Power Ranking National League Lineups After Justin Upton Trade

Matt DagostinoContributor IJanuary 24, 2013

Power Ranking National League Lineups After Justin Upton Trade

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    With the trade of Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves, a shift in the National League hierarchy has occurred once again.

    The move boosts an already-potent Atlanta Braves lineup. How big of a boost, you ask?

    From top to bottom, take a look at the latest rankings of National League starting lineups.

15. Miami Marlins

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    Projected Lineup

    LF Juan Pierre

    2B Donovan Solano

    1B Logan Morrison

    RF Giancarlo Stanton

    CF Justin Ruggiano

    3B Placido Polanco

    C Rob Brantly

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria

     

    Everyone is just as confused as Giancarlo Stanton looks in that picture as to what is going on in Miami these days.

    Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Omar Infante, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck and Gaby Sanchez are all gone from the 2012 roster.

    And the biggest offseason bat the Marlins have acquired to replace those guys: Placido Polanco.

    It will be a long baseball season in South Beach.

14. Chicago Cubs

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    Projected Lineup

    CF David DeJesus

    RF Nate Schierholtz

    1B Anthony Rizzo

    LF Alfonso Soriano

    SS Starlin Castro

    3B Ian Stewart

    C Welington Castillo

    2B Darwin Barney

     

    As Theo Epstein continues to try to turn around the franchise, the Chicago Cubs are still going through growing pains.

    The Cubs failed to average even four runs per game in 2012. Things don't look a whole lot brighter for 2013.

    What the Cubs do have going for them is their heart of the order.

    Anthony Rizzo (.285 BA, 15 HR, 48 RBI in 337 ABs) and Starlin Castro (.283 BA, 14 HR, 78 RBI) are just 22 and 23 years old, respectively. Alfonso Soriano rebounded last season for 32 HR and 108 RBI.

    The Cubs are probably hoping Soriano can come close to repeating those numbers and use him as trade bait to add some more youth and talent to a roster that needs both.

13. San Diego Padres

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    Projected Lineup

    SS Everth Cabrera

    2B Logan Forsythe

    3B Chase Headley

    LF Carlos Quentin

    1B Yonder Alonso

    RF Will Venable

    CF Cameron Maybin

    C Nick Hundley

     

    Perhaps the biggest boost to the San Diego Padres offense this offseason had nothing to do with player movement. The outfield walls at Petco Park are moving in.

    As far as the actual guys producing the offense, no major additions were made.

    Chase Headley (.286 BA, 31 HR, 115 RBI) turned heads in 2012 as an all-around bat, compiling nearly half of his 67 career home runs and over one-third of his career RBI last season.

    Headley and Carlos Quentin supply pop from the right side, and the Padres hope Yonder Alonso (nine HR in 2012) can provide closer to the 20-home run potential he seems capable of.

    Everth Cabrera and Logan Forsythe provide promise at the top of the lineup. And maybe one of these days Cameron Maybin will live up to his talent.

12. New York Mets

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    Projected Lineup

    SS Ruben Tejada

    2B Daniel Murphy

    3B David Wright

    1B Ike Davis

    LF Lucas Duda

    C John Buck

    RF Mike Baxter

    CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

     

    Even the New York Mets general manager is making fun of his outfield situation.

    To be nice, the outfield is less than stellar, considering none of the three listed starters established themselves as everyday players in 2012.

    The Mets clearly are gearing toward 2014 when they have the contracts of Johan Santana, Jason Bay and others coming off the books.

    In the meantime, they will do what they can in 2013. David Wright is now entrenched at the hot corner through the rest of the decade, and Ike Davis hit 32 home runs last season.

    Michael Bourn is of interest to them. Even if this lineup makes one or two additions before the start of the season, it still is in the lower echelon in the National League.

11. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Projected Lineup

    SS Jimmy Rollins

    CF Ben Revere

    2B Chase Utley

    1B Ryan Howard

    RF Delmon Young

    3B Michael Young

    LF John Mayberry Jr.

    C Erik Kratz

     

    This lineup has gotten old. 

    To fix that, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. went out and swung a trade for Ben Revere. The re-tooling of the outfield was not done there, though.

    Domonic Brown (.236 career average in 433 at-bats in Philadelphia) has not cut it in his time with the big-league club.

    Enter Delmon Young. Young has been touted as a top talent ever since he was a No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft. He has lost points due to attitude problems.

    But for a base salary of less than $1 million, Young seems like a worthy gamble for someone capable of providing 20 home runs.

10. San Francisco Giants

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    Projected Lineup

    CF Angel Pagan

    2B Marco Scutaro

    3B Pablo Sandoval

    C Buster Posey

    RF Hunter Pence

    1B Brandon Belt

    SS Brandon Crawford

    LF Gregor Blanco

     

    With two World Series championships in the the last three seasons, the San Francisco Giants have proven that a championship can be won with a mediocre lineup and great pitching. General manager Brian Sabean completely remade his lineup from one championship to the next.

    The gang is all back for 2013.

    Sabean re-signed Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro to plug in at the top of the order. A full season of Hunter Pence and his speeches should help too.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Projected Lineup

    LF Starling Marte

    2B Neil Walker

    CF Andrew McCutchen

    1B Garrett Jones

    3B Pedro Alvarez

    C Russell Martin

    RF Travis Snider

    SS Clint Barmes

     

    The Pittsburgh Pirates lineup could be sneaky good this upcoming season.

    The offseason addition was getting Russell Martin to slide into the catcher's spot as a leader and an offensive guy behind the plate.

    They will also get full seasons out of Starling Marte and Travis Snider.

    And with MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen leading the way with solid regulars Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker, this lineup is solid from top to bottom.

8. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Projected Lineup

    LF Carl Crawford

    2B Mark Ellis

    RF Andre Ethier

    CF Matt Kemp

    1B Adrian Gonzalez

    SS Hanley Ramirez

    3B Luis Cruz

    C A.J. Ellis

     

    With the way the Los Angeles Dodgers have been spending money as of late, you would think they have room in the budget to clone Ted Williams and find a spot for him in the middle of the order.

    The Dodgers spent big on the pitching staff this offseason, mainly in the signing of Zack Greinke. But the offense will depend on the additions made during the 2012 season.

    The lineup has star names, that's for sure. But only Andre Ethier enters 2013 without serious question marks.

    Will Matt Kemp come back completely healthy after a season in which he lost 56 games to injury? Can Adrian Gonzalez return to his position as one of the top pure hitters in baseball, or are his declining power numbers going to continue?

    Can Carl Crawford heal in time for Opening Day and return to the dynamic player he was in Tampa? And can Hanley Ramirez keep his head on straight and go back to being an MVP candidate?

    There is a lot of cache (and cash, eh?) in Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers hope that equates to a lot of wins.

7. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Projected Lineup

    CF Adam Eaton

    3B Martin Prado

    1B Paul Goldschmidt

    C Miguel Montero

    RF Cody Ross

    2B Aaron Hill

    LF Jason Kubel

    SS Cliff Pennington

     

    Even after the Justin Upton trade, this Arizona Diamondbacks lineup still has some potential.

    At the top, Adam Eaton is an unknown commodity at the major league level. But with a .375 batting average and 44 steals in the minors last year, the potential is there.

    Martin Prado comes right in at third base and slides perfectly into the two-hole as somebody who can do a little bit of everything.

    The Diamondbacks will miss the pop and presence that Upton provided, but Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Montero, Cody Ross, Aaron Hill and Jason Kubel all are strong offensive players. They are pretty much interchangeable in the middle of the order, depending on how manager Kirk Gibson wants to align them.

    Arizona now lacks a true star, but there is a lot of consistency from top to bottom.

6. Colorado Rockies

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    Projected Lineup

    CF Dexter Fowler

    2B Josh Rutledge

    LF Carlos Gonzalez

    SS Troy Tulowitzki

    RF Michael Cuddyer

    1B Todd Helton

    C Wilin Rosario

    3B Chris Nelson

     

    Dexter Fowler (.300 BA, 13 HR, 53 RBI) enjoyed a breakout season in 2012. Setting the table for the heart of the order has been made easier with Fowler's success. Wilin Rosario (28 HR) led all rookies in homers and set a Colorado rookie record in that category.

    Speaking of the heart of the order, Carlos Gonzalez is still one of the top all-around hitters in the game. Troy Tulowitzki can be in that category if he can get on the field. He played in just 47 games last season. Michael Cuddyer played in just 101 games.

    The Rockies offense will go as far as the three-four-five guys will take it. For their sake, they hope they don't end up taking them to the trainer's room again.

5. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Projected Lineup

    RF Norichika Aoki

    2B Rickie Weeks

    LF Ryan Braun

    3B Aramis Ramirez

    1B Corey Hart

    C Jonathan Lucroy

    CF Carlos Gomez

    SS Jean Segura

     

    Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart combined for 98 home runs and 300 RBI this past season. And Norichika Aoki (.288 BA, 30 SB) was a nice surprise in the leadoff spot.

    Unfortunately, Rickie Weeks was one of the worst players in all of Major League Baseball for much of the year. He ended up with 21 home runs, but he was hitting under the Mendoza line as late as July 24. A return to a .270 average will go a long way in lengthening the Milwaukee lineup.

    Shortstop Jean Segura was the major piece brought back to the Brewers in the Zack Greinke trade. He hit .258 with just seven extra-base hits in 151 at-bats. His .315 on-base percentage will have to improve to justify the return on the deal.

4. Cincinnati Reds

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    Projected Lineup

    CF Shin-Soo Choo

    2B Brandon Phillips

    1B Joey Votto

    LF Ryan Ludwick

    RF Jay Bruce

    3B Todd Frazier

    C Ryan Hanigan

    SS Zack Cozart

     

    The biggest offseason need for the Cincinnati Reds was a leadoff hitter. Shin-Soo Choo fits in nicely at the top of a lineup with on-base capabilities, speed and some power.

    That should help improve an offense that took a step back in 2012. A big reason for that was Joey Votto, who missed 51 games due to knee surgery.

    They also brought back Ryan Ludwick after he mashed 26 home runs and drove in 80 runs.

    For a playoff team a year ago, the Reds filled the most glaring hole with an above-average solution. That should bode well as they look to repeat as NL Central Division champions.

3. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Projected Lineup

    SS Rafael Furcal

    1B Allen Craig

    LF Matt Holliday

    RF Carlos Beltran

    C Yadier Molina

    3B David Freese

    CF Jon Jay

    2B Daniel Descalso

     

    In typical St. Louis fashion, the Cardinals will roll out a lineup that seemingly has very few weaknesses. In fact, the Cardinals return the same lineup that was second in the National League in runs scored.

    The health of Rafael Furcal is a concern. He is a great tone-setter, but he's frequently on the disabled list.

    In one of the ultimate baseball towns, the Cardinals possess a lot of true "baseball players" who are very good in many areas.

2. Washington Nationals

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    Projected Lineup

    CF Denard Span

    RF Jayson Werth

    LF Bryce Harper

    3B Ryan Zimmerman

    1B Adam LaRoche

    SS Ian Desmond

    2B Danny Espinosa

    C Wilson Ramos

     

    The Washington Nationals lineup was shaping up to be the most formidable in the National League with just weeks to go before spring training.

    The addition of Denard Span made perfect sense and paved the way for them to re-sign Adam LaRoche and trade Michael Morse to restock the farm system.

    With all those moving parts, the result is a lineup that flows seamlessly all the way through.

    It was not the best statistical offense in 2012, finishing second in the NL in home runs, fourth in batting average and fifth in runs scored.

    But Span allows everyone to bump down in the order to more appropriate spots. Jayson Werth can be a two-hole hitter instead of having to adjust to the leadoff spot.

    Guys like the already-productive Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa can move down in the order and become luxuries there instead of being depended upon to produce.

    With a harmonious and talented lineup to add to a stacked pitching staff, the Nationals are perhaps the World Series favorites heading into the season.

1. Atlanta Braves

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    Projected Lineup

    CF B.J. Upton

    SS Andrelton Simmons

    RF Jason Heyward

    LF Justin Upton

    1B Freddie Freeman

    C Brian McCann

    2B Dan Uggla

    3B Juan Francisco

     

    The facelift that the Justin Upton trade brings to the Braves offense is staggering. Already a good lineup without him, the possibilities are endless with him in the middle of it.

    First, though, the one downside.

    With Martin Prado going to Arizona in the trade, the Braves are without a true two-hole hitter. Prado fit that role perfectly. While Andrelton Simmons looks like he has the making of being up to the task, it may be a tad early in his development to expect that out of him.

    Other than that, manager Fredi Gonzalez will have a lot of fun filling out his lineup card every day.

    Admittedly, he could do just about anything with the three through seven spots and be successful. He could flip Dan Uggla and Brian McCann (match McCann up with any other team's No. 7 hitter and see how unfair that is). Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward and Upton could go in any order in the heart of that lineup.

    The Braves and Nationals lineups have great flow and solid performers at every level, but Atlanta offers more upside and potency.