Much like in real baseball, the designated hitter is a controversial subject in fantasy circles.
Like, what constitutes a fantasy DH? Major fantasy sites couldn’t agree.
ESPN had Joe Mauer as their top fantasy DH, but everyone else considers him solely as a fantasy catcher. ESPN and Sports Illustrated consider Adam Lind and Jason Kubel as fantasy designated hitters, but Yahoo, CBS Sportsline and FOX Sports didn’t concur, leaving them off their respective lists.
What we’re left with are players that, in my mind, are the true fantasy designated hitters, and the only reason to consider looking at the position … these are guys who likely will not be found in any other positional category, but could still provide some fantasy pop.
Factoring in all five sites mentioned above, here is a composite ranking of players who make the cut as “true” designated hitters.
1. Vladimir Guerrero, Texas (11 composite points): Most baseball fan could easily tell you who Vladimir Guerrero is … but not many would thank him for helping their fantasy teams to any recent championships. A knee injury kept Vlad out nearly half of last season and his batting average slipped for the third consecutive season. However, if you want a guy who will hit near .300 and produce around 20 home runs, than taking a late-round flier on Vlad may not be a bad idea … except that someone in your league will draft him thinking he still plays for the Montreal Expos and will hit the cover off the ball on a regular basis.
2. David Ortiz, Boston (14): Big Papi took a big step backwards last season. In fact, it is possible that he was the biggest first-half bust in recent fantasy baseball memory. He may whack a couple more homers than Vlad in 2010, but expect a much worse batting average and no speed to boot.
3. Hideki Matsui, Los Angeles Angels (17): Wonder how many people in your respective leagues will realize that Matsui doesn’t play in pinstripes anymore. Many will remember his super-human postseason performances and likely snag him higher that one here at chinstrap ninjas would comfortably recommend.
4. Travis Hafner, Cleveland (28): Reports out of Cleveland spring ball is that the Pronkasaurus is back and better than he has been in a while. Haven’t we heard this somewhere before? Don’t expect more than (in a perfect world) 20 home runs and a .270 batting average.
5. Pat Burrell, Tampa Bay (29): A neckinjury cut into Burrell’s hefty expectations last season, and he hit just 14 homers in 122 games. His .221 batting average was the real killer. Sure he plays with a nice, young lineup with plenty of potential, but Burrell will be lucky to outproduce everyone else on this list. He should do better than last season, and could be a nice late-round addition for spot duty on your fantasy roster, but nothing more.
6. Jim Thome, Minnesota (32): Even after a sub-par 2009, the Twins’ $1.5-million signing of Thome could be a value. He still hits well against right-handed pitching and while he may not see every-day at-bats, he could still provide some late-round pop.
7. Ken Griffey, Seattle (37): The Mariners have done a lot of maneuvering this offseason and look primed for much better things across the board … however, it is all a matter of whether or not Griffey can stay healthy for any length of time.
8. Andruw Jones, Chicago White Sox (39): Remember the days where Jones was a real defensive force in the majors? Now he’ll be relegated to offensive duties only. Too inconsistent to see the light of day in mixed fantasy leagues.
What is your opinion of the designated hitters and their affect on fantasy baseball? Let us know your opinions on them in the comments below.