There are portions of lineups you pray you don't see underneath the words "due up" ever in a baseball game.
When the bottom of the ninth rolls around and your team has a small lead, you go into denial as these portions of lineups are stepping to the plate. In fact, in the seventh and eighth innings you find yourself doing the math to see if there is some way, somehow, you will not see them again.
These are the most fearful one-two-three punches lineups throw at pitchers in baseball.
Boston Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury (.293 BA, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 48 R, 41 SB, .342 OBP)
Dustin Pedroia (.302 BA, 4 HR, 40 RBI, 68 R, 14 SB .377 OBP)
Kevin Youkilis (.304 BA, 17 HR, 56 RBI, 59 R, 4 SB, .420 OBP)
Together form Javstin Pedkilbury (.299 BA, 26 HR, 125 RBI, 175 R, 59 SB, .379 OBP)
The first two get on base on a regular basis (pun somewhat intended), have stolen 54 bases while only being caught 12 times for a stolen base percentage of 81 percent, and are followed by a man who by all logic will get on base against you via the hit or walk.
You just loaded the bases with no outs and angered your catcher by not watching Ellsbury or Pedroia on the bases. Enjoy.
New York Yankees
Derek Jeter (.318 BA, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 57 R, 17 SB, .395 OBP)
Johnny Damon (.279 BA, 16 HR, 50 RBI, 65 R, 8 SB .366 OBP)
Mark Teixeira (.280 BA, 23 HR, 67 RBI, 58 R, 1 SB, .379 OBP)
Together form Darhny Teximoneter (.292 BA, 49 HR, 154 RBI, 180 R, 26 SB, .380 OBP)
The last two seasons Damon has completely missed my radar after his tough season in 2006.
As was the story with the Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Youkilis trio, you have the two perfect table setters for the big hitter. The difference lies in the fact Ellsbury and Pedroia steal bases, whereas Jeter and Damon hit home runs and get on base at a better percentage.
Two different combinations, but both lethal.
Tampa Bay Rays
Carl Crawford (.314 BA, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 63 R, 46 SB, .374 OBP)
Evan Longoria (.280 BA, 19 HR, 71 RBI, 51 R, 2 SB, .357 OBP)
Carlos Pena (.224 BA, 24 HR, 59 RBI, 63 R, 2 SB, .362 OBP)
Together form Carlan Lenaford (.272 BA, 52 HR, 171 RBI, 177 R, 50 SB, .364 OBP)
One could argue Longoria, Pena, and Ben Zobrist being the best three-man punch in the Rays lineup, but I had to put Crawford in for the fact that he, by most logic, will start the inning off on second base.
This threesome is a little down in batting average and on-base percentage but has a lot of pop and Crawford on top to cause havoc on the basepaths.
Do not let Crawford on base, or you will completely lose focus on the batter, and Longoria and Pena will make you pay. I'd fake an injury.
The fact Jason Bartlett is batting ninth, B.J. Upton first, then you hit the monster known as Carlan Lenaford, and then have to pitch to Zobrist essentially means you're in trouble everywhere in the Rays lineup.
Toronto Blue Jays
Marco Scutaro (.284 BA, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 65 R, 8 SB, .383 OBP)
Aaron Hill (.284 BA, 20 HR, 60 RBI, 52 R, 4 SB, .323 OBP)
Adam Lind (.304 BA, 20 HR, 61 RBI, 51 R, 1 SB, .373 OBP)
Together form Marmo Scutindhillo (.290 BA, 46 HR, 160 RBI, 142 R, 13 SB, .359 OBP)
They don't really have any speed, but they have pretty good power. Getting 20 home runs from your No. 2 hitter is pretty good.
If Vernon Wells would ever get himself together, the Blue Jays would have a lethal one through five in their lineup with Alex Rios.
You have to feel for the Blue Jays because they have such a solid team but are in the wrong division and lost three of their starting pitchers to injury. Even with the Blue Jays being below .500, no pitcher enjoys seeing Scutaro in the box with Hill on deck and Lind in the hole.
Brian Roberts (.279 BA, 8 HR, 43 RBI, 67 R, 19 SB, .344 OBP)
Adam Jones (.304 BA, 13 HR, 50 RBI, 58 R, 8 SB, .359 OBP)
Nick Markakis (.291 BA, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 57 R, 2 SB, .350 OBP)
Together form Brikam Marojones (.291 BA, 31 HR, 153 RBI, 182 R, 29 SB, .351 OBP)
This shows how amazing the American League East really is. I am not doing every team in baseball simply because not every team in baseball has three batters in a row who can hurt you profusely in their lineup. Every team in the AL East does.
Although Markakis' power numbers are lower than expected, and in fact he and Jones have recently switched spots in the order, this three-headed monster can hurt you.
Each player has the ability to not only disrupt pitchers on the base paths—keep in mind Markakis has better speed than his stolen bases show—but can also take you out of the ballpark.
None of their numbers is huge, but each player has the ability to hurt you in every way—hence they have a good number of runs batted in and runs scored.
Chicago White Sox
Jermaine Dye (.298 BA, 21 HR, 59 RBI, 58 R, .372 OBP)
Jim Thome (.264 BA, 16 HR, 57 RBI, 41 R, .408 OBP)
Paul Konerko (.302 BA, 18 HR, 64 RBI, 42, .353 OBP)
Together form Jeraul Domerko (.288 BA, 55 HR, 180 RBI, 141 R, .377 OBP)
There is no need to care if these three are on base, but most of the time it is because they are jogging around them. You are getting pure power and working of the pitch count with this three-headed beast.
Dye and Thome will strike out a lot, but very rarely on three pitches. If you do happen to strike out Dye and Thome, be aware that Konerko has now seen all the pitches you have twice.
These three are in scoring position when they stand in the batter's box.
Joe Mauer (.358 BA, 15 HR, 49 RBI, 50 R, 1 SB, .432 OBP)
Justin Morneau (.318 BA, 23 HR, 78 RBI, 65 R, .399 OBP)
Jason Kubel (.319 BA, 16 HR, 52 RBI, 40 R, 1 SB, .383 OBP)
Together form Joeson Marbel (.331 BA, 54 HR, 179 RBI, 155 R, 2 SB, .404 OBP)
Ask 100 baseball fans to name the three hardest players to face in a lineup in a row, and no more than five would say these three. ESPN should really start talking about them one of these days.
They are going to hit you, they are going to get on base, and if you fall behind one or walk one, another is going to take you out of the ballpark because they saw all your pitches.
Although the Twins move their lineup around a lot, these three are usually in this order and should be for a long time to come.
Los Angeles Angels
Chone Figgins (.310 BA, 2 HR, 31 RBI, 72 R, 27 SB, .395 OBP)
Bobby Abreu (.306 BA, 7 HR, 60 RBI, 50 R, 19 SB, .399 OBP)
Torii Hunter (.305 BA, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 56 R, 13 SB, .380 OBP)
Together form Chory Abigger (.307 BA, 26 HR, 156 RBI, 188 R, 59 SB, .391 OBP)
Although they do not have amazing power numbers, each of them can hit, get on base, and steal bases, which is a key annoyance to any pitcher.
Chase Utley (.312 BA, 21 HR, 66 RBI, 65 R, 9 SB, .426 OBP)
Ryan Howard (.262 BA, 24 HR, 69 RBI, 57 R, 4 SB, .346 OBP)
Raul Ibanez (.315 BA, 25 HR, 68 RBI, 57 R, 4 SB, .374 OBP)
Together form Rase Hunward (.296 BA, 70 HR, 203 RBI, 179 R, 17 SB, .382 OBP)
Their 203 RBI and 70 home runs are easily the most among any three players on one team, and to have those three players batting in a row makes it even more amazing. The reason the Phillies are in first place in the National League East with the 24th-ranked ERA in baseball is because of this three-headed goblin.
On top of all that power, would you believe these three have not been caught stealing at all? Add that to the résumé.
It is arguable whether Rase Hunward is better than the Twins' Joeson Marbel solely because the Twins' triplets (pun incredibly intended) have a ridiculous batting average of .331 and on-base percentage of .404.
Coaches should require their outfielders to stare straight up when these three are due up, so they don't pull anything.
Miguel Tejada (.324 BA, 8 HR, 50 RBI, 51 R, 2 SB, .353 OBP)
Lance Berkman (.270 BA, 18 HR, 55 RBI, 50 R, 6 SB, .405 OBP)
Carlos Lee (.309 BA, 14 HR, 53 RBI, 39 R, 3 SB, .359 OBP)
Together form Manos Teeman (.301 BA, 40 HR, 158 RBI, 140 R, 11 SB, .372 OBP)
One of the weaker threesomes in this article due to the slow starts of Lee and Berkman, but very solid overall. This triple-decker bus when hot, however, can strike fear into any pitcher.
Ryan Braun (.307 BA, 17 HR, 60 RBI, 64 R, 9 SB, .388 OBP)
Prince Fielder (.311 BA, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 63 R, 1 SB, .438 OBP)
Mike Cameron (.264 BA, 14 HR, 43 RBI, 43 R, 4 SB, .369 OBP)
Together form Rince Framer (.294 BA, 55 HR, 187 RBI, 170 R, 14 SB, .398 OBP)
Can't deny how much pop these three have, and the fact Braun and Fielder have begun working pitch counts more can be seen in their impressive on-base percentages.
With the years these three are having, the Brewers would have been unstoppable had J.J. Hardy, Corey Hart, and Bill Hall shown up.
Facing any of these groups of three hitters between nine and 12 times a game is brutal. Facing them in one inning is nearly impossible to escape without harm.
You can pray all you want that late in close games your team won't run into these paths of destruction, but always remember, the baseball gods tend to make everything as strenuous as possible on fans.