MLB Power Rankings: Re-Ranking All 30 MLB Lineups Heading into June
Heading into June, the MLB season isn't unfolding as expected. It never does.
Two months have elapsed since Opening Day 2012 and preseason analysis is outdated. I have re-ranked all 30 lineups according to their actual run-scoring potential.
Things to keep in mind as you click through: 1) the only inactive players that influenced this list were those on the verge of joining a 25-man roster; 2) the lineups are ranked by their ability to produce runs on a neutral field; and 3) feel free to disagree.
30. Pittsburgh Pirates
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The Pittsburgh Pirates are still contenders in the National League Central. But with a one-man offense of Andrew McCutchen, they will soon fall of the pace.
McCutchen's teammates are completely inept, or else he wouldn't be leading club in batting average, home runs, OPS, and nearly every conceivable individual statistic.
The Pirates have scored fewer than three runs per game despite dealing with relatively few injuries. Don't expect them to improve upon that league-worst output.
29. San Diego Padres
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Carlos Quentin debuted for the San Diego Padres May 28-30 at Wrigley Field. He promptly made franchise history—according to the Elias Sports Bureau—by slugging three home runs in his first three game with the team.
It's just hard to say where runs will come from once he cools off. Or if he gets traded.
The lineup was anemic in his absence with regulars like Jesus Guzman, Nick Hundley and Cameron Maybin struggling to replicate their 2011 performances.
Outside of Quentin and switch-hitting Chase Headley, the Padres are devoid of power bats. They also strike out too frequently to manufacture runs.
28. San Francisco Giants
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Without third baseman Pablo Sandoval (broken hand) and second baseman Freddy Sanchez (shoulder, back), the San Francisco Giants have Major League Baseball's least productive infield.
Ryan Theriot isn't reaching base often enough to run himself into scoring position. Joaquin Arias and Brandon Crawford wouldn't steal even if they could get on.
San Francisco gets no production from its first basemen except in the rare instances when Buster Posey mans the position.
Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Posey have been carrying this lineup since early May. That trio has combined with the stellar pitching staff to keep the team afloat.
27. Oakland Athletics
Across the bay, offense is still a concern.
The Oakland Athletics were defeated in each of their final eight May games and scored only 12 runs in that span. Returning from the disabled list, Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Inge could pull them out of that rut. A 40-year-old Manny Ramirez should be of some assistance, too.
Right fielder Josh Reddick is amid a breakout season. If Cespedes and Inge provide adequate protection, he'll see plenty of strikes and have a shot to keep up his 44-homer pace.
Coco Crisp and Jemile Weeks are gradually busting out of season-long slumps.
However, the same cannot be said about the bottom of the A's batting order. It will continue to be a dark place where rallies go to die.
26. Chicago Cubs
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Scouting and player development official Jason McLeod thinks that Chicago Cubs prospect Anthony Rizzo is due for a promotion. He would be cordially welcomed to the National League's 14th-ranked offense.
Bryan LaHair has been an admirable stopgap, but the Cubs would prefer to start the same first baseman every day. His inability to hit left-handed pitching is a disqualifier.
Alfonso Soriano still has value as a run-producer, though the front office would move him if they could.
Dale Sveum lets his speedsters—namely Tony Campana and Starlin Castro—run wild.
This group's unwillingness to take pitches gets in the way of their success.
25. Houston Astros
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The Houston Astros haven't been as futile as projected, though it's unlikely they can remain around .500 with so few extra-base hits. Jed Lowrie (8 HR, .482 SLG%) shouldn't be the No. 1 power threat on any team.
This lineup is led off by Jordan Schafer and Jose Altuve, who both steal bases very efficiently.
Carlos Lee is no longer in his prime, but at least he hits his weight.
Second-year outfielder J.D. Martinez could evolve into an intimidating middle-of-the-order presence, though it may take one more season for him to break out.
24. Minnesota Twins
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The Minnesota Twins aren't delivering the bounce-back season their fans were hoping for. In fact, the 2012 edition is worse than last year's.
No AL team grounds into as many double plays (54) or hits so few home runs (36).
Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau form a formidable heart of the order. Ryan Doumit was a decent pickup in the offseason. But simply, the Twins don't have sufficient talent to fill out the lineup.
23. Seattle Mariners
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A 21-run outburst by the Seattle Mariners on May 30 restored my faith in high-ceiling hitters Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak. This was their combined stat line from that evening: 8-14, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 9 R.
Though all three were underwhelming through the season's first two months, consider that a preview for what the Mariners lineup could achieve.
Alas, let me paint the rest of the picture.
Ichiro Suzuki hasn't rebounded from a lackluster 2011 (the change from .272/.310/.335 to .271/.305/.367 is negligible). Brendan Ryan is a glove-only player who requires regular at-bats. Chone Figgins—after managing two measly hits in the month of May—could be released at any moment.
The M's must squeeze more out of their veterans to stay relevant.
22. Cincinnati Reds
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The Cincinnati Reds were a popular preseason pick to reign atop the NL Central, but it's surprising that they've won so often with a mediocre offense.
Joey Votto is a stud at .325/.463/.598. His numbers stick out against the non-production of his fellow Reds.
Rookies Zack Cozart and Devin Mesoraco haven't yet developed into impact players. Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs are still working to get their swings mechanically sound. As of now, frequent strikeouts prevent them from developing into superstars.
Todd Frazier is filling in for an injured Scott Rolen at third base. He's arguably the team's fiercest right-handed hitter.
21. Cleveland Indians
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It seems the Cleveland Indians must navigate the rest of their first-half schedule without Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore.
All hope is not lost, though, as Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis ride hot streaks into June. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is enjoying a strong encore to his 2011 season.
However, it's tough for the Tribe's better hitters to put Johnny Damon (.517 OPS) and Casey Kotchman (.621 OPS) on their backs.
20. Washington Nationals
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No MLB team has endured as many injuries as the Washington Nationals. Most have concerned position players and sapped strength from the lineup.
Fortunately, they're getting back Michael Morse, who was formerly the focal point of this offense. Though we can't sure how long it will take Morse to get his timing back, he should eventually return to 2011 form.
Ryan Zimmerman is an established hitter bound to improve and Bryce Harper has made a dramatic impact.
Of course, Washington has its problems. These include Danny Espinosa's broken swing (61 K), the undisciplined practices of Rick Ankiel (.281 OBP) and Ian Desmond (.292 OBP), and the void at catcher.
19. Philadelphia Phillies
For awhile, it looked as if the Philadelphia Phillies wouldn't be able to score without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
After totaling only 76 runs in April, that number spiked to 145 the following month. In reality, expect the offense to settle somewhere in between.
Jimmy Rollins is getting in a groove, while Carlos Ruiz won't sustain a .371/.422/.615 line through the summer. They'll cancel out. Hunter Pence, Juan Pierre and Shane Victorino have been pretty steady.
18. Tampa Bay Rays
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP
On May 28, the Tampa Bay Rays hit rock bottom. They whiffed 15 times against Chris Sale, scored only one run, and wasted a terrific outing from Matt Moore.
This lineup would have been re-ranked lower than No. 18 if it wasn't clear that immediate reinforcements were going to bolster it.
Hideki Matsui is an unorthodox left-handed batter who handles southpaws very well. He'll see time in the outfield and as a DH. Desmond Jennings will infuse energy and extra-base hits into this stagnant offense when activated on Tampa Bay's next road trip.
Heading into June, Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist are out of sync.
17. Milwaukee Brewers
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The Milwaukee Brewers offense wasn't among the league's elite when Jonathan Lucroy was healthy. After his bizarre injury, things could turn ugly in a hurry.
NL All-Star Rickie Weeks continues to be an enigma. Yovani Gallardo, too. The starting pitcher entered 2012 with a .649 career OPS, but he doesn't look comfortable in the batter's box so far.
Nyjer Morgan has taken "light hitting" to a new level with zero runs batted in through 130-plus plate appearances.
Career trends suggest that Aramis Ramirez will get straightened out. April and May are historically his worst months.
If all else fails, Ryan Braun will be there to rescue the Brew Crew.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Associated Press
The Arizona Diamondbacks front office committed to leaving the lineup unchanged this past winter after the club amassed 94 wins in 2011.
Outfielder Jason Kubel was the only significant addition. He was a safe signing who has certainly emerged as a bright spot.
The D-Backs are far more powerful than their 41 long balls would indicate. Paul Goldschmidt recently caught fire. Miguel Montero or Justin Upton could be next.
Many of their run-scoring opportunities have been blown by baserunning blunders (caught stealing an MLB-worst 19 times). Better decisions will get the offense back on track.
15. New York Mets
Gene J. Puskar/AP
Moving in the fences at Citi Field has barely affected home run totals. Nonetheless, the New York Mets are finding ways to get runners home.
David Wright is at his best in 2012 and he'll soon have Jason Bay's company.
This club overachieves with numerous players—Ike Davis and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, for example—who have trouble connecting with the baseball.
To prevent this weakness from being exploited, the coaching staff preaches patience. Many of the regulars have bought in. Selectivity allows them to work the count, get on base, and tire out starting pitchers.
But in summary, the Mets won't maintain a .322 batting average on balls in play. Their offense has peaked.
14. Miami Marlins
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Supreme talent atop the Miami Marlins lineup compensates for its lack of depth.
Giancarlo Stanton is arguably the strongest individual in the National League. Accomplishing what he has at such a young age put him in the company of Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio. Though this doesn't mean he'll hit 12 home runs every month.
Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes are past their early-season struggles. Both wreak havoc on the bases.
Chris Coghlan, meanwhile, is unsatisfactory as a fill-in for Emilio Bonifacio. Logan Morrison is still suffering from a lingering knee injury. It prevents him from providing suitable left-handed protection for Stanton.
With a blend of stars and busts, the Fish belong in the middle of the pack.
13. Kansas City Royals
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A winless homestand in April is responsible for the deficit the Kansas City Royals face in the AL Central standings. Several key bats that went cold during that stretch are beginning to turn the corner.
Returning to the leadoff spot has Alex Gordon back in 2011 form. Similarly, Eric Hosmer is a mainstay in the lineup once again after weeks of looking over-matched.
And no Kansas City hitter has been streaking quite like Jeff Francoeur. Ned Yost sandwiches him between Hosmer and lefty-swinging third baseman Mike Moustakas. If Frenchy keeps mashing, that patch of the lineup will be a nightmare for opposing bullpens to match up against.
12. Los Angeles Dodgers
Matt Kemp is hurt again. And it's much worse this time.
The Los Angeles Dodgers survived his first DL stint by making up for his absence in the aggregate. Don Mattingly, work your magic again.
A revitalized Bobby Abreu can be trusted to work a ton of walks, though his batting average is heading south. Healed from a torn hamstring, Juan Rivera is rejoining the team. His right-handed bat makes him ideal to platoon with the volatile James Loney at first base. A.J. Ellis and Jerry Hairston Jr. have been inexplicably productive, and between Tony Gwynn and Dee Gordon, there is blinding speed at both ends of the order.
This group can score without the long ball. They rank first in sacrifice hits by a wide margin and thrive with runners in scoring position.
And Andre Ethier isn't going anywhere.
11. Baltimore Orioles
Only two MLB teams—the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers—have launched more home runs than the Baltimore Orioles this season.
The O's look up to both of them in my rankings.
Their lineup features a surplus of all-or-nothing players who swing for the fences whenever possible. Without round-trippers, their offense is stagnant.
When Wilson Betemit (42 K/143 AB), Chris Davis (48/165), Nick Johnson (22/71) and Mark Reynolds (40/99) aren't going deep, men get left on base. That issue manifested itself during Baltimore's end-of-May losing streak.
10. Colorado Rockies
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Losing Troy Tulowitzki to a groin strain is devastating for the Colorado Rockies after they just completed a much-needed sweep of the Houston Astros. Sans "Tulo," they can still light up a scoreboard at any altitude.
Carlos Gonzalez, in particular, is a complete offensive player. Fellow outfielder Dexter Fowler has looked nearly as great in his fourth full season.
Catcher Wilin Rosario quietly hits for tremendous power in his starts behind the plate. He'll get to do it over a larger sample size since Ramon Hernandez went on the disabled list.
The rest of the Rockies lineup is laden with veterans, notably Michael Cuddyer, Todd Helton and Marco Scutaro.
9. Boston Red Sox
With all of his weapons healthy, Bobby Valentine could pick names out of a hat and generate one of the league's top lineups. He could pencil himself into the cleanup spot and be successful!
If only that were the case.
Outfielders Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Cody Ross are shelved. Dustin Pedroia will probably join them, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.
Will Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have been pleasant surprises, and I expect them to produce in the future.
David Ortiz looks terrific, but you know who doesn't? Adrian Gonzalez. His stat line of .267/.324/.416 is a far cry from his 2011 Red Sox debut.
Gonzalez will be the most talented hitter left on the active roster if Pedroia is indeed given a rest. Right now, he doesn't look ready to accept that.
8. Detroit Tigers
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A contagion called "inconsistency" has been prevalent in the Detroit Tigers dugout.
Only Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are completely immune. Austin Jackson was, too, but we'll see what condition he's in upon returning to the lineup.
Brennan Boesch and Jhonny Peralta are still shaky. Their unremarkable numbers hamper Detroit's offensive totals.
Things will soon get better in Motown. Andy Dirks has solidified left field, plus 2011 sensation Alex Aliva is headed in the right direction.
7. Atlanta Braves
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The Atlanta Braves couldn't resist the temptation any longer—they finally recalled highly-touted shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the major leagues.
It's a move that further legitimizes their pursuit of the NL East crown, but drops them in these rankings.
He's a defensive-minded player. Also note that Simmons is skipping Triple-A with this promotion. It's improbable that he'll duplicate his .292/.372/.421 line in year one.
Michael Bourn and Martin Prado have starred for the Braves in 2012. Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann look poised to produce, having recently overcome vision troubles and flu-like symptoms, respectively.
Jason Heyward (.233/.327/.413) has to be considered this lineup's biggest disappointment. It's a shame to see him struggle after beginning the regular season in fiery fashion.
6. New York Yankees
The New York Yankees were miserable in clutch situations throughout most of May. They did, however, begin rounding back into form as the month came to a close.
Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira proved that they are still forces to be feared in the middle of the order. Curtis Granderson is on a mission to prove his 2011 season was no fluke.
Signed at the onset of spring training, Raul Ibanez has been a terrific bargain. He plays most nights with Brett Gardner recovering from an elbow injury, and has a .567 slugging percentage against right-handers.
Nobody on the roster, unfortunately, runs the bases like Gardner. Not since sloppy infielder Eduardo Nunez was relegated to Triple-A. The fact that 36-year-old Alex Rodriguez paces the team with six thefts is evidence enough that there is a missing dimension to this offense.
5. St. Louis Cardinals
On paper, the St. Louis Cardinals weren't likely to defend their World Series title. Without their two RBI leaders from 2011—one lost to free agency, the other sidelined after knee surgery—nobody suspected higher run totals this season.
The Cards continue to defy the odds.
David Freese and Yadier Molina are maturing into offensive studs. Also, it's a pleasure to watch Carlos Beltran, Rafael Furcal and Matt Holliday justifying the back of their baseball cards.
St. Louis ranks No. 1 in the National League with a .806 OPS.
4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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It sounds terrible, but losing Vernon Wells to the disabled list saved the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
As a result, manager Mike Scioscia was able to get Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo into the lineup on a nightly basis. Both have been instrumental in the Halos' recent upswing.
Of course, it was just a matter of time before Albert Pujols got acclimated to his new surroundings. He eagerly awaits interleague play and the chance to face some of his favorite punching bags from the Senior Circuit.
It won't take long for Torii Hunter to shake off the rust after a two-week hiatus from the club. Playing for a long-term deal in a contract year should be sufficient motivation.
3. Chicago White Sox
Nam Y. Huh/AP
Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko are grabbing all the headlines in the Windy City. The former has earned praise for making a full mental recovery from an all-time futile campaign, while the latter is a potential AL MVP.
Meanwhile, A.J. Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo ought to get more recognition. Swinging freely and reaping the benefits, there isn't any reason for them to adjust their approach.
Alejandro De Aza has developed into a quality leadoff man with opportunistic base-stealing and a great on-base percentage.
Even Gordon Beckham—formerly this lineup's weakest link—can't be written off (seven-game hitting streak).
2. Toronto Blue Jays
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Jose Bautista isn't the only one raking north of the border.
The Toronto Blue Jays continue to get power-hitting from nontraditional positions, including second base (Kelly Johnson) and catcher (J.P. Arencibia).
It's time to stop doubting Edwin Encarnacion. He hits every mistake out of the ballpark.
Though first base could be a question mark all season, David Cooper has seamlessly adjusted to big-league competition with three multi-hit games in his first week. When he's going well, there are no landing spots in this lineup.
1. Texas Rangers
That's right, Josh Hamilton is so locked in this season, he's hitting bombs with his eyes closed.
The Texas Rangers are more potent than 29 other MLB teams because their lineup features remarkable offensive players in every slot.
Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus are the table-setters. Batting first and second, respectively, they exhibit the necessary speed and plate discipline to get on base.
Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Michael Young are of another breed. All have confidence in their line-drive strokes to the extent that they will chase pitches out of the strike zone. Call them impatient, but they get results.
The Rangers toward the bottom of the lineup make the difference in these rankings because they are practically as dangerous as the aforementioned stars. Actually, Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli may be the strongest guys on the team!
It's simply unfair.
With endless depth and league-leading production through two months, the reigning American League champs will continue to distance themselves from the pack in June.