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. 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.
3. Victor Martinez Detroit Tigers
A slow start to the season made it look like Martinez’s year-long absence due to a knee injury may have kick-started the downward spiral of his career. After the first two months of the season, Martinez was hitting just .228 with two homers and 25 RBI in 197 at-bats. But after the rust wore off, the Martinez of old quickly returned. Over the final four months of the season, Martinez hit .336 with 12 homers and 58 RBI in 408 at-bats. When the season concluded, Martinez’s overall line (.301/.355/.430) was similar to seasons prior to his lost 2012 campaign. At 36, Martinez is mainly limited to handling DH duty. He did manage 11 starts at first base and three starts at catcher last year, and may see minimal action at both positions in 2014, but many he’ll only be eligible at DH in many formats. While owners shouldn’t expect Martinez to match the power numbers he displayed in his prime, he remains a professional hitter who should once again approach or surpass .300, and he’ll also have plenty of opportunities to knock in runs hitting in the middle of the Tigers' lineup.
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2014 Fantasy Rankings
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