Power Ranking Every MLB Team's Lineup Before Spring Training 2018

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2018

Power Ranking Every MLB Team's Lineup Before Spring Training 2018

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    Willie J. Allen Jr./Associated Press

    We witnessed an offensive explosion during the 2017 MLB season, and there's no reason to think that's going to change anytime soon.

    The old adage that pitching wins championships might still ring true, but it's telling that last season's 10 playoff teams all ranked 12th or higher in runs scored.

    And it was the Houston Astros, baseball's most productive offense during the regular season, who were hoisting the World Series trophy when all was said and done.

    So which offense will reign supreme in 2018?

    We've ranked all 30 MLB lineups before spring training based on their outlook for the upcoming season alone—so sustainability and future outlook did not play a role.

    This will likely change with so many notable free agents still on the market, but it should provide a good snapshot of where things currently stand.

    Players listed in bold indicate newcomers to the roster, while italics are players not currently projected for a spot on the Opening Day roster.

30. Kansas City Royals

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    Whit Merrifield
    Whit MerrifieldOrlin Wagner/Associated Press

    2017 Ranks

    Team OPS: .731 (T-23rd in MLB)

    Runs Per Game: 4.33 (24th in MLB)

         

    Projected Lineup and Bench

    LineupBench
    2B Whit MerrifieldC Drew Butera
    LF Alex GordonIF Ramon Torres
    RF Jorge BonifacioIF/OF Hunter Dozier (R)
    1B Brandon MossOF Billy Burns
    C Salvador Perez 
    DH Jorge Soler1B/OF Ryan O'Hearn (R)
    3B Cheslor CuthbertOF Cody Asche
    CF Paulo OrlandoOF Bubba Starling (R)
    SS Raul Mondesi 

    DL: None

         

    Analysis

    The free agency of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar subtracts a good chunk of the Kansas City Royals' offensive production from a year ago:

    • H: 668 (46.5%)
    • TB: 1,060 (45.6%)
    • HR: 84 (43.5%)
    • RBI: 282 (42.7%)

    As the team gets set to kick off what could be a lengthy rebuild, no significant outside additions have been made to replace those departing core pieces.

    Even if the team winds up bringing back Eric Hosmer, it looks like runs are going to be hard to come by.

29. San Diego Padres

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    Wil Myers
    Wil MyersJohn Minchillo/Associated Press

    2017 Ranks

    Team OPS: .692 (29th in MLB)

    Runs Per Game: 3.73 (30th in MLB)

         

    Projected Lineup and Bench

    LineupBench
    CF Manuel MargotC Rocky Gale (R)
    3B Chase Headley3B Chrisitan Villanueva
    1B Wil MyersIF Cory Spangenberg
    LF Jose Pirela OF Travis Jankowski
    RF Hunter Renfroe OF Matt Szczur
    SS Freddy Galvis 
    2B Carlos Asuaje 1B/OF Alex Dickerson
    C Austin HedgesOF Franchy Cordero (R)

    DL: None

         

    Analysis

    Adding Freddy Galvis and Chase Headley to the left side of the infield gives the San Diego Padres a pair of veteran hitters with 20-homer pop, even if they're not long-term pieces for the rebuilding club.

    However, the most consistent offensive performer on the roster was also shipped out when they traded Yangervis Solarte to the Toronto Blue Jays.

    For the sake of the future, the team will be hoping for another step forward from guys like Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Austin Hedges and prospect Franchy Cordero. As for the present, this lineup will likely be among the lowest-scoring in the league once again in 2018.

28. Detroit Tigers

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    Nick Castellanos
    Nick CastellanosDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

    2017 Ranks

    Team OPS: .748 (18th in MLB)

    Runs Per Game: 4.54 (T-18th in MLB)

         

    Projected Lineup and Bench

    LineupBench
    CF Leonys MartinC John Hicks
    3B Jeimer Candelario IF/OF Niko Goodrum (R)
    1B Miguel CabreraIF/OF JaCoby Jones
    DH Victor MartinezOF Victor Reyes (R)
    RF Nick Castellanos  
    C James McCannC Derek Norris
    LF Mikie Mahtook IF Kody Eaves (R)
    2B Dixon MachadoOF Mike Gerber (R)
    SS Jose Iglesias 

    DL: None

         

    Analysis

    With Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez, Ian Kinsler and Alex Avila all traded since last summer, the Detroit Tigers lineup has a distinctly different look heading into 2018.

    Veterans Miguel Cabrera (529 PA, .249 BA, 92 OPS+) and Victor Martinez (435 PA, .255 BA, 84 OPS+) are both coming off terrible seasons by their standards, which leaves the offense without a star-caliber bat.

    Nick Castellanos is capable of being an impact player, and young switch-hitter Jeimer Candelario will also be one to watch as he settles in at the hot corner.

    That said, this group will almost certainly slip toward the bottom of the league in most offensive categories, a necessary evil as a long-overdue rebuild gets underway.

27. Tampa Bay Rays

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    Kevin Kiermaier
    Kevin KiermaierChris O'Meara/Associated Press

    2017 Ranks

    Team OPS: .739 (20th in MLB)

    Runs Per Game: 4.28 (T-25th in MLB)

         

    Projected Lineup and Bench

    LineupBench
    CF Kevin Kiermaier C Jesus Sucre
    3B Matt DuffyIF Daniel Robertson
    RF Steven Souza Jr.IF/OF Micah Johnson
    DH Corey DickersonOF Mallex Smith
    C Wilson Ramos 
    1B Brad Miller1B/OF Jake Bauers (R)
    LF Denard SpanIF Christian Arroyo (R)
    2B Joey Wendle (R)IF Ryan Schimpf
    SS Adeiny Hechavarria 

    DL: None

         

    Analysis

    When will the youth movement begin for the Tampa Bay Rays?

    Prospects Jake Bauers, Willy Adames and newly acquired Christian Arroyo could all be ready to make a significant impact in 2018.

    Add to that group a healthy Matt Duffy and a full season of Wilson Ramos, and there's plenty of room for improvement for the cost-conscious club.

    However, after trading Evan Longoria and with Logan Morrison likely headed for greener pastures in free agency, it's tough to say the Rays haven't taken a step backward offensively.

26. Miami Marlins

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    Christian Yelich
    Christian YelichJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    2017 Ranks

    Team OPS: .761 (T-10th in MLB)

    Runs Per Game: 4.80 (11th in MLB)

         

    Projected Lineup and Bench

    LineupBench
    C J.T. Realmuto C Tomas Telis
    CF Christian Yelich 1B Garrett Cooper (R)
    2B Starlin CastroIF Miguel Rojas
    1B Justin Bour OF J.B. Shuck
    LF Martin PradoOF Scott Van Slyke
    RF Derek Dietrich 
    3B Brian Anderson (R)IF/OF Johnny Giavotella
    SS JT RiddleOF Magneuris Sierra (R)

    DL: None

         

    Analysis

    Here's the offense the Miami Marlins subtracted with the trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon:

    • H: 560 (37.4%)
    • TB: 958 (39.7%)
    • HR: 98 (50.5%)
    • RBI: 289 (38.9%)
    • R: 330 (42.4%)

    Things could conceivably get even worse if they decide to move one or both of Christian Yelich or J.T. Realmuto—popular names on the trade market since the new ownership group began dismantling the core in an attempt to trim payroll.

    Rookie third baseman Brian Anderson has a chance to be a long-term piece, and both Yelich and Realmuto are impact players if they stick around. But there's no question this lineup is a shell of the 2017 version. 

25. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Josh Bell
    Josh BellMark Tenally/Associated Press

    2017 Ranks

    Team OPS: .704 (28th in MLB)

    Runs Per Game: 4.12 (28th in MLB)

         

    Projected Lineup and Bench

    LineupBench
    2B Josh HarrisonC Elias Diaz
    LF Adam Frazier1B/3B David Freese
    CF Starling MarteIF Max Moroff
    1B Josh BellIF/OF Sean Rodriguez
    RF Gregory PolancoOF Jordan Luplow (R)
    3B Colin Moran (R) 
    C Francisco Cervelli1B/OF Jose Osuna
    SS Jordy MercerOF Austin Meadows (R)

    DL: None

         

    Analysis

    The Pittsburgh Pirates went from 13th in the majors in runs scored in 2016 to 28th this past season, despite trotting out essentially the same roster.

    Starling Marte's 80-game suspension and Jung-Ho Kang's ongoing legal issues preventing his return to the States no doubt played a role in that decline.

    Now, as the team gets set to embark on the post-McCutchen era, it will be counting on emerging star Josh Bell and newly acquired Colin Moran to help shoulder more of the offensive load.

    It's worth noting that Josh Harrison could be traded before the start of spring training and prospect Austin Meadows could be manning a starting outfield spot by midseason.

24. Chicago White Sox

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    Jose Abreu
    Jose AbreuJose Juarez/Associated Press

    2017 Ranks

    Team OPS: .731 (T-23rd in MLB)

    Runs Per Game: 4.36 (23rd in MLB)

         

    Projected Lineup and Bench

    LineupBench
    SS Tim AndersonC Omar Narvaez
    2B Yoan Moncada 3B Matt Davidson
    1B Jose AbreuIF/OF Tyler Saladino
    RF Avisail GarciaOF Willy Garcia
    DH Nicky Delmonico 
    C Welington Castillo1B Casey Gillaspie (R)
    3B Yolmer SanchezIF Jose Rondon (R)
    LF Leury GarciaOF Adam Engel
    CF Charlie Tilson 

    DL: None

         

    Analysis

    Jose Abreu (140 OPS+, 33 HR) and Avisail Garcia (137 OPS+. 18 HR) were both terrific for the Chicago White Sox last season, and the rebuilding club has resisted the urge to trade either slugger this winter.

    The middle infield duo of Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada is still capable of taking a significant step forward, particularly Moncada who is still shy of his 23rd birthday.

    Those four make up the current offensive core, while a promising debut from Nicky Delmonico (166 PA, 129 OPS+), along with new arrival Welington Castillo, gives the lineup some solid complementary pieces.

    Still, this is a team that will continue to patiently await the arrival of top prospects, most notably slugger Eloy Jimenez, who could debut next season.

    The present lineup might still be a weakness, but the future is bright.

23. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Rhys Hoskins
    Rhys HoskinsChris Szagola/Associated Press

    2017 Ranks

    Team OPS: .723 (26th in MLB)

    Runs Per Game: 4.26 (27th in MLB)

         

    Projected Lineup and Bench

    LineupBench
    2B Cesar HernandezC Cameron Rupp
    CF Odubel Herrera1B Tommy Joseph
    LF Rhys Hoskins IF Jesmuel Valentin (R)
    1B Carlos SantanaIF/OF Pedro Florimon
    RF Nick WilliamsOF Aaron Altherr
    3B Maikel Franco 
    C Jorge Alfaro (R)2B Scott Kingery (R)
    SS J.P. Crawford (R)OF Roman Quinn (R)

    DL: None

         

    Analysis

    The addition of free-agent slugger Carlos Santana and full seasons from Rhys Hoskins (212 PA, 165 OPS+, 18 HR) and Nick Williams (343 PA, 113 OPS+, 12 HR) will give the Philadelphia Phillies a dynamic middle-of-the-order trio.

    Meanwhile, steady veterans Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera will once again be setting the table with their high batting averages and solid contact skills.

    The impending arrival of prospects J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro and Scott Kingery will ultimately determine just how good the Phillies offense can be for the upcoming season.

    It might also be a make-or-break year for Maikel Franco, who posted a dismal 81 OPS+ over 623 plate appearances last season.

22. Atlanta Braves

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    Freddie Freeman
    Freddie FreemanKelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    2017 Ranks

    Team OPS: .738 (21st in MLB)

    Runs Per Game: 4.52 (T-20th in MLB)

         

    Projected Lineup and Bench

    LineupBench
    CF Ender Inciarte C Kurt Suzuki
    2B Ozzie Albies IF Charlie Culberson
    1B Freddie FreemanOF Lane Adams
    C Tyler FlowersOF Preston Tucker
    RF Nick Markakis  
    LF Ronald Acuna (R)3B Rio Ruiz
    SS Dansby SwansonIF/OF Danny Santana
    3B Johan Camargo 

    DL: None

         

    Analysis

    Will the young middle infield duo of Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson live up to their pedigrees?

    When will Ronald Acuna be ready, and just how good can he be in his age-20 season?

    Those are the biggest questions surrounding the Atlanta Braves offense as they look to take another step toward future contention amid an ongoing rebuild.

    As for known commodities: Freddie Freeman is a bona fide superstar, 2017 All-Star Ender Inciarte hit .304 and the catching tandem of Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki quietly combined for 31 home runs and 99 RBI.

    Adding a third baseman to bridge the gap to prospect Austin Riley would be nice, but as it stands, this is a lineup with a chance to surprise some people.

    Then again, it could be another year of growing pains.

21. San Francisco Giants

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    Buster Posey
    Buster PoseyNick Wass/Associated Press

    2017 Ranks

    Team OPS: .689 (30th in MLB)

    Runs Per Game: 3.94 (29th in MLB)

         

    Projected Lineup and Bench

    LineupBench
    RF Andrew McCutchenC Nick Hundley
    2B Joe Panik3B Pablo Sandoval
    3B Evan LongoriaIF Kelby Tomlinson
    C Buster PoseyOF Gorkys Hernandez
    1B Brandon BeltOF Jarrett Parker
    SS Brandon Crawford 
    LF Hunter PenceIF Ryder Jones
    CF Austin JacksonOF Austin Slater

    DL: None

         

    Analysis

    Adding Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria looks good on paper.

    However, Longoria (100 OPS+) was a league-average offensive player last season, and McCutchen is no longer the MVP-caliber player of his prime, although he did bounce back with a solid 2017 season.

    In other words, the San Francisco Giants offense is not as improved as the casual observer might think from those two new names. This team will be banking on improved pitching performance if it's going to get back on track in 2018.

    Even with Austin Jackson added to the mix, the team could still look to add another outfielder before the offseason is over, as the veteran served mostly as a platoon option against left-handed pitching last season.

20. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Josh Donaldson
    Josh DonaldsonMichael Dwyer/Associated Press

    2017 Ranks

    Team OPS: .724 (25th in MLB)

    Runs Per Game: 4.28 (T-25th in MLB)

         

    Projected Lineup and Bench

    LineupBench
    LF Curtis GrandersonC Luke Maile
    3B Josh DonaldsonIF Aledmys Diaz
    1B Justin Smoak IF Yangervis Solarte
    DH Kendrys MoralesOF Ezequiel Carrera
    SS Troy Tulowitzki  
    RF Randal Grichuk1B/OF Steve Pearce
    CF Kevin PillarIF Richard Urena (R)
    C Russell MartinOF Teoscar Hernandez
    2B Devon Travis 

    DL: None

         

    Analysis

    As recently as 2015, the Toronto Blue Jays were the highest-scoring team in baseball (5.50 runs per game) and nothing short of an offensive juggernaut.

    Despite a breakout season from Justin Smoak (128 OPS+, 38 HR) and continued excellence from Josh Donaldson once he was healthy, the offense is no longer the strength of the team.

    Adding Curtis Granderson and Randal Grichuk should prove to be an upgrade over last season's corner outfield situation, while fellow newcomers Aledmys Diaz and Yangervis Solarte will provide valuable insurance for the oft-injured duo of Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki.

    The Blue Jays will go as far as their pitching staff takes them in 2018, but the offense should show some modest improvement over a disappointing 2017 campaign.

19. New York Mets

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    Yoenis Cespedes
    Yoenis CespedesMatt Slocum/Associated Press

    2017 Ranks

    Team OPS: .755 (T-13th in MLB)

    Runs Per Game: 4.54 (T-18th in MLB)

         

    Projected Lineup and Bench

    LineupBench
    CF Brandon Nimmo C Kevin Plawecki
    3B Asdrubal CabreraIF Gavin Cecchini
    LF Yoenis Cespedes IF/OF Phillip Evans (R)
    RF Jay BruceIF/OF Matt Reynolds
    2B Wilmer FloresOF Juan Lagares
    1B Adrian Gonzalez 
    C Travis d'Arnaud 1B Dominic Smith
    SS Amed RosarioOF Zach Borenstein (R)

    DL: OF Michael Conforto, 3B David Wright, IF T.J. Rivera

         

    Analysis

    Bringing back Jay Bruce on a three-year, $39 million deal and rolling the dice on Adrian Gonzalez for a league-minimum salary were both nice moves by the New York Mets front office this offseason.

    That said, the X-factors for offensive success will be the health of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto.

    Cespedes played just 81 games last season after re-upping with the Mets on a massive four-year, $110 million deal. Conforto underwent shoulder surgery in September and won't be ready for Opening Day.

    Ideally, Amed Rosario would break out in his first full MLB season, and Dominic Smith would force Gonzalez to the bench after getting a bit more seasoning in Triple-A. The 22-year-old hit just .198/.262/.395 over 183 plate appearances last season after raking in the minors.

    If Cespedes can stay healthy and Conforto can avoid setbacks, this offense has a chance to be dangerous. Those are big enough ifs to keep them from ranking any higher, though.

18. Oakland Athletics

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    Matt Olson
    Matt OlsonPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    2017 Ranks

    Team OPS: .755 (T-13th in MLB)

    Runs Per Game: 4.56 (17th in MLB)

         

    Projected Lineup and Bench

    LineupBench
    SS Marcus SemienC Josh Phegley
    LF Matt JoyceIF/OF Renato Nunez (R)
    2B Jed LowrieIF/OF Chad Pinder
    DH Khris DavisOF Boog Powell
    1B Matt Olson 
    RF Stephen Piscotty1B/OF Mark Canha
    3B Matt ChapmanIF Franklin Barreto (R)
    C Bruce MaxwellIF/OF Jorge Mateo (R)
    CF Jake SmolinskiOF Dustin Fowler (R)

    DL: None

         

    Analysis

    The Oakland Athletics lineup has some holes—most notably at catcher and center field—but there is also a lot to like.