Here's the best DH in every AL team's history

May 20th, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on each player's career with that franchise.

We've already tackled catchers, first basemen, second basemen, third basemen, shortstops, left fielders, center fielders and right fielders. Next up: designated hitters. Because only the American League has had the DH since the position was introduced in 1973, only AL teams are included here (plus the Brewers, who used to play in the AL).

These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only, and fans were able to participate in Twitter polls to vote for their favorites. Here is the No. 1 DH for each AL club, as chosen by's beat reporters.

American League East

Blue Jays: (2009-16)
Key fact: Averaged 39 HR from 2012-16, with two 40-HR seasons
The elite slugging of Encarnación, José Bautista and Josh Donaldson spearheaded the Blue Jays' playoff runs of 2015 and '16, and Edwin got his defining moment in the 2016 AL Wild Card Game, when he crushed a walk-off home run against the Orioles. Blue Jays Top 5 >

Orioles: Harold Baines (1993-95, '97-99, 2000)
Key fact: One of three primary DHs in Hall of Fame
Baines, Frank Thomas and Edgar Martinez are the only three players enshrined in Cooperstown who spent the majority of their careers at DH. All 2,415 of Baines' plate appearances with Baltimore came as a DH. Orioles Top 5 >

Rays: Greg Vaughn (2000-02)
Key fact: 52 HR in first two seasons with Rays
Vaughn didn't land in the Tampa Bay area until the tail end of his career, but he led the Devil Rays in home runs in both of his first two seasons with the team (28 in 2000, 24 in '01), while earning his third and final career All-Star selection in '01. Rays Top 5 >

Red Sox: David Ortiz (2003-16)
Key fact: 485 HR at DH (most all-time)
One of the best DHs in MLB history, if not the best, Big Papi has more home runs than anyone else at the position. Of his 541 career homers, 485 came as a DH -- over 200 more than Thomas (269). And that's even before you get into Ortiz's iconic postseason performances in Boston. Red Sox Top 5 >

Yankees: Jason Giambi (2002-08)
Key fact: 209 HR and 604 RBIs with Yankees
The Giambino arrived in New York with a bang, producing 40-homer, 100-RBI seasons in each of his first two years with the Yankees. Giambi was a three-time All-Star for the Bronx Bombers and won a Silver Slugger Award in 2002. Yankees Top 5 >

AL Central

Indians: (2003-12)
Key fact: Led AL with .659 SLG and 1.097 OPS in 2006
Pronk was the anchor of the Cleveland lineup in the mid-2000s. He reached his peak in 2006, when he hit .308 with 42 home runs and 117 RBIs. The Indians even nicknamed their right-field mezzanine "Pronkville" in Hafner's honor. Indians Top 5 >

Royals: Hal McRae (1973-87)
Key fact: Led MLB in doubles in 1977 (54) and '82 (46)
A fearsome hitter and baserunner in the early days of the DH, McRae hit .293 and collected 169 home runs, 449 doubles and 1,012 RBIs in his Royals tenure. He was a three-time All-Star in Kansas City and won a Silver Slugger Award in 1982. Royals Top 5 >

Tigers: (1984-88)
Key fact: Led MLB with 40 HR in 1985
Leading the Majors with 40 homers at age 38 and slugging 34 more at age 40 are impressive feats, but maybe Evans' biggest impact was coming to Detroit in 1984 as a veteran bat who would be the last key piece for a World Series champion team. Tigers Top 5 >

Twins: (2019-present)
Key fact: One of four players with 40 HR season at age 38 or older
In his Minnesota debut in 2019, the Boomstick led a Bomba Squad lineup that set a Major League record with 307 home runs. The 38-year-old Cruz's 41 home runs put him in a group with Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Evans as the only players of that age to reach the 40-homer mark, and only Cruz and Bonds hit more than 40. Twins Top 5 >

White Sox: Jim Thome (2006-09)
Key fact: Averaged 34 HR from age 35-38 with White Sox
Thome's late-career slugging on the South Side helped cement his Hall of Fame status. Arriving in 2006 after a trade from the Phillies, Thome crushed 42 homers and drove in 109 runs in an All-Star first year with the White Sox. He hit his milestone 500th home run in Chicago -- a walk-off blast on Sept. 16, 2007. White Sox Top 5 >

AL West

Angels: (1977-82)
Key fact: 1979 AL MVP
The Halos likely don’t win their first AL West Division title in 1979 without Baylor, who hit .296/.371/.530 with 36 homers and 33 doubles while leading the AL in runs scored (120), RBIs (139) and games played (162). Those 139 RBIs remain a club record. Angels Top 5 >

Astros: (2019-present)
Key fact: Set MLB rookie record for OPS in 2019 (1.067)
With only seven seasons to choose from since the Astros moved to the AL in 2013, Alvarez is the unquestioned winner -- no matter how young he is. After bursting onto the scene last June, Alvarez knocked 27 homers and drove in 78 runs across just 87 games as Houston’s DH. Astros Top 5 >

Athletics: Khris Davis (2016-present)
Key fact: 156 HR since start of 2016 (third in MLB)
Davis arrived in Oakland from the Brewers via trade in 2016 and immediately went on a run as one of the game’s elite sluggers. He became the first player in the A’s long history to string together three straight 40-plus-homer seasons, leading to his two-year, $33.5 million contract extension last season. A's Top 5 >

Mariners: Edgar Martinez (1987-2004)
Key fact: MLB renamed its annual award for outstanding DH after Martinez in 2004
Is there any other choice? Martinez is not only the best DH in Mariners history, he's perhaps the greatest DH in history, period -- a five-time winner of the award that bears his name. Martinez's No. 11 was retired in 2017, and there's a street named after him outside T-Mobile Park and a restaurant called Edgar’s Cantina down the ballpark's left-field line. Edgar's walk-off double in Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS likely saved baseball in Seattle. Mariners Top 5 >

Rangers: Larry Parrish (1982-88)
Key fact: Rangers Player of the Year in 1984 and '87
Parrish took a few months to settle in with Texas after he was traded from the Expos, but once he did, he mashed. From 1983-87, Parrish averaged 30 homers and 104 RBIs per 162 games, all while dealing with a pair of bad knees as he transitioned from outfield to the DH spot. Rangers Top 5 >

The Brewers

The Brewers played in the AL from the franchise's first year in 1969 through the 1997 season, so they get an all-time DH list, too.

Brewers: Greg Vaughn (1989-96)
Key fact: 17 HR as Milwaukee's primary DH in 1995
If Paul Molitor wasn’t already stationed at third base for this all-time club, he’d obviously have this spot locked up (and the same goes for Cecil Cooper and Robin Yount, who each qualified at other positions). Instead, this slot goes to Vaughn, who edged out Ted Simmons for his work across more than 200 games in the Crew’s DH spot. Brewers Top 5 >