2011 MLB Predictions: Power Ranking the Most Daunting Batting Orders in MLB
With the 2011 baseball season right around the corner, a refresher course of who's hot, who's not and whose batting order is worthy of being the most feared is much anticipated.
A lot happened last year in the MLB, so let's go back in time for a quick sec to highlight some highlights: For starters, someone hit over 12 home runs (Jose Bautista), the Padres competed for an NL West title down to the very last game with a .246 team batting average (insert laugh track), and above all, pitching beat hitting in a World Series that featured a catcher who was going to win a ring no matter who ended up winning (one of the seven Molina's who plays catcher).
With that being said, it's time to break down the ole' 1-9 lineup.
Here's my in-depth analysis of worst to first batting orders leading up to the 2011 most daunting offense in the Majors:
30. Seattle Mariners
Coming off a .236 team batting average in 2010 (last in MLB), it's hard to give the dunce cap to a team other than the M's.
If Ichiro could hit for every player on the team, this wouldn't be the case.
Let's look at the facts: The Mariners biggest free-agent acquisition in the last couple seasons on offense was the Angels long time vet who they couldn't wait to not pay. His name is Chone Figgins. Surprisingly, Chone had the second best batting average of the everyday starters in 2010 for Seattle. On a more humble note, Chone hit just .259; 20 more Mariners who picked up wood in 2010 hit worse than Figgins average.
Like I said, if Ichiro could hit for every player on the team, this wouldn't be the case.
Prediction: Fourth AL West
29. Pittsburgh Pirates
Now that the song "Black and Yellow" has topped the billboard charts representing the Pittsburgh Steelers, maybe the Pirates will work to earn a shout out in the remix for the 2011 season. Highly unlikely, but it was a fun comparison.
The Pirates finished second to last in the Majors with a collective .242 BA. They finished 25th in the league in home runs with 126 total homers on the year.
However, the Pirates do have one thing going for them. They still remain the only organization that a baseball fan can't name a single player who plays for them.
Prediction: Sixth NL Central
28. Houston Astros
When you don't hit home runs and you don't play small ball, you're going to lose a lot of baseball games.
The Houston Astros last year knocked in 3.5 runs a game. That doesn't seem all that bad, but complementing a team BA of .247 and 108 total home runs does look pretty awful.
When I was a kid, everyone wanted to be an Astro. It's safe to say the Astros have a lot of team chemistry to work on. If they don't believe in themselves, how are the fans who fill up Minute Maid Park going to believe in them?
Note to Astros Management: Somebody call Craig Biggio out of retirement.
Prediction: Fifth in NL Central
27. San Diego Padres
I try to be as fair as I can when I break down each lineup, but with my hometown team the San Diego Padres, I can't help but vent.
Excellent job Friars for letting the guy who led every offensive category for our team walk right out the door...
And you wonder why people don't show up at Petco.
Adrian hit 31 homers in 2010 which was 23.4 percent of Padre home runs collectively. He knocked in 101 RBI's which contributed to 16 percent of San Diego RBI's in 2010 and had a batting average that was 50 points higher (.298) than the team batting average of .248.
Good thing we have the Chargers to root for...Oh wait...
Prediction: Second NL West
26. Cleveland Indians
Good news for Indians fans...Shin-Soo Choo won't be pulling a LeBron James and abandoning another Cleveland offense.
Choo hit .300 last year and was a small ray of hope for a team that knocked in just over 600 runs. The Indians hit .248 as a team and finished 23rd in the league in power numbers.
With the team back fully healthy, it's up to Hafner, Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo to anchor this team back to its winning ways.
As for now, if you can't wait until who knows when to watch the Indians play good baseball, go rent Major League at Blockbuster. The guy who worships that voodoo doll has a stroke and a half.
Prediction: Fifth AL Central
25. Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles finally pulled it together toward the end of the baseball season. I think it's safe to say that new skipper of theirs was a good hire.
As for the offense, if Markakis, Jones, and Roberts can all remain on the same page next year, I think the Orioles have a shot at a halfway descent season.
The team batting average, RBI's and power numbers have all improved since the 2009 season, and there's no reason to believe they can't increase those categories again in 2011.
My prediction: O's finish third in the AL East.
24. Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay took a huge hit in the offseason, losing their star outfielder who was practically with them from day one in Carl Crawford. The Winter meetings also meant the Rays would not be paying productive first baseman Carlos Pena who was dealt to the Cubbies.
This is something Tampa Bay fans have dealt with for a while and losing the pride and joy of that team in Crawford will hurt them. The 6'2", 200-pound Desmon Jennings looks impressive on paper, but can he fill the shoes of the left-handed sensation?
This is a Rays team that finished 27th in the Majors in team batting average but still made it to the playoffs. Let's hope that pitching of theirs holds up. This team has all the makings of an American League version of the San Diego Padres.
Prediction: Fourth AL East
23. Washington Nationals
Regardless of their final record, 2010 for the Nationals was an exciting year. SDSU sensation Stephen Strasburg put on a clinic in his rookie year before injuring himself late in the season.
Offensively, the Nationals hit an even .250 as a team last season. Signing Jayson Werth was a big addition for Washington in the offseason and will look to provide a spark in the middle of the order.
Prediction: Fifth in NL East
22. Oakland Athletics
The most exciting thing for the Oakland A's right about now is the premiere of "Moneyball" opening September 2011 starring Brad Pitt as the A's GM Billy Beane.
A crafty Oakland offense led by Mark Ellis look to make a push this season in the AL West. If Willingham, DeJesus, and Kouz have breakthrough seasons, the A's just might make a push.
As for now:
Prediction: Third in AL West
21. Arizona Diamondbacks
It's tough to be a D-backs fan. On one hand, you had 33 percent of your lineup including the pitcher, hit at least 25 home runs in 2010. Half the the NL would kill to be able to say that.
It's the team led by less recognized brothers in Stephen Drew and Justin Upton. (Stephen brothers with J.D. of the Red Sox, and Justin brothers of Bossman Junior on the Rays)
Arizona certainly can put it together if they want to. I just think Kurt Warner retiring affected the whole state...sorry.
Prediction: Fourth in NL West
20. Kansas City Royals
Don't sleep on this team that resides right next to the famous Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
A guy by the name of Billy Butler happened to hit .318 last season, and a group of guys who used to play for the Yankees, White Sox and Braves all join together in 2011 to make for a scrappy Royal offense.
Although they had the second best team batting average last season, they still have a long way to go before they are a complete baseball team.
Prediction: Fourth in AL Central
19. Los Angeles Angels
2010 for the Angels was the year of the celebration, and it didn't come with any champagne. Kendry Morales, the Angels first baseman, tore his ACL after a walk-off Grand Slam where he was greeted by the team. It was the downfall to a very short-lived season for the Halos.
Luckily for them, 2011 means they have everyone healthy again. The Halos offense, when clicking, can be as streaky and as dangerous as anyone's in the league.
The Angels are postseason-bound, if they stay healthy.
Prediction: First AL West
18. Chicago Cubs
I got a chance to visit Wrigley Field last season for a Saturday afternoon game that happened to host Derek Lee and the Braves. Wrigley showed me a lot to appreciate about baseball that day. Anybody who ever doubts the game of baseball needs to visit Wrigley, and you will be humbled. A class act for a ballpark to say the least.
As for the team, they just may have what it takes this season. The addition of Carlos Pena makes this lineup complete. The Cubbies were right around the middle of the pack with 2010 statisitcs.
Now that it's been over a 100 years and all since the Cubs won a ring, they can finally relax and play ball.
I'm convinced the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup helps the other sports in that city succeed. Look at the Bears turnaround. Cubs are on deck.
Prediction: First NL Central
17. Los Angeles Dodgers
Where to begin with the team that is driving everyone crazy. The Los Angeles Dodgers fell apart last year.
Now, the team that's stolen a player from pretty much every other team will look to reclaim power in the National League West.
Gibbons, Barajas and Uribe are not used to the stress it is to play baseball in Los Angeles. However, the post Joe Torre era for Dodger baseball begins. I predict an exciting first year.
Prediction: First NL West
16. New York Mets
Having a father who likes this team, I can relate to the frustration the New York Mets have brought the last several years.
It was just yesterday when the Mets wouldn't let the Phillies get the best of them. How old was I? Middle school? Wow.
New York batted .249 as a team which tells me that they have some internal issues. The Mets on paper look like a well-oiled machine. Randolph couldn't whip up the magic; let's hope Terry Collins has a good mantra to get this batting order going.
If it's not now for this generation of Mets, it doesn't look like it's ever going to get better.
Prediction: Second NL East
15. Florida Marlins
You never know what the Marlins are going to bring the table. This year, they're an assorted group of guys that may turn out to be extremely dangerous.
If I had to pick a baseball team in Florida to do well this year, I'd pick the Marlins.
Ramirez, Infante, Helms and Sanchez could turn out to be the best infield Florida has to date.
Prediction: Fourth NL East
14. Atlanta Braves
The Braves salute one of the all-time best managers in professional baseball, Bobby Cox. The Braves made an exciting run in Cox's last season as skipper, but they fell short after clinching a Wild-Card berth.
Atlanta swapped second baseman with the Florida Marlins and added Dan Uggla to an exciting offense that was one run shy of knocking an even 700 runs in during the 2010 season.
Chipper's still there, got to love him.
Prediction: Third NL East
13. Toronto Blue Jays
Maybe the Majors forgot to send steroid testing to Canada, maybe they didn't. Regardless, Jose Bautista got off last season hitting over 50 home runs which seemed to me like a hundred and fifty. Still impressive.
The Blue Jays led the Majors, blasting 257 home runs in 2010. That was 46 more homers than the Boston Red Sox at 211 homers (second most).
If it's one thing the Blue Jays know, it's offense. Unfortunately, I have no faith in the other faze of the game.
Next stop: Winning more games than the Red Sox and Yankees.
Prediction: Maybe next year...fifth in AL East
12. Milwaukee Brewers
Now that the Brewers shelled out nearly 16 million to first baseman Prince Fielder, they can get down to business.
Last season, the Brewers finished Top Five in home runs and 11th in team batting average.
Braun, McGehee and Hart make a convincing latter half of the lineup. I see Milwaukee putting up some numbers this year.
Prediction: Second NL Central
11. San Francisco Giants
The Giants played baseball the way every team strives to play like in 2010:
The mindset: Teamwork
The result: A run to the World Series that ended with a ring.
The Giants played situational offense most of the year that ended up being enough to put them in a playoff seed. The G-men hit .257 as a team and knocked in a little over four runs a game in the regular season.
With relatively the same lineup, can the Giants pull off another magical run?
I think not.
Prediction: Third NL West
10. Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies have been nothing but a mystery the last couple seasons. With Tulowitzki becoming one of the highest paid shortstops of all time, there's some pressure to perform for this relatively young team.
Helton's sticking around and a guy by the name of Carlos Gonzalez is set to have a monstrous year.
Colorado hit 173 home runs in 2010 and in 2011, I expect that number to go up. The more homers, the more wins. Will they come through?
Prediction: Fifth in NL West
9. St. Louis Cardinals
I don't know how the Cardinals do it, but they find a way to be successful. Certain guys step up around Mr. Consistent, Albert Pujols.
The Cardinals add long time slugger Lance Berkman to compliment Colby Rasmus and Matt Holliday in the outfield.
St. Louis had a solid team batting average, consistent power throughout the lineup, yet they still fell short of the playoffs.
Can the offense carry the pitching staff in 2011? I think not.
Prediction: Third in NL Central
8. Detroit Tigers
Out of nowhere, the Detroit Tigers surged onto the offensive map. The Tigers hit .272 which was fifth best in the Majors in 2010.
Cabrera has really come into his own and having a guy who can hit for average and power can sometimes carry an entire team offensively. Just ask Albert Pujols.
Detroit can be considered a versatile offense. They can put up runs one night because of three home runs and then another night because they hit eight singles and stole three bases.
The offense is ready to make a push.
Prediction: First AL Central
7. Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox are coming off a close AL Central race in 2010 that ended up going the Twins way. The Championship team Ozzie Guillen put together in 2005 seems harder and harder to live up to nowadays in Chicago.
Nevertheless, the team looks deep on offense with the resigning of Paul Konerko and the newly acquired Adam Dunn.
The Sox look to win back a division that's been controlled by a Minnesota team that has gone 0-6 in back-to-back ALDS series.
I don't think they make it October this season.
Prediction: Second AL Central
6. Minnesota Twins
The Twins have shown a dedication to their management and players over the last couple seasons, and they've been to the playoffs two years in a row.
They hit .273 as a team in 2010 and knocked out 142 home runs as an offense combined.
Mauer, Morneau and Cuddyer must be ready for a season where they get past the Yankees. Third time's a charm.
Prediction: Third in AL Central
5. Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati reds had one of the best seasons they've had in a decade and a half. They hosted a playoff game baby! For the record, the Reds deserved more than one playoff home game, the league needs to do something about prolonging the playoffs.
The reigning MVP, Jay Bruce, Scotty Rolen and a very powerful Reds lineup makes for a convincing Top Five offense given their 2010 offensive statistics.
It's convincing that the Reds will put up more impressive offensive numbers in 2011, but it doesn't mean the team goes all the way to the playoffs again.
Better offensive team than defensive team.
Prediction: Fourth NL Central
4. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies no doubt have a firing on all cylinders kind of offense when on the same page. They've proven they can hit in the clutch, and know what they need to do to get back to another World Series.
Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, let's get it done.
The Phillies hit .260 as a team in 2010 and dropped a little bit in power numbers.
Great offense, great team.
Prediction: First NL East
3. Texas Rangers
The Rangers are a force to be reckon with. They can explode with singles and doubles in the gap, and they can hit back-to-back home runs on you in the same inning.
Josh Hamilton wants another crack at the World Series you better believe it. The team is ready for another crack at the World Series.
The Rangers had the best average, and in my opinion, best team chemistry from top to bottom in their lineup.
What kind of year will it be for this lineup top to bottom?
Prediction: Second AL West
2. New York Yankees
Jeter has resigned and all is well in New York. The team is set and ready to go at least on offense.
The Yankees were one of three teams that hit over 200 home runs in 2010 as a team. The Yankees also scored the most runs in the league knocking in 823 runs batted in. That's impressive.
This team looks pretty similar to last year's. They don't have many obstacles in the way of them.
Will 2011 be a nose to the grind kind of year for the Bronx Bombers?
Prediction: First AL East
1. Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox filled two extremely big pieces in their lineup and in their defense in left field and first base this offseason.
I have a lot of confidence in the former San Diego Padre Adrian Gonzalez to deliver on a much larger stage in Boston.
This Red Sox team have the ability to move around the bases quite a bit and play small ball. They also have several guys that can go the yardage at any moment for a home run.
The 2010 Red Sox team was second in the league in RBI's behind the Yankees, and second in home runs behind the Blue Jays. I think Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez put them in first in both of those categories.
Prediction: Second AL East