Making the Grade: Ranking Designated Hitters in the AL Central

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No. 4: Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians

Jul 11, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians designated hitter Nick Swisher (33) celebrates after hitting a two run home run during the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Swisher has not been the player the Indians paid leading up to the 2013 season.

Plagued by a number of injuries, including the knee surgeries that have kept him out of the lineup until today, Swisher hit just .208/.278/.331 last season for the Tribe. His power was almost completely sapped, as he hit just eight home runs over 97 games after hitting 20-plus round-trippers in each of the previous nine seasons.

But he’s back now. And if his numbers at Triple-A are any indication, Swisher is healthier now than he’s been since joining the Tribe.

Swisher hit .375 in six games with the Columbus Clippers, homering once and clubbing two doubles to go along with five RBIs. He seemed to be seeing the ball incredibly well and, while the strikeouts will certainly come, the Indians are hopeful they can rely on Swisher to return to the lineup and help share the load with the likes of Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley.

While it is Swisher who is highlighted here, Indians’ manager Terry Francona has some tough decisions on the horizon. He now has four players – Swisher, David Murphy, Ryan Raburn and Brandon Moss – who will shuffle between right field and designated hitter. Raburn has been red hot and has absolutely tortured opposing lefties in a platoon role with Murphy while Moss leads the team in RBIs.

Swisher has to assert himself in the early going if he is going to maintain regular at-bats in a crowded Tribe lineup.

Next: No. 3