We Preview Every Single Lineup!
There is nothing more maddening than watching a baseball team that can’t score runs. While teams win a World Series based on the strength of their pitching and defense, we all know you can’t win a game if you don’t score runs.
A strong offense can bail out a weak pitching staff many times over the course of a season. So how do we judge the potency of a lineup? Looking at the famous 3 (Avg, RBI, and HR) rarely tell the whole story. So much of RBI’s are based on the strength of the guy’s that bat before him. It’s all about timing.
So in order to judge we had to look at on base percentage, slugging percentage, batting average, games played, career averages, and of course a little of the eye test. So let’s see where they rank.
30. San Diego Padres – Everyone likes Adrian Gonzalez. It’s the reason so many teams have inquired about him and it’s the same reason the Padres are likely to trade him this season to a team like the Boston Red Sox. Still, beyond Gonzalez this is as unappealing a lineup as baseball has to offer. They have one player (the aforementioned Gonzalez) with an on base percentage over .350 and not one single .300 hitter. While the pitching staff of San Diego should be decent, they won’t be good enough to make up for what is the worst lineup in baseball.
29. Cleveland Indians – Just like their pitching staff, this team used to be far more attractive. But the times have changed and their lineup is a shell of its former self. Grady Sizemore is coming off an injury plagued year and there isn’t another guy on that team that you would even consider a threat. Even the formerly big, bad Travis Hafner has looked washed up the last couple of years, becoming the David Ortiz of his division. They had some power behind the plate in Victor Martinez but they traded him last year and his replacement, Lou Marson, is a rookie with a lot to prove. It should be a long and agonizing year in Cleveland.
28. Kansas City Royals – This is team that at a glance appears better than it really is. The names Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel, Jason Kendall, and Jose Guillen are names most fans know to be pretty good players. Add that all up and you have a pretty good lineup, right? No. Podsednik is injury prone and inconsistent. Ankiel, the former wild thing pitcher turned outfielder, is a feel good story that doesn’t feel so good anymore. Kendall and Guillen are both formerly good players who both sport OBP’s in the lower 300’s. Billy Butler is a solid first baseman and Chris Getz is young and could be good but there isn’t a really solid part of this lineup. Too many things need to go right for this to be a good lineup all year.
27. Toronto Blue Jays – You’d have to like this team more if Vernon Wells, the Blue Jays former centerpiece, was playing better. But he’s not. And this team is going to have lots of problems. Let’s be clear here: the guy everyone likes, Aaron Hill, has an OBP of .330, not that impressive. Lyle Overbay was a solid contributor last season, but it’s the other guys that bring that lineup way down. Travis Snider, Edwin Encarnacion, Alex Gonzalez, and John Buck all hit below .250 last season. You can’t expect to scare anyone with production like that.
26. Pittsburgh Pirates – Terrible lineup. Jeff Clement and Andy LaRoche are your first and third baseman respectively and neither one of them have the power you expect from your corner infield positions. Garrett Jones is the only outfielder who you really have to respect. Lastings Milledge isn’t giving them production they need from the left field spot. This is a team that ranked 14th in the NL last year in team batting average. The only debatable thing is whether they should be ranked lower.
25. Cincinnati Reds – It’s a shame their lineup is likely to stink this season because they have one of the surprise staffs in baseball. This team ranked in the bottom four of every important statistical category last year. This year doesn’t look to be much better. Their two most productive hitters are Joey Votto and Scott Rolen, but Rolen is on the downside of his career and isn’t a sure bet to equal his career production. The outfield is a collection of low average, high power hitters who don’t get on base nearly as much as needed.
24. Oakland Athletics – Billy Beane loves his Sabremetrics but it appears in the last couple of years his system has broken down. He loves the high on base guys but there aren’t many to speak of on this team. This team ranked 11th in OBP and 14th in slugging in the American League last year. This is a team with serviceable players at best. Cliff Pennington, Mark Ellis, and Kevin Kouzmanoff make one of the poorest infields in baseball. Jack Cust has some pop but also sports a 240 average. Rajai Davis is a nice piece but I’m finding little else to be excited about.
23. San Francisco Giants – I know numbers don’t always tell the whole story but when your team ranks in the bottom five of the entire league for avg, obp, and slg, that says something significant about your lack of production at the plate. There is but one guy on the whole team who had on obp higher than .350. I know it doesn’t tell the whole story but something has to give. It’s a little disheartening. Still, there is reason to be optimistic as there are some very solid pieces to this lineup. Mark DeRosa, Aaron Rowand, and Edgar Renteria are capable of having high caliber years and that would certainly drive them up in the rankings and the division.
22. Washington Nationals – This is a bad team but it’s their pitching that really does them in. There are some nicer pieces on this team. Josh Willingham and Nyjer Morgan two high on base guys. Adam Dunn will provide some power and Ryan Zimmerman is arguably their best hitter. So why isn’t this team ranked higher? Because this team sported a .258 batting average which ranked 24 in the majors and 20th in slugging percentage. Do those numbers earn them a hire rank?
21. Houston Astros – The Astros will struggle this year for sure. Their lineup will not serve as a bright spot. As with every team there are a couple of people you might want to have on your team(Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman) but beyond that there is a host of low on base guys whose slugging percentages barely pass the 400 mark. Last year they ranked 18 in all of baseball in average and 24th in OBP. This is a team that needs Berkman badly if they hope to win games this year because they won’t have much help.
20. Arizona Diamondbacks – Where do you put a team that was in the bottom 10 in MLB last year in batting average and on base percentage? The bottom 10 of this list? This is a wish and a prayer team. IF Connor Jackson can live up to expectations, IF Chris Young can live up to expectation. IF Justin Upton takes another step forward. IF Mark Reynolds and Adam LaRoche can give them power from the corner infield positions they should have a solid team. But that is certainly a lot of IF’s.
19. Chicago White Sox – Welcome to the team in the middle ten with the biggest upside. Ozzie Guillen decided to skip the DH in favor of more speed on the basepaths. What that leaves is a gaping hole in the lineup where the DH should be. This is a team that struggled to get on base last season. This is a team that has been feast or famine for some years now as the long ball has been their best friend. If Alex Rios and Andruw Jones can rebound and be the players they were a few years ago, this lineup can easily creep up near the top 10, but the White Sox are resting their season on a lot of IF’s. Too many if’s to move them up in these rankings.
18. Baltimore Orioles – I’m not sure if this is a popular place to put the Orioles because I’ve seen sights where there hitting is listed as a strength, but I’m not convinced. Let’s agree that Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts are very good. But we should also agree that Garrett Atkins with his nine homers and 28 RBI’s last year looks like a Coors Field creation. Let’s agree that Matt Wieters .288 average would be more to brag about if he had done it in more games. Let’s agree Tejada is a shell of his former self and Cesar Izturis is bad. Let’s also decide that Luke Scott’s 25 homers are deceptive because he was useless the second half. Let’s agree that those things do not make for an intimidating lineup.
17. Texas Rangers – We know that people love the long ball and Texas certainly has a lot of that. After all when they did make contact it went a long way. It’s why they were 4th last season in slugging percentage. But what they lacked was the ability to get on base consistently, ranking 24th in OBP. I’m sure some of that had to do with the injuries to Josh Hamilton. There entire lineup is filled with low on base guys and even the addition of Vladimir Guerrero doesn’t help their cause. This is a typical feast or famine team and you need to be more than that. They long ball won’t save you every time.
16. Detroit Tigers – This is a lineup that would be higher if they didn’t have a couple of key question marks. What does Johnny Damon have left in the tank? That’s a question that will need to be answered by the everyday Left Fielder. Carlos Guillen has an injury plagued year. Can he come back to be a force in the lineup again? And was last year just a poor power year for Magglio Ordonez? The tigers are going to need Ordonez to be a long ball threat if they expect their outfield to produce. And with the departure of Curtis Granderson, it leaves the door open for Austin Miles, a true rookie, to take control. But is he ready?
15. Seattle Mariners – Thank god for an off season of retooling and deep pockets. This is a Mariners team that ranked 29th in OBP in 2009. But adding two high on base guys like Milton Bradley and Chone Figgins will certainly help them this year. Bradley should be much better in Seattle this year. It’s far less media pressure and far less rowdy fans to get on him if he does struggle. Those two players are going to give a lot of help to staples like Ichiro Suzuki and Jack Wilson. If Griffey can provide just a little bit of pop in the lineup, this team should have no problem crossing home plate.
14. Chicago Cubs – I seriously debated putting them this high. This team ranked in the latter 15 of the avg, obp, and slg. So why put them in the upper 15 of this ranking system? Because there were a lot of factors that shouldn’t be there this year. Milton Bradley had a dismal and controversial year but he’s gone and in his place is the less flashy, but more stable Marlon Byrd. Fukudome seems to have found his grove near the top of the lineup. And another full year of Soriano in an RBI spot should help things. This team has a lot of guys who had particularly bad years last year but who have good career numbers. This lineup with make noise in the NL central this year.
13. Atlanta Braves – Everyone is expecting big things from Jason Heyward but even if Heyward struggles in his rookie season the Braves should still have a formidable lineup. Troy Glaus was injured most of last year but when healthy he can be a big bat in the lineup. Chipper Jones also had an uncharacteristic year last year so you have to assume he’ll rebound from that. Martin Prado is in line for a big year and with Melky Cabrera coming off the bench, this team should have a heck of a good lineup.
12. Milwaukee Brewers – So will this team. The Brewers boast a lethal combo of Braun and Fielder and some really nice role players to play around them. Rickie Weeks and Gregg Zaun are too notables. Carlos Gomez and Corey Hart are young but full of potential. This team finished in the top ten for OBP and SLG in baseball last year and as long as Braun and Fielder stay healthy, they should finished close to that this year.
11. New York Mets – There rotation won’t do them any favors but if their lineup stays healthy this team can win some games and stay competitive in the NL East. The addition of Jason Bay is going to add a huge bat to a lineup already stacked with Carlos Beltran and David Wright. Jose Reyes isn’t expected to spend any significant time on the DL this year and when healthy he is one of the most dangerous leadoff hitters in the league. The Mets know how to get on base and with the addition of Bay they’ll be one of the best at getting people in too.
10. Florida Marlins – What this team lacks in its homerun power, it makes up for in its sheer ability to get on base consistently. This lineup has some of the best young names in baseball. Dan Uggla, Chris Coghlan, and Cody Ross are a few of those names. Of course it would be insane to mention the offensive prowess of the Marlins without talking about their best asset, Hanley Ramirez. With an OBP of 386 and a career slugging percentage of 531, he is easily the best shortstop in baseball and one of the best 3 hitters in the game.
9. Minnesota Twins – How can you not like a team that has Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer? How can you not like a team that hit .274 as a TEAM last year? How can you not like a team that had 5 players with a .350 OBP last year? How can you not like a team that seems to bring up young talent with ease? This team is going to keep the Twins in a lot of games this year. If their pitching staff can come together like they have in years past the AL Central will be chasing the Twins again.
8. Colorado Rockies – It’s the curse of Coors Field. This team, with the numbers they’ve put up, should be a top 5 lineup. But it’s hard to discount the field they play in. Six of their 9 hitters have an OBP higher than .350. Helton and Tulowitzki are the real deals so it seems and this team can slug it out with the best of them. But you can’t discount the amount of success teams seem to have at Coors field which gives Rockies hitters an advantage playing half their games there. Still they managed to make the playoffs last year so you know they can’t be winning all their games at Coors Field.
7. Tampa Bay Rays – With Evan Longoria leading the charge the Rays are a dangerous team one through nine. Unlike their pitching staff, their lineup does boast some superstar power in the aforementioned Longoria , Carl Crawford, and the rising star that is Jason Bartlett. This team is solid through and through. They can slug it out with the best in the American League. They’ll certainly have trouble in the salary heavy AL East but it will have little to do with the product they are putting out onto the field.
6. Boston Red Sox – This is a hell of a lineup. You have to wonder how good Adrian Beltre and David Ortiz are gonna be, but beyond that they’ll get good production out of Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedrioa. Victor Martinez is the best hitting catchers in baseball not named Joe Mauer. Marco Scutaro will get on base and give guys like J.D. Drew and Kevin Youkilis a chance to drive in runs. Boston will do what they always seem to do: hit.
5. St. Louis Cardinals – What do you do when you have the absolute best hitter in baseball? You find one of the best young hitters in baseball and lock him up with a long term deal. That’s what the Cardinals did when they gave Albert Pujols the gift that is Matt Holliday. If you take those two and add Ryan Ludwick you have one of the fiercest parts of any lineup. I know that St. Louis fans are wondering about how long Tony LaRussa is gonna be staying in St. Louis, but with a lineup like that, why would he ever leave?
4. Los Angeles of Anaheim – The Angels lose Chone Figgins and Vlad and they shouldn’t miss a beat in 2010. Tori Hunter is still at the top of his game and Bobby Abreu was the value of the free agent market in 2009. They are replacing the power of Vlad with former Yankee slugger Hideki Matsui who hit 28 home runs for the World Series champs last season. The departure of Figgins allows the organizations top prospect Brandon Wood to get a chance at third base. The Angels may have lost some of the magic in their pitching staff but they won’t lose anything at the plate.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers – This team batted .270 as a team last year and that was with Manny Ramirez having a bad year. This team is absolutely loaded with talent. Their outfield with Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier is the best in the NL. They don’t have a weak position at all, and with newly acquired Reed Johnson spelling that outfield off the bench it’s going to be a team no one wants to face next season.
2. Philadelphia Phillies – If you take a look at this lineup there isn’t any wonder why the Phillies reached the World Series for a second straight year. This team had a slugging percentage of .447 which put them third in the MLB. They boast some heavy hitters in Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins. Complimentary players of Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez help round out such a strong lineup. These boys are fierce one to eight and you can guarantee that they won’t be folding as we get down to the pennant race in September and October. This team is battle tested and there isn’t much more important for that.
1. New York Yankees – This lineup is downright scary. In Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada, we have three bon a fide hall of famers. And Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson may have the makings of a hall of fame careers. This team was second in batting average and lead baseball in OBP and SLG last season. These boys are terrifying to face. Almost their entire lineup has career on base percentages of 350 or higher and four guys who slug over 500. They have big experience under their belt and Jeter is the best clutch player in the game. They say the Yankees are a love them or hate them team. Regardless of what camp you fall into, you have to respect them.