Re-Ranking All 30 MLB Lineups as the 2019 Season Heats Up
It's still early, but the 2019 Major League Baseball season has been going on long enough for us to reassess a few things.
For instance: lineup strength.
We've re-ranked the top offenses in MLB from No. 30 up to No. 1. Catch-all statistics such as OPS and weighted runs created plus (wRC+) provided helpful context. Otherwise, the rankings are a judgment call based on overall strength, depth and special abilities.
To clarify, we looked backward, not forward. Some offenses do figure to get better, but we were less interested in what could be and more interested in what is.
Note: Stats are current through Tuesday, April 30.
30. Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins offense has lost Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna or J.T. Realmuto over the last couple of years, and it shows.
The Marlins' 2.8 runs per game rank last in MLB. That comes from a poor collective plate approach, bad hitting with runners in scoring position and an utter dearth of power. To wit, Miami's .109 isolated power (ISO) is the league's worst.
Newcomers Jorge Alfaro and Neil Walker are doing their part with a combined .791 OPS, but the Marlins offense needs more from everyone else. That goes twofold for Brian Anderson and Starlin Castro, who've regressed from a .743 combined OPS in 2018 to a .653 mark this year.
29. San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants can breathe easy when Brandon Belt or Pablo Sandoval is at the plate. They have a solid .855 OPS between them.
Otherwise, luminaries such as Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik look past their primes. The Giants have also gotten just a .591 OPS from their outfield, which is mostly the fault of newcomers Kevin Pillar and Gerardo Parra and supposed up-and-comer Steven Duggar.
As of now, wRC+ places this Giants offense as the worst in the franchise's 137-year history. If the Giants are going to fix that, a good place to start would be with their MLB-worst .275 on-base percentage.
28. Detroit Tigers
The bright sides are more or less where the Tigers hoped they would be. Christin Stewart and Niko Goodrum have shown promise, and Nicholas Castellanos has shrugged off a slow start with an .811 OPS since April 6.
This Tigers offense is otherwise no better than the one that struggled through 2018 and is worse than its OPS and wRC+ would indicate. A healthy Miguel Cabrera should be making a difference in theory, but he's showing his age (36) with a .718 OPS and just one homer.
27. Cleveland Indians
A year ago, the Cleveland Indians offense put up a rock-solid .766 OPS and scored 5.1 runs per game. The step down from there to a .641 OPS and 3.9 runs per contest has been a rough one.
Cleveland's front office let Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion, Yan Gomes and Yonder Alonso get away over the winter. It did bring back Carlos Santana, but even he isn't doing much for the team's power problem. The Indians' .125 ISO is easily the lowest in the American League.
It hasn't helped that Francisco Lindor was on the injured list through April 20. Nor is it helping that Jose Ramirez is mired in a longstanding slump. This is nonetheless Cleveland's reality, and it's very much a threat to its AL Central standing.
26. Baltimore Orioles
If nothing else, this Baltimore Orioles offense is better than what they had a year ago.
That's somewhat surprising, given that Manny Machado is nowhere in sight. But it's a testament to Trey Mancini's breakout with a 1.023 OPS, as well as to those of Renato Nunez, Dwight Smith Jr. and Pedro Severino. Even Chris Davis has caught fire since he opened the season with a record-setting hitless streak.
Still, this offense is less than the sum of its parts. The Orioles' .241/.303/.392 slash line is nothing to write home about, and their many shortcomings have been exposed when they've ventured away from the bandbox that is Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
25. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates have gotten plenty out of Josh Bell and Melky Cabrera, who have a .904 OPS and nine homers between them.
However, the Pirates have gotten only 14 homers out of the rest of their hitters, which ties them with the Marlins at an NL-low 23. Throw in a .296 OBP, and there's not a whole lot to like about Pittsburgh's offense.
Better things will be in store if Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Corey Dickerson can get or say healthy. But even then, the Pirates probably won't end up with anything better than the mediocre offense that held them back in 2018.
24. Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies' collective OPS isn't terrible. But that's where wRC+ comes in handy when trying to account for Coors Field, and the result is the worst offense in Colorado's 27-year history.
Daniel Murphy was supposed to elevate the Rockies lineup, but he suffered a broken finger three games into the season. In the meantime, incumbent stars Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon have regressed from a 125 combined wRC+ in 2018 to a 99 wRC+.
The only guy worth praising is 25-year-old outfielder David Dahl, who's turning long-awaited good health into a .907 OPS and a 121 wRC+. Otherwise, the Rockies offense is a shallow unit that's only been useful at home.
23. Toronto Blue Jays
At long last, uber-prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been added to the Toronto Blue Jays offense. In time, his once-in-a-generation hitting talent should make a difference.
For now, though, the Blue Jays lineup is struggling to find an identity. This is easily the least powerful offense they've had in the last five years, and its lopsided walk-to-strikeout ratio and AL-low .296 OBP point to a fundamentally flawed plate approach.
Toronto's individual success stories are highlighted by Justin Smoak and Freddy Galvis, who've combined for an .847 OPS. But all that really means is the Blue Jays have two guys with solid trade value.
22. Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds had a good offense on paper at one point. But a month into 2019, they're stuck with an MLB-low .212 batting average, as well as ugly marks for OBP (.286) and slugging percentage (.380).
Scooter Gennett's absence with a strained groin has been felt, as has Joey Votto's ongoing offensive decline. What's more, Yasiel Puig (.580 OPS) hasn't been the bolt of energy the Reds expected. To boot, Cincinnati's offense is even more anemic away from the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park.
It's a good thing the Reds have Eugenio Suarez, Jesse Winker and Derek Dietrich, who have combined for an .826 OPS and 20 homers. Without them, Cincinnati's offense would be so much worse.
21. San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres' surprise decision to break camp with Fernando Tatis Jr. is paying off. Up until he landed on the injured list with a hamstring strain Tuesday, the 20-year-old shortstop had hit the ground running with a .910 OPS and six home runs.
The Padres have also gotten six homers out of Hunter Renfroe and eight out of Franmil Reyes, but that's about where the good stuff stops. The $51 million they're paying Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer has yielded a .723 OPS and nine homers. Fellow veteran Ian Kinsler has been all but useless.
Altogether, there are red flags aplenty outside San Diego's 43 total home runs. The big ones have to do with discipline, both at the plate (NL-high strikeout rate) and on the bases (MLB-low baserunning runs).
20. Los Angeles Angels
If it's been a while since anyone's last Mike Trout checkup, the short version is that he's still doing Mike Trout things with a 1.052 OPS, six homers and four stolen bases.
More surprising are the .948 OPS and 11 homers that the Los Angeles Angels have gotten out of Tommy La Stella and Brian Goodwin. There's also a low-key peskiness to their offense, as its 15.7 strikeout percentage is easily the lowest in MLB.
Nonetheless, the Angels have missed the power of Justin Upton (turf toe) and Shohei Ohtani (elbow), both of whom are out with injuries. Veterans Albert Pujols, Kole Calhoun and Justin Bour have struggled to pick up the slack in the meantime, so there should be no mistaking that the Angels offense is top-heavy.
19. Boston Red Sox
That effort isn't carrying over into 2019. Reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi have regressed from a .955 OPS to an .851 OPS. Mitch Moreland has done his part with a team-high eight homers, but offensive pickings have otherwise been slim outside of Boston's core hitters.
One silver lining is that these Red Sox still give pitchers a good battle. But that's not translating into results, particularly in the power department. That could be early-season noise. Or, it could be the beginnings of a lasting World Series hangover.
18. Oakland Athletics
By any measure, this Oakland Athletics offense isn't as dangerous as the one that put up a .764 OPS and 5.0 runs per game in 2018.
Yet the A's have worked tougher at-bats in establishing a higher ratio of walks to strikeouts. Their power hasn't been as explosive, but Khris Davis (10 homers) and Matt Chapman (eight homers) are fighting the good fight. Marcus Semien, meanwhile, is breaking out with an .864 OPS.
Unfortunately, the A's can't do much about the pitcher-friendly nature of the Oakland Coliseum. They also can't do much but bide their time as they wait for Jurickson Profar (.495 OPS) to come alive and for Matt Olson to recover from hand surgery.
17. Kansas City Royals
The 2018 Kansas City Royals mustered only a .697 OPS and 3.9 runs per game, yet there are good reasons a quantum leap has occurred in 2019.
Start with the fab five of Hunter Dozier, Alex Gordon, Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi and Jorge Soler, who've teamed up for an .886 OPS, 26 homers and 13 stolen bases. The Royals have also had enough speed elsewhere to run their stolen base total to an MLB-high 29.
What's holding the Royals back is all the empty space in their lineup around their five best hitters. They can't climb the ranks of MLB's best offenses unless that's resolved, yet this is nonetheless not one to sleep on.
16. Chicago White Sox
Above all, the Chicago White Sox offense is the Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada Show. The two infielders are breaking out with a combined .975 OPS, 12 homers and 12 stolen bases.
It's taken some time for the rest of Chicago's lineup to catch up, but it's happening. Jose Abreu has come on strong with a 1.326 OPS since April 19, and James McCann and Ryan Cordell have done outstanding work (.893 OPS) in small sample sizes.
Even lesser contributors such as Yonder Alonso, Welington Castillo and Leury Garcia have been more "mediocre" than "bad." Collectively, the result is an offense that's been roughly a run per game better than its 2018 iteration.
15. Washington Nationals
Despite the free-agent departure of Bryce Harper, the Washington Nationals are working on a better OPS (.768 to .753) and more runs per game (5.1 to 4.8) than they had a year ago.
This is misleading. Anthony Rendon (when his elbow's healthy, anyway) has raked with a 1.182 OPS, and Juan Soto, Howie Kendrick and Matt Adams have combined for an .882 OPS in support. Yet the Nats have otherwise gotten disappointing returns out of several key hitters, and strikeouts have been a big problem.
The Nationals have at least gotten power from all corners of their offense, as they have an MLB-high-tying 13 players with home runs. They nonetheless need greater consistency around their core hitters if their offense is going to last as one of the NL's best.
14. New York Mets
The New York Mets struggled to establish offensive consistency in 2018, so they must be thrilled that their OPS (.701 to .763) and runs per game (4.2 to 5.1) have drastically improved in 2019.
They mainly have Pete Alonso to thank. The 24-year-old slugger has surpassed even his high billing with a 1.024 OPS and nine homers. Meanwhile, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis have been there to support him with a combined .933 OPS and 10 homers.
The rest of New York's lineup has been disappointing, but that shouldn't last. Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie (when he finishes rehabbing his knee) have too much experience and talent to stay quiet for long.
13. Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies added Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto over the winter precisely because they knew their offense needed to be better. It's working.
The Phillies have improved their OPS from .707 to .758 and their runs per game from 4.2 to 5.0. Their new guys have pitched in an .840 OPS and 16 homers, while incumbents Rhys Hoskins and Maikel Franco have more than held their own with a .924 OPS and 15 homers. Collectively, this is also one of MLB's most patient offenses.
One catch is that this Phillies offense has cooled off quite a bit since a red-hot start. Another is that it's leaned heavily on Citizens Bank Park for power, hitting 28 homers there and only 10 on the road.
12. New York Yankees
From looking at their overall production, you'd never be able to tell that the New York Yankees have Aaron Judge (oblique), Giancarlo Stanton (biceps, shoulder), Miguel Andujar (shoulder), Aaron Hicks (back) and Didi Gregorius (Tommy John surgery) on their injured list.
That's a testament to the Bombers who are standing. In particular, Luke Voit and Gary Sanchez, who have a .939 OPS and 16 homers between them. The Yankees are also getting more than they bargained for out of DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela.
Granted, what the Yankees have now almost certainly won't be the best offense they have all season. Nevertheless, it's a darn good sign that their 46 homers put them ahead of last season's record-setting pace.
11. Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers offense would look roughly half as good if it didn't have Christian Yelich. The reigning NL MVP has picked up where he left off with a 1.264 OPS and 14 long balls.
Still, the Brewers are also getting strong hitting out of Eric Thames, Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal, who've chipped in an .889 combined OPS and 18 homers to the team's NL-best total of 57. The Brew Crew has also excelled in the clutch with an MLB-best .990 OPS with runners in scoring position.
Now the Brewers just need more from Lorenzo Cain, Travis Shaw, Ryan Braun and Jesus Aguilar. If that group pulls through, there likely won't be a better offense in the National League than Milwaukee's.
10. Arizona Diamondbacks
At least as of now, you would never be able to tell that the Arizona Diamondbacks offense lost Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock over the winter.
Newcomer Adam Jones has done his part to fill their shoes with an .860 OPS and five homers, but the lion's share of the credit goes to Arizona's incumbents. In particular, the trio of David Peralta, Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker has raked with a .933 OPS and 16 homers.
Power is certainly the defining feature of this Arizona offense, as it leads the NL with 124 extra-base hits. And that's despite getting little help from Chase Field, which has yielded only 48 of them.
9. Tampa Bay Rays
However, the Rays are making the balls they do get into the air count with an MLB-best 95.6 mph exit velocity on fly balls and line drives. There aren't many weak links in that effort, but it especially explains the early success of Tommy Pham, Yandy Diaz, Brandon Lowe and Austin Meadows (though he's out with a thumb injury). Put together, they have a .963 OPS and 23 homers.
The Rays have other secrets to their offensive success, such as a strong walk rate and an outstanding .851 OPS away from Tropicana Field. There may be a little overachieving going on, but they're better than the sum of their parts.
8. Texas Rangers
Behold the surprising offense that sits atop all of MLB with an average of 5.93 runs per game.
The Texas Rangers mostly have Joey Gallo, Elvis Andrus and Shin-Soo Choo to thank for this. They've combined for a whopping 1.022 OPS and 18 home runs. Although nobody else holds a candle to those three, the only Texas hitters off to truly slow starts are Rougned Odor and Delino DeShields.
As a collective, the Rangers have a .202 ISO that's tied for fifth in MLB and an .899 OPS with runners in scoring position that leads the AL. Apart from the slight top-heaviness of their lineup, the only other nit to pick is their tendency toward strikeouts, which isn't even that bad.
7. Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves had a pretty good offense in 2018, yet their guys swung too often for their own good.
It's been a different story this year, and the Braves have been rewarded with a much-improved 11.1 walk percentage and an MLB-best .353 OBP. As if that weren't enough, they're also more powerful than they were in 2018.
It's not one, two or even three players who are doing the heavy lifting. Atlanta's free-agent splashes on Josh Donaldson and Nick Markakis are paying off, and incumbents Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson and Tyler Flowers are either living up to or surpassing expectations.
6. Chicago Cubs
Because they're still waiting on Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber to hit their strides, the Chicago Cubs offense ought to be stuck in the same rut it fell into in the latter half of 2018.
That hasn't happened because Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward and David Bote have picked up the slack to the tune of a .934 OPS and 30 homers. Baez, in particular, is working miracles as he continues to rack up production despite his utter lack of strike-zone discipline.
5. St. Louis Cardinals
There were times when the 2018 St. Louis Cardinals needed Matt Carpenter to do it all. That hasn't been the case in 2019.
Paul DeJong (1.010 OPS) and Marcell Ozuna (.961 OPS) are in rarefied air, yet the Cardinals boast five more hitters (Paul Goldschmidt, Kolten Wong, Dexter Fowler, Harrison Bader and Jose Martinez) with an OPS over .800. Altogether, their '19 offense is much more patient and powerful than the '18 version.
All this has come even though Carpenter hasn't gotten going yet. Based on his career monthly splits, that should be sometime this month.
4. Seattle Mariners
It's hard to discuss the Seattle Mariners offense without acknowledging the shift in its production:
But if nothing else, the Mariners' overall power output remains impressive. They lead MLB with 60 homers and 125 extra-base hits, and the contributions have come from all over. Led by Mitch Haniger's 19, they're the only team in MLB with six players who have at least a dozen extra-base hits.
Throw in Seattle's Dee Gordon-fueled fondness for stolen bases, and what you get is perhaps the most dynamic offense in MLB. And arguably the best, if not for the slump.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers wouldn't be where they are without Cody Bellinger. He's responded to his sophomore slump in 2018 by busting out with a .431/.508/.890 batting line and 14 homers.
Still, the Dodgers' early success isn't all Bellinger's doing. Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo have a .978 OPS and 14 homers between them, and Max Muncy and Enrique Hernandez are off to strong starts, too.
Overall, what's working for the Dodgers this year isn't all that different from what worked in 2018. As in: lots of walks, not too many strikeouts and plentiful power. Among NL clubs, only the Brewers have their 52 homers beat.
2. Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins made a not so subtle effort to accumulate power over the winter. Judging by their MLB-best .495 slugging percentage, that's panning out just fine.
Newcomers Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron have contributed 14 homers to the cause, but the real stars are hitters the Twins already had. Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario, in particular, have been spectacular in combining for a .938 OPS and 16 homers.
What makes the Twins even more difficult for opposing pitchers to face is their talent for putting the ball in play, as only three clubs have a lower strikeout rate. If only they had better than an 8.0 walk percentage, they'd basically have the perfect offense.
1. Houston Astros
It was only two years ago that the Houston Astros produced a wRC+ worthy of the Babe Ruth- and Lou Gehrig-era Yankees, so perhaps it's not surprising to see them dominating once again in 2019.
Usual suspects Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, George Springer and Josh Reddick are involved with a combined .894 OPS and 32 homers. The Astros are also getting plenty from newcomers Michael Brantley and Robinson Chirinos, who've teamed up for an .887 OPS.
All told, the Astros are the only club that has seven hitters with at least 80 plate appearances and an OPS over .840. The big picture is that of an offense that's outpacing its historic 2017 counterpart.