MLB Rankings: Top 15 Batting Teams Since 2000
During the past decade, teams like the New York Yankees, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Boston Red Sox, and the Minnesota Twins have been a staple of postseason play.
But did they have the top lineups during this period?
It's important to note that if a team had consecutive successful years, I counted them as one.
Now onto the countdown...
15. 2003 Toronto Blue Jays
1 - Shannon Stewart
2 - Reed Johnson / Frank Catalanotto
3 - Vernon Wells
4 - Carlos Delgado
5 - Greg Myers
6 - Josh Phelps
7 - Eric Hinske
8 - Orlando Hudson
9 - Chris Woodward / Mike Bordick
Batting Average - .279
Runs - 894
Home Runs - 190
Doubles - 357
Stolen Bases - 37
The lineup was centered around two players who finished in the Top 10 in the MVP ballot: Carlos Delgado (.302-42 HR-145 RBI), who finished second (behind Alex Rodriquez) and Vernon Wells (.317-33-117) who finished eighth.
Besides those run-producers in the middle, the Blue Jays had three solid table-setters to fill the two spots.
Lead-off hitter Shannon Stewart batted .294 but only played a half of a season due to injuries. Reed Johnson also batted .294 in over 450 at bats and Frank Catalanotto contributed with a batting average of .299 and 83 runs.
Although 2002 Rookie of the Year Eric Hinske (.243-12-63-12 SB) and fellow sophomore slugger Josh Phelps (.268-20-66) didn't match their prior year stats, the Blue Jays were able to offset that production due to a career year from 37 year old veteran catcher Greg Myers (.307-15-52 in 329 at bats).
14. 2009 Los Angeles of Anaheim Angels
1 - Chone Figgins
2 - Maicier Izturis
3 - Bobby Abreau
4 - Tori Hunter
5 - Vladimir Guerrero
6 - Kendry Morales
7 - Juan Rivera
8 - Jeff Mathis / Mike Napoli
9 - Erick Aybar / Howie Kendrick
Batting Average - .285
Runs - 883
Home Runs - 173
Doubles - 293
Stolen Bases - 148
The Angels lineup brought a balance of power and speed.
Chone Figgans led the team in steals with 42 bases, followed by Bobby Abreu (30), Tori Hunter (18), and Maicier Izturis (13).
On the power side, seven guys finished with double digits in home runs and four of those hit 20 or more.
The hitting success of this team was due to the breakout seasons from first baseman Kendry Morales (.306 - 34 - 108) and outfielder Juan Rivera (.287 - 25 - 88), as well as the acquisition of Abreu (.293 - 15 - 103 - .390 OBP).
13. 2000 St. Louis Cardinals
1 - Fernando Vina
2 - Edgar Renteria
3 - Jim Edmond
4 - Mark McGwire
5 - Ray Lankford
6 - Craig Paquette / Fernando Tatis
7 - JD Drew
8 - Mike Matheny
Batting Average - .270
Runs - 887
Home Runs - 235
Doubles - 259
Stolen Bases - 87
Here's the first of eight lineups to make the list from the 2000 season.
Surprisingly, this Cardinal team makes the list even though Mark McGwire (.305 - 32 - 73) played only 89 games. The Cards had a deep bench to overcome with backup first baseman Will Clark (.345 - 12 - 42) and corner infielder Craig Paquette (.245 - 15 - 61).
The main guy in the line-up was Jim Edmonds. Edmonds finished fourth in the MVP race with 42 dingers and 108 RBI.
12. 2008 Texas Rangers
1 - Ian Kinsler
2 - Michael Young
3 - Josh Hamilton
4 - Milton Bradley
5 - David Murphy
6 - Marlon Byrd
7 - Chris Davis
8 - Gerald Laird
9 - Ramon Vazquez
Batting Average - .283
Runs - 901
Home Runs - 194
Doubles - 376
Stolen Bases - 81
Throughout the decade, the Rangers have surpassed the 800 runs mark. But only once have they surpassed the 900 mark.
The Rangers enjoyed a near-100 run increase from the previous year, because of their trade with the Reds for outfielder Josh Hamilton (.304-32-130).
Signing Milton Bradley (.321-22-77) payed off as well.
Both players were selected to the All Star team.
Ian Kinsler (.319-18-71-26 SB) and Michael Young (.284-12-82-10 SB) were productive as table-setters, both breaking the century mark for runs.
The Rangers finished first in club batting average in '08. Only Brandon Boggs had a batting average below .275 for players with at least 300 plate appearances.
11. 2000-01 Seattle Mariners
Lineup (2000 & 2001)
1 - Rickey Henderson & Ichiro Suzuki
2 - Mike Cameron & Mark McLemore
3 - Alex Rodriquez & Edgar Martinez
4 - Edgar Martinez & John Olerud
5 - John Olerud & Bret Boone
6 - Jay Buhner & Al Martin
7 - David Bell & David Bell
8 - Dan Wilson & Dan Wilson
9 - Mark McLemore & Jay Bell
Team Categories ( 2000 & 2001)
Batting Average - .269 & .288
Runs - 907 & 927
Home Runs - 198 & 169
Doubles - 300 & 310
Stolen Bases - 122 & 174
From 1996 to 2001, the Mariners were an offensive machine. I decided to add both '00 & '01 to the list.
Alex Rodriquez (.316-41-132), Edgar Martinez (.324-37-145), and Jay Buhner (.253-26-82 in 112 games) supplied the power in 2000. John Olerud chipped in with 14 home runs and 103 RBIs.
Speed came from Rickey Henderson (31 stolen bases), Mark McLemore (30) and Mike Cameron (24).
In 2001, speed was more of a weapon than power, mostly due to the addition of Rookie of the Year and MVP winner Ichiro Suzuki (.350-8-69-127 runs-242 hits-56 stolen bases).
Mike Cameron was again a force on the bases, stealing 34, but he added 25 home runs and drove in 110 runs.
Edgar Martinez and John Olerud returned to have solid seasons by driving in 116 and 95, respectively.
It was Bret Boone who replaced the departed Rodriquez. Boone had a triple crown season by batting .331, hitting 37 home runs with 141 RBI.
10. 2000 Oakland Athletics
1 - Terrance Long
2 - Randy Velarde
3 - Jason Giambi
4 - Ben Grieve
5 - Matt Stairs
6 - Miguel Tejada
7 - Eric Chavez
8 - Ramon Hernandez
9 - Jeremy Giambi / John Jaha
Batting Average - .270
Runs - 947
Home Runs - 239
Doubles - 281
Stolen Bases - 40
The Athletics scored 947 runs in 2000, which was the most any A's team had scored since 1932. That was when the A's called Philadelphia home and the lineup included legends like Jimmie Foxx and Al Simmons.
The A's had five players hit over 20 home runs, and three of them drove in over 100 runs.
MVP Jason Giambi led the offense by batting .333 with 43 home runs and 137 RBI.
The amazing thing about the lineup was the young age of their up-and-coming stars. Chavez, Hernandez, Long, and Grieve were under 25 and Tejeda was only 26. No surprise '00 was the first of four consecutive seasons the A's would make the playoffs.
9. 2003 Atlanta Braves
1 - Rafael Furcal
2 - Marcus Giles
3 - Gary Sheffield
4 - Chipper Jones
5 - Andruw Jones
6 - Javy Lopez
7 - Robert Fick
8 - Vinny Castilla
Batting Average - .284
Runs - 907
Home Runs - 235
Doubles - 321
Stolen Bases - 68
This Atlanta Braves lineup was the franchise-best of all time.
This club even outscored the 1973 team, by over 100 runs, who had three hitters (Darrell Evans, Davey Johnson and Hank Aaron) hit over 40 home runs.
The Jones (Andruw and Chipper) again produced big time, combining for more than 60 home runs and more than 200 runs batted in.
Gary Sheffield (3rd in the MVP ballot) had a monster year by batting .330 with 39 home runs and 132 runs batted in.
Adding to the power was Javy Lopez (.328-43-109) who had a Mike Piazza-like season.
To have four players surpass 100 RBIs, you need players to get on base.
Double play partners Rafael Furcal (.292-.352 OBP - 130 runs) and Marcus Giles (.316-.390 OBP - 101 runs - 21 hr) also had outstanding years as the table-setters.
Overall, the Braves sent five offensive players to the All Star game and had six offensive players finish in the MVP ballot in '03.
8. 2000 San Francisco Giants
1 - Marvin Benard
2 - Bill Mueller
3 - Barry Bonds
4 - Jeff Kent
5 - JT Snow
6 - Ellis Burks
7 - Rich Aurilla
8 - Bobby Estalella
Batting Average - .278
Runs - 925
Home Runs - 226
Doubles - 304
Stolen Bases - 79
When talking about the Giants offense around 2000, you would mention only Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent. That was basically the offense.
Kent won the NL MVP that year with a batting average of .334. He had 33 home runs and drove in 125 runs in 2000.
Bonds finished with .306 average with 49 homers and 106 RBI.
Many of the supporting casts delivered, which is the reason this lineup made the top 10.
Leadoff hitter Marvin Benard scored 102 runs with 22 stolen bases. Rich Aurillia and Ellis Burks topped 20 home runs with 20 and 24, respectively.
Along with Burks, J.T. Snow provided run production, as both surpassed 90 runs batted in with 96 batting behind Bonds and Kent.
This outstanding offense helped to muscle up 97 wins and a NL West division title.
7. 2000 Houston Astros
1 - Julio Lugo
2 - Craig Biggio
3 - Jeff Bagwell
4 - Richard Hildago
5 - Moises Alou
6 - Ken Caminiti / Chris Truby
7 - Lance Berkman
8 - Mitch Melusky / Tony Eusebio
Batting Average - .278
Runs - 925
Home Runs - 226
Doubles - 304
Stolen Bases - 79
From 1997 to the mid-2000s, the Houston Astros sported an explosive offense that was led by mainstays Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.
In 2000, the Astros produced their franchise-best offensive team, which was led by Bagwell (.310 - 152 runs - 47 hr - 132 RBI), Richard Hildago (.314 - 118 - 44 - 122) and uncharacteristicly healthy Moises Alou (.355 - 30 - 114).
The Astros also received production from an up-and-coming slugger named Lance Berkman. Berkman (.297 - 21 - 67 in 353 at bats) split time in left and right field.
Berkman's platoon mate Daryl Ward chipped in 20 round trippers which rounded out the productive outfield.
Due to injuries, second baseman Biggio was limited to only 101 games. Therefore, the Astros needed production from the other infielders to compensate.
The production came from Julio Lugo (.283 - 22 SB), and third basemen Chris Truby (.260 - 11 -59) and Ken Caminiti (.303 - 15 - 45).
6. 2000-2001 Cleveland Indians
1 - Kenny Lofton
2 - Omar Vizquel
3 - Roberto Alomar
4 - Manny Ramirez, Juan Gonzalez
5 - Jim Thome
6 - Richie Sexson, Ellis Burks
7 - Travis Fryman, Marty Cordova
8 - Russell Branyan
9 - Sandy Alomar, Einer Diaz
Batting Average - .288, .278
Runs - 950, 897
Home Runs - 221, 212
Doubles - 310, 294
Stolen Bases - 113, 79
The 2000 team was led by four future Hall-of-Famers in Vizquel, Alomar, Ramirez and Thome. The lineup also included future big time sluggers, Sexson and Branyan and catalyst Lofton.
The 2001 team dipped a little due to the free agent departure of Ramirez to Boston, the trade of Sexson to the Brewers for pitching, and an injury to Fryman.
But the free agent signings ensured the team finished with 90 wins. Juan Gonzalez had a monster year by hitting 35 homers, driving in 140 runs and batted .325. Ellis Burks chipped in 28 hrs and 74 RBI. Cordova added 20 homers.
It was the pitching that blocked the team from reaching the title but the offense brought the excitement.
5. 2007 Philadelphia Phillies
1 - Jimmy Rollins
2 - Shane Victorino
3 - Chase Utley
4 - Ryan Howard
5 - Pat Burrell
6 - Aaron Rowand
7 - Abraham Nunez / Greg Dobbs
8 - Carlos Ruiz
Batting Average - .274
Runs - 892
Home Runs - 213
Doubles - 326
Stolen Bases - 138
Though the Phillies scored less runs than some of the recent listed teams, I felt this team had a more impact due to the various differences between 2000 and 2007.
One could argue that steroids were under control and the quality of the pitching was higher in '07, while '00 seems to be the height of the steroid era as identified by the high amount of runs and earned run averages.
In 2007, the Phillies led baseball in runs scored, led by their speedy table-setters: MVP Jimmy Rollins (.296-139-30-94-41sb) and the "Hawaiian Punch" Shane Victorino, who added 37 steals.
Chase Utley ascended to the top of the second base rankings by hitting .332 with 104 runs and 103 runs batted in.
Ryan Howard solidified his position as the premier slugger by hitting 47 home runs and 136 runs batted in.
Pat Burrell added 30 home runs and 97 runs.
Aaron Rowand had a career year in '07 by batting .309 with 105 runs, 27 home runs, and 89 runs batted in. Due to his terrific offensive season and outstanding defense, Rowand left for greener pastures which led to the arrival of Jayson Werth.
4. 2003-05 Boston Red Sox
1 - Johnny Damon
2 - Todd Walker, Mark Bellhorn, Edgar Renteria
3 - Nomar Garciaparra, Ortiz ('04 '05)
4 - Manny Ramirez
5 - David Ortiz, Millar, Nixon
6 - Kevin Millar, Varitek, Millar
7 - Trot Nixon, Mueller, Varitek
8 - Bill Mueller, Gabe Kapler, Mueller
9 - Jason Varitek, Pokey Reese, Bellhorn
Batting Average - .289 (2003), .282 (2004), .281 (2005)
Runs - 961 (2003), 949 (2004), 910 (2005)
Home Runs - 238 (2003), 222 (2004), 199 (2005)
Doubles - 371 (2003), 373 (2004), 339 (2005)
Stolen Bases - 88 (2003), 68 (2004), 45 (2005)
The Red Sox won 95, 98 & 95 games during this span, led by Ortiz, Ramirez, Damon and company.
In 2003, Mueller won the batting title title with a .326 average, just beating out Ramirez, who finished with a .325 average. Garciaparra and Nixon also broke the .300 mark with .301 and .306, respectively. Boston finished first in team batting average.
In 2004, Red Sox again finished in the Top 4 in the main offensive categories, even with the departure of Garciaparra.
Nomar was traded to the Cubs as part of a four-team deal at the deadline. The Red Sox upgraded their infield and bench by receiving Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz.
On the same day, they also strengthened their outfield depth by acquiring David Roberts for Henri Stanley.
These moves were pivotal in the second half of the season and during the postseason as the Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
In 2005, the Red Sox dynamic duo finished with a combined 92 round-trippers and 289 runs batted in. You could make a strong argument that Ramirez and Ortiz '05 season was one of the best of all time by two players on the same team.
In 2006, the offense dipped due to free agency and injuries as the once mighty attack finished 12th in team batting average and sixth in runs.
3. 2006-07 New York Yankees
1 - Johnny Damon
2 - Derek Jeter
3 - Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu
4 - Alex Rodriquez
5 - Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui
6 - Robinson Cano, Posada
7 - Bernie Williams, Cano
8 - Melky Cabrera, Doug Mientkiewicz
9 - Miquel Cairo, Cabrera
Batting Average - .285, 290
Runs - 930, 968
Home Runs - 210, 201
Doubles - 327, 326
Stolen Bases - 139, 123
I could have expanded the era to the early 2000s and basically covered the whole decade, but had to draw the line somewhere.
Though the '06 & '07 team batting lineup is ranked third on our list, the New York Yankees were knocked out in the first round during these two years.
The lineup was basically the same in both years except Giambi played in only a half of a season and was replaced by defensive stalwart Mientkiewicz and youngster Andy Phillips.
Despite the injury to Giambi, the Yankees were able to compensate due to the arrival of Abreu and a bounce-back season from Matsui.
Abreu finished with a .330 batting average in 58 games after arriving at the deadline.
After only playing in 51 games in '06, Hideki bounced back by hitting 25 home runs and driving in 103 runs.
2. 2000-01 Colorado Rockies
1 - Tom Goodwin, Juan Pierre
2 - Mike Lansing, Perez
3 - Larry Walker
4 - Todd Helton
5 - Jeffrey Hammonds, Cirillo
6 - Jeff Cirillo, Todd Hollandsworth
7 - Brett Mayne, Juan Uribe
8 - Neifi Perez, Ben Petrick
Batting Average - .294, .292
Runs - 968, 923
Home Runs - 161, 213
Doubles - 320, 324
Stolen Bases - 131, 132
The explosive offense couldn't overcome the terrible pitching the Rockies had as the team finished in the 4th place in '00 and 5th place in '01 in the NL West.
Though they scored many runs, it wasn't due to the long ball.
Only Helton (twice) and Larry Walker (2001) belted over 30 round-trippers.
Todd hit 42 and 49 home runs, while Walker clobbered 38.
In 2000, Hammonds hit 20 homers and drove in 106 runs, which led to the bad signing by the Brewers.
Cirillo had 115 RBI despite only hitting 11 homers, but did finish in the Top Five in doubles with 53.
In 2001, Cirillo again had a solid season with 83 RBI.
The Rockies also found fine production from youngster Pierre. Pierre scored 108 times and swiped 46 bases.
1. 2000 Chicago White Sox
1 - Ray Durham
2 - Jose Valentin
3 - Frank Thomas
4 - Magglio Ordonez
5 - Paul Konerko
6 - Chris Singleton
7 - Carlos Lee
8 - Herbert Perry
9 - Mark Johnson
Batting Average - .286
Runs - 978
Home Runs - 216
Doubles - 325
Stolen Bases - 119
The team had power throughout the lineup, led by Frank Thomas who smashed 43 home runs while driving in 143 runs.
The times Thomas didn't drive in runs, Ordonez did with his 32 home runs, 126 RBI.
Three other players hit over 20 home runs. Valentin finished with 25, Lee with 24, and Konerko finished with 21.
Surprisingly, only two hitters struck out more than 100 times. Both were the table-setters (Durham and Valentin).
The success of the offense helped the White Sox win 92 games and the AL Central title.