2013 MLB Free Agents: Ranking the Top Available Hitters This Offseason
They always say that the best defense is a good offense.
Though false in many cases, it can be true in baseball. Elite hitters like Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera not only make life miserable for opposing pitchers and change the game for their respective ball clubs, but they put fans in seats.
That's why teams are willing to lay down millions for these big bats during the offseason. They entertain as well as win games.
With the offseason quickly approaching, here we rank the top available free agent hitters this winter.
No. 5. Cody Ross, RF
Cody Ross had a decent campaign with the Boston Red Sox this past year, hitting 22 homers and batting in 81 runs in 130 games during the regular season.
The right fielder is a huge asset in Beantown, but teams are hoping that they can lure him away this summer. At age 31, Ross is in his prime and boasts an all-around game that makes him even more valuable to teams looking to bolster their defensive lineup.
Ross certainly bounced back at the plate this past season as well, where he batted .267, one year after posting a .240 mark with the San Francisco Giants.
No. 4. Melky Cabrera, LF
Would you want your team to sign Melky Cabrera?
Melky Cabrera was batting .346 before his 50-game suspension this August, which will no doubt lead to some offers this winter.
There is certainly some risk involved with taking on Cabrera, but if he is anywhere close to what he was pre-suspension in 2013 then he will be worth the drama. He's still only 28 years old and clearly has the talent to make contact with the ball and become an elite hitter.
If the price is right, why not take a chance on Melky?
No. 3. David Ortiz, DH
Age is a huge issue for slugger David Ortiz, but even at the tender age of 36, Big Papi was able to hit 23 homers in just 90 games.
Putting the bat on the ball is what Ortiz does best—just ask Red Sox fans who have seen him do it for the past decade, regular season and playoffs. And as reported by ESPN, it appears Boston is close to finalizing a deal to keep the slugger for two more years.
What makes Ortiz one of the best available hitters more than anything else though is the fact that he is completely predictable.
You know what you're going to get from Ortiz as a designated hitter, and that's not always the case in the majors.
No. 2. Nick Swisher, RF
Veteran outfielder Nick Swisher has been one of the most consistent hitters in the major leagues in recent seasons.
Swisher went yard 24 times and tallied his most RBI since 2006 when he was with the Oakland Athletics. He's only 31 years old and still has plenty left in the tank despite what many upset New York Yankees fans would lead you to believe.
Yes, there should be concern about Swisher's playoff struggles considering he's only batted better than .200 in three of six postseasons, but if you want a guy who is going to hit consistently over the course of 162 games, then Swisher's the one.
No. 1. Josh Hamilton, CF
Is Josh Hamilton the best free agent hitter out there?
Josh Hamilton is coming off a career year in Texas.
The 31-year-old center fielder knocked in 43 home runs with the Rangers in 2012. He also recorded 128 RBI in 148 appearances. Hamilton came up short down the stretch and left a bitter taste in the mouths of Rangers fans in his final game in the AL Wild Card, but the guy is a machine during the regular season.
Although he's not a phenomenal fielder, whichever teams are aiming to make him an offer are doing so because of his intimidating presence at the plate.
There isn't a better home run hitter in the game than a locked-in Josh Hamilton.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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