Players with the most Outstanding DH of the Year Awards

Players with the most Outstanding DH of the Year Awards

5:09 AM UTC

For the past 50 years, some of the most potent hitters in the game have been recognized with the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, which is presented annually to the top DH in baseball. The award was renamed for Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez in 2004, in recognition of the five-time winner’s place as one of the all-time greats.

With Thursday marking the 50th anniversary of the debut of the designated hitter in the American League, there’s no better time to take a look at every player who’s won the award more than once.

David Ortiz (8)
Years won: 2003-07, ’11, ’13, ’16

When it comes to designed hitters, Ortiz stands alone. His unprecedented run as the top designated hitter in baseball started in 2003, when he slugged 31 home runs and drove in 101 runs in his first season with the Red Sox — after the Twins released him. From there, Big Papi didn’t stop, as he won the next four Outstanding Designated Hitter Awards before closing out his career with three wins in the 2010s. Ortiz capped his run in 2016, when he drove in an AL-leading 127 runs and topped the Majors in doubles (48) in his final season.

There’s a reason the award’s named after him. While Martinez was an All-Star in 1992, his career didn’t truly take off until 1995, when he won his first career Outstanding Designated Hitter Award after he slashed .356/.379/.628 in the regular season and potentially saved baseball in Seattle in the postseason. That season set Martinez up on a dominant nine-year run (1996-2004) during which he hit .311 and slugged 218 home runs en route to four additional awards. Martinez was finally elected to the Hall of Fame on his 10th and final ballot in 2019.

Hal McRae (3)
Years won: 1976, ’80, ’82

For the first three years of the designated hitter’s existence, most teams filled their DH spot with an aging veteran who still had a little bit of power left. That thinking changed in 1976, however, when a 30-year-old McRae slashed .332/.407/.461 with 22 stolen bases out of the DH spot. He tallied two more Outstanding Designated Hitter Awards, with his best season coming in 1982, when he drove in a league-leading 133 runs and won a Silver Slugger Award.

What can’t Ohtani do? A two-way star, he became the first player to win the award in consecutive seasons since Ortiz won it in five straight years from 2003-07. After putting together a season for the ages in 2021 (46 home runs, eight triples, 100 RBIs, and a 3.18 ERA), Ohtani once again excelled at the plate in 2022. He smashed 34 home runs and tallied 95 RBIs while making 153 starts at designated hitter, after MLB changed its rules to allow Ohtani to remain in the game as DH after coming out as a pitcher.

The ageless wonder slugged 346 home runs in the 2010s, the highest mark in baseball over that time frame. Thirty-nine of those home runs came in 2017, which helped Cruz earn his first career Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, at age 37, while playing for the Mariners. Two years later, Cruz earned his second when he slugged 41 home runs and had 108 RBIs for the Twins.

While there’s only a three-year gap between Molitor’s two Outstanding Designated Hitter Awards, they came at vastly different points in his career. In 1993, Molitor was at the peak of his powers, as he led all of baseball with 211 hits before batting .458 with two home runs and seven RBIs in the Blue Jays’ World Series win over the Phillies. Three years later, Molitor was in the first year of his three-year tenure with his hometown Twins. He led the American League with 225 hits that season, batting .341 and clearing the 3,000 career hit plateau.

After struggling in his first year with Oakland in 1988, Parker put together a stellar comeback season in 1989, recording 22 home runs and 97 RBIs on an Athletics team that beat the Giants in the World Series (with Parker adding three more home runs in the postseason). Parker signed with the Brewers in 1990, when he drove in 92 runs and was named to the All-Star team along with winning his second consecutive Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.

A right fielder for the first seven years of career, Baines became a full-time designated hitter in 1987 due to a series of knee problems. That switch didn’t diminish his ability to get on base, however, as Baines tallied his third career All-Star appearance by batting .293 with 20 home runs and 93 RBIs — stats that helped him win his first career Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. While his numbers took a bit of a dip in 1988 (13 home runs, 81 RBIs), he still won the award for the second year in a row. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019 by the Today’s Game Era Committee.

The first player to win consecutive Outstanding Designated Hitter Awards, Baylor did so on both sides of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. After winning the award in 1985 as a member of the Yankees, Baylor was traded to the Red Sox prior to the 1986 season, mashing 31 home runs and 94 RBIs to repeat the feat. Baylor also etched his name in Red Sox lore that postseason when helped keep Boston in Game 5 of the ALCS against the Angels with a two-run home run in the ninth inning.

After spending the first 11 years of his career in the National League with the Phillies, Luzinski joined the White Sox in 1981 and wasted no time making his presence known, as he slugged 21 home runs in 104 games to win that year’s Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. He tallied his second win two years later, when he slugged 32 home runs (the then-record for most home runs in a season by a designated hitter) and drove in 95 while also receiving some down-ballot MVP votes.

A four-time All-Star, Horton was the first player to win multiple Outstanding Designated Hitter Awards. And while Horton had strong numbers when he won his first award in 1975 (25 home runs, 92 RBIs), it pales in comparison to his record-setting season with Seattle in 1979. After spending the end of the 1978 season in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League, Horton signed a one-year contract with the Mariners that ended up becoming one of the best signings in Mariners history, as he set the franchise record in home runs (25), RBIs (92), hits (180) and total bases (296) while also becoming the the 41st player to clear the 300 home run plateau.

Below is a list of the winner from each season since the award’s inception:

2022: Shohei Ohtani (Angels)
2021: Shohei Ohtani (Angels)
2020: Marcell Ozuna (Atlanta)
2019: Nelson Cruz (Minnesota)
2018: Khris Davis (Oakland)
2017: Nelson Cruz (Seattle)
2016: David Ortiz (Boston)
2015: Kendrys Morales (Kansas City)
2014: Victor Martinez (Detroit)
2013: David Ortiz (Boston)
2012: Billy Butler (Kansas City)
2011: David Ortiz (Boston)
2010: Vladimir Guerrero (Texas)
2009: Adam Lind (Toronto)
2008: Aubrey Huff (Baltimore)
2007: David Ortiz (Boston)
2006: David Ortiz (Boston)
2005: David Ortiz (Boston)
2004: David Ortiz (Boston)
2003: David Ortiz (Boston)
2002: Ellis Burks (Cleveland)
2001: Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
2000: Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
1999: Rafael Palmeiro (Texas)
1998: Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
1997: Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
1996: Paul Molitor (Minnesota)
1995: Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
1994: Not awarded
1993: Paul Molitor (Toronto)
1992: Dave Winfield (Toronto)
1991: Chili Davis (Minnesota)
1990: Dave Parker (Milwaukee)
1989: Dave Parker (Oakland)
1988: Harold Baines (Chicago)
1987: Harold Baines (Chicago)
1986: Don Baylor (Boston)
1985: Don Baylor (New York)
1984: Dave Kingman (Oakland)
1983: Greg Luzinski (Chicago)
1982: Hal McRae (Kansas City)
1981: Greg Luzinski (Chicago)
1980: Hal McRae (Kansas City)
1979: Willie Horton (Seattle)
1978: Rusty Staub (Detroit)
1977: Jim Rice (Boston)
1976: Hal McRae (Kansas City)
1975: Willie Horton (Detroit)
1974: Tommy Davis (Baltimore)
1973: Orlando Cepeda (Boston)

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