 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Juan Soto 42 .313 .458 .588 .435 3.8 -0.0 0.0 0.4
Yadiel Hernandez 28 .262 .323 .435 .325 0.0 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Riley Adams 21 .217 .312 .381 .305 -0.3 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .270 .345 .504 .356 18.5 -2.1 0.0 2.2

More than a few pundits were aghast when the Seattle Mariners inked Nelson Cruz to a four-year, $57 million contract following the 2014 season. At age 34, Cruz was deemed too old and one-dimensional to merit that kind of commitment. Pundits aren’t always right. In the seven years since, the age-defying slugger has hit 252 home runs — more than any player in the game — while posting a .383 wOBA and a 146 wRC+. He’s been worth 23.9 WAR, the highest total among designated hitters.

The Nationals are banking on the fountain of youth to be in Cruz’s corner for at least one more season. Emboldened in part by the 41-year-old slugger’s 32-home-run output in the final year of a subsequently-signed three-year contract, Washington brought him on board for the upcoming campaign, with a mutual option in place for 2023. Whether he’ll be worth this year’s $12 million outlay remains to be seen. The projections aren’t particularly bullish, but as history has shown, Cruz is much like the Energizer Bunny. He just keeps going.

If the Energizer Bunny does end up running out of batteries, Keibert Ruiz and Yadiel Hernandez present as options. Neither strikes fear in opposing pitchers. Juan Soto, who will get an occasional DH game when he needs a day off in the outfield, does strike fear in opposing pitchers. A lot of fear.

9. Red Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
J.D. Martinez 581 .271 .343 .490 .351 13.5 -1.7 0.0 1.7
Bobby Dalbec 42 .232 .306 .476 .331 0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Triston Casas 35 .253 .333 .448 .336 0.4 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Travis Shaw 21 .221 .315 .398 .311 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Rafael Devers 14 .282 .348 .541 .373 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.1
Xander Bogaerts 7 .282 .358 .488 .361 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .266 .339 .485 .348 14.7 -1.8 0.0 1.9

J.D. Martinez is back for what is likely a last hurrah in Boston. Choosing not to exercise an opt-out clause in his contract and become a free agent, the 34-year-old slugger will instead look to provide bang for his buck in the final season of a five-year, $110 million contract. He’s been worth the expenditure.

With the exception of an anomalous 2020 that saw him log a 77 wRC+, Martinez has mostly mashed since being inserted into the middle of the Red Sox lineup. Over the past four seasons, only Nelson Cruz has more home runs and a higher wRC+ among designated hitters. Martinez rebounded from his poor COVID-truncated campaign — one that saw him robbed of his meticulously-adhered-to in-game video-study routine — to put up a .286/.349/.518 slash line, with 28 home runs and an AL-best 42 two-baggers.

This year’s projections have him falling short of those numbers, but there is little reason to expect a notable decline. And if Father Time does arrive early, Boston has some other options. Power-hitting first baseman Triston Casas — Boston’s top-rated prospect — is on the doorstep of big-league ready, while multi-positional Bobby Dalbec likewise provides plenty of pop.

10. Braves
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Alex Dickerson 280 .254 .322 .454 .331 1.4 -0.3 0.0 0.3
Ronald Acuña Jr. 154 .281 .388 .571 .403 9.9 0.5 0.0 1.2
Marcell Ozuna 126 .264 .337 .468 .344 2.0 -0.0 0.0 0.3
Eddie Rosario 84 .270 .311 .472 .331 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.1
Adam Duvall 35 .227 .289 .475 .322 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Travis d’Arnaud 21 .247 .311 .414 .313 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .262 .336 .483 .348 13.4 0.2 0.0 1.9

Alex Dickerson is expected to begin the season as Atlanta’s first-ever non-interleague DH, but he’ll have to hit better than he did a year ago to keep the job. Signed to a free-agent deal earlier this month, the left-handed-hitting outfielder is coming off a season where he slashed .233/.304/.420 with the San Francisco Giants. And even if he performs closer to his career norms — .260/.330/.470 — that might not be enough. Ronald Acuña Jr. is slated to come off the IL around the beginning of May, which will likely result in Marcell Ozuna or Eddie Rosario moving over from the outfield. (Acuña could also DH upon his return if Atlanta chooses to be extra-careful with his surgically-repaired ACL.)

Speaking of Acūna, few players in the game are more exciting, or as talented. The 24-year-old superstar boasts a 140 wRC+ in 1,764 career plate appearances, and in 2019 — his last full season — he had a 41/37 season. The projections peg him for a 37/24 season with a 150 wRC+.

Ozuna was tremendously productive in 2020. Last season, however, he was meek through May, before going on the injured list for a hand injury. He was placed on administrative leave in September as part of a domestic violence investigation. Rosario wasted little time endearing himself to Braves fans after being acquired from Cleveland on the eve of last summer’s trade deadline. He put up a .933 OPS in 33 regular-season games, then proceeded to go 23-for-60 in postseason. The bulk of his damage came against the Dodgers in the NLCS; Rosario punished L.A. pitchers to the tune of five extra-base hits and a 1.647 OPS in six games.

11. White Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Gavin Sheets 231 .255 .317 .459 .331 3.1 -0.4 0.0 0.5
Andrew Vaughn 189 .252 .330 .443 .333 2.8 -0.4 0.0 0.4
Eloy Jiménez 133 .272 .320 .509 .350 3.9 -0.1 0.0 0.5
José Abreu 63 .262 .331 .478 .344 1.5 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Yasmani Grandal 49 .235 .373 .462 .362 1.9 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Yoán Moncada 35 .259 .350 .440 .342 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .257 .328 .466 .339 14.0 -1.2 0.0 1.9

When the White Sox drafted him third-overall in 2019 out of Cal Berkeley, Andrew Vaughn profiled as an impact bat who would reach Chicago in short order. Despite the pandemic hindering his development, he did just that. Vaughn debuted last April, and considering that he had just 245 professional plate appearances under his belt — none of them above High-A — he performed admirably. While his 16 home runs and .235/.309/.396 slash line look substandard on the surface, the fact that he was basically learning on the fly against big-league pitching can’t be overstated. A spring training hip pointer has him behind Gavin Sheets on our depth chart, but there might not be a better breakout candidate in baseball.

Sheets, who outperformed Vaughn in his own rookie season, entered the year with notably different projections. A former second rounder with a comparatively modest prospect profile, the Wake Forest product logged a 125 wRC+ after being called up in late June. Outperforming most power expectations, he put up a .506 slugging percentage and went deep 11 times in just 179 plate appearances. It will now be up to Sheets to show that the projections’ skepticism that he can match last year’s SLG is misplaced.

Eloy Jimenéz, who will DH when not playing left field, was limited to 55 games last year due to injury. When healthy, he has as much power as anyone on the club.

12. Padres
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Luke Voit 399 .245 .336 .455 .341 8.2 -0.7 0.0 1.1
Fernando Tatis Jr. 84 .290 .373 .613 .409 6.4 0.5 0.0 0.8
Austin Nola 84 .259 .332 .400 .320 0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Jorge Alfaro 84 .242 .291 .382 .291 -1.7 -0.1 0.0 -0.1
Matt Beaty 21 .254 .328 .398 .317 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Jurickson Profar 14 .241 .328 .386 .313 -0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Manny Machado 14 .275 .348 .494 .354 0.4 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .252 .334 .456 .339 13.6 -0.4 0.0 1.9

Luke Voit was superfluous on a Yankees squad stocked with right-handed sluggers. He’s a good fit for a Padres team that not only has a comparative-paucity of such pop, but will also begin the season with its most-prolific righty-swinger on the shelf. (Dear Fernando Tatis Jr., Please stop riding motorcycles. Thank you.)

The personable-and-quotable Voit recently referred to the meat of his former club’s batting order as “big donkeys,” and that would be an apt description of his own self. The 31-year-old native Missourian isn’t as Goliathian as a Judge or a Stanton, but at 6-foot-3, 250-pounds with a run-producer profile, he’ll be counted on to provide power to the Padres lineup. His track record suggests that he will, so long as he stays healthy. Voit has a career .518 SLG, but also a history of getting injured.

The recently-acquired Matt Beatty will serve as a left-handed-hitting DH option — albeit not as the primary backup, as he’ll also see time at first base, and in left and right field — and he’s in San Diego for much the same reason as Voit: He was superfluous on a roster with a plethora of sluggers. Getting at-bats with the Dodgers was going to be a challenge, but he can reasonably expect to get a good number of them with the Padres. Austin Nola, who has better offensive numbers than you might realize, will get some time at DH. In all likelihood, so too will Tatis when he returns to the lineup.

13. Mariners
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mitch Haniger 224 .247 .320 .466 .335 4.7 -0.3 0.0 0.6
Kyle Lewis 203 .239 .313 .407 .312 0.5 -0.0 0.0 0.2
Jesse Winker 175 .268 .364 .461 .357 6.8 -0.6 0.0 0.8
Luis Torrens 56 .234 .295 .405 .301 -0.4 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Ty France 21 .277 .351 .456 .348 0.7 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Abraham Toro 21 .249 .328 .412 .322 0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .250 .328 .440 .331 12.4 -1.1 0.0 1.8

Mitch Haniger missed much of 2019 and all of ’20 recovering from various injuries, but he hardly missed a beat after returning to action in 2021. Hitting primarily in the two-hole in the Mariners lineup, the Cal Poly product propelled 39 pitches over fences, establishing career-bests in runs scored (110) and RBI (100) along the way. His rate stats, which included a 120 wRC+, were solid as well. As he’d proven in 2018 (26 dingers and a 137 wRC+), Haniger is a force when fully healthy.

Kyle Lewis, who along with Haniger will both play in the outfield and DH, is in much the same boat. The 2020 AL Rookie of the Year missed all but the first two months of last season with a knee injury, leaving a hole in the Seattle batting order. Still rehabbing as the season nears, Lewis will add oomph to the lineup when he returns.

Jesse Winker, Luis Torrens, Ty France and Abraham Toro will also serve as designated hitters at times. Winker, whom the Reds inexplicably saw fit to part ways with, has had consecutive eye-opening seasons with a wRC+ north of 140. Torrens came over from the Padres in an August 2020 trade and homered 15 times last year. France and Toro are multi-position players, with the former profiling as the better bat. France has a 130 wRC+ in 805 plate appearances over the past two seasons, and projects at 126 for the coming campaign.

14. Blue Jays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Teoscar Hernández 224 .262 .320 .496 .346 4.5 0.0 0.0 0.7
Alejandro Kirk 175 .265 .341 .468 .347 3.6 -0.2 0.0 0.5
Greg Bird 105 .215 .293 .402 .300 -1.9 -0.2 0.0 -0.1
George Springer 77 .263 .349 .506 .364 2.7 -0.0 0.0 0.3
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 42 .271 .315 .477 .336 0.5 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Cavan Biggio 28 .226 .338 .402 .323 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 28 .305 .391 .598 .413 2.1 -0.0 0.0 0.2
Danny Jansen 21 .233 .318 .448 .329 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .256 .328 .474 .342 11.6 -0.6 0.0 1.7

The Blue Jays possess arguably the most-potent lineup in the American League, and a 5-foot-8, 265 pound catcher/DH projects to be a big part of it. Alejandro Kirk isn’t built like your typical big-leaguer, but he hits like one. His minor-league numbers stand out like a sore thumb. In 675 plate appearances down on the farm, Kirk has slashed a stand-up-and-take-notice .318/.416/.503. That he wasn’t as impressive in last year’s 60-game stint with the Blue Jays — he logged a solid-but-unspectacular 106 wRC+ — is more a testament to his being a 22-year-old getting his feet wet at the highest level than anything else.

Kirk’s greatest strengths are his contact skills and a discerning eye. He’s not exactly Eddie Yost (look him up, kids), but his 10.1% walk rate in 60 major league games last year was nonetheless impressive. And he definitely doesn’t strike out much. Kirk has gone down by way of the K just 95 times (and drawn 114 walks) in 889 professional plate appearances. ZIPS projects a .341 OBP, but a markedly higher number is likely.

Teoscar Hernández, who paired 32 long balls with a 132 wRC+ last season, will likely split time between left field and the DH position. Currently in front of Kirk on our depth charts, he’s going to produce in whichever position he ends up spending more time. As for projections that have him slightly exceeding the home run total, but with a not-as-impressive 116 wRC+, there’s reason to believe he’ll better both. Overshadowed by Toronto’s more-ballyhooed hitters, Hernández is quietly very good.

15. Marlins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jorge Soler 259 .233 .329 .465 .340 5.3 -0.7 0.0 0.7
Garrett Cooper 217 .262 .344 .436 .338 4.2 -0.8 0.0 0.5
Jesús Aguilar 140 .258 .333 .450 .334 2.2 -0.3 0.0 0.3
Brian Anderson 42 .247 .332 .412 .323 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.1
Lewin Díaz 21 .240 .289 .452 .313 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Jazz Chisholm Jr. 21 .236 .300 .429 .313 -0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .248 .332 .448 .336 11.9 -1.7 0.0 1.6

The Marlins have been offensively-challenged in recent years, and while they still have a lot of room to improve in that area, filling the DH role won’t be an issue. Jorge Soler, who is expected to play left field on a fairly regular basis, will also serve as a designated hitter — quite possibly as much as he plays in left. The recently acquired slugger was slotted as the primary at that position in our LF rankings. He’ll provide power, no matter where he plays.

The underrated Garrett Cooper can comfortably slide into the DH slot after bouncing between first base and right field as Miami’s most-productive non-regular. He’s earned a full-time opportunity. Over the past two seasons the former Auburn Tiger has slashed .284/.371/.478 with a .366 wOBA and a 133 wRC+. Moreover, Cooper crushes lefties. His OPS versus opposite-handed pitchers was .971 last year, and was 1.170 in 2020.

Other non-Soler options exist if Cooper’s production in a relatively small sample (383 PAs over the past two seasons) proves to be an aberration. First baseman Jesús Aguilar is a credible defender, but at 31 years old and 275 pounds, he’s not exactly Don Mattingly with the glove. Nor is he Mattingly with the stick, although he can certainly hit. Aguilar went deep 22 times last season, with all but five of the dingers coming on the road, cavernous Marlins Park being a venue where home runs go to die. Aguilar hit 35 bombs in Milwaukee’s hitter-friendly Miller Park in 2018.

16. Orioles
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Trey Mancini 378 .265 .334 .461 .339 6.4 -0.4 0.0 0.9
Ryan Mountcastle 182 .263 .313 .479 .335 2.4 -0.2 0.0 0.4
DJ Stewart 56 .223 .326 .421 .324 0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Anthony Santander 56 .255 .300 .462 .323 0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Adley Rutschman 28 .257 .343 .440 .338 0.4 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .260 .325 .462 .336 9.6 -0.8 0.0 1.5

Trey Mancini was one of the best stories in baseball last year, having returned from colon cancer that was diagnosed just as the pandemic was putting baseball on hold in March 2020. Chemotherapy, replete with complications, kept Mancini off the field once the game returned, and while the 2021 season was in his sights, there were no guarantees. To the relief of all, Mancini achieved his goals. And not only did he return to full health, he was in the Orioles starting lineup on Opening Day.

Mancini wasn’t able to replicate his 2019 season — one that saw him bash 35 home runs and post a 132 wRC+ — but he did hold his own. Playing in 147 games, the now-30-year-old University of Notre Dame alum slashed .255/.326/.432 with 21 home runs. With a healthy 2021 season in his rearview, there is reason to believe Mancini will produce closer to his previous output in the campaign to come.

Last season’s team leader in home runs is expected to DH when not manning first base or left field. That would be 25-year-old Ryan Mountcastle, who the Depth Charts conservatively project to hit 31 long balls with a 111 wRC+. I’d be inclined to bet the over.

17. Rangers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Willie Calhoun 308 .261 .323 .451 .331 4.2 -0.8 0.0 0.6
Andy Ibáñez 98 .265 .320 .429 .322 0.6 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Matt Carpenter 77 .207 .324 .363 .304 -0.7 -0.1 0.0 -0.0
Mitch Garver 70 .241 .331 .463 .341 1.5 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Corey Seager 49 .291 .363 .510 .371 2.3 0.0 0.0 0.3
Adolis García 42 .231 .275 .435 .302 -0.5 -0.1 0.0 -0.0
Josh Jung 42 .262 .322 .448 .330 0.5 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Marcus Semien 14 .263 .339 .478 .349 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .254 .324 .443 .329 8.2 -1.3 0.0 1.3

Willie Calhoun was once the top prospect in the Texas Rangers system, coming in at No. 1 in our spring-of-2018 rankings. The accompanying blurb stated that he was “going to rake,” and also that he doesn’t have a position. Calhoun was projected as a hard-hitting DH.

Four years later, one of the predictions is coming to fruition. While he’s mostly played left field to this point, the defensively-uninspiring Calhoun is now penciled in as the club’s designated hitter. As for the other forecast — the one that’s ultimately more important to his big-league future — it remains tenuous. Promising in a 2019 rookie campaign that saw him go deep 21 times in 337 plate appearances, Calhoun has since scuffled to the tune of .233/.288/.347 with seven home runs and a 75 wRC+. Misfortune has played a role — a fastball to the face was particularly injurious — but Calhoun is nonetheless approaching a crossroads. As a 27-year-old DH, he’s going to have to show that he can indeed rake.

Andy Ibáñez is a soon-to-turn-29-year-old Cuban infielder who slashed .277/.321/.435 last year in part-time play. He’s put up strong numbers in Triple-A, but the jury is out for what he can do with regular playing in The Show.

18. Royals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Nick Pratto 175 .243 .324 .471 .338 2.7 -0.0 0.0 0.4
Carlos Santana 161 .236 .343 .394 .323 0.5 -0.2 0.0 0.2
MJ Melendez 140 .246 .318 .466 .335 1.8 -0.3 0.0 0.3
Salvador Perez 105 .261 .301 .501 .337 1.5 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Emmanuel Rivera 42 .251 .297 .402 .301 -0.6 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Adalberto Mondesi 28 .248 .287 .430 .305 -0.3 0.3 0.0 0.0
Hunter Dozier 28 .236 .308 .425 .315 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Bobby Witt Jr. 21 .262 .319 .459 .332 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .246 .320 .450 .329 5.7 -0.5 0.0 1.1

The Royals are on the verge of becoming good again, and how soon some of their up-and-coming young talent reaches Kansas City will impact how this spot in the lineup is filled as the season moves along. Among those knocking on the door is 23-year-old first baseman Nick Pratto, a Top 100 prospect who plays the position Carlos Santana is currently slotted to fill. If Pratto ascends to the big leagues this summer, as many expect him to, the first baseman who shares a name with one of rock’s all-time-great guitarists is likely to slide into the bat-only role, at least as a timeshare.

Santana will be looking to rebound from a down year. The switch-hitter is coming off of career lows in multiple rate stats, most notably OBP and SLG, and he hit just 19 home runs, his fewest in a full season since 2015. The projections aren’t particularly bullish on the 36-year’s chances of performing at a markedly-better pace going forward.

Much like Pratto, fellow Top-100 prospect MJ Melendez projects as a huge part of the Royals future. A 23-year-old left-handed-hitting catcher who split last season between Double- and Triple-A, Melendez hit 41 home runs, the most of any player in the minor leagues. Salvador Perez, who tied for the most homers in the majors, with 48, will log DH at-bats when not behind the plate.

19. Giants
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Darin Ruf 280 .245 .332 .438 .331 3.4 -0.5 0.0 0.5
Joc Pederson 175 .235 .314 .440 .324 1.0 -0.3 0.0 0.2
Wilmer Flores 91 .271 .333 .451 .336 1.5 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Austin Slater 56 .247 .335 .412 .325 0.4 0.2 0.0 0.1
Evan Longoria 42 .246 .313 .419 .314 -0.1 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Tommy La Stella 21 .270 .335 .409 .323 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Brandon Belt 14 .245 .347 .468 .348 0.4 -0.0 0.0 0.0
LaMonte Wade Jr. 14 .240 .331 .426 .327 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Brandon Crawford 7 .255 .328 .426 .322 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .247 .327 .436 .328 6.8 -1.0 0.0 1.1

Darin Ruf has raked since returning from the KBO, where he’d done just that for three seasons. Since signing with the Giants in January 2020, Ruf has slashed a solid .272/.381/.519, with a .383 wOBA and a 143 wRC+. Like several other of Farhan Zaidi’s under-the-radar acquisitions, the erstwhile Philadelphia Phillies and Samsung Lions OF/IB has outperformed expectations.

The projections aren’t convinced that he can keep it up. Our Depth Charts see the 35-year-old slugger tailing off to a .245/.332/.438 slash line this year, with his wRC+ plummeting to a nothing to write home about 109. That said, an atypical career path makes predicting the future a bit more complicated. With the caveat that play in the KBO isn’t MLB quality, Ruf has put up strong numbers for five years running. There is reason to believe he cam make it six.

Joc Pederson is fun, and at his best he’s a productive hitter. The former Dodger went deep 36 times in 2019, but only 25 times — with an underachieving 86 wRC+ — in the two seasons since, though he’s still had some postseason highlights. Wilmer Flores, meanwhile, has quietly been a better hitter than many people realize. Playing for the Mets, D-backs and most recently the Giants, Flores has had an above-average wRC+ in each of the past six seasons. His positional flexibility bears noting: He has played 209 games at second base, 204 at third, 203 at first, and 162 at short. He’s also DH’d 29 times, a number that will increase this season.

20. Twins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Luis Arraez 238 .301 .364 .399 .333 3.3 -0.1 0.0 0.5
Gary Sánchez 161 .208 .303 .424 .313 -0.5 -0.3 0.0 0.1
Jose Miranda 133 .276 .324 .451 .331 1.6 -0.2 0.0 0.3
Alex Kirilloff 91 .269 .320 .455 .330 1.0 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Trevor Larnach 35 .227 .309 .386 .303 -0.4 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Miguel Sanó 21 .228 .319 .487 .342 0.4 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Brent Rooker 14 .219 .307 .439 .320 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Carlos Correa 7 .276 .359 .488 .361 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .263 .331 .426 .327 5.8 -0.8 0.0 1.1

Upside-wise, this is arguably the most-underrated grouping in these rankings. The primary DH candidate is a potential batting champion, the next on the list is a potential 40-home-run-guy, and four others are high-profile prospects — three of them being former first-round picks.

Luis Arraez is the most-established non-newcomer, and the most-likely to contend for the once-prestigious batting title. In 966 plate appearances spaced over three big-league seasons, Arraez has slashed .313/.374/.403. On the down side, while the soon-to-turn-25-year-old left-handed hitter has admirable bat-to-ball skills, his line-drive approach has produced just six home runs. Akin to 1970s outfielder Matty Alou, Arraez’s skill set is stylistically more conducive to that era than it is to the 2020s.

Gary Sánchez is the bopper of the bunch, and while his production has fallen off from his scintillating 2016-17, there is no questioning his power. Consistency and bat-to-ball skills have been his bugaboos. And then there are the kids. Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Brent Rooker are the first-rounders, and all retain high-ceilings. So does 23-year-old infielder Jose Miranda, whose prospect status skyrocketed last year after he slashed .344/.401/.572 between Double- and Triple-A. The Sánchez situation will factor into all four near-term futures. Ostensibly acquired to catch, Sánchez may ultimately see more time in the glove-free role.

21. Brewers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Andrew McCutchen 441 .233 .338 .422 .331 2.6 -0.8 0.0 0.5
Christian Yelich 119 .263 .372 .472 .361 3.7 0.3 0.0 0.5
Keston Hiura 63 .227 .303 .417 .311 -0.7 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Lorenzo Cain 56 .265 .335 .392 .319 -0.2 0.1 0.0 0.0
Omar Narváez 21 .251 .333 .394 .317 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .241 .340 .426 .333 5.3 -0.5 0.0 1.0

Andrew McCutchen thrives versus lefties — he boasts a .307/.403/.552 lifetime line — and he’ll be counted on do that in a right-handed-heavy lineup. The 35-year-old five-time All-Star isn’t what he once was, but there does appear to be gas left in the tank – particularly in the power department. Cutch slumped to a career-low-by-far .222 batting average with the Phillies last year, but he also swatted 27 home runs. Moreover, 15 of them came against southpaws in just 195 plate appearances.

Christian Yelich is either a superstar or a former superstar. Like McCutchen a former NL MVP, Yelich was one of the game’s best hitters in 2018 and ’19, only to scuffle in the shortened COVID season and then fail to regain his old form last year while playing through injuries. A healthy Yelich is a force with the bat, and the projections aren’t about to argue. Bullish on him returning to form, both ZiPS and Steamer have the key to the Milwaukee lineup putting up a closer-to-normal season in 2022.

Keston Hiura presents as a wild card. The former ninth-overall pick has largely disappointed, but he’s just 25 years old and has reportedly simplified his swing. There’s still hope.

22. Mets
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Robinson Canó 308 .259 .308 .407 .307 -1.3 -0.7 0.0 0.0
Dominic Smith 189 .254 .315 .422 .317 0.8 -0.4 0.0 0.2
J.D. Davis 105 .254 .339 .429 .332 1.8 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Pete Alonso 70 .260 .351 .543 .374 3.6 -0.2 0.0 0.4
Jeff McNeil 21 .281 .346 .430 .336 0.4 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Mark Canha 7 .235 .352 .413 .336 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .257 .321 .428 .321 5.4 -1.4 0.0 1.0

Robinson Canó likely punted away his Hall of Fall chances by testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs a second time, with the more-recent of his indiscretions triggering a full-season suspension. It’s a shame. With 2,624 hits, eight All-Star berths, and 58.7 WAR highlighting his credentials, Canó would otherwise have been a shoo-in for Cooperstown. Instead, he’ll enter his age-39 season — quite possibly his last season — with ignominy hanging over his head.

He’ll also go into the season with hopes of replicating past performance and helping lead the well-moneyed Mets to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. How much gas he has left in the tank is the question. A year on the punishment shelf is clearly to his disadvantage, although he was still driving balls into gaps the last time he played. Canó slashed .316/.352/.544 over 49 games in the truncated 2020 campaign. A lifetime .303 hitter with an .844 OPS, he’s rarely not produced.

Left-handed Dom Smith and righty-swinging J.D. Davis don’t have Canó’s resume, but they do have arguments for full-time roles. Davis had a 130 wRC+ in 211 plate appearances last summer. Smith slumped last year but was stellar in 2020.

23. Pirates
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Daniel Vogelbach 252 .232 .358 .428 .344 4.9 -0.7 0.0 0.6
Yoshi Tsutsugo 189 .229 .323 .411 .318 -0.3 -0.3 0.0 0.1
Diego Castillo 84 .248 .309 .385 .302 -1.2 -0.0 0.0 -0.1
Oneil Cruz 70 .274 .328 .506 .353 1.9 0.1 0.0 0.3
Michael Chavis 49 .242 .295 .437 .313 -0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Anthony Alford 35 .225 .304 .381 .298 -0.6 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Bryan Reynolds 21 .279 .363 .480 .359 0.7 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .239 .333 .426 .329 5.0 -1.1 0.0 1.0

Three years removed from a 30-home-run season with the Seattle Mariners, Daniel Vogelbach has scuffled to the tune of 15 bombs and a .385 slugging percentage over the past two campaigns, the latter of which was injury-impacted. Along with a return to full health, the lumbering lefty will have to show that his 2019 performance wasn’t an anomaly. At age 29, he’s perfectly capable of a resurgence, and he’s also ideally situated to do so with the Pirates. The Pittsburgh offense needs all the pop it can get.

Going from a large-market contender to a small-market club in full rebuild mode also might be the opportunity that Michael Chavis needed. A former first-round pick who never earned his keep in Boston, the 26-year-old infielder/outfielder possesses the type of plus raw power that fits into the middle of any lineup — but only if it can he harnessed. Since leaving the yard 18 times in just 382 plate appearances in 2019, Chavis has shown little in the way of consistency. Acquired by the Pirates at last year’s trade deadline in exchange for Austin Davis, Chavis is approaching the make-or-break stage of his career.

Yoshi Tsutsugo is yet another reclamation project with a chance to prove his worth. Claimed off waivers last summer after being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tsutsugo has fallen short of expectations since signing with the Tampa Bay Rays in December 2019. His final four season with NPB’s Yokohama BayStars saw him go deep 139 times.

24. Cubs
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Clint Frazier 196 .235 .324 .429 .326 0.4 -0.3 0.0 0.2
Willson Contreras 189 .240 .337 .439 .336 2.0 -0.6 0.0 0.3
Rafael Ortega 126 .248 .321 .405 .316 -0.8 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Frank Schwindel 91 .267 .311 .482 .335 0.9 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Seiya Suzuki 56 .287 .368 .508 .370 2.2 -0.1 0.0 0.3
Patrick Wisdom 35 .218 .294 .464 .322 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Yan Gomes 7 .248 .303 .417 .307 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .247 .327 .442 .331 4.6 -1.3 0.0 0.9

Clint Frazier has been a question mark since being drafted fifth overall by Cleveland out of Georgia’s Loganville High School in 2013. Possessing plus power that is compromised by contact issues, Frazier wasn’t exactly in an easy-peasy situation after being swapped to the Yankees in the 2016 Andrew Miller deal. Playing under the microscope in the Big Apple, he was a frequent target of brickbats while seeing sporadic action over parts of five seasons. Rollercoaster results were the reason. A change of scenery was badly needed, and it could very well prove to be a panacea.

Willson Contreras is a free-agent-to-be — and a potential trade chip — whose future in Chicago is unknown. A catcher by trade, the 29-year-old is coming off a string of better-than-league-average seasons with the bat, and the projections expect more of the same in 2022. His projected 24 long balls and 108 wRC+ make Contreras an attractive target for deadline suitors.

Rafael Ortega is a 30-year-old journeyman — the Cubs are his seventh organization — coming off of a career year. The projections are skeptical that he’ll match last season’s 120 wRC+, which came in 330 plate appearances. Frank Schwindel, who put up a 152 wRC+ in a 64-game rookie season at age 29, will also be out to prove that 2021 wasn’t a mirage. He’ll log PAs both at first base and as a DH.

25. Diamondbacks
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Seth Beer 273 .257 .338 .445 .338 3.0 -0.5 0.0 0.5
Jordan Luplow 126 .234 .335 .441 .336 1.2 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Jake McCarthy 91 .224 .293 .379 .292 -2.4 0.3 0.0 -0.1
Christian Walker 70 .248 .320 .433 .324 -0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1
Ketel Marte 49 .290 .352 .485 .356 1.3 0.0 0.0 0.2
Carson Kelly 42 .240 .332 .422 .325 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Cooper Hummel 28 .240 .349 .414 .334 0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Pavin Smith 21 .264 .329 .418 .323 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .249 .331 .434 .330 3.3 -0.5 0.0 0.8

Count Seth Beer among those for whom the National League adopting the DH rule was especially good news. Drafted almost exclusively for his bat in 2018, the defensively-limited Clemson University product was subsequently swapped from the Astros to the D-backs a year later as part of the Zack Greinke package. Gifted with a smooth left-handed stroke and plus power, Beer flat out hits when healthy.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t healthy in the final weeks of the 2021 season. Called up by Arizona in September after slashing .287/.398/.511 with 16 home runs in 100 Triple-A games, Beer promptly homered in his first big-league at bat, only to dislocate a shoulder four days later. Surgery followed, but six months later all is well. Beer is back to bashing; it’s now up to him to prove he can do it at the major-league level.

Jordan Luplow has already proven that he can hit big-league pitching. What he hasn’t done is show that he can do it consistently. Now with his fourth team, the veteran of five major league seasons had a 141 wRC+ in part-time action with Cleveland in 2019, but he’s otherwise looked the part of a role player. Last year being an exception, he’s done most of his damage versus lefties. Jake McCarthy, a 2018 competitive balance pick who debuted with the D-backs last season, is also in the picture.

26. Rockies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Charlie Blackmon 308 .278 .345 .451 .342 0.1 -0.4 0.0 0.2
Connor Joe 168 .259 .354 .444 .346 0.7 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Kris Bryant 77 .277 .364 .499 .367 1.6 0.1 0.0 0.2
Colton Welker 42 .254 .312 .423 .315 -0.9 -0.0 0.0 -0.1
Sam Hilliard 42 .227 .296 .442 .313 -1.0 0.1 0.0 -0.1
C.J. Cron 42 .268 .348 .510 .363 0.8 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Brendan Rodgers 21 .280 .326 .473 .341 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .268 .344 .456 .344 1.2 -0.6 0.0 0.6

Charlie Blackmon is projected to get the bulk of the DH reps in Denver this year, but don’t be surprised if a dark horse gets them instead. Not only has Connor Joe had a hot spring, youngsters Ryan Vilade and Colton Welker both possess good hit tools, and the bearded Blackmon remains at least capable of patrolling the outfield despite having reached the not-so-tender age of 35; he played 137 games in right just last season. How much he can still produce with the bat might be the bigger question. A .314/.374/.549 hitter from 2016-20, Blackmon backslid to .270/.351/.411 in ’21. Most concerning is that he went deep just 13 times in 582 plate appearances.

Joe is a 29-year-old late bloomer who raked in Triple-A last year before slashing .285/.379/.469 with the Rockies in 211 plate appearances. His big-league resume had previously comprised one hit in 15 at-bats with the Giants in 2019. He is also a cancer survivor. Then in the Dodgers system, Joe missed the 2020 season after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

As for the up-and-comers, Vilade is No. 3 on our Rockies Top Prospects list thanks to a line-drive stroke that had, per Eric Longenhagen, scouts “arguing for his inclusion on the universal top 100 list.” Vilade got a September cup of coffee at Coors last year, and he’s expected to establish himself as a big leaguer sooner than later, so don’t be surprised if he makes an appearance even though he isn’t listed on the depth chart here. Welker also debuted in September, this after putting up solid numbers in Triple-A following a late start to his season due to an 80-game PED suspension. Surprise free agent signing Kris Bryant also bears mention here, as DH appearances are expected. Bryant’s bona fides are well known.

27. Reds
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Colin Moran 280 .254 .322 .433 .325 -1.1 -1.1 0.0 0.0
Aristides Aquino 126 .224 .305 .464 .326 -0.3 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Tyler Naquin 84 .259 .312 .443 .322 -0.5 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Mike Moustakas 77 .243 .316 .460 .330 0.1 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Donovan Solano 56 .277 .327 .406 .317 -0.6 -0.1 0.0 -0.0
Tommy Pham 42 .260 .357 .439 .345 0.5 0.1 0.0 0.1
Joey Votto 21 .249 .355 .473 .354 0.4 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Nick Senzel 14 .259 .322 .427 .323 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .250 .321 .442 .327 -1.5 -1.5 0.0 0.3

The Cincinnati Reds would have had some great options had the designated hitter rule been in place in the NL last year. Jesse Winker, who most often filled that role in inter-league road games, is an OBP-machine with emerging pop. Nick Castellanos, an adequate-at-best defender, has been driving the ball with authority for years. Neither option currently exists. A salary-dump victim and a free-agent departure respectively, both will be wearing different uniforms come opening day.

As for players who will be wearing a Cincinnati uniform, Colin Moran and Aristides Aquino present as a viable, and potentially productive, platoon. Moran, who has spent the past four seasons in Pittsburgh, is a left-handed hitter who has struggled versus same-sided pitchers but has been good against righties. Aquino is a right-handed hitter who, to this point in his relatively-brief career, hasn’t particularly hit anyone well. But he does have power, which is a good fit at Great American Ballpark.

Tyler Naquin, whom ZIPS projects to not quite match last year’s 110 wRC+ and 19 home runs should see some DH time when not patrolling the outfield. Mike Moustakas might factor into this equation as well, although his services are more needed at the hot corner given that Eugenio Suárez was salary-dumped along with Winker. Moose is likewise a power threat, albeit one coming off an injury-marred career-worst year.

28. Athletics
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jed Lowrie 259 .242 .314 .390 .306 -0.9 -0.7 0.0 0.1
Eric Thames 210 .217 .304 .406 .307 -0.7 -0.5 0.0 0.1
Stephen Piscotty 119 .237 .296 .399 .301 -1.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Sean Murphy 70 .228 .314 .428 .321 0.6 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Seth Brown 28 .229 .286 .443 .308 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Stephen Vogt 14 .206 .284 .357 .279 -0.4 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .231 .307 .402 .306 -2.4 -1.4 0.0 0.2

Having a non-roster invitee in line to be one of your primary designated hitters is ample evidence that the A’s are doing anything but adding to a lineup that has been postseason-worthy in three of the past four seasons. Instead, the John Fisher-owned club is cutting bait, having shed the salaries of Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, its two best players. Also gone is Mitch Moreland, who along with Jed Lowrie logged the most starts at DH last season. Lowrie is back, but with a conspicuous injury history he’s anything but a sure thing. Age is also not in his corner. Soon to celebrate his 38th birthday, Lowrie was league-average with the bat last season.

As for the non-roster invitee, Eric Thames is a 35-year-old veteran of 13 professional seasons, only six of which have been in MLB. A prolific slugger in the KBO from 2014-16, the lefty swinger put up solid numbers with the Milwaukee Brewers from 2017-19, only to wash out in Washington the following year, logging a 68 wRC+ over 41 games. Last season saw him in Japan, where he promptly ruptured an Achilles tendon, torpedoing his NBP career after just one game.

Like Lowrie, Stephen Piscotty has battled injuries. One of the team’s best hitters in 2018, he subsequently suffered ankle and knee issues, and this past season he succumbed to wrist surgery. At age 31, he is a comeback candidate if he can remain if unburdened by physical maladies.

29. Cardinals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Corey Dickerson 210 .264 .311 .416 .312 -0.7 -0.4 0.0 0.1
Albert Pujols 196 .244 .292 .417 .301 -2.3 -0.5 0.0 -0.1
Lars Nootbaar 168 .249 .323 .406 .314 -0.2 -0.3 0.0 0.1
Juan Yepez 63 .246 .318 .460 .332 0.9 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Yadier Molina 28 .249 .292 .369 .287 -0.7 -0.1 0.0 -0.1
Paul DeJong 14 .229 .309 .420 .315 -0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Nolan Arenado 14 .263 .328 .479 .339 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Tyler O’Neill 7 .259 .327 .522 .358 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .252 .309 .418 .311 -2.5 -1.3 0.0 0.2

Welcome back, Albert Pujols. The future Hall of Famer has returned to the team with which he put up otherworldly numbers from 2001-11 — this before he became all too human as an aging Angel (and briefly a Dodger) with a Jupiter-sized contract. The reunion presents as a feel-good story, but whether the 42-year-old can gift his old club with productive performance is, well, another story entirely. Pujols hasn’t put up a league-average wRC+ since 2016, and the projections forecast a pedestrian 91 in the season to come, though he hit lefties well with the Dodgers.

Corey Dickerson is far less compelling from a storyline perspective, but in terms of projected performance, he’s a far-better bet. His on-base skills have been less than exemplary due to low walk rates, but Dickerson has nonetheless slashed a solid .284/.327/.490 with 15 home runs annually over the past eight seasons. He’s been below those norms the past two years, but at age 32 he’s barely past his prime.

Lars Nootbar and Juan Yepez have primes to look forward to. Prominent among the team’s prospects — the former having already got his feet wet in the bigs — both have a very-real chance to unseat the aforementioned veterans in the DH slot sooner than later.

30. Tigers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Miguel Cabrera 413 .252 .314 .391 .306 -3.7 -2.1 0.0 -0.2
Eric Haase 70 .218 .278 .410 .295 -1.2 -0.0 0.0 -0.1
Jonathan Schoop 63 .265 .309 .441 .320 0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Robbie Grossman 63 .241 .348 .403 .329 0.6 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Spencer Torkelson 49 .249 .337 .490 .351 1.4 -0.0 0.0 0.2
Harold Castro 42 .269 .298 .358 .285 -1.1 -0.1 0.0 -0.1
Total 700 .250 .313 .403 .310 -3.8 -2.2 0.0 0.0

The song lyrics “The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be” date back to the 1840s, nearly three decades before the Cincinnati Red Stockings became baseball’s first fully-professional team. Miguel Cabrera isn’t nearly that old — the aging DH turns 39 in mid-April — but the words fit him like a glove. Once the game’s premier slugger, Cabrera has a 97 wRC+ since the start of the 2017 season, several furlongs in arrears of the 155 wRC+ he put up from 2004-16.

With his triple crown season now a decade in the rearview, Cabrera is clearly on the back stretch of what has been a Cooperstown-bound career. A notable milestone remains. The Venezuelan legend needs 13 hits to join the 3,000/500 club, which comprises all of Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez.

How fast Cabrera fades into the sunset once that marker is reached remains to be seen, and how much gas he has left in the tank will go a long way toward determining if the Tigers can contend in 2022. Along with contributions from high-profile prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson, Detroit will be counting on Cabrera to provide more than occasional glimpses of what he once was.





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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JoeyVottoIsGodmember
6 months ago

Waiting for a meme about Chris Rock and Will Smith where Chris Rock is the DH position going into this offseason, and the Reds are Will Smith.

dl80member
6 months ago
Reply to  JoeyVottoIsGod

Keep my budget issues outta your mouth!