Knocking it Around: Ranking the AL Lineups from 14 To 1
Although pitching has dominated the headlines and the landscape of Major League Baseball this season, there have still been some fairly potent lineups in the first two and a half months across the league, mainly in the AL.
They say pitching wins championships, but it doesn't hurt to have a good offense to go with a good rotation, and as evidenced by this list, having a good offense usually means you have a good team.
So which offenses are the worst in the AL? Which ones have room to improve? Which ones are over-performing? Check it all out in this all-encompassing ranking from number 14 all the way to No. 1.
14. Seattle Mariners
Coming into the year, the Mariners were a hot pick to make the playoffs out of the AL West, not because of their hitting, but because of their pitching rotation.
The pitching staff hasn't disappointed thus far, ranking fourth in the AL in runs allowed with 318 through 74 games, or 4.3 runs per game.
With that said, the Mariners have the worst record in the AL West at 31-43 and are no doubt looking to be sellers at the trade deadline, mainly because of the poorly constructed lineup that has failed to live up to fairly low expectations.
Ken Griffey Jr. retired because he was playing so poorly.
Veterans like Milton Bradley, Chone Figgins, Casey Kotchman, and Jose Lopez aren't performing as they have in years past.
Young players like Michael Saunders and Rob Johnson aren't producing.
Overall, this lineup is just awful. Their 255 runs scored this year puts them at a measly 3.44 per game. There isn't too much help coming through the minor leagues and they may even lose some pieces at the deadline.
The stats get worse as you keep looking deeper. Their team line of .240/.309/.344 is just about as bad as a team filled with nine Gerald Laird's.
Their OPS+ of 80 is by far the worst in the AL. They have only hit 42 home runs, also worst in the AL.
I could go on and on, but it is clear that the worst offense in the AL, and maybe even all of baseball, resides in Seattle.
2. Chone Figgins
3. Milton Bradley
4. Jose Lopez
5. Franklin Gutierrez
6. Josh Wilson
7. Casey Kotchman
8. Rob Johnson
9. Michael Saunders
Trending - Level
This lineup has been the worst in the AL by far this season and there are no real signs of it improving in the near future. The good thing is, it can't get much worse, can it?
13. Baltimore Orioles
Going into the season, I had the feeling that the Orioles could have a pretty good, young lineup.
Led by the veteran Brian Roberts, players like Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters and Luke Scott, the lineup looked quite promising.
Then, Roberts got injured and the season has been all downhill since then. Baltimore has stumbled to a MLB worst record of 22-52 and are an astonishing 24 games back in the AL East.
The mix of poor play from veterans like Cezar Izturis, Garrett Atkins, Miguel Tejada and the lack of a big power bat to lead the team have been the big reasons why Baltimore is sporting a 85 OPS+.
Hopefully, the Orioles see growth from the face of their franchise, Matt Wieters, in the near future. Wieters is in his first full season and is putting together a pretty lackluster .236/.307/.346 line.
There is some hope for the offense because of their youth, but no matter what they do, Baltimore will be sellers at the deadline.
1. Corey Patterson
2. Miguel Tejada
3. Nick Markakis
4. Ty Wigginton
5. Luke Scott
6. Adam Jones
7. Matt Wieters
8. Cezar Izturis
9. Julio Lugo
Trending - Up
The team OPS of the Orioles for the year is a dismal .689. However, over their last seven days it is a more impressive and over the last 28 days it is.
That shows that the team is improving consistently and has some time to get some productive at bats in for the rest of the season.
12. Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians don't have much to be excited about in the rotation, but at least there are some pieces in their lineup that give excitement for the future.
Asdrubal Cabrera, Matt LaPorta and most notably catcher Carlos Santana are a fairly good core for a young offense, but the Cleveland lineup as a whole this season hasn't produced.
The fact that the Indians are already 14.5 games back in the division makes them able to try out their young players like Santana and other stars in the minor leagues.
The foundation could be there for an exciting offense, but Cleveland needs to get some pitching in order to be a well-rounded team.
The injury to Grady Sizemore has hurt the overall production of the Indians lineup, but poor performances from players like Luis Valbuena, Matt LaPorta, Trevor Crowe and Lou Marson have really bogged down this lineup that has some fairly talented pieces.
1. Trevor Crowe
2. Shin-Soo Choo
3. Carlos Santana
4. Austin Kearns
5. Travis Hafner
6. Matt LaPorta
7. Jhonny Peralta
8. Jayson Nix
9. Jason Donald
Trending - Level
Over the past 28 days, the Indians OPS+ has been 96, which is fairly better than their season total of 92.
The addition of Santana will help the team get better, but as it is constructed now, this is a lineup that isn't going to score many runs.
11. Oakland Athletics
The A's were never considered legit contenders in the AL West, but they started off the year fairly well, mainly because their pitching held up their under-performing offense.
Now that the pitching is not as good as it was at the beginning of the year, the offense has had to pick up some of the load and the team has fallen to 10 games back in their competitive division.
The Athletics lineup has been buoyed by a balanced lineup without too many weaknesses, but also without a huge strength.
Kurt Suzuki and Daric Barton are having good years, but the Athletics are only fielding one player with a OPS+ over 120 (besides Coco Crisp, who has played only six games).
There isn't really too much ultra-talented youth to get excited about for the A's on offense, but young players like Suzuki, Barton, Cliff Pennington, Ryan Sweeney, Rajai Davis and others are having solid seasons.
1. Coco Crisp
2. Daric Barton
3. Conor Jackson
4. Kurt Suzuki
5. Ryan Sweeney
6. Kevin Kouzmanoff
7. Mark Ellis
8. Cliff Pennington
9. Rajai Davis
Trending - Up
At the beginning of the season, I figured the A's would have the worst offense in the AL without a question.
Now, with the return of Kurt Suzuki from a stint on the bereavement list and solid performances from young players like Conor Jackson, Cliff Pennington and Daric Barton, the A's lineup is slowly getting better.
10. Chicago White Sox
Riding an 11-game winning streak, the White Sox are finally finding themselves two and a half months into this season.
The lineup started the year terribly, but has picked up the pace recently and the team's results prove that.
This is about as mediocre as an offense as you can imagine. The Sox have some dominant hitters this year (Alex Rios and Paul Konerko), some terrible hitters (Gordon Beckham and Juan Pierre) and a lot of average ones.
If they can get some better production from players like Gordon Beckham, Carlos Quentin and Mark Teahen, maybe this offense can go into the top half of the league, but I don't really see that happening.
There isn't much youth in this lineup, so you pretty much know what you are gonna get from this group.
If the White Sox want to continue their ascension up the ranks in the AL, they must continue to get great pitching and just enough offense.
The great seasons from Konerko and Rios have been pleasant surprises for the Sox.
They are showing no signs of slowing down, so it looks like the White Sox will continue to be able to score runs in bunches in the middle of the lineup because of their power.
1. Juan Pierre
2. Omar Vizquel
3. Alex Rios
4. Paul Konerko
5. Carlos Quentin
6. Mark Kotsay
7. Alexi Ramirez
8. AJ Pierzynski
9. Gordon Beckham
Trending - Up
Obviously the lineup is performing well during their 11-game winning streak, but over the last 28 days, the White Sox have a .757 OPS, which is 32 points higher than their season total.
Now that they are back in the race, there will be more pressure on the offense to perform well.
9. Toronto Blue Jays
Yes, the Blue Jays have a ton of home runs. They have 13 more than any other AL team with 114 through 75 games.
It is good that they hit home runs, but the Toronto offense as a whole is not a very good one, because they rely way too heavily on the longball.
Toronto is sixth in the AL in runs with 346, but their team batting average of .239 is last in the AL and seems to indicate that the team can't keep up their solid pace of scoring runs.
Jose Bautista is a perfect poster child for the Blue Jays offense. His .229/.358/.542 line and 20 home runs are a very odd combination and can't possibly be sustained.
There are some other good stories on this offense besides Bautista and his 20 homers, though.
Vernon Wells is having a resurgent year, hitting around .280 with 18 home runs. Fred Lewis has found himself in Toronto after struggling with San Francisco over the past couple of years.
1. Fred Lewis
2. Alex Gonzalez
3. Jose Bautista
4. Vernon Wells
5. Adam Lind
6. Aaron Hill
7. Lyle Overbay
8. John Buck
9. Jarrett Hoffpauir
Trending - Down
Yes, the run total for the Blue Jays is impressive, but I can't possibly put the Blue Jays offense any higher than ninth in the AL and I can't see them getting any better, honestly.
Their .691 OPS over the past 28 days is pretty good evidence for that opinion.
8. Los Angeles Angels
After having a top 3 offense in all of baseball last season, the Angels lost key players Vladimir Guerrero and Chone Figgins in free agency to division foes Texas and Seattle.
The Los Angeles lineup has felt their departure dramatically and are idling in the middle of the pack of the AL offenses.
The loss of Kendry Morales and Erick Aybar to injury over the past couple of weeks hasn't helped, but the team seems to be weathering the storm, as always.
There may be a question to why I have this offense ranked so low when it features players like Hideki Matsui, Torii Hunter, Mike Napoli, Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera.
The team has a lot of good, proven talent, but most of their top hitters are getting up there in age and may not be able to hit up to their capabilities for the entire season.
The team OPS+ of 95 is shockingly low for a team with a lot of talent, and that is another reason why I don't like this offense going forward.
1. Erick Aybar
2. Howie Kendrick
3. Bobby Abreu
4. Torii Hunter
5. Hideki Matsui
6. Juan Rivera
7. Mike Napoli
8. Jeff Mathis
9. Brandon Wood
Trending - Slightly Down
The .686 team OPS in their last 14 days isn't encouraging and could be a sign of a possible bad stretch of offense coming up.
We'll see if the old members of the lineup can stay healthy, but the loss of Morales is already bad enough.
7. Kansas City Royals
The Royals are quietly putting together a respectable offensive year in Kansas City. Their OPS+ of 100 is the definition of league average and they are batting a healthy .280 as a team.
Billy Butler is one of the most underrated stars of the entire league. Can you believe that he has put up a .322/.373/.478 line this year? Butler deserves to be in the All-Star game with those types of numbers.
Jose Guillen is currently riding a 20-game hitting streak and is also having a great season. David DeJesus may be having the best season of his career.
Even so, the reason the Royals offense can't be ranked any higher than seventh is because they aren't getting any respectable contributions from many other members of the team.
Players like Jason Kendall, Mitch Maier, Willie Bloomquist and others need to step up to take this team to a different level.
The good core of young position talent is there for the Royals with Butler, but they need to add some more young and promising talent around him for this team to take the next step.
1. Scott Podsednik
2. Jason Kendall
3. David DeJesus
4. Billy Butler
5. Jose Guillen
6. Alberto Callaspo
7. Mike Aviles
8. Mitch Maier
9. Yuniesky Betancourt
Trending - Down
The Royals started out the year hitting above .300 for the first month of the year, but have tailed off since then.
A .711 OPS over the last month isn't that bad, but there is no improvement coming and the Royals are stuck, idling as a fourth-place team in the AL Central.
6. Detroit Tigers
Perhaps the quietest good team out there is the Detroit Tigers. Their record sits at 39-34 and they are only 1.5 games behind the first place Twins.
A good part of the reason they are contenders this season is because of their offense.
Miguel Cabrera is the engine that makes this team run and is putting together a spectacular season in 2010.
His .330/.406/.626 line makes him a legitimate MVP candidate for the AL. He is the main reason the Tigers are still in the race in the AL Central.
Magglio Ordonez, Brennan Boesch and Austin Jackson are also hitting over .300 this season and make the Tigers lineup one of the deeper ones in their divison.
There are some areas of improvements for the Tigers offense, though. Gerald Laird is hitting an anemic .176 while Ramon Santiago hasn't been playing up to his career potential.
1. Austin Jackson
2. Johnny Damon
3. Magglio Ordonez
4. Miguel Cabrera
5. Brennan Boesch
6. Carlos Guillen
7. Brandon Inge
8. Gerald Laird
9. Ramon Santiago
Trending - Level
Over the last 28 days, the Tigers OPS has stayed about the same and there haven't been any signs pointing to that changing.
The Tigers offense is what it is and it could be good enough to make them champions of the AL Central.
5. Tampa Bay Rays
This year, the Rays shot out of the gate like a champion race horse, but have since slowed down and are playing more like the team people thought they would be coming into this year...one that would compete for the AL East but come up a bit short.
Joe Madden has done a lot of lineup shaking this year and the result has been a OPS+ of just 99. Still, there is a lot of potential here and a lot of young talent that can break out at any time.
Carlos Pena's struggles at the beginning of the year were very concerning, but he has since gone on a home run tear and is back to being the old free-swinging power hitter we all knew.
Pat Burrell didn't work out and was shoved out the door, but his replacement, Hank Blalock, hasn't done too much better.
Still, the lineup has room to grow with talent like Carlos Pena, BJ Upton, Jason Bartlett, and Willie Aybar struggling and bogging the offense down.
With all that said, the Rays have still scored 375 runs, which is good for fourth in the AL, so there isn't too much to be concerned about here.
1. John Jaso
2. Carl Crawford
3. Evan Longoria
4. Carlos Pena
5. Ben Zobrist
6. BJ Upton
7. Hank Blalock
8. Sean Rodriguez
9. Jason Bartlett
Trending - Level
The numbers suggest that the lineup is trending down, but I am sensing that the lineup is about to lock in and this team will begin hitting like they did at the beginning of the year again.
4. Minnesota Twins
This is a lineup that features 2 former MVP's, so it's gotta be pretty good, right?
Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are the big bats in this lineup, but everyone else involved is doing their job and contributing to one of the best constructed lineups in all of baseball.
Denard Span is a perfect leadoff man with his combination of speed and on base prowess. Orlando Hudson is a great player for the second spot, when he gets healthy.
Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Delmon Young are great in the 5-6-7 spots and Punto and Hardy (when healthy) round out the lineup perfectly.
In my eyes, it is shocking that the Twins aren't running away with the division, but injuries to Hardy and Hudson have hurt the rhythm of the offense.
Still, this is a great lineup to watch and it is certainly built for success in the playoffs.
Their experience will be a big help when the stretch run comes and you can be sure they will be playing their best ball when September rolls around. It's just what the Twins do.
1. Denard Span
2. Matt Tolbert
3. Joe Mauer
4. Justin Morneau
5. Michael Cuddyer
6. Jason Kubel
7. Delmon Young
8. Danny Valencia
9. Nick Punto
Trending - Level
When Hardy and Hudson come back from injury, the Twins could run away with the Central, but don't count out the Tigers and Miguel Cabrera.
3. New York Yankees
On paper, the Yankees lineup is just deadly and on the field it looks just as good.
Robinson Cano is having a season that should get him the MVP award (hitting .359 with an OPS+ of 168) while A-Rod, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher are also having years to remember.
This team has a lot of great pieces to work with and look poised to make the playoffs to defend their championship.
The defending champs traded for Curtis Granderson in the off-season to replace the departing Johnny Damon, and so far it isn't really working out.
Granderson has put up a line of .243/.320/.445 this season, including a trip to the disabled list.
The only thing keeping the Yankees out of the top two is Mark Teixeira's play so far this year. He has 13 home runs, but he is only hitting .230 and is a hole in the middle of the lineup at times.
1. Derek Jeter
2. Nick Swisher
3. Mark Teixeira
4. Alex Rodriguez
5. Robinson Cano
6. Jorge Posada
7. Curtis Granderson
8. Francisco Cervelli
9. Brett Gardner
Trending - Level
There isn't much the Yankees can do to add a piece to this lineup to make it better, but internal improvements can be made.
Teixeira needs to bump his average up and Nick Johnson needs to come back from injury and perform better overall.
Still, don't expect this team to miss the playoffs.
2. Texas Rangers
Is there a lineup hotter than the Texas Rangers right now in all of baseball?
A team that just got off an 11-game winning streak, the Rangers are rolling right now in the AL West and own a 4.5 game lead in the division over the Angels.
Josh Hamilton is hitting near .500 in his 20-game hitting streak and the rest of the lineup around him is responding.
For the first time all year, the Rangers lineup (seen below) is completely healthy and all playing together and the results show that.
Justin Smoak and Matt Treanor are the only players not hitting over .280 in the starting lineup and even they are performing above average as of late (.279 and .269 average in the last 14 days, respectively).
Ian Kinsler is performing well. Michael Young is replicating his career year from 2009. Vladimir Guerrero is having a resurgent year. Nelson Cruz is playing like a beast, even with 2 DL stints.
Julio Borbon and Elvis Andrus are dominating in their second years in the league. There is just no weakness in this lineup.
This lineup had a ton of talent coming into the season and it is showing it's muscles in the month of June. Come playoff time, we could be talking about this being the best lineup in all of baseball.
1. Elvis Andrus
2. Michael Young
3. Ian Kinsler
4. Vladimir Guerrero
5. Josh Hamilton
6. Nelson Cruz
7. Justin Smoak
8. Matt Treanor
9. Julio Borbon
Trending - Way Up
The Rangers started off the year struggling with injuries and consistency in their lineup.
Now that everyone is healthy, the lineup is in a great rhythm and is on a torrid pace over the last few weeks (.849 OPS in the last 28 days).
The key for this team is health.
1. Boston Red Sox
It's pretty remarkable what the Red Sox offense has been able to do, even with injures to Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron and most recently, Dustin Pedroia.
The Red Sox have scored the most runs in the AL this year, putting 418 up on the board in 76 games (5.5 per game), even while weathering the storm of injuries thrown upon them.
The resurgence of Adrian Beltre has been central in the Red Sox dominance on offense this season. He is hitting .338 with an OPS+ of 138 in the middle third of the Sox lineup. Without him, Mike Lowell and his .658 OPS would be clogging up the lineup.
David Ortiz has bounced back from a slow start to become one of the top two DH's in the entire league. He has 15 home runs and an impressive .891 OPS batting 4th in this talented lineup.
Other good performances on this team have come from Kevin Youkilis (164 OPS+, 15 HR), Dustin Pedroia (12 HR and a .370 OBP) and Daniel Nava (138 OPS+ in 14 games filling in in the outfield).
1. Marco Scutaro
2. Daniel Nava
3. David Ortiz
4. Kevin Youkilis
5. Victor Martinez
6. Adrian Beltre
7. JD Drew
8. Bill Hall
9. Darnell McDonald
Trending - Up
Even with the injuries, the Red Sox lineup continues to improve. Imagine how good it will be when they all get back. This is going to be a scary team if they find their way into the postseason.
The team with the best pitching in the playoffs usually wins the World Series, but I don't know about that this year. There are some special offenses this year that could be the difference between champions and runners up.
Let's see who I think will make the playoffs this season.
AL West: Texas Rangers
AL Central: Minnesota Twins
AL East: Boston Red Sox
AL Wild Card: New York Yankees
The Red Sox will overtake the Yankees by the end of the year when they get healthy and it will be a dogfight in the playoffs.
The Rangers might be able to add a pitching piece before the deadline and could be a tough out in the playoffs, no matter who they face.
We all know the Twins are always tough, so you can never count them out of any race.
All I know is that no matter which teams make the playoffs in the AL, it will be an ultra-competitive October.