Fantasy baseball leagues very rarely take fielding into account, so designated hitters can feel right at home, just like they do in the American League.
Most fantasy leagues have a DH position in their starting lineups, and while that spot is sometimes taken up by a reserve infielder or outfielder, using a true designated hitter is always an option. There are plenty of all-bat, no-glove designated hitters who can pound out a .270 average with 20 home runs and 75 RBI for fantasy owners.
Just don't expect 10 stolen bases and 85 runs out of these DHs because most of these guys’ legs are shot, which is why they are not playing in the field anymore.
Here are the top 15 designated hitters in fantasy baseball entering the 2010 campaign:
1. David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
1. David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
"Big Papi" is pooping out in the twilight of his career, and fantasy owners do not appreciate the two-month long slumps that he can't seem to hit himself out of. But even at his worst, he still managed to crank out 28 homers and 99 RBI last year, and that is more than anyone else on this list can do.
2. Hideki Matsui, Los Angeles Angels
The jury is out on whether leaving the Yankees and that short right field fence was a brilliant idea, but "Godzilla" is a lock for 25 homers and 90 RBI as long as his cranky knees don’t shelve him.
3. Vladimir Guerrero, Texas Rangers
Vlad is better at hitting at Arlington than Idaho is at producing potatoes. His bat speed and body have betrayed him in recent years, but his fantasy value could see a resurgence because of his new home ballpark and the potent lineup surrounding him.
4. Luke Scott, Baltimore Orioles
The lefty with the looping swing will bang out 20-plus homers for the third year in a row. But only turtles, snails, and sumo wrestlers are slower, so don’t expect much in the stolen base and run departments.
5. Nick Johnson, New York Yankees
Johnson is not your prototypical designated hitter. He is a great fielder, but he doesn’t hit for much power and sometimes prefers walking to swinging. But hitting in the All-Star-heavy Yankees lineup should boost his numbers across the board.
6. Jose Guillen, Kansas City Royals
This hothead has been worth every penny of his $10 million per year contract. That is, if temper tantrums and DL trips were more valuable than home runs and runs batted in.
7. Pat Burrell, Tampa Bay Rays
You think Burrell missed Citizens Bank Park, Ryan Howard, and Philly cheese steaks? He hit a career-low 14 homers in Tampa after blasting 20 or more for eight straight seasons in Philadelphia.
8. Carlos Guillen, Detroit Tigers
Detroit has had a hard time finding Guillen a position over the years, so placing him and his decent bat at DH should work out for him.
9. Jack Cust, Oakland Athletics
Oakland’s walking strikeout-waiting-to-happen will probably have to fight injury-waiting-to-happen Eric Chavez for time at the DH spot.
10. Jim Thome, Minnesota Twins
I believe we will see Thome in the Hall of Fame some day, but I also believe his fantasy value will drop once again this season.
11. Andruw Jones, Chicago White Sox
Two things I can guarantee. I will never win "American Idol," and Jones will never win a batting title. His batting averages the past three seasons have been a measley .222, .158, and .214.
12. Travis Hafner, Cleveland Indians
"Pronk" has never been the same since shoulder surgeries robbed him of the pop that helped him drive in 100 runs four straight seasons between 2004-2007.
13. Mike Lowell, Boston Red Sox
Looks like Lowell isn’t headed to Texas now that the Rangers acquired Ryan Garko, so Lowell will be a part-time DH, first baseman, and third baseman in Boston unless he is traded elsewhere.
14. Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners
We thought 2009 was his swan song when he batted an uncool .214. We thought wrong.
15. Randy Ruiz, Toronto Blue Jays
Aging, platooning DHs are in demand about as much as tickets for Creed concerts, but when Ruiz gets his at-bats he has the power to do some damage.
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