Red Sox vs the AL East: designated hitters

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Sep 4, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) gestures after his home run during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

1. David Ortiz, Red Sox

As much as it kills me to say it, Ortiz barely edged Pearce in these rankings as the top DH in the AL East could be contested for the first time in over a decade. Ortiz took the first steps of his decline last season, with his 2014 numbers checking in well below 2013’s. However, he still turned in an excellent season as he slashed .263/.355/.517 with 35 home runs and 104 RBIs (both his highest total since 2007). At 39 years old, Ortiz’s decline will likely continue in the coming year, though it’s possible that his batting average could get some help from his BABIP (.256 last season, .301 in his career) regressing to the mean. Still, he’s a key part of Boston’s lineup and last season indicated that even if he is declining, he is still the man for the Red Sox. As long as his decline doesn’t accelerate too much, he should still be the top DH in the AL East this year, though it may be closer than in years past.