The position of the designated hitter is probably the most controversial part of the Major League for baseball fans. As some readers may know, the Major League is split up into two parts known as The National League and the American League. There are a number of differences between these two parts but the biggest difference is arguably the presence of a designated hitter in the American League.
This position allows the American League to keep their pitchers healthier by keeping pitchers out of the batting line-up. In the pitcher’s place, a player who is only on the roster to hit is put in the line-up. Die-hard fans of the National League think of this as a cop-out. Many of them believe that every player on the team should hit, including the pitcher.
Many of these designated hitters are some of the best batters in the league. Since runs win games, these players can see a big pay day. In the 2013 season, Boston designated hitter David Ortiz was one of the only batters to perform at all during that year’s World Series and it earned him a World Series MVP, not to mention the ring for the Red Sox. These players can be crucial for a team. Here are the ten top earning designated hitters for this season in 2014.
Note: These salaries are for any player with a designated hitter position listed on the roster. Any given player may very well be on the roster in a fielding position as well.
10. Mitch Moreland – $2.65 million
Mitch Moreland is raking in $2.65 million as a DH for the Texas Rangers on a single year contract. He’s a left-handed hitter that the Rangers desperately needed since the departure of Josh Hamilton in 2012. The Rangers thought this gap would be filled by Prince Fielder who unfortunately ended the season due to injury. Moreland will now be taking the role of designated hitter and possibly first base duties as well.
9. Raul Ibanez – $2.75 million
Raul Ibanez is operating as a designated hitter and left fielder for the Los Angeles Angels. He is currently being paid $2.75 million a year on a one year contract and it’s looking to be money down the drain for the Angels. His numbers are not very good for a guy being paid to hit, with a batting average of .153 this season and only 3 home runs on the board. He’s also been out of the line-up with illnesses this year and at 41-years-old, it doesn’t look like Ibanez will be seeing any real play time at all in future seasons, provided he sees any future seasons in the Major League.
8. Matt Joyce – $3.7 million
The Tampa Bay Rays seem to have a good option in Matt Joyce but they just don’t seem to want to let him play. Starting out, Joyce had a .306 batting average with an on-base percentage of .421. Now that he’s been given more opportunities to play, he’s seen a dip in his average to a .281 with only 3 home runs for the year. It remains to be seen if this designated hitter and left fielder will pay off with his one year contract at $3.7 million.
7. Carlos Santana – $3.7 million
Carlos Santana serves as a designated hitter, catcher, and third baseman for the Cleveland Indians. Whether he earns his paycheck as a designated hitter is almost arbitrary when one considers his versatility. Unfortunately, the Indians are fifth in their division at the time of this article so he isn’t doing worse than many other players on the team. With a batting average of .159 and only six home runs this season, Santana isn’t exactly earning his spot as the seventh highest paid designated hitter in the league, but $3.7 million isn’t anywhere close to the yearly salary of a highly coveted all-around player either.
6. Alfonso Soriano – $5 million
Soriano was nearing the end of an 8-year contract at $136 million with the Chicago Cubs before it was picked up by the New York Yankees. Coming from the National League, Soriano wasn’t signed on as a designated hitter, but as an outfielder and power-hitter that usually didn’t shine until the end of a season. Still, the Cubs were expecting a bit more than they received and it came as no surprise they had him on the chopping block in their attempt to rebuild. When he was picked up by the Yankees in the American League, designated hitter was added to his roster duties in addition to playing left field. Since he was in the midst of a contract, he gets the $5 million for the year the Cubs would have paid him. It remains to be seen what the Yankees will do when he is up for free agency next year.
5. Adam Lind – $7 million
Lind has a solid batting average this season at .341 but only 3 home runs for the season. However, he’s only appeared in 29 games this year. Lind was on a 4-year contract at $18 million which they extended into 2014 at $7 million, about $1.5 million more than he made the three previous years. It’s looking like the Toronto Blue Jays will give him options to stay with the team for the next two years. In addition to acting as a designated hitter, Lind is also on the roster as a first baseman.
4. Billy Butler – $8.5 million
This hasn’t been a good start for Butler. Considering he’s only on the roster of the Kansas City Royals as a designated hitter, he definitely isn’t earning this years $8.5 million cut of his $30 million dollar 4-year contract. Hopefully for the Royals, the addition of Dale Sveum as the team’s new hitting coach will be enough to turn Butler around.
3. Victor Martinez – $12 million
Victor Martinez is certainly doing what the Detroit Tigers are paying him to do. Martinez is seeing $12 million this year, which is the last year of his $50 million dollar 4-year contract. Who knows what Martinez will decide to do when he is up for free agency next year. He currently rocks a .344 batting average with 13 home runs so far in the season. Martinez is one of many bright spots that have turned the Tigers into serious contenders in recent years.
2. Adam Dunn – $15 million
Adam Dunn is another designated hitter up for free agency next season. He’s clobbered 8 home runs so far this year which is precisely what you want to see out of a designated hitter. Unfortunately, he’s not leading the league in home runs, nor does he have a very impressive batting average. Dunn sits below the three-hundred mark at only .238. This isn’t the performance you want to see out of a guy making $15 million a year to hit.
1. David Ortiz – $15.5 millions
David Ortiz is definitely earning his paycheck. The biggest thing a franchise could ever ask for out of a designated hitter is the runs it takes to get to and win a World Series. Last season, Ortiz was that man for the Boston Red Sox. He is having a pretty good year following his World Series MVP win with a batting average of .270 and 12 home runs on the board. It will be interesting to see what happens when he gains free agency next year.