• Have something to say? Register Now! and be posting in minutes!

MLB Top 10 Overall Lineups - ESPN Insider


Well-Known Member
Sep 1, 2011
Iowa, US
Hoopla Cash
$ 29,091.39
Fav. Team #1
Fav. Team #2
Fav. Team #3
Part 1 of 2

Boston Red Sox back atop Buster's top 10 ranks of MLB lineups - ESPN
By Buster Olney

1. Boston Red Sox

Even before the Red Sox closed a 2014 season in which they finished 18th in runs, Boston GM Ben Cherington had brought change. Mookie Betts, who dominated in the minor leagues, was promoted in the last couple of months and thrived, generating a .368 on-base percentage in 52 games. The Red Sox spent a lot of money on Rusney Castillo and got him to the big leagues, where he had a small sample of success. In November, Boston made two lightning strikes to sign two veteran hitters who've demonstrated the ability to hit good pitchers, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.

Dustin Pedroia's slugging percentage has steadily regressed (.493 in 2010, to .474, .449, .415 and .376 in subsequent seasons), and given the inevitable toll of time and his style of play, some rival evaluators doubt he'll ever get back to being a high-impact hitter. Meanwhile, David Ortiz turned 39 this winter and is presumably in the last years of his career. But the depth in the Red Sox's lineup, which enabled them to lead the majors in runs in 2013 and win a championship, is restored. With Ramirez and Sandoval, and the possible contributions of Betts and Castillo, the Red Sox's offense won't disappear if Pedroia and Ortiz don't hit. Boston's lineup will be formidable again (probably fueled by the reality that the rotations among division rivals appear thin).

It's not entirely clear what role Shane Victorino will have, or where Betts will play, or what the Red Sox will do with Allen Craig and Daniel Nava. But Boston has more and better lineup options than any other team in the majors.

2. Los Angeles Angels

The trade of Howie Kendrick will hurt the lineup, because amid the volatility of other parts of the lineup -- the inherent injury and age questions for Albert Pujols and the puzzle that Josh Hamilton has become -- Kendrick was a steady presence. In his nine-year career, his OPS ranged between .721 at the low end and .802 at the high end; he was solid, season after season. He is gone, and it'll be a challenge for the Angels to replace that consistency. The Angels' offense begins, of course, with the majors' best player, Mike Trout, who had 84 extra-base hits, 83 walks, 115 runs and 111 RBIs in 2014. Pujols had a really good bounce-back year, with 66 extra-base hits among 172 hits; he turns 35 this week.

The Angels added depth this winter, writes Alden Gonzalez.

3. Toronto Blue Jays

Sure, there are questions about the Jays' production at second base and in left field. But Toronto had a relatively strong offense last season, finishing fifth in runs, and the Blue Jays' lineup in 2015 likely will start like this:

SS Jose Reyes
C Russell Martin
RF Jose Bautista
3B Josh Donaldson
DH Edwin Encarnacion

That's a pretty good foundation.

4. Colorado Rockies

To date, all signs are that Troy Tulowitzki will be back, surrounded by Justin Morneau, Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson. Sure, the Rockies continues to be Supermen at home and Clark Kents on the road -- last year, they ranked No. 1 in home OPS (.902, 128 points better than any other team) and No. 29 in road OPS (.636) -- but there's no reason to think that's going to change in 2015. By summer's end, they'll have piled up a lot of runs.

5. Detroit Tigers

The Tigers probably will have days when they look like baseball's most dynamic offensive team, with Yoenis Cespedes making Comerica Park look small with long home runs, with Victor Martinez demonstrating why he might be the game's best pure hitter and with J.D. Martinez taking advantage of having runners on base.

In fact, you could argue that the Tigers should be higher than fifth in these rankings after scoring more runs than 28 other teams last year. But there is one major X factor: The health of Miguel Cabrera, who had ankle surgery following the season. Perhaps Cabrera's return will be seamless, and he showed last year that even when he's playing hurt, no hitter has better hands and he can still be very dangerous. Cabrera played in 159 games last season, batting .313, racking up 76 extra-base hits among 191 hits, and hitting .379 in September, hobbling all the while.

But if Cabrera's rehabilitation is extended, or if he has a setback, that will change a whole lot about Detroit's attack. He will be in a walking boot at the start of spring training, in all likelihood.

6. Washington Nationals

Jayson Werth might be out of the lineup at the beginning of the season following his shoulder surgery, but Washington appears to have an offense that could fully evolve this summer. The 24-year-old Anthony Rendon became one of the National League's best hitters last year, compiling 66 extra-base hits, and Bryce Harper showed again in the postseason how dangerous he can become. He's only 22 years old and has lost time to injuries, and yet he has hit 55 homers. Denard Span tied for the NL lead in hits last year (184) and scored 94 runs. Ryan Zimmerman is expected to move to first base, probably permanently, and shortstop Ian Desmond is one of the best offensive players at his position.

In spite of their problems last year, including major injuries to Zimmerman, Harper and Werth, the Nationals still finished ninth in runs. They should be better in 2015.

7. Texas Rangers

The Rangers had rebuilt their lineup for 2014, focusing on the addition of left-handed power. But absolutely everything went wrong for the Rangers last season, with virtually their entire lineup other than Adrian Beltre and Leonys Martin being affected by one problem or another. As such, their run production dipped markedly.

Rangers' ranking in runs
2010: 5th
2011: 3rd
2012: 1st
2013: 8th
2014: 17th

Nobody within the Texas organization will assume anything anymore after what the Rangers experienced in 2014, but this is what we know as of now: Prince Fielder is back to his MMA-style training, without restriction following his neck surgery last summer. Shin-Soo Choo's elbow is feeling much better, and he also has lost some weight. Elvis Andrus learned a lesson from last year, when he showed up to spring training out of shape; he's now in excellent condition. Mitch Moreland has made progress following his physical problems last season.

Jurickson Profar is good to go, but he may return to the minors, given his need for regular playing time, and slugging prospect Joey Gallo is likely to start the year at Double-A, playing third base. Playing in the excellent hitting conditions in Arlington, a return to form for the Rangers seems very possible.

8. Pittsburgh Pirates

Early in the year, the Pirates' offense was very thin, with some modest contributions around Andrew McCutchen, who got very different treatment from opposing pitchers in his first season after being named the MVP. By late season, however, the Pittsburgh lineup had depth to it, despite the struggles of Pedro Alvarez. Josh Harrison batted .315 and compiled 58 extra-base hits, and Starling Marte became a beast, posting a .408 on-base percentage after the All-Star break. The Pirates ranked ninth in the majors in runs in the second half, and they can reasonably expect another year of progress. McCutchen has learned how to handle the challenge of seeing only a few good pitches a game, Gregory Polanco has growth potential and Pittsburgh should get better production at first base than in 2014, when the Pirates' first basemen ranked 24th in OPS. Alvarez, as always, could be a pivotal figure. If he doesn't hit in the first half of the season, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Pirates look for alternatives before the trade deadline.

9. Cleveland Indians

Michael Brantley was in the MVP conversation, and Carlos Santana's second-half OPS was 123 points better than in the first half, but the Indians' offense had issues all year, including the disastrous year of Jason Kipnis, the disintegration of Nick Swisher, who wound up having surgery on both knees, and the recurring hamstring trouble of Michael Bourn. The Indians are encouraged by Bourn's winter work, and they believe Kipnis will rebound. Until Swisher starts playing, it's hard to know what he'll be.

But the Indians added power hitter Brandon Moss this offseason, and could have a good lineup around Brantley and Santana.

10. New York Yankees

Manager Joe Girardi will have some unusual issues to sort through, because it's really hard to say who should be hitting third, fourth and fifth in that lineup. Maybe Carlos Beltran will bat in one of those spots if he has something left, and maybe Mark Teixeira will, following an offseason investment in himself. Maybe Brian McCann's September, when he hit eight homers in 81 at-bats, is a sign of what's ahead. Last year, the Yankees tried a lot of different hitters in the middle of their order, and finished 20th in runs.

But in 2014, they had more than 600 plate appearances from Derek Jeter, who had the ninth-worst OPS in the majors among hitters with at least 325 appearances, and almost 400 plate appearances from Ichiro Suzuki, who wasn't much better. They could get better production in those spots, and in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the lineup, particularly, with Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner settled into those spots. The Yankees also have better lineup depth, and can throw out an all-left-handed batting order in a division in which 16 of the 20 projected rival starters are right-handed.

The lack of a rock-solid, MVP-type middle-of-the-order hitter will probably prevent the Yankees from climbing among the leaders in run production, but improvement seems inevitable.


Well-Known Member
Sep 1, 2011
Iowa, US
Hoopla Cash
$ 29,091.39
Fav. Team #1
Fav. Team #2
Fav. Team #3
Part 2 of 2

Honorable mention: The Minnesota Twins, who ranked third in the majors in runs in the second half of last season. … The Oakland Athletics, who dropped from first in runs in the first half of last season to 13th in the second half, will go into 2015 with a rebuilt lineup, and the health of Brett Lawrie and Coco Crisp will be essential. … Justin Havens of ESPN Stats & Info argued for the St. Louis Cardinals to be in the top 10, but it would be a great leap forward after their very unusual 2014 season, in which the Cardinals finished 24th in runs. If the Cardinals jump back into the top 10, it'll be because Kolten Wong announces his presence with authority, and because Jason Heyward has a big impact leading into his free agency. … The Baltimore Orioles, who lost Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis but should benefit from the return of Manny Machado and Matt Wieters. … And finally, some evaluators believe the Cincinnati Reds will have a strong rebound after a miserable 2014, with Joey Votto leading the way.

Around the league

• The Blue Jays want grass in the Rogers Centre, writes John Lott, who explains the challenge.

• The Diamondbacks signed a Cuban pitcher.

• The Yankees are interested in Johan Santana, writes Dan Martin. Reportedly Santana was throwing in the high 80s this week.

• The Rangers are looking for catching help; you have to wonder if Welington Castillo might be a fit.

• Royals manager Ned Yost got a one-year extension and said that's all he wants. Some folks might say that and you'd roll your eyes. Not with Ned.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Nationals signed Mike Carp to a minor league deal, notes Chelsea Janes.

2. Raquel Ferreira was promoted by the Red Sox.

3. Wandy Rodriguez flunked a physical with the Phillies and signed with the Braves.

4. Seven Astros were among the players who filed for arbitration, writes Jesus Ortiz.

5. The Rangers announced some signings.

6. Five Mets filed for arbitration.

7. Tim Stauffer's final haul could reach $4 million.

8. A.J. Ellis' contract situation was settled.

Dings and dents

1. Charlie Morton has fine-tuned his delivery as he returns from surgery, writes Rob Biertempfel.

2. Jon Jay expects to be ready for the start of spring training.

AL Central

• Zack Meisel writes about what arbitration means for the Indians.

• Yoenis Cespedes will be on the Tigers' caravan, writes George Sipple.

• Paul Molitor joined his first caravan since becoming manager of the Twins.

• If you like stolen bases, thank Rusty Kuntz.

AL East

• Ben Zobrist will take the Ray way with him.

• The Yankees added another guy who throws really hard.

• Boston's new scouting director is on the lookout, writes Alex Speier.

• Daniel Nava talked about his uncertain future.

• Dylan Bundy is staying patient.

• The O's new hitting coach expects a big year from Chris Davis.

• Tommy Hunter would like an extension with the O's.

NL West

• More with the Padres' roster rankings.

• The Diamondbacks won't pursue a catcher because they like the development of a former Yankee.

NL Central

• Clayton Richard is glad to be with the Pirates.

• Derrick Goold writes about the new prospect rankings for the Cardinals.

NL East

• David Wright is hungry for a rebound in his winter workouts.


• A document from 1945 about the possible integration of baseball is up for sale.

• Aroldis Chapman did something really nice.

• "The Cell" has been going through some construction.