A list of the top designated hitters to draft for 2014 fantasy baseball.
1. Jose Abreu Chicago White Sox
Abreu enters 2014 as one of the bigger mysteries of the season. The newest Cuban superstar to make the trek to MLB is a bit different than the other recent players to defect. He is less athletic than Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes, and he is also quite a bit older than Puig and a year older than Cespedes was upon his arrival two seasons ago. However, Abreu does come to the states with more alleged raw power. He hit 37 home runs in back-to-back Cuban seasons, and he hit .342/.457/.621 over 799 career games in that league. The scouting reports vary in terms of how those numbers will translate to the big leagues, and some question how he will fare against major league breaking balls. He excelled in the 2013 World Baseball Classic with three home runs and a 1.145 OPS in 25 at-bats. The variance on his projections will likely be great, but he should be projected to start at first and bat somewhere in the middle-third of the White Sox's lineup.
2. Nelson Cruz Baltimore Orioles
Cruz missed the final 50 games of the regular season due to his inclusion in the Biogenesis investigation, but still managed 27 homers and 76 RBI in just 109 games. Texas extended him a qualifying offer for 2014, which Cruz rejected, so he finds himself on the free agent market for the first time in his career. He's battled injuries in the past and will turn 34 in July, making him a poor choice for a long-term contract, but the Orioles were willing to forfeit a draft pick after signing Cruz to a one-year, $8 million deal in February. He'll likely see time in left field and as the team's primary DH, with an opportunity to provide more power and depth to an already steady Baltimore offense.
3. Edwin Encarnacion Toronto Blue Jays
With a second big season under his belt, Encarnacion can officially be labeled as a late bloomer rather than a fluke. He followed up his breakout 2012 campaign with an impressive 2013 season that saw him slash .272/.370/.534 on the strength of 36 home runs and a 13.2% walk rate. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Encarnacion's profile is that he's lowered his strikeout rate in each of the last four seasons, peaking at a 10.0% mark last season. With Jose Bautista expected to enter 2014 at full health, the Blue Jays should field one of the league's most formidable lineup pairings, and Encarnacion should be primed for another huge season provided that he recovers as expected from offseason wrist surgery.
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2014 Fantasy Rankings
Who are the top players you should be considering in your fantasy baseball drafts this year? Find out by browsing our overall rankings for 2013.
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