MLB Power Rankings: Ranking the 30 Teams' Projected Infields

Anthony LifrieriContributor IJanuary 24, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: Ranking the 30 Teams' Projected Infields

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    The infield of a baseball team is the most important part of the team.  It encompasses two-thirds of the team's lineup everyday, and sees most of the action defensively. 

    A good infield can lead a team to the World Series, while a bad infield can lead a team to defeat.

    Here is a ranking of every infield in MLB:

30. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    The only bright spot of the worst infield.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The good news for Pittsburgh fans is their Steelers are once again going to the Super Bowl. 

    The bad news is their baseball team's infield is still the worst. 

    Lyle Overbay was one of the game’s best first basemen at one point, but he is well past his prime.  Chris Snyder is an average at best catcher, and the rest of the infield has a lot to prove.  They are simply terrible. 

    Expect nothing of them in 2011, just like every other year.

29. Houston Astros

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    At least their ballpark is nice...Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The Astros have little talent in their infield.  Bill Hall is a decent second baseman, but that’s about it. 

    This is a young and rebuilding team, and their infield reflects it. 

    Clint Barnes may be a deep sleeper, but it will take more than his emergence to save one of the worst infields in baseball.

28. Kansas City Royals

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    Aviles is actually pretty good. Unfortunately, the rest of his team is not.Nick Laham/Getty Images

    The Royals infield is just horrendous. 

    There isn’t a single asset in the infield either as a potential star or as trade bait with the exception of second baseman Mike Aviles. 

    Much like their entire team, the Royals infield is doomed for failure.

27. Cleveland Indians

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    Santana will be a star one day, but he has a ways to go.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The lone bright spot in the Indians infield will be the emergence of Carlos Santana as one of the best catchers in the game. 

    Outside of that, the Tribe is sporting a young and inexperienced infield. 

    The Indians are clearly building for the future, much like the rest of their infield.

26. Oakland Athletics

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    Kurt is by far the second best Suzuki in baseball.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The Athletics are another team with little to offer in terms of talent in the infield. 

    Mark Ellis and Kevin Kouzmanoff are decent, and Kurt Suzuki is one of the game’s better catchers, but that’s about it. 

    No one is elite, and no one outside of Suzuki is even top 10 in their respective positions. 

    They may not lose many games out in the field, but they definitely won’t win many games with their bats, either.

25. San Diego Padres

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    Headley may not have much to cheer about in 2011.Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    The Padres’ infield would be a lot better if they had kept Adrian Gonzalez. 

    Instead, Brad Hawpe will man first base, who could be in for a long year outside of Colorado’s friendly confines. 

    Orlando Hudson and Chase Headley save this infield from obscurity, but it will be up to Headley to step up if the Padres wish to contend in 2011 as they did in 2009.

24. Seattle Mariners

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    The Mariners' success rides on Justin Smoak's emergence.J. Meric/Getty Images

    The Mariners have an average infield at best led by Chone Figgins. 

    Figgins was one of the best leadoff men in the game until his arrival in Seattle last year.  Look for that to change this year, as he should enjoy a return to form. 

    Miguel Olivo is pretty good behind the plate, and Justin Smoak is a super prospect.  If Smoak lives up to potential, the Mariners just might catch lightning in a bottle.

23. Washington Nationals

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    This is the highlight of the Nationals infield.Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    The only bright spot of the Nationals infield is Ryan Zimmerman. 

    Pudge Rodriguez and Adam LaRoche are worth mentioning, but they are both long in the tooth. 

    The Nats may be a deep sleeping team in 2011, but their infield is definitely not one of Washington’s strengths.

22. Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim

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    This was the moment that set the Angels back for the rest of 2010.Harry How/Getty Images

    The Angels may have one of the strongest outfields, but their infield is one of the weakest. 

    Outside of Kendry Morales, there is no talent to rave about. 

    Howie Kendrick and Eric Aybar are solid overall, but not spectacular, and Alberto Callaspo and Jeff Mathis won’t bring much to the party in 2011. 

    This infield will play good defense and rely on Morales and the big hitting outfield  to win games.

21. Tampa Bay Rays

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    Longoria knows he needs plenty of help in 2011, and he might actually get some.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Rays suffered a heavily depleting offseason, losing many of their key players, and it is reflected in their infield. 

    No real asset is in the infield outside of new team mainstay Evan Longoria.  Longoria emerged as one of the best in the game last year, and he must now endure a weak team and infield that is a .500 team at best.  

    Look out for Sean Rodriguez and John Jaso to be sleepers this year, and could help the Rays turn around in 2012 or 2013.

20. Toronto Blue Jays

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    J. Meric/Getty Images

    The Blue Jays have an average infield led by Aaron Hill at second base.  Hill had a down year in 2010, but is still one of the best second basemen in the game. 

    Hill teams up with Yunel Escobar, a slightly better than average shortstop. Escobar can pick it, but he doesn’t hit well, much like John McDonald at third base. 

    Adam Lind is quite the opposite. However, Mike Napoli is a great addition at catcher if he can stay healthy.

    Toronto has a mediocre infield overall in 2011, but could become one of the best in 2012 if they wisely use the money they saved in the Vernon Wells trade.

19. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    This is a definite sleeper infield.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Diamondbacks will have one of the most underrated infields in the majors this year. 

    Stephen Drew returns at shortstop to lead an infield including Melvin Mora at third and Kelly Johnson at second.  Miguel Montero had a down year last year, but he should return to his pre-injury form as one of the best catchers in the game.

    This is a solid overall offense that is sure to hit and field with the best of them. 

    The Diamondbacks’ only weakness is at first base, but that could be remedied at the trade deadline if they are still in contention.

18. Chicago Cubs

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    The Cubbies need Aramis Ramirez to be consistant in 2011.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Cubbies will have an improved infield in 2011 with the addition of Carlos Pena.  Pena can pick it as well as anyone and as the raw power to make a big difference if he doesn’t strike out 150 times.

    Aramis Ramirez returns as well making for one of the stronger corner infields in the game. 

    The middle of the infield is average at best, but catcher Geovany Soto was enjoying a renaissance until he was injured.

    If Soto returns to form and Pena can cut down the strikeouts, the Cubs could have one of the better infields in the game. 

    They also might contend for the division title. 

    However, it is far more likely the Cubs and their infield remains in the middle of the pack.

17. Colorado Rockies

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The Rockies have a decent overall infield.  It would be one of the weakest in the game if not for the presence of Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop. 

    Tulo is one of the best players in the game, and can bring it at the dish and in the field. 

    The rest of the infield is lackluster at best, including Ian Stewart at the hot corner, Chris Iannetta catching and an aging Todd Helton at first base.

16. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Furcal has hops...Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    The Dodgers are an infield to watch in 2011. 

    They have a nice mix of offense and defense around the diamond, headed by Rafael Furcal at short and James Loney at first. 

    I also like the catching combination of Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro.  One of them will emerge as one of the better catchers in the game by the end of 2011.

    The Dodgers are still a talented team, but their infielders must stay healthy and produce if they hope to contend in 2011, which is likely.

15. Florida Marlins

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    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    The Marlins have one of the better infields in baseball because of their middle infield. 

    Hanley Ramirez is one of the game’s top three players, and Omar Infante is a huge improvement over the inconsistent Dan Uggla. 

    The young Matt Dominguez could succeed at third while Gabby Sanchez should provide above average all-around first base play. 

    Add in John Buck, and the Marlins could be primed to contend through a strong infield.

14. Chicago White Sox

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    Beckham is the chosen one on the South Side.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The White Sox have one of the better all-around infields in baseball. 

    There are no true superstars in the infield yet, but Gordon Beckham will be soon. 

    Paul Konerko returns and mans a good overall first base, and Alexi Ramirez will look to improve upon 2010. 

    AJ Pierzynski may be getting up there in years, but he is still one of the best all-around catchers in the game. 

    This is one of the few infields with no weakness.

13. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Prince is commited to improving his defense.Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The Brewers have a solid infield, headed by Prince Fielder at first and Rickie Weeks at second. 

    Yuniesky Betancourt is solid, if not unspectacular at short, and Casey McGehee is more of the same. 

    As a whole, the infield is both good defensively and offensively, with Weeks and Fielder providing the offensive firepower, while Betancourt and Weeks lock down the middle of the infield. 

    Will Nieves is a solid defensive catcher, but brings little pop to the equation.

12. San Francisco Giants

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    Posey reigns supreme.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    The defending champs boast one of the more underrated infields in baseball, and minus Edgar Renteria, is the same infield that won the Giants the World Series last year. 

    Back is Pablo Sandoval, Freddie Sanchez and Aubrey Huff.  Taking Renteria’s place is veteran Miguel Tejada.  

    If this infield can perform as it did last season, they are one of the better infields in baseball.  

    There are no weaknesses, but catcher Buster Posey could be a game changer if he doesn’t fall prey to a sophomore slump. 

    Posey put the Giants over the top last year, and if he can improve on an excellent 2010, the Giants have as good of an infield as anyone.

11. Detroit Tigers

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    Miggy can bring it at the dish, but what about in the field?Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The Tigers boast one of the more fearsome hitting infields, but lack the defense to be truly dominant. 

    Miguel Cabrera is one of the best hitters in the game, but he can lack in defense at times at first base.  

    The same can be said for Brandon Inge at third, Jhonny Peralta at short, Carlos Guillen at second and free agent coup Victor Martinez catching. 

    All of these hitters are among the best hitters at their position, but all are weak defenders.

10. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Any infield that has Albert Pujols is a good one.  They also have Yadier Molina, arguably the best catcher in the NL.  

    As far as elite players goes, that’s it for the Cards‘ infield, but they do have some solid role-players around the rest of the infield including Skip Schumaker at second and Ryan Theriot at short. 

    Much like the infield outside Pujols, it is solid, but not elite. 

    If they were to acquire a third baseman at the trade deadline, they would be much better.

9. Atlanta Braves

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    The Braves' infield and season relies on Chipper Jones' health.Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The success of the Braves infield rests on the left knee of Chipper Jones. 

    If Jones can return in good health, the Braves should boast a good infield, joining Alex Gonzalez and newly acquired Dan Uggla up the middle. 

    First base will likely be platooned between several players, but if Chipper doesn’t regain his pre-injury form, the Braves will be one of the thinner and weaker infields in the game.  

    Still, the Braves should be able to count on Brian McCann to produce both offensively and defensively.  Now that he has another year under his belt with Lasik surgery, he should be due for a career year.

8. New York Mets

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    Typical Jose Reyes... Seriously, I think he'll have a huge year because it's his walk year.Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    The Mets have an infield of potential, and most of its potential and success is tied to shortstop Jose Reyes. 

    Reyes is one of the game’s most talented players, but is a cancer in the locker room due to lackadaisical play. 

    The Mets are loaded at the corners with a superstar David Wright and an emerging superstar in Ike Davis.  
    If Reyes plays to potential, which is likely because it’s his walk year, the Mets will be one of the surprise teams of 2011, and have one of the game’s best infields.  If Reyes has another lackluster year, the Mets will be playing the same old song…

7. Baltimore Orioles

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    Derek Lee shouldn't be frustrated, the Orioles will be a team to watch in 2011.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    If this slideshow were for most improved infield, the Orioles would be the runaway winner. 

    Adding both Derek Lee and Mark Reynolds to the corners gives the O’s a solid infield both offensively and defensively. 

    Add Brian Roberts, one of the game’s best all-around players and newly acquired JJ Hardy to the middle, and a team that won only 66 games last year could improve by 10-15 games even in the difficult AL East.

6. Texas Rangers

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    Welcome to Texas Adrian Beltre. Everything's bigger here...Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    What was strong last year just got better with the acquisition of Adrian Beltre. 

    With Ian Kinsler at second and a budding superstar in Elvis Andrus at short, the Rangers have the makings for a great infield.

    The major weaknesses of the Ranger’s infield are at catcher and first base.  They need to sort out the catching situation, which is a mess offensively. 

    At first base, Chris Davis must finally live up to his hype or risk losing his job to current DH Michael Young.

5. Minnesota Twins

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    Possibly the best 3-4 combination in the game.Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    The Twins have a solid and consistent infield led by Joe Mauer at catcher and Justin Morneau at fist base. 

    Morneau has had trouble staying healthy over the last few years, but is overdue for an MVP-caliber season.  

    Young Danny Valencia mans third, who really stepped up after Morneau’s injury last year.  The middle infield is manned by Alexi Casilla at short and Japanese free agent Tsuyoshi Nishioka at second. 

    If Morneau can stay healthy, this is one of the best infields in baseball.

4. Boston Red Sox

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    Gonzalez vastly improves the Boston infield.Elsa/Getty Images

    The Red Sox are great at the corners, boasting Kevin Youkilis and newly acquired Adrian Gonzalez.  Former MVP Dustin Pedroia mans second who should return to form this year. 

    The only weakness is at short, with super-scrapper Marco Scutaro.  There are also questions at catcher, where Jarrod Saltalmacchia will be asked to step up in place of the aging Jason Varitek.

    If Scutaro can exceed expectations, and Salty ever lives up to his potential, they could be the best. 

    Either way, the Sawx are ready to dominate with this imposing infield.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Phillies infield is almost as good as their rotation. 

    Jimmy Rollins to Chase Utley to Ryan Howard may be the best all-around double play combo in baseball.  All three will win a ton of games with their bats, while playing solid defense (with the exception of Howard’s defense).

    Carlos Ruiz and Placido Polanco are among the game’s best role players, and they will help lead one of the baseball’s best infields and teams deep into the playoffs.

2. Cincinnati Reds

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    Votto will probably be the best fist baseman of this new decade.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The Reds had a great infield last year made better by the arrival of World Series MVP Edgar Renteria. 

    He takes over at short and joins budding superstar Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and veteran Scott Rolen to form one of the best infields in baseball. 

    Ramon Hernandez is one of the better catchers in the game, and really boosts an infield that has no weakness.

1. New York Yankees

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    The billion dollar infield.Al Bello/Getty Images

    Sure, they’re getting old, but the Yankee infield is still the best. 

    There are perennial all stars all around the diamond, including Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. 

    The only weakness is at catcher, where the Yankees must choose between an aging Jorge Posada, an inconsistent Russell Martin, or a raw Jesus Montero.