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Getting old? Can’t run much any more? Can’t cover ground in the field any more? Injuries slowed you down? But you could still hit? The American League solved that problem for aging veterans in the 1970s when it created the designated hitter. It eliminated the almost automatic strikeouts when pitchers hit, or tried to hit, and the DH became the guy who batted for the pitcher. Step up to the plate and see the Top Ten all-time DHs. — Hal McCoy
10. Andre Thornton
Thunder Thornton overcame tragedy in 1977 when he, his wife and son were in an auto accident that took the life of his wife, Gertrude. He wrote a book called "Triumph over Tragedy." He performed a rare feat of walking more times than he struck out, 876-851. Finished his injury-shortened 14-year career with 244 homers and 258 RBI.
9. Don Baylor
He was known as The Hit Man, not necessarily for his batwork but more for the fact he always led the league in getting hit by pitches, eight times. He had power, 338 homers, and speed, 285 stolen bases. He was offered a football scholarship to the University of Texas by legendary coach Darrell Royal. He would have been the first African-American football player for the Longhorns, but decided to pursue baseball.
8. Chili Davis
He hit 19 or more home runs in a season for five different teams. His 350 home runs is third most in history for a switch-hitter behind Eddie Murray and Mickey Mantle. He is the first Jamaican-born to play in the majors and he hit 27 home runs and 112 RBI for the 1993 Angels.
7. Hal McRae
An extremely good player, McRae couldn’t break into the starting lineup of Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, so he was traded to Kansas City and became the first career DH. He batted .300 six times and almost won the batting title in 1976 at .332, losing out to teammate George Brett on the last day of the season when Brett went 2 for 4. When baseball instituted a slide rule at second base for breaking up double plays, it was called The Hal McRae rule because he used to go into second base using cross body blocks to break up double plays.
6. Jim Thome
The Thomenator this season became the eighth player to hit 600 career home runs. As happens to many eventual DHers, an injury in 2005 pushed Thome to the role. Since 2007, he has played one game at first base, the rest at DH. In 2006, he hit 42 homers with 109 RBI and a .288 average. He brought back the high socks look in the '90s when most players wore their pants down to their shoe-tops. He began pointing his bat barrel at the pitcher after seeing The Whammer do it in the movie "The Natural."
5. David Ortiz
Big Papi is still going strong for the Boston Red Sox, a devastating hitter who crushed 54 home runs in 2006 and drove in 148 in 2005. From 2003 to 2007 he averaged .302, 42 homers, 42 doubles and 105 RBI.
4. Harold Baines
His 1,628 RBI are the most by a player not in the Hall of Fame. In his last nine years he played only two games in the field. He hit .291 as a DH with 236 homers and an incredible 10 walk-off home runs. He played 1,652 games as a DH and was first spotted by baseball legend Bill Veeck when he was playing Little League on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
3. Paul Molitor
The only DH in the Hall of Fame so far, Molitor began his career as a third baseman and switched to DH in his 30s. He had five hits in Game 1 of the 1983 World Series. As a DH he hit .305 for his career with 102 home runs and displayed some speed with 121 stolen bases. Molly played 2,682 games, 44 percent as a DH and nearly all as a DH in his last 10 years. He is one of only four players to have 3,000 hits, a .300 career average and 500 stolen bases. The others are Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Eddie Collins.
2. Frank Thomas
The Big Hurt was always a scary sight in the batter’s box at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, but was a gentle giant. He hit 33 or more home runs six times and won a batting title in 1997 at .347. While standing in the on-deck circle, he loosened up by swinging a rusted piece of rebar he found in the on-deck circle during a renovation of old Comiskey Park in Chicago.
1. Edgar Martinez
MLB’s yearly award to the best DH is called The Edgar Martinez Award, so he has to be No. 1, right? He tore a hamstring on an unzipped seam in the turf at BC Place in Vancouver, B.C., just before the 1993 season and never recovered, so the Seattle Mariners, for whom he played all 16 years, made him a full-time DH and he played the most games ever at that specialty. After he won the batting title as a third baseman in 1992, hitting .343, he won the title as a full-time DH in 1995, hitting .356. And in 2000 he hit 37 homers and drove in 145.