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Baseball"s 8 best designated hitters: 2015

(Updated June 21, 2015)

For the most part, these guys don't really have a position. But they're doing pretty darn well for themselves.

The top six players on this list are all making at least $8.5 million per year, and five of the six have annual salaries in eight figures.

It's pretty good work if you can get it.

Next up in our breakdown of the best players in baseball: the top designated hitters (aka "A reason to make sure David Ortiz is included somewhere"):

1. David Ortiz, Red Sox

Age: 39

2014 ranking: 1

2015 salary: $16 million

Skinny: From 2011-13, Ortiz batted .309 or better each year. Last season, his average slipped to .265, but he blasted 35 homers and drove in 107 RBI (his best figures in each category since 2007), and his OPS was .873. In his first 61 games this season, Ortiz hit .230 with a .717 OPS and nine homers. As he approaches his 40th birthday this November, are we finally seeing the beginning of a decline? It's way too soon to know, but what Big Papi has done (a .920 career OPS and 162-game norms of 35 homers and 116 RBI) is remarkable.

2. Victor Martinez, Tigers

Age: 36

2014 ranking: 2

2015 salary: $14 million

Skinny: Martinez established career highs in batting average (.335), on-base percentage (a league-best .409), slugging (.565) and OPS (an AL-leading .974) in 2014, then was rewarded with a four-year, $68 million contract. The Tigers might be a little worried about their investment after a spring in which Martinez was bothered by a knee injury In his first 35 games of 2015, he hit .217 with a .576 OPS and just one homer.

3. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees

Age: 39

2014 ranking: Not ranked

2015 salary: $22 million

Skinny: What a wacky time for A-Rod, whose team wanted nothing to do with him -- until the Yankees realized they needed his bat in the lineup. In his first 63 games of 2015, Rodriguez batted .277 with an .895 OPS, 13 homers and 35 RBI. He became the 28th player to reach the 3,000-hit mark, and he moved to fourth on the career home run list. Granted, those accomplishments will bring talk of asterisks and snarky tabloid headlines, but there is no arguing A-Rod has been better than most expected thus far in 2015.

4. Adam LaRoche, White Sox

Age: 35

2014 ranking: NR

2015 salary: $12 million

Skinny: LaRoche averaged 26 homers per season from 2012-14, and last year he had 26 homers, 92 RBI and an .817 OPS. That track record helped him get a two-year, $25 million contract from the White Sox. His first 62 games in the Windy City haven't gone as planned, though -- a .227 average, .721 OPS, eight homers and 24 RBI. LaRoche has reached 20 homers in 10 of his 12 big-league seasons, and the only years in which he didn't reach that plateau were his rookie season and 2011 (when he was limited to 43 games).

5. Evan Gattis, Astros

Age: 28

2014 ranking: NR

2015 salary: $526,500

Skinny: Gattis was a power-hitting strikeout machine with the Braves in 2013 and '14, racking up 43 homers and 178 Ks in 713 at-bats. But he was always more of a DH than a catcher or outfielder, which resulted in a trade to the Astros, for whom he's continued to hit for power (12 homers) and strike out a ton (60 in his first 241 at-bats).

6. Kendrys Morales, Royals

Age: 32

2014 ranking: NR

2015 salary: $6.5 million

Skinny: Morales' two-year, $17 million deal was one of the more confusing contracts from the Hot Stove season. Last season, he batted .218 with eight homers and a .612 OPS. But he's been surprisingly decent for the Royals through 64 games -- hitting .286 with seven homers, 43 RBI and a .799 OPS.

7. Billy Butler, Athletics

Age: 29

2014 ranking: 3

2015 salary: $6,666,000

Skinny: Speaking of confusing contracts, the three-year, $30 million deal Butler got from the A's -- who seemed to be simultaneously starting over and trying to contend -- was more perplexing than MLB's replay process. In 2014, Butler posted career lows in batting average (.271) and OPS (.702), and his nine homers and 66 RBI were his worst totals in each category in six years. The Athletics' faith in him hasn't been rewarded through 67 games, as Butler was batting .256 with a .668 OPS, five homers and 32 RBI.

8. Joey Butler, Rays

Age: 29

2014 ranking: NR

2015 salary: $427,076

Skinny: Including Butler on this list is probably a stretch, considering the veteran of 422 games in Triple-A had all of 17 at-bats in the big leagues prior to 2015. But he's been productive for the Rays in 40 appearances, hitting .336 with a .903 OPS, six homers, 19 RBI and four steals. We root for players like this -- guys who spent eight years in the minors, were productive (Butler has batted .294 with an .826 OPS down on the farm) hoping to get their shot. Best of luck, Joey Butler.

Dropped out (from 2014 list)

4. Alfonso Soriano (then with Yankees)

5. Adam Lind (then with Blue Jays)

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