Major League Baseball: Predicting the Opening Day Lineup for Each Team

Brian Reuter@@breuter10Contributor IIFebruary 5, 2012

Major League Baseball: Predicting the Opening Day Lineup for Each Team

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    With spring training just around the corner, the time is now to begin predicting the players who will grace the lineup cards on Opening Day.

    Though a few question marks still remain, most of the major transactions of the offseason have already been made and rosters are starting to take shape.

    That being said, let's take an in-depth look at what each team's lineup would be if the season began today.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    1. Stephen Drew SS

    2. Aaron Hill 2B

    3. Justin Upton RF

    4. Miguel Montero C

    5. Paul Goldschmidt 1B

    6. Jason Kubel LF

    7. Chris Young CF

    8. Ryan Roberts 3B



    The addition of Jason Kubel was a little puzzling given the emergence of Gerardo Parra both at the plate and in the field. Kubel will get the bulk of the playing time, but Parra will still get his share of at-bats as he hits left-handed pitching well and can help keep Chris Young and Justin Upton rested.

    One question mark in the lineup is at first base, where I have picked the powerful right-hander Paul Goldschmidt over veteran Lyle Overbay. Goldschmidt was impressive in the field and at the plate in 2011 and he will look to build off of a strong postseason as 2012 begins.

    You can also look to see Willie Bloomquist get plenty of playing time at shortstop as the team hopes to keep Stephen Drew healthy.

Atlanta Braves

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    1. Michael Bourn CF

    2. Martin Prado LF

    3. Chipper Jones 3B

    4. Brian McCann C

    5. Dan Uggla 2B

    6. Freddie Freeman 1B

    7. Jason Heyward RF

    8. Tyler Pastornicky SS



    This lineup could experience some change as the team has toyed with the idea of trading Martin Prado for much of the offseason. But given the nature of this article, he is still their starting left fielder at the moment. Prado also provides great depth at second and third as well.

    The top five hitters in the order are predictable for the most part, but the key to the Braves' success may lie with the production of the bottom three. Freddie Freeman will look to avoid the sophomore slump and Jason Heyward will try to rebound after a down year.

    Tyler Pastornicky will not be relied on to carry the offense, but his glove-work at the premier infield position will be an important factor to the team's success.

Baltimore Orioles

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    1. Endy Chavez LF

    2. J.J. Hardy SS

    3. Nick Markakis RF

    4. Adam Jones CF

    5. Matt Weiters C

    6. Mark Reynolds 1B

    7. Nolan Reimold DH

    8. Wilson Betemit 3B

    9. Robert Andino 2B



    This lineup would look a lot better with Brian Roberts included, but it is far from a guarantee that he will be ready to go by Opening Day. Filling in will be Robert Andino, a valuable utility player who was able to amass 457 at-bats while playing all over the field for the O's in 2011.

    The organization could still add a veteran designated hitterm which would move Nolan Reimold into a platoon situation with Endy Chavez in left field.

    It will be interesting to see how the third base situation plays out as the team's current plans are to rotate guys like Wilson Betemit, Chris Davis and Matt Antonelli at the hot corner. Top prospect Manny Machado could eventually take over as the regular third baseman if he shifts over from shortstop.

Boston Red Sox

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    1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF

    2. Dustin Pedroia 2B

    3. Adrian Gonzalez 1B

    4. Kevin Youkilis 3B

    5. David Ortiz DH

    6. Cody Ross LF

    7. Ryan Sweeney RF

    8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C

    9. Mike Aviles SS



    The top of this lineup is as good as any in game. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez are always in the MVP race and Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz continue to hold their own.

    Carl Crawford is dealing with a wrist injury and will not be available for Opening Day. Whenever Crawford does suit up, the Red Sox will need him to perform like he did throughout the beginning of his career with the Rays.

    The team is in bit of a transition mode at the bottom of the lineup as Mike Aviles takes over at shortstop and Ryan Sweeney becomes the team's new right fielder.

Chicago Cubs

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    1. Starlin Castro SS

    2. David DeJesus RF

    3. Marlon Byrd CF

    4. Bryan LaHair 1B

    5. Alfonso Soriano LF

    6. Ian Stewart 3B

    7. Geovany Soto C

    8. Darwin Barney 2B



    The Cubs have almost entered a complete rebuilding mode and could continue in that direction if they find trade partners for Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano and ace pitcher Matt Garza. That being said, this lineup could still look very different in a couple of weeks.

    At the moment, Byrd and Bryan LaHair are simply keeping the respective seats warm for top prospects Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo.

    The Cubs are hoping a change of scenery can lead to a resurgence for Ian Stewart.

Chicago White Sox

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    1. Alejandro De Aza LF

    2. Alexei Ramirez SS

    3. Paul Konerko 1B

    4. Adam Dunn DH

    5. Dayan Viciedo RF

    6. Alex Rios CF

    7. A.J. Pierzynski C

    8. Brent Morel 3B

    9. Gordon Beckham 2B



    The White Sox lineup includes a group of players that had down years in 2011. Adam Dunn had the worst season of his career and Alex Rios, Brent Morel and Gordon Beckham each struggled mightily as well. This lineup becomes much better if these players can produce even average numbers by their standards.

    Dayan Viciedo is a strong player with a high ceiling and could develop into a great power hitter behind Paul Konerko and Dunn.

    Alejandro De Aza and backup catcher Tyler Flowers will each get more playing time at the big league level, making 2012 a very important season for these two youngsters.

Cincinnati Reds

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    1. Brandon Phillips 2B

    2. Drew Stubbs CF

    3. Joey Votto 1B

    4. Scott Rolen 3B

    5. Jay Bruce RF

    6. Ryan Ludwick LF

    7. Zack Cozart SS

    8. Devin Mesoraco C



    The team has yet to find a solution to the leadoff spot and Brandon Phillips will likely fill in at the top in 2012, though his power makes him better suited to bat with runners on base. If another player steps up and earns the leadoff responsibility, Phillips could replace the oft-injured Scott Rolen in the cleanup spot.

    Devin Mesoraco and Ryan Hanigan figure to split playing time at catcher for the Reds in 2012 and shortstop could be another position with a rotation if rookie Zack Cozart struggles early on.

    Chris Heisey also projects to get a lot of playing time despite the signing of fellow outfielder Ryan Ludwick.

Cleveland Indians

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    1. Michael Brantley LF

    2. Shin-Soo Choo RF

    3. Asdrubal Cabrera SS

    4. Travis Hafner DH

    5. Carlos Santana C

    6. Grady Sizemore CF

    7. Lonnie Chisenhall 3B

    8. Casey Kotchman 1B

    9. Jason Kipnis 2B



    This batting order includes seven left-handed bats, two switch-hitters and zero players who bat solely from the right side, making it an obviously unique lineup. The lineup will match up very well with opposing pitchers most of the time, but could struggle against lefties.

    Other players in camp like Matt LaPorta, Shelley Duncan, Ryan Spilborghs and Jose Lopez could earn spots on the roster as integral platoon players.

Colorado Rockies

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    1. Dexter Fowler CF

    2. Marco Scutaro 2B

    3. Carlos Gonzalez LF

    4. Troy Tulowitzki SS

    5. Todd Helton 1B

    6. Michael Cuddyer RF

    7. Casey Blake 3B

    8. Ramon Hernandez C



    Colorado has assembled an impressive lineup that is balanced from top to bottom. Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki are as talented as anybody else in the league and the addition of Michael Cuddyer adds an impact bat and depth to a handful of positions.

    Casey Blake will look to bounce back after a down year in Los Angeles as he holds down the hot corner until top prospect Nolan Arenado arrives.

    Young catcher Wilin Rosario will get plenty of time behind the plate in order to keep veteran Ramon Hernandez rested.

Detroit Tigers

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    1. Austin Jackson CF

    2. Brennan Boesch RF

    3. Miguel Cabrera 3B

    4. Prince Fielder 1B

    5. Delmon Young DH

    6. Jhonny Peralta SS

    7. Alex Avila C

    8. Ryan Raburn LF

    9. Ramon Santiago 2B



    The loss of Victor Martinez to a knee injury appeared to be a huge blow to the Tigers' offense until they went out and signed Prince Fielder to a mammoth contract.

    The addition of Prince to this lineup gives the team two of the best hitters in baseball, but it brings their infield defense into question. Miguel Cabrera will move back to third base to start the season, but he will also see some time as the designated hitter on days that the team goes with defensive standout Brandon Inge at the hot corner.

    Delmon Young becomes the Tigers' regular designated hitter while Ryan Raburn takes over in left field.

    Utility player Don Kelly will see time all over the field in 2012.

Houston Astros

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    1. Jordan Schafer CF

    2. Jed Lowrie SS

    3. Carlos Lee LF

    4. Chris Johnson 3B

    5. Brett Wallace 1B

    6. J.D. Martinez RF

    7. Jason Castro C

    8. Jose Altuve 2B



    The Astros will use the upcoming season as a check point of sorts in regards to the development of their prospects. It will be an important year for Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson as they attempt to emerge as full-time players at the corner infield positions. It will also be important for catcher Jason Castro as he tries to come back from an injury that stole his 2011 campaign.

    The big storyline as the season draws near will be whether or not the front office can find a team interested in acquiring Carlos Lee and the large sum of money he is owed this summer. If Lee is dealt, Fernando Martinez could get an extended opportunity to fulfill his potential at the Major League level.

Kansas City Royals

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    1. Alex Gordon LF

    2. Lorenzo Cain CF

    3. Billy Butler DH

    4. Eric Hosmer 1B

    5. Jeff Francoeur RF

    6. Mike Moustakas 3B

    7. Salvador Perez C

    8. Johnny Giavotella 2B

    9. Alcides Escobar SS



    The Royals will continue with their infusion of young talent this season as Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez and Johnny Giavotella project to start the season with the big league team.

    This is a lineup that Royals fans can expect to see for quite some time as they continue to progress together.

Los Angeles Angels

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    1. Erick Aybar SS

    2. Howie Kendrick 2B

    3. Albert Pujols 1B

    4. Torii Hunter RF

    5. Bobby Abreu DH

    6. Vernon Wells LF

    7. Alberto Callaspo 3B

    8. Chris Iannetta C

    9. Peter Bourjos CF



    The addition of Albert Pujols was one of the suprises of the offseason. He brings a great presence to a lineup that had been without a true three hitter since the loss of Kendrys Morales two seasons ago.

    Morales and Mark Trumbo are both dealing with injuries so Bobby Abreu is the designated hitter at the moment. The situation will become a lot less clear when Morales and Trumbo are healthy and the team will have some decisions to make as there are only so many at-bats to go around. 

    Each of the three are potential trade candidates, as is Vernon Wells as he blocks the path of top prospect Mike Trout.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    1. Dee Gordon SS

    2. Mark Ellis 2B

    3. Matt Kemp CF

    4. Andre Ethier RF

    5. Juan Rivera LF

    6. James Loney 1B

    7. Juan Uribe 3B

    8. A.J. Ellis C



    The Dodgers have stayed away from large expenditures in the free agent market this offseason as the team prepares for a change in ownership. 

    Despite having yet to make a blockbuster acquisition this winter, the organization did make moves that will help them stay competitive in the upcoming season. Juan Rivera was brought back to provide steady production in left field and Mark Ellis was signed to improve the infield defense.

    Ellis will also work to move runners around the bases for MVP candidate Matt Kemp. 

Miami Marlins

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    1. Jose Reyes SS

    2. Omar Infante 2B

    3. Hanley Ramirez 3B

    4. Mike Stanton RF

    5. Logan Morrison LF

    6. Gaby Sanchez 1B

    7. John Buck C

    8. Emilio Bonifacio CF



    The Marlins made headlines this offseason by following through with the expectation of spending big as they move into a new stadium.

    The biggest splash was signing Jose Reyes, which will lead to a position change for superstar Hanley Ramirez. If Ramirez has a smooth transition to third base and can rebound at the plate, the Marlins will be in a great situation both at the plate and in the field.

    The team will have to decide how to handle the center field situation as Emilio Bonifacio will battle Chris Coghlan and Aaron Rowand for playing time.  

Milwaukee Brewers

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    1. Corey Hart RF

    2. Nyjer Morgan CF

    3. Ryan Braun LF

    4. Aramis Ramirez 3B

    5. Rickie Weeks 2B

    6. Mat Gamel 1B

    7. Alex Gonzalez SS

    8. Jonathan Lucroy C



    This lineup includes Ryan Braun because he is not suspended at the moment. If he does end up missing time to open the season, the lineup could involve a left field platoon of Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki.

    The big addition to the team is Aramis Ramirez, who takes over at third base and in the cleanup spot. Ramirez has always been an effective run producer when healthy and joining this offense and playing half of his games at Miller Park will certainly help him continue to be a force at the plate.

Minnesota Twins

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    1. Denard Span CF

    2. Jamey Carroll SS

    3. Joe Mauer C

    4. Josh Willingham LF

    5. Ryan Doumit DH

    6. Chris Parmelee 1B

    7. Danny Valencia 3B

    8. Ben Revere RF

    9. Alexei Casilla SS



    The notable omission from this lineup is Justin Morneau, who is coming off a season in which he dealt with a wrist injury and a concussion. After missing the final month of 2011, it is not a guarantee that he will be able to return immediately in 2012.

    If Justin Morneau does need more time off, the organization would likely turn to rookie first baseman Chris Parmelee.

    The addition of Ryan Doumit could allow the Twins to start Joe Mauer in the designated hitter spot more regularly.

New York Mets

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    1. Andres Torres CF

    2. Daniel Murphy 2B

    3. David Wright 3B

    4. Ike Davis 1B

    5. Jason Bay LF

    6. Lucas Duda RF

    7. Ruben Tejada SS

    8. Josh Thole C



    The Mets decided to hang on to David Wright this offseason perhaps with the hope that he will play well enough to improve his trade value in the first couple of months in the upcoming season. If Wright does end up getting traded, the lineup will take a huge hit as the team will be without a true impact bat.

    A few other changes were made to the lineup as Andres Torres takes over in center field and Ruben Tejada replaces Jose Reyes at short. Ronny Cedeno was added to the bench in case Tejada struggles with the full-time duty.

New York Yankees

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    1. Derek Jeter SS

    2. Curtis Granderson CF

    3. Robinson Cano 2B

    4. Mark Teixeira 1B

    5. Alex Rodriguez 3B

    6. Nick Swisher RF

    7. Andruw Jones DH

    8. Russell Martin C

    9. Brett Gardner LF



    The Bronx Bombers will have to decide if they want to fill their designated hitter spot internally or with a player still out on the market. Andruw Jones would be one candidate to get those at-bats if the season started today. Another option would be to move Alex Rodriguez to the designated hitter role and start Eduardo Nunez at third base, thus reducing the wear and tear on the prominent slugger.

    The internal options are not bad, but I still expect the team to sign a veteran. Raul Ibanez and Hideki Matsui are good left-handed options. Manny Ramirez would be a solid right-handed option, though he still faces a 50-game suspension.

Oakland Athletics

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    1. Coco Crisp CF

    2. Jemile Weeks 2B

    3. Josh Reddick RF

    4. Chris Carter DH

    5. Seth Smith LF

    6. Kurt Suzuki C

    7. Daric Barton 1B

    8. Scott Sizemore 3B

    9. Cliff Pennington SS



    Oakland is in a tough situation right now as they face a possible relocation in the coming years. Due to the uncertainty of the organization's future, the front office has been challenged with the task of building a team on extremely limited funds.

    The lineup is without a true middle-of-the-order hitter and they could end up being the most logical landing spot for Manny Ramirez as they would acquire an impact hitter at a discounted price.

    The team will look for an impact hitter internally during spring training as the the position battle at first base includes Daric Barton, Chris Carter, Brandon Allen and Kila Ka'aihue.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    1. Jimmy Rollins SS

    2. Placido Polanco 3B

    3. Chase Utley 2B

    4. Hunter Pence RF

    5. Shane Victorino CF

    6. Ty Wigginton 1B

    7. John Mayberry Jr. LF

    8. Carlos Ruiz C



    The lineup certainly looks a lot different without Ryan Howard batting in the cleanup spot. Ty Wigginton and Jim Thome will fill in for Howard until he can return from the terrible injury he suffered in the last game of the Phillies' season.

    John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix will split time in left field unless prospect Dominic Brown has a huge spring. Juan Pierre, a recent Philadelphia signee, could also work his way onto the team and into the leadoff spot if they decide they would rather have Jimmy Rollins hit in the middle of the order while Howard is out.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    1. Alex Presley LF

    2. Jose Tabata RF

    3. Neil Walker 2B

    4. Andrew McCutchen CF

    5. Garrett Jones 1B

    6. Pedro Alvarez 3B

    7. Clint Barmes SS

    8. Rod Barajas C



    Andrew McCutchen is a leadoff hitter by trade, but in this lineup he becomes a cleanup hitter by default after hitting 23 home runs in 2011. The team is without another true power hitter as Garrett Jones only hit 16 home runs in a full season of work while Neil Walker hit only 12 of his own.

    Casey McGehee will try to regain his power production and earn playing time at the infield corner positions.

    Alex Presley was impressive during his rookie season, but he will have to hold off Nate McLouth, who came back to the Pirates this offseason.

San Diego Padres

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    1. Jason Bartlett SS

    2. Orlando Hudson 2B

    3. Cameron Maybin CF

    4. Carlos Quentin RF

    5. Yonder Alonso 1B

    6. Chase Headley 3B

    7. Will Venable LF

    8. Nick Hundley C



    The Padres added some power to the middle of their order this offseason by acquiring Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso. These two will provide some protection for center fielder Cameron Maybin.

    Bounce back years from Jason Bartlett, Orlando Hudson and Chase Headley would greatly improve the Padres' offensive attack.  

    An interesting player to watch for will be Jesus Guzman, who hit .312 with 44 RBI in 76 games of work. He is a versatile player who could spell quite a few of the regulars against tough left-handed pitching.

San Francisco Giants

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    1. Melky Cabrera RF

    2. Freddy Sanchez 2B

    3. Pablo Sandoval 3B

    4. Buster Posey C

    5. Aubrey Huff LF

    6. Brandon Belt 1B

    7. Angel Pagan CF

    8. Brandon Crawford SS



    San Francisco surprised some people by not signing Jose Reyes or even re-signing Carlos Beltran this offseason. Instead they acquired versatile outfielders Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan to help improve one of the game's worst offenses.

    Buster Posey is back from the season-ending injury he suffered in a violent collision last season and the Giants hope he can return to form.

    The wild card in the in this lineup might be first baseman Brandon Belt, who will look to have a breakthrough performance in his second season.

Seattle Mariners

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    1. Ichiro Suzuki RF

    2. Dustin Ackley 2B

    3. Jesus Montero C

    4. Justin Smoak 1B

    5. Mike Carp DH

    6. Franklin Gutierrez CF

    7. Kyle Seager 3B

    8. Trayvon Robinson LF

    9. Brendan Ryan SS



    Jesus Montero can immediately slot into the third spot in the order, protecting Dustin Ackley, while he himself can be protected by Justin Smoak. Montero is a catcher by trade and will get some innings behind the plate, but he will also see time at first base and designated hitter.

    Fellow prospects Kyle Seager and Trayvon Robinson could get extended opportunities with the big league club as well.

    Franklin Gutierrez, one of the sport's best defensive center fielders, needs to rebound at the plate after a poor showing in 2011.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    1. Rafael Furcal SS

    2. Jon Jay CF

    3. Carlos Beltran RF

    4. Matt Holliday LF

    5. Lance Berkman 1B

    6. David Freese 3B

    7. Daniel Descalso 2B

    8. Yadier Molina C



    The Cardinals will look to fill the void left by Albert Pujols with a couple of switch-hitters shouldering the load. Lance Berkman will slide back to first base after spending a full season in the outfield and Carlos Beltran will take over Pujols' old spot as the No. 3 hitter in the lineup.

    Besides those two changes, the rest of St. Louis' lineup looks very similar to the one we all watched win the World Series just months ago.

    Much of the team's success will depend on whether or not Jon Jay and David Freese can make the next step in order to help the lineup become a strength from top to bottom.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    1. Desmond Jennings LF

    2. B.J. Upton CF

    3. Evan Longoria 3B

    4. Carlos Pena 1B

    5. Ben Zobrist 2B

    6. Luke Scott DH

    7. Matt Joyce RF

    8. Jose Molina C

    9. Sean Rodriguez SS



    The Rays have come up a little short offensively in recent years and they will try to solve those problems with the additions of a couple left-handed sluggers.

    Carlos Pena returns after one season with the Cubs and he will assume the cleanup spot, offering protection to Evan Longoria. Luke Scott will bring more power to the lineup as the team's designated hitter.

    Jose Molina is currently slated to compete with Robinson Chirinos and Jose Lobaton for the catching duties but it would not be a surprise to see the organization bring in another proven catcher via trade.

    Jeff Keppinger was recently added and could make the shortstop competition interesting if he shows enough range to handle the demanding position.

Texas Rangers

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    1. Ian Kinsler 2B

    2. Elvis Andrus SS

    3. Josh Hamilton CF

    4. Michael Young DH

    5. Adrian Beltre 3B

    6. Nelson Cruz RF

    7. Mike Napoli C

    8. Mitch Moreland 1B

    9. David Murphy LF



    The Rangers' lineup appears set now that Prince Fielder has signed with the Tigers. Mitch Moreland holds onto the first base job for now, though he will lose some innings to Michael Young and Mike Napoli when the team faces tough southpaws.

    Health is the key to the rest of the lineup as Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz have each had problems with injuries in the past. If they can stay healthy, the Rangers could once again have a chance to win the World Series.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    1. Yunel Escobar SS

    2. Kelly Johnson 2B

    3. Jose Bautista RF

    4. Adam Lind 1B

    5. Brett Lawrie 3B

    6. Colby Rasmus CF

    7. Edwin Encarnacion DH

    8. J.P. Arencibia C

    9. Eric Thames LF



    Over the past year, the Blue Jays have acquired two young players that have quickly become integral parts of the organization's future.

    Brett Lawrie took over third base late in the season and displayed raw power at the plate that will keep him in the Majors. His fielding is still suspect, but he will continue to get better as he plays third base more often.

    Colby Rasmus became the team's center fielder after a July trade and struggled during the second half. He is a talented player that can bring a lot to the plate and is still only 25-years-old, giving him time to continue progressing in each of facet of his game.

Washington Nationals

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    1. Ian Desmond SS

    2. Danny Espinosa 2B

    3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

    4. Michael Morse LF

    5. Jayson Werth RF

    6. Adam LaRoche 1B

    7. Wilson Ramos C

    8. Roger Bernadina CF



    Washington received great production from Danny Espinosa and Michael Morse in 2011, as they each enjoyed a breakthrough season of sorts. Espinosa hit 21 home runs during his rookie season while Morse crushed 31 home runs during his first full season after six seasons of part-time work.

    The Nationals hope to see Adam LaRoche return to form after an injury limited him to 43 games during his first season in Washington. He can be a great contributor to this lineup as his left-handed bat can off-set the right-handed power in the middle of the order.

    This will be an important season for youngsters Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos and Roger Bernadina as they look to make the next step in their careers.