If 2010 was the year of the pitcher, it is only natural that it was the worst year in recent history to be a designated hitter.
Jim Thome of the Minnesota Twins and David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox had their usual strong seasons, but for over half of the American League, having a DH did not seem to do much good at all.
American League designated hitters posted a .758 OPS in 2010, worse than the average AL left fielder, right fielder or first baseman. To put that figure into perspective, DHs in the AL had averaged an OPS of at least .775 in every season since 1993.
For a bunch of guys paid purely to hit, the junior circuit's slugging mercenaries did not do much damage in 2010.
As a result, a number of AL teams are looking for new men to fill their DH roles this winter. The Orioles, Tigers, White Sox, Twins, Athletics, Mariners, Rays and Rangers are all actively in the market for new designated hitters, and most of the rest of the league has some interest in an upgrade. Of course, there are always plenty of DH candidates out there, so the market could still be buyer-friendly.
At least a dozen viable big league sluggers are available to teams seeking a DH for 2011. Read on for the top 10, with predictions on where each will land.