Top Five Best MLB Designated Hitters for the 2024 Season

Headlined by the new $700 million man and a 26-year-old behemoth, here are the top designated hitters for the 2024 MLB season.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 14: Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Dodgers speaks to the media at Dodger Stadium on December 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

The designated hitter position is essential to a team’s offensive production. For some ball clubs, the position features a revolving door of hitters and allows for more lineup flexibility.

For other clubs, it’s a spot in the lineup where a team can feature their best offensive weapon. The names on this list will fall into the ladder of the two categories.

It’s not rocket science, but designated hitters are paid to hit at a premier level, and these players do just that. The top designated hitters in the sport range from guys who are still looking for their new homes on the free agent market to a generational talent who just earned himself a $700 million contract in part due to his prolific offensive talent.

Here are Major League Baseball’s top five designated hitters heading into the 2024 season.

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The following rankings were made by our senior staff members at Just Baseball. Jack McMullen, Peter Appel, Aram Leighton, Ryan Finkelstein, Leo Morgenstern and Colby Olson, each created their top player lists at each position and we took the composite average score to set our 2024 rankings.

Honorable Mentions: Eloy Jimenez (CWS), Jorge Soler (FA)

Eloy Jimenez put together a strong 2023 season in which he tallied 41 extra-base hits, including 18 bombs and 23 doubles while driving in 64 runs for the Chicago White Sox.

In his five big league seasons, he has career slash line of .275/.324/.487 for an .811 OPS and a wRC+ of 118. Availability has been Jimenez’s biggest shortcoming in his young career, but he’s coming off a season where he played the most games (120) and had the most plate appearances (489) since his rookie season in 2019.

Jimenez is an exceptionally talented player with a tremendous amount of power, and he enters 2024 as one of Chicago’s most valuable roster pieces.

After struggling in his first season in Miami back in 2022, Jorge Soler put together a tremendous bounce-back campaign last season. He slashed .250/.341/.512 for an OPS+ of 128 and a wRC+ of 126, and he earned his first All-Star bid of his 10-year career.

Soler launched 36 homers and drove in 75 runs for the Marlins, and he put up his highest ISO since the 2019 season (.262). Soler boosted his quality of contact metrics, upped his walk rate, and slashed his strikeout rate in 2023.

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Now, he remains one of the top bats still available on the free agent market.

5. J.D. Martinez (Free Agent)

Age: 36

2023 Stats: 479 PA, .271/.321/.572, 33 HR, 103 RBI, 135 wRC+, 2.2 fWAR


Last offseason, J.D. Martinez signed a one-year contract with the Dodgers, and it ended up being an impressive bounce-back season for him in Los Angeles. He eclipsed 100 RBIs for the first time since 2019, and his elite run production led to his best wRC+ (135) since that same season as well.

Martinez posted a strong batting average (.271) and got on-base at a respectable rate (.321), but his most noticeable improvement came in the power hitting department. He ended the year with 33 bombs, which was more than double his number from 2022, and he did it in over 100 fewer plate appearances.

His slugging percentage jumped to .572, which was over 100 points better than the previous season, and that massive uptick in power led to his best OPS since 2019 (.893).

Martinez’s ability to rack up extra-base hits yielded an impressive ISO of .301, which was his best since 2017 and the highest among National League designated hitters last season (min 450 PA).

Martinez generated some of his best quality of contact metrics in the Statcast era in 2023, and that played an integral role in his bounce-back season. He was in the 98th percentile in barrel rate (17.1%), hard hit rate (55.1%), and average exit velocity (93.4 miles per hour), and each of those metrics saw a big bump from 2022.

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Most noticeably, his hard hit rate saw a whopping 13.4% boost from the previous season.

Martinez, who has been an All-Star in five of his last six seasons, enters his 14th major league season as one of the top offensive weapons still available on the free agent market. At 36 years old, Martinez’s best days are likely behind him, but the 2023 season was an indication that he still has plenty left in the tank. He can still be an immensely impactful bat for whichever team signs him.

4. Marcell Ozuna (Atlanta Braves)

Age: 33

2023 Stats: 592 PA, .274/.346/.558, 40 HR, 100 RBI, 139 wRC+, 3.3 fWAR


Marcell Ozuna was one of the most impactful hitters on the best offense in baseball in 2023. He demonstrated a better approach than in previous seasons. Improved swing decisions, combined with enhanced bat-to-ball numbers played a large role in his offensive success.

He dropped his strikeout rate by 1.5% while boosting his walk rate by 3.5%, and that led to a vastly improved batting average and on-base percentage. Not only did he get on-base at a much higher rate in 2023, but he also managed to boost his quality of contact metrics.

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His hard hit rate (49.0%) jumped over five percent from 2022 and was in the top 12% of baseball, and his 16.6% barrel rate was in the top two percent. In turn, his slugging percentage leaped to .558, which was over a 100 point increase from a season ago.

Between his boosted on-base numbers and massive bump in slugging percentage, Ozuna saw his OPS jump to .904 last season, which was over a 200 point improvement from 2022.

His 40 home runs were the most he’s had in a season, and his 29 doubles were the second-most he’s had in a single season. Due to his ability to rack up extra-base hits, he put up an ISO of .285, which was nearly a 100 point boost from 2022.

After slashing .091/.206/.218 with a 28.5% strikeout rate in the first month of the season, Ozuna quickly turned it around after that. Post All-Star break, he hit over .300 with an OPS over 1.000 while slugging nearly .650. He ended the year with 100 RBIs, which were his most since 2017, and he posted a 139 wRC+, which was a stark improvement from the previous season.

Ozuna was a problem for opposing pitchers in 2023, and he was a valuable run producer in the middle of Atlanta’s lineup. Now, he will look to build upon his bounce-back season in 2024 and will enter the season as one of the game’s top designated hitters.

3. Kyle Schwarber (Philadelphia Phillies)

Age: 30

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2023 Stats: 720 PA, .197/.343/.474, 47 HR, 104 RBI, 119 wRC+, 1.4 fWAR


Kyle Schwarber had one of the most fascinating seasons in recent memory in 2023. His 215 strikeouts were the most in baseball, and his 29.9% strikeout rate led to a subpar .197 batting average. However, Schwarber managed to draw 126 walks, which was the second-most in MLB, only behind Juan Soto. His impeccable walk rate of 17.5% helped him get on base at a solid .343 clip.

Schwarber also hit the second-most homers in baseball in 2023 (47), which capped off back-to-back seasons where he hit 45 or more home runs. Since the start of the 2021 season, Schwarber has a total of 125 homers, which is the third-most in baseball over that stretch.

Despite him posting a batting average below .200, he managed to post an .817 OPS due to an outstanding walk rate and his power hitting prowess. He ended the 2023 season with a .277 ISO, which marked the third-consecutive season where he finished with an isolated power over .275.

Schwarber elevated his game in the second half of the season as well. His two best months of the season came in August, where he posted a .944 OPS and hit 10 homers, and September, where he slashed .242/.395/.576 to go with 10 more bombs. Schwarber racked up nearly 40 RBIs in just the final two months of the season.

Schwarber rode his hot streak into the playoffs, where he took an even bigger step forward once the calendar turned to October.

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In 57 postseason plate appearances, he slashed .255/.386/.660 for an OPS of 1.046 to go with five homers and a wRC+ of 168. His talent was on full display on the biggest stage, as he played an essential role in the Phillies’ electric postseason run.

Schwarber showed that he can be one of the best run producers in baseball in 2023, highlighted by the fact that no designated hitter drove in more runs than Schwarber last season. He enters the 2024 season as a top-three designated hitter in baseball, and when he is seeing the ball well at the plate, he can be one of the most dangerous hitters in the sport.

2. Yordan Alvarez (Houston Astros)

Age: 26

2023 Stats: 496 PA, .293/.407/.583, 31 HR, 97 RBI, 170 wRC+, 4.5 fWAR


Speaking of one of the most dangerous hitters in the game, there may be no more feared hitter than Yordan Alvarez. The 26-year-old behemoth enters the 2024 season as one of the game’s most lethal hitters, and it feels as if he’s only getting better.

Despite battling through an oblique injury in the heart of the 2023 season, his year-end statistics were still extremely impressive. Alvarez managed to rack up 31 bombs, 24 doubles, and 97 RBIs in 496 plate appearances for the Houston Astros.

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Alvarez is a tough out for opposing pitchers every time he steps in the batter’s box, and it starts with his disciplined approach. His 13.9% walk rate is in the top-seven percent of baseball, and he also posted a well-above average strikeout rate of 18.5%.

His disciplined swing decisions and consistent bat-to-ball numbers are key factors in his offensive success, but Alvarez’s immense amount of strength and his prolific power numbers are really what sets him apart.

His 18% barrel rate was in the 99th percentile last season. Additionally, he put up a hard hit rate of 52.5%, which was in the top-four percent of baseball, to go along with an elite average exit velocity of 93.3 miles per hour. In turn, his outstanding quality of contact metrics yielded some of the best expected statistics in all of baseball.

On top of his regular season success, Alvarez seems to enter an entirely new echelon of play in the playoffs. In the 2023 postseason, he posted a monstrous slash line of .465/.510/.977 for a 1.487 OPS in 49 plate appearances. He accumulated six home runs, two doubles, one triple, and drove in 15 runs during the Astro’s postseason run.

Simply put, Alvarez is one of the most complete hitters in the sport. He has effectively no holes in his offensive game, and at just 26 years old, it feels as if he’s only getting better. He enters the 2024 season as one of the best hitters in baseball.

1. Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Age: 29

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2023 Stats: 599 PA, .304/.412/.654, 44 HR, 95 RBI, 20 SB, 180 wRC+, 6.6 fWAR


Of course, the number one player on this list has to be the new $700 million man. After six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani takes a short trip north to join the Los Angeles Dodgers and headlines one of the best lineups ever assembled on paper.

The two-time MVP and three-time All-Star is coming off the best season of his career.

On top of hitting over .300, he got on base at a .412 clip, which was the second-best on-base percentage in the sport. He also had the best slugging percentage in baseball (.654), and those impressive numbers yielded the best OPS in MLB (1.066).

Ohtani also excelled in the advanced metrics, as he led the league in wOBA (.433), wRC+ (180) and ISO (.350). In addition to his 44 home runs and 26 doubles, he also managed to hit eight triples, which was tied for the fourth-most in MLB. Given Ohtani’s sensational power numbers, it’s no surprise to see him near the top of the league in quality of contact metrics.

His 19.6% barrel rate was second only behind Aaron Judge in 2023. Ohtani also posted a career-high hard hit rate (54%) and a career-high average exit velocity (94.4 miles per hour). All while striking out at a career-low rate and walking at one of the best rates in baseball (15.2%).

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Ohtani is the most impactful player in the game, and he continues to show us why he is such a generational talent. No one in the game is more lethal at the plate than Shoehei Ohtani, and it’s no surprise that he enters 2024 as not only the game’s top designated hitter, but the best hitter in all of baseball.