Power Ranking Each MLB Team's Lineup Before Spring Training 2019

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterJanuary 22, 2019

Power Ranking Each MLB Team's Lineup Before Spring Training 2019

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    Though the ongoing job hunts of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado complicate things a bit, it's time to get serious with a discussion about the best lineups in Major League Baseball.

    We've come to present our two cents in the form of a power rankings that counts down MLB's most intimidating offenses from No. 30 all the way to No. 1.

    The rankings are meant to size up teams' hitters only, so we didn't hold the pitcher's spot against National League clubs. And while we focused on projected regulars at each position, a select few platoon partnerships deserved shoutouts. The rankings were a subjective call informed by recent history and general expectations for 2019.

    A good stat to know going in is wRC+, or weighted runs created plus. It measures offensive value in relation to league average (100) and is therefore good for putting individual hitters and whole offenses on a common scale.

30. Baltimore Orioles

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    CF Cedric Mullins

    2B Jonathan Villar

    1B Chris Davis

    LF Trey Mancini

    DH Mark Trumbo

    RF DJ Stewart

    3B Renato Nunez

    C Chance Sisco

    SS Richie Martin

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 84


    Though there were other reasons, finishing last in the American League in runs and second-to-last in MLB in wRC+ were certainly big reasons why the Baltimore Orioles lost 115 games in 2018. And that was with Manny Machado for half the year.

    This time around, perhaps Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo will turn back the clock and combine with Trey Mancini for a lethal power-hitting core. Failing that, relative newcomers like Cedric Mullins, DJ Stewart, Renato Nunez, Chance Sisco and Richie Martin might make the most of regular playing time.

    A more honest assessment of the Baltimore lineup, however, is that it's filled with has-beens and likely never-will-bes. At least until top prospects Austin Hays, Yusniel Diaz and Ryan Mountcastle get the call, it's not going to be pretty.

29. Miami Marlins

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    2B Starlin Castro

    3B Martin Prado

    C J.T. Realmuto

    RF Brian Anderson

    1B Peter O'Brien

    CF Lewis Brinson

    LF Austin Dean

    SS JT Riddle

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 97


    If J.T. Realmuto is traded, a Miami Marlins offense that scored fewer runs and posted a lower wRC+ than any in the NL in 2018 will have lost its best hitter. For now, however, he's still around.

    Perhaps the only way things will get better in 2019 is if the Marlins improve on last year's MLB-low 128 home runs. Realmuto might help with that if he stays, but perhaps not as much as Lewis Brinson and Peter O'Brien if they can make good on the potential they teased in the minors.

    If not, Realmuto will be stuck with modest support from Starlin Castro, Brian Anderson and Austin Dean. Top prospects Monte Harrison and Isan Diaz could provide some energy when they arrive, but that might not be until later in the year.

28. San Francisco Giants

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    2B Joe Panik

    1B Brandon Belt

    C Buster Posey

    3B Evan Longoria

    SS Brandon Crawford

    RF Austin Slater

    LF Chris Shaw

    CF Steven Duggar

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 91


    Only the Marlins scored fewer runs and hit fewer homers than the San Francisco Giants in 2018. More offense won't materialize in 2019 unless youngsters and veterans alike get it together.

    To this end, it doesn't bode well that Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik are several years past their offensive peaks. The outfield trio of Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar and Austin Slater holds more promise, but each has a concerning relationship with the swing and miss.

    Pretty much the only reason for optimism has to do with how San Francisco's core veterans at least have reasonably high floors to support their low ceilings. Even still, the Giants figure to struggle on offense again this season.

27. Detroit Tigers

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    CF JaCoby Jones

    3B Jeimer Candelario

    RF Nicholas Castellanos

    1B Miguel Cabrera

    DH Christin Stewart

    2B Niko Goodrum

    LF Mikie Mahtook

    C Grayson Greiner

    SS Jordy Mercer

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 98


    The Detroit Tigers will lose their best hitter if the trade market takes Nicholas Castellanos away. If not, Castellanos, a healthy Miguel Cabrera and breakout candidate Christin Stewart should make for a strong middle-of-the-order trio.

    Offense otherwise figures to be hard to come by. Out of JaCoby Jones, Jeimer Candelario, Nike Goodrum and Mikie Mahtook, only Goodrum turned his 2018 audition into a respectable showing. Grayson Greiner is about as offensively challenged as the next catcher, and Jordy Mercer is...well, Jordy Mercer.

    All told, the aforementioned middle-of-the-order trio is the only reason to believe the Tigers won't finish dead-last in wRC+ and second-to-last in the AL in runs again.

26. San Diego Padres

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    2B Ian Kinsler

    LF Wil Myers

    1B Eric Hosmer

    RF Hunter Renfroe

    CF Franchy Cordero

    C Austin Hedges

    SS Luis Urias

    3B Ty France

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 98


    The San Diego Padres were threatening to keep Wil Myers at third base, but it's back to the outfield for him. That seems to be bad news for Franmil Reyes, who doesn't have a large enough body of work to take right field from Hunter Renfroe.

    Still, it's not all bad. Myers, Eric Hosmer and Ian Kinsler can be the veteran glue holding things together while Renfroe, Franchy Cordero and Luis Urias amplify their tantalizing talent. And while Austin Hedges gets the nod by default, his glove could swiftly lose precedence to Francisco Mejia's bat.

    More upside will arrive when uber-prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. is called up to play shortstop. Even before then, this offense should already be on its way to improving on last year's dreadful showing (3.8 runs per game and 90 wRC+).

25. Chicago White Sox

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    RF Jon Jay

    2B Yoan Moncada

    1B Jose Abreu

    DH Yonder Alonso

    C Welington Castillo

    LF Daniel Palka

    3B Yolmer Sanchez

    SS Tim Anderson

    CF Adam Engel

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 93


    The Chicago White Sox lineup will get a huge boost if Machado comes aboard. If not, it should get a reasonably large boost when slugging wunderkind Eloy Jimenez gets the call early in the year.

    In the meantime, the White Sox know they can count on Jose Abreu to be one of the AL's better middle-of-the-order sluggers. Daniel Palka could lead the team in homers, while Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson provide both power and speed.

    However, these guys are also holdovers from an offense that led MLB in strikeout rate and finished with just a .302 on-base percentage. There's only so much newcomers Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay can do to help in those departments.

24. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    LF David Peralta

    CF Ketel Marte

    1B Jake Lamb

    RF Steven Souza Jr.

    3B Eduardo Escobar

    2B Wilmer Flores

    SS Nick Ahmed

    C Alex Avila

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 102


    Paul Goldschmidt was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in December, and with him went a .947 OPS and 30 homers per year since 2013. The Arizona Diamondbacks will be hard-pressed to replace that production.

    It might be doable, however. David Peralta and Eduardo Escobar are coming off strong seasons, and Ketel Marte was quite good for most of 2018. If healthy, Jake Lamb and Steven Souza Jr. each have 30-homer potential.

    Still, some perspective is in order. The Snakes ranked ninth in the NL in runs and put up a 94 wRC+ last year with Goldschmidt. Even if they do make up for his absence, they'll still be a ways from having a good offense.

23. Texas Rangers

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    DH Shin-Soo Choo

    2B Rougned Odor

    SS Elvis Andrus

    LF Joey Gallo

    RF Nomar Mazara

    1B Ronald Guzman

    3B Patrick Wisdom

    C Jeff Mathis

    CF Delino DeShields

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 93


    Of the names listed above, only Joey Gallo and Shin-Soo Choo had good years for the Texas Rangers in 2018. Everyone else either struggled or played for a different organization.

    Still, we're not ready to quit Nomar Mazara. Nor Rougned Odor, who got back on track in the second half of 2018. Elvis Andrus was good in 2016 and 2017 and also before he broke his elbow last year. Ronald Guzman and Patrick Wisdom deserve optimism based on their strong performances at Triple-A.

    But while we don't think this offense is ticketed for a repeat of last year's 91 wRC+, our optimism only goes so far. It may take a breakout from 24-year-old former top prospect Willie Calhoun for Texas to avoid having the worst offense in the American League West.

22. Seattle Mariners

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    CF Mallex Smith

    RF Mitch Haniger

    3B Kyle Seager

    1B Edwin Encarnacion

    DH Jay Bruce

    LF Domingo Santana

    C Omar Narvaez

    SS Tim Beckham

    2B Dee Gordon

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 103


    The Seattle Mariners lineup features one All-Star-caliber hitter (Mitch Haniger) and then what amounts to a series of upside plays.

    For Encarnacion, Kyle Seager, Jay Bruce and Dee Gordon, Seattle's hope is they get new life and return to earlier excellence. Mallex Smith brings plenty of speed, but he'll have to repeat his surprise 2018 breakout to earn his keep. Omar Narvaez is looking to build on his own surprise breakout, while Tim Beckham and Domingo Santana will be attempting to go back to what worked in 2017.

    Yet there's not enough upside to make up for the losses of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Jean Segura. The Mariners will be lucky if they so much as match the mediocrity of their 2018 offense.

21. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    2B Adam Frazier

    CF Starling Marte

    1B Josh Bell

    LF Corey Dickerson

    C Francisco Cervelli

    3B Colin Moran

    RF Lonnie Chisenhall

    SS Erik Gonzalez

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 112


    From looking at that wRC+, you might think the Pittsburgh Pirates had a great offense in 2018. In actuality, they ranked 10th in the NL in runs.

    The Pirates don't lack good hitters. Erik Gonzalez aside, everyone listed above can handle the bat just fine. So can Jung Ho Kang, who's back to platoon with Colin Moran at the hot corner. At least until Gregory Polanco returns from shoulder surgery, however, there's a notable lack of great hitters in Pittsburgh.

    Among other things, that figures to result in a difficulty in racking up runs via the long ball. The Pirates will have to scratch and claw. Such a lineup is better described as pesky than dangerous.

20. Kansas City Royals

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    2B Whit Merrifield

    SS Adalberto Mondesi

    LF Alex Gordon

    C Salvador Perez

    1B Ryan O'Hearn

    DH Jorge Soler

    3B Hunter Dozier

    RF Jorge Bonifacio

    CF Billy Hamilton

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 98


    Of the core players who led the Kansas City Royals to the World Series in 2014 and 2015, only Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez remain. Only the latter, who's hit 54 homers since 2017, is still a useful hitter.

    The Royals do, however, have a pair of strong hitters up the middle in Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi, the latter of whom took a big step toward stardom in 2018. Ditto for Ryan O'Hearn, who put up a .950 OPS in 44 games with Kansas City. If healthy, Jorge Soler might continue his own 2018 breakout.

    Though there's not much to like about the rest of the Royals lineup, that gives them as many as five hitters to be excited about going into 2019. Their offense should function like it did in the second half of 2018, when it quietly put up a respectable 99 wRC+.

19. Los Angeles Angels

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    RF Kole Calhoun

    CF Mike Trout

    LF Justin Upton

    DH Albert Pujols

    SS Andrelton Simmons

    1B Justin Bour

    3B Zack Cozart

    C Jonathan Lucroy

    2B David Fletcher

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 109


    Though it's been well-established that Mike Trout is the game's best all-around player, it also needs to be pointed out that he's now the best hitter in baseball. He's led the majors in wRC+ in each of the last two seasons despite playing his home games at a park that leans pitcher-friendly.

    Apart from Trout, the Los Angeles Angels lineup is a mixed bag. Justin Upton can be penciled in for 30 homers, and Andrelton Simmons will hit for a high average. But at least until Shohei Ohtani is healthy enough to hit—the when of which is unclear—Justin Bour may be the Angels' next best hitter.

    Which is to say: We're not banking on Albert Pujols, Zack Cozart or Jonathan Lucroy to turn back the clock. Even with Trout, the Angels figure to have a roughly league-average offense once again.

18. Toronto Blue Jays

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    LF Billy McKinney

    SS Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

    1B Justin Smoak

    DH Kendrys Morales

    CF Kevin Pillar

    RF Randal Grichuk

    3B Brandon Drury

    2B Devon Travis

    C Danny Jansen

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 103


    Vladimir Guerrero Jr. might become the Toronto Blue Jays' best hitter when he gets the call early in 2019. Bo Bichette is also waiting in the wings, and Rowdy Tellez arguably deserves a starting spot right now.

    Even without them, the Toronto offense is better than it might look at first glance. Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales are reliable hitters with power, and Randal Grichuk can be penciled in for 25 or so dingers. The Blue Jays will be even better off if Devon Travis returns to his promising form of 2015 and 2016.

    Otherwise, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Danny Jansen can make up the difference by building on their promising 2018 seasons. Billy McKinney and Teoscar Hernandez, meanwhile, should have a productive platoon partnership in left field. At worst, this lineup can repeat last year's 101 wRC+ and 4.4 runs per game.

17. Minnesota Twins

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    LF Eddie Rosario

    SS Jorge Polanco

    3B Miguel Sano

    DH Nelson Cruz

    1B C.J. Cron

    RF Max Kepler

    2B Jonathan Schoop

    C Jason Castro

    CF Byron Buxton

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 103


    The Minnesota Twins can count on Nelson Cruz to grace them with 40ish homers in 2019. C.J. Cron should pitch in another 30 or so. Those dingers should drive in Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco plenty of times.

    Beyond that, it's a question of potential. Max Kepler needs to leap a final hurdle between him and stardom. Jonathan Schoop and especially Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton need to forget 2018 ever happened and go back to what worked in 2017.

    The Twins offense will be one of the AL's best if those guys square themselves away. But with Schoop, Sano and Buxton in particular, there's simply too much volatility to take that for granted.

16. Cleveland Indians

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    SS Francisco Lindor

    2B Jason Kipnis

    3B Jose Ramirez

    DH Carlos Santana

    1B Jake Bauers

    RF Tyler Naquin

    CF Leonys Martin

    C Roberto Perez

    LF Greg Allen

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 107


    The Cleveland Indians posted a 105 wRC+ and ranked third in MLB in runs last year. Gone from that offense, however, are Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion, Yan Gomes and Yonder Alonso.

    What's left is a decidedly top-heavy lineup. The Tribe can count on Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez to do their dual MVP candidate thing, but they otherwise need vintage performances from Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis, a breakout by Jake Bauers and good health for Leonys Martin and Tyler Naquin.

    Santana (who still has patience and power) and Bauers (who's young and talented) deserve some optimism, and Martin said he's 100 percent after a life-threatening infection in 2018. But while they should buoy the Cleveland lineup, a step back will be hard to avoid.

15. Colorado Rockies

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    CF Charlie Blackmon

    1B Daniel Murphy

    3B Nolan Arenado

    RF David Dahl

    SS Trevor Story

    LF Ian Desmond

    C Chris Iannetta

    2B Garrett Hampson

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 111


    The Colorado Rockies will score a ton of runs in 2019, but the obligatory disclaimer is that Coors Field will have a lot to do with that. The real test of their offense will come on the road, which was not kind to them last year.

    This will come down to the support around Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon. A healthy Daniel Murphy will go a long way in this regard, as should a healthy David Dahl. Garrett Hampson, who boasts a .389 career on-base percentage in the minors, can also help.

    It's not so easy to give Murphy and Dahl the benefit of the doubt, but there's enough upside in Colorado to push us in the direction of optimism. This time around, the Rockies should indeed do better than a 94 wRC+ in the process of scoring a ton of runs.

14. Cincinnati Reds

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    CF Scott Schebler

    SS Jose Peraza

    2B Scooter Gennett

    1B Joey Votto

    LF Matt Kemp

    3B Eugenio Suarez

    RF Yasiel Puig

    C Tucker Barnhart

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 117


    The Cincinnati Reds weren't an offensive juggernaut in 2018, but they were in good hands when Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez or Scooter Gennett was in the box. Those three combined for a 130 wRC+ and 69 homers in 2019.

    Now along come Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. If they could be good hitters at Dodger Stadium in 2018, they ought to be even better hitters at Great American Ball Park. Each should be good for at least 25 homers—health and fitness permitting in Kemp's case, of course.

    The tricky part is how Nick Senzel, MLB.com's No. 6 prospect, fits into all this. He can definitely hit, but he's coming off a broken finger, and he's yet to prove he can handle a transition from the infield to the outfield. Even without him, however, the Reds can improve on last year's 102 wRC+.

13. Philadelphia Phillies

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    2B Cesar Hernandez

    SS Jean Segura

    LF Andrew McCutchen

    1B Rhys Hoskins

    RF Nick Williams

    3B Maikel Franco

    CF Odubel Herrera

    C Jorge Alfaro

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 109


    The biggest addition to the Philadelphia Phillies lineup is yet to come. According to Matt Breen of Philly.com, the team is "optimistic" it'll land Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.

    In the meantime, the Phillies are already equipped to improve on an offense that posted a 97 wRC+ and ranked 11th in the NL in runs last year. They should get solid across-the-board production (e.g., on-base percentage, power, speed) from Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura. Moving from the outfield back to his comfort zone at first base might lead to greater consistency for Rhys Hoskins.

    The rest of the Philly hitters were right around league average in 2018, but each might be better than that in 2019. In particular, Odubel Herrera is in line for a bounce-back campaign, while Jorge Alfaro has breakout potential. With their help, the Phillies lineup is due for a sizable step forward.

12. Tampa Bay Rays

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    CF Kevin Kiermaier

    LF Tommy Pham

    2B Joey Wendle

    DH Avisail Garcia

    1B Ji-Man Choi

    SS Willy Adames

    RF Austin Meadows

    C Mike Zunino

    3B Matt Duffy

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 107


    Though the Tampa Bay Rays didn't score many runs (4.4 per game) in 2018, they ranked second in the AL in on-base percentage and were running a mighty good 112 wRC+ by the second half of the season.

    More of that is in order for 2019 if Kevin Kiermaier, Avisail Garcia and Mike Zunino can reclaim their respective forms from 2017. Willy Adames and Austin Meadows, meanwhile, are former top prospects who teased major league stardom in 2018—notably down the stretch in the case of Adames.

    A lineup like this won't stand out next to those of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in the American League East. The Rays offense is nonetheless quietly stacked with quality hitters and very much ready to make an impression on the opposition.

11. New York Mets

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    RF Brandon Nimmo

    3B Jed Lowrie

    2B Robinson Cano

    LF Michael Conforto

    1B Todd Frazier

    C Wilson Ramos

    SS Amed Rosario

    CF Juan Lagares

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 118


    If the New York Mets have a problem, it's that an offense that posted a 100 wRC+ and ranked 12th in the NL in runs last season might now have too many bats after the additions of Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, Jed Lowrie, Keon Broxton and J.D. Davis.

    Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto aren't about to complain, as they won't have to carry the unit like they did throughout 2018. Cano, Ramos and Lowrie pack reliably above-average bats. Broxton and Davis have upside as regulars should Todd Frazier or Juan Lagares falter.

    Alas, it could be tough for the Mets to find at-bats for late-bloomer Jeff McNeil or top prospect Peter Alonso. Nonetheless, their offense is due for a leap into the ranks of the NL's best.

10. Atlanta Braves

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    LF Ronald Acuna Jr.

    2B Ozzie Albies

    1B Freddie Freeman

    3B Josh Donaldson

    CF Ender Inciarte

    RF Adam Duvall

    SS Dansby Swanson

    C Tyler Flowers

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 105


    Missing from an Atlanta Braves offense that mustered a 105 wRC+ and tied for fifth in the NL in runs in 2018 are right fielder Nick Markakis and catcher Kurt Suzuki.

    On the bright side, Freddie Freeman has been one of MLB's best hitters since 2016, and the Braves can have high hopes for core youngsters Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson. Acuna, in particular, will be an MVP candidate if he picks up where he left off from last year's supernova second half.

    Then there's Josh Donaldson, on whom the Braves have bet $23 million on a return to his 2015 AL MVP form. This will depend on his health. But if he can stay on the field, he will hit and help transform the lineup from good to great.

9. St. Louis Cardinals

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    3B Matt Carpenter

    2B Kolten Wong

    1B Paul Goldschmidt

    LF Marcell Ozuna

    C Yadier Molina

    SS Paul DeJong

    CF Harrison Bader

    RF Dexter Fowler

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 112


    Now that Paul Goldschmidt has joined forces with Matt Carpenter, the St. Louis Cardinals offense is anchored by two of the NL's five best hitters from 2018.

    The company around them isn't too shabby either. With 38 homers since 2017, Yadier Molina has reinvented himself as a slugger. More power will come from Paul DeJong and Marcell Ozuna, the latter of whom hit more like his 2017 All-Star self in the second half of 2018.

    The Cardinals should also get at least average-ish offense from Harrison Bader in center field and a Kolten Wong-Jedd Gyorko platoon at second base. Dexter Fowler, meanwhile, can't be any worse than he was in 2018. All told, this lineup looks much better than the one that was good enough for a 103 wRC+ and 4.7 runs per game last year.

8. Milwaukee Brewers

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    CF Lorenzo Cain

    RF Christian Yelich

    LF Ryan Braun

    3B Travis Shaw

    1B Jesus Aguilar

    C Yasmani Grandal

    SS Orlando Arcia

    2B Cory Spangenberg

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 120


    The Milwaukee Brewers ranked second in the NL in home runs last year even though MVP Christian Yelich did not break out his big power until the second half. In Yelich, Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar, the Brewers have three candidates for 30-plus homers this year.

    The Brewers should also get good power out of Ryan Braun and newcomer Yasmani Grandal, who's averaged 24 homers per year since 2016. Lorenzo Cain isn't much of a slugger, but his talent for getting on base is an ideal complement to the sluggers behind him.

    Milwaukee likely won't get much offense from Orlando Arcia or a Cory Spangenberg-Hernan Perez platoon up the middle. However, the goods are there for the Brewers to make like the second half of 2018, when they had a 114 wRC+ and scored five runs per game.

7. Washington Nationals

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    RF Adam Eaton

    SS Trea Turner

    3B Anthony Rendon

    LF Juan Soto

    2B Brian Dozier

    1B Ryan Zimmerman

    CF Victor Robles

    C Yan Gomes

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 116


    It's weird to imagine a Washington Nationals lineup without Bryce Harper, but...well, there it is. Yet that doesn't signal doom for an offense that ranked second in the NL in wRC+ and third in runs last year.

    The Nats can count on All-Star-level offense from Anthony Rendon and on power and speed from Trea Turner. Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki will boost a catcher spot that was an offensive black hole in 2018. After playing through injury last year, Brian Dozier should recapture his 40-homer power and upgrade a second base spot that also struggled.

    Elsewhere, Adam Eaton and Ryan Zimmerman are productive hitters when healthy, and the upside of Juan Soto and top prospect Victor Robles goes through the roof. The former can emerge as an MVP candidate following the best offensive season ever by a teenager in 2018. The latter has breakout potential out the wazoo.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    LF Joc Pederson

    SS Corey Seager

    3B Justin Turner

    1B Cody Bellinger

    2B Max Muncy

    CF Chris Taylor

    RF Alex Verdugo

    C Russell Martin

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 126


    The Los Angeles Dodgers led the NL in runs and home runs last year, not to mention all of MLB in wRC+. However, gone from that offense are Manny Machado, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Yasmani Grandal and Brian Dozier. Any optimism about them avoiding a step back has its limits.

    It could be worse, though. Justin Turner is a reliably excellent hitter, and the Dodgers should get at least 25 homers apiece from Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson and a healthy Corey Seager. Alex Verdugo doesn't have that much power, but he's ready to become the Dodgers' next great young hitter.

    Max Muncy is more of a wild card following a 162 wRC+ and 35 homers that came out of nowhere in 2018. But Turner and Chris Taylor are examples of how Dodgers breakouts can indeed carry over, so we'll lean positive on his chances and assume this will once again be one of the NL's top lineups.

5. Oakland Athletics

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    SS Marcus Semien

    3B Matt Chapman

    DH Khris Davis

    1B Matt Olson

    RF Stephen Piscotty

    2B Jurickson Profar

    LF Nick Martini

    CF Ramon Laureano

    C Josh Phegley

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 119


    The Oakland Athletics know they can count on Khris Davis for 40-plus homers and exactly a .247 batting average. Matt Chapman and Matt Olson will provide additional power at the corners, as should Stephen Piscotty in right field following his career revival in 2018.

    Coming off a long-awaited breakout in 2018, Jurickson Profar should soften the blow of Jed Lowrie's departure to the Mets. Albeit in a limited sample size, Nick Martini and Ramon Laureano each did better than an .800 OPS last season. They'll split time with Chad Pinder and Mark Canha, who hit well in their own right.

    Put it together, and this offense doesn't look much worse than the one that ranked fourth in MLB in runs and third in home runs last season with a 121 second-half wRC+ to boot.

4. Chicago Cubs

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    SS Javier Baez

    3B Kris Bryant

    1B Anthony Rizzo

    C Willson Contreras

    LF Kyle Schwarber

    2B Ben Zobrist

    CF Ian Happ

    RF Jason Heyward

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 116


    The Chicago Cubs scored 5.1 runs per game with an MLB-best 116 wRC+ in the first half in 2018, but they started slumping after the All-Star break, and their offense was completely broken by September and October. Deservedly or not, hitting coach Chili Davis was blamed.

    In any case, color us optimistic that the Cubs will bounce back in 2019. Javier Baez is fresh off achieving superstardom, and Kris Bryant (whose shoulder is healthy) and Anthony Rizzo (who was excellent after April last season) should reclaim their own this year. Ben Zobrist is typically an on-base machine, and Kyle Schwarber will at least keep the power coming.

    The real pressure is on Willson Contreras and Ian Happ to achieve the breakouts they teased in 2017. They have some bad habits (read: whiffs) to overcome, but they're too young and talented to be left out of Chicago's offensive revival.

3. Boston Red Sox

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    RF Mookie Betts

    LF Andrew Benintendi

    1B Mitch Moreland

    DH J.D. Martinez

    SS Xander Bogaerts

    2B Dustin Pedroia

    3B Rafael Devers

    C Sandy Leon

    CF Jackie Bradley Jr.

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 123


    After the Boston Red Sox led MLB in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and runs last year, it's hard to spot reasons why they shouldn't have an elite lineup once again in 2019.

    It helps to have Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez—who teamed up for a 177 wRC+ and 75 homers last year—leading the charge. Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi are also coming off career-best seasons, and the latter isn't yet a fully formed threat. Ditto for Rafael Devers, Boston's resident breakout candidate.

    Jackie Bradley Jr. endures extreme ups and downs, but he generally holds his own. Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce should shape a quality first base platoon. If Dustin Pedroia is indeed finished as a productive regular, the Red Sox could do worse than Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt as a fallback duo at second base.

2. New York Yankees

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    LF Brett Gardner

    RF Aaron Judge

    DH Giancarlo Stanton

    CF Aaron Hicks

    C Gary Sanchez

    3B Miguel Andujar

    SS Gleyber Torres

    2B DJ LeMahieu

    1B Luke Voit

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 118


    Because of such happenings as Aaron Judge's injury-shortened season and less-than-expected production out of Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez, a New York Yankees offense that blasted an MLB-record 267 home runs last year still felt like a disappointment.

    It's a new year, however, and better things should be expected from those three. There should also be high hopes for the severely underrated Aaron Hicks and the young duo of Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres. The former hits a lot better than he fields, and the latter showed superstar potential before a hip injury derailed his rookie campaign. As surprising as Luke Voit's own breakout was, we also liked what we saw from him down the stretch in 2018.

    Even if Brett Gardner and newcomer DJ LeMahieu seem out of place amid so many sluggers, their bat-to-ball skills will ensure the offense will be about more than just the long ball. The New York unit can leapfrog Boston's as the best in the American League East.

1. Houston Astros

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    CF George Springer

    3B Alex Bregman

    2B Jose Altuve

    SS Carlos Correa

    1B Yuli Gurriel

    LF Michael Brantley

    RF Josh Reddick

    DH Tyler White

    C Robinson Chirinos

    Collective 2018 wRC+: 122


    It was only two years ago that the Houston Astros offense led MLB in, oh, pretty much everything and finished with the best collective wRC+ since the Babe Ruth-Lou Gehrig-era Yankees. More so than what befell them in 2018, that is reflective of what the Astros will work with in 2019.

    In Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer, a threesome that combined for a 151 wRC+, 82 homers and 39 steals in 2017 remains intact. Each of them is now in a position to rebound from regression in 2018. For his part, Alex Bregman needs only to sustain last year's MVP-level breakout.

    Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick are two more candidates to hit more like their 2017 selves, while Tyler White is hot off showing what he can do with a 147 second-half wRC+. Michael Brantley, signed away from Cleveland in December, is one of MLB's best pure hitters.

    This, folks, is a lineup that should tower over all the rest.


    Stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.