Projecting Every MLB Team's Starting Lineup 1 Month Ahead of Spring Training

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterJanuary 21, 2020

Projecting Every MLB Team's Starting Lineup 1 Month Ahead of Spring Training

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The 2019-20 Major League Baseball offseason isn't over yet. But in a welcome change of pace from previous winters, there aren't many signings or trades left to be made before spring training starts up in February.

    That makes it much easier to project teams' starting lineups.

    We set out to do exactly that by sizing up all 30 teams' offensive pieces teams have—mind you, nobody has claimed Nicholas Castellanos or Marcell Ozuna yet—and imagining how they might fit together in 2020. Most teams won't have a set lineup, but our projections are meant to highlight potential go-to lineups.

    Along the way, we also pinpointed one breakout candidate and relevant position battles for every team.

    We'll take it one team at a time, proceeding in alphabetical order by city.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. CF Ketel Marte (S)
    • 2. 2B Eduardo Escobar (S)
    • 3. LF David Peralta (L)
    • 4. 1B Christian Walker (R)
    • 5. RF Kole Calhoun (L)
    • 6. SS Nick Ahmed (R)
    • 7. 3B Jake Lamb (L)
    • 8. C Carson Kelly (R)

               

    Breakout Candidate: Kevin Cron

    Though he doesn't have as much MLB experience as his brother C.J., Kevin Cron is a sleeper slugger for 2020. Assuming the 26-year-old can keep his swings and misses in check, he can regularly display a power stroke that's produced 151 home runs in six minor league seasons. 

              

    Position Battle: Third Base

    Cron will enter spring training with the opportunity to at least work as a platoon partner with Jake Lamb at third base. But if Lamb can't get on track after struggling in only 134 total games in 2018 and 2019, Cron could find himself with a more regular gig at the hot corner.

Atlanta Braves

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. RF Ronald Acuna Jr. (R)
    • 2. 2B Ozzie Albies (S)
    • 3. 1B Freddie Freeman (L)
    • 4. LF Nick Markakis (L)
    • 5. C Travis d'Arnaud (R)
    • 6. SS Dansby Swanson (R)
    • 7. CF Ender Inciarte (L)
    • 8. 3B Austin Riley (R)

                

    Breakout Candidate: Austin Riley

    After initially teasing a breakout when he first arrived in the majors in 2019, Austin Riley cooled off and finished with a .750 OPS and 108 strikeouts in only 297 plate appearances. Similar to Kevin Cron, however, the 22-year-old Riley has plenty of power to show off if he can sharpen his approach.

                

    Position Battle: Third Base

    Though Riley seems to have the inside track to replace Josh Donaldson at third base, Johan Camargo will get his shot, too. In 2018, he put up a solid .806 OPS with 19 homers and 3.7 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference.

Baltimore Orioles

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    G Fiume/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. 2B Hanser Alberto (R)
    • 2. CF Austin Hays (R)
    • 3. LF Anthony Santander (S)
    • 4. RF Trey Mancini (R)
    • 5. DH Renato Nunez (R)
    • 6. 3B Rio Ruiz (L)
    • 7. 1B Chris Davis (L)
    • 8. SS Jose Iglesias (R)
    • 9. C Chance Sisco (L)

               

    Breakout Candidate: Austin Hays

    Austin Hays rode a huge minor league season (i.e., a .958 OPS and 32 home runs) to his major league debut in 2017. The 24-year-old's stock promptly faded as he battled injuries and inconsistency for much of 2018 and 2019, but it shot back up as he posted a .947 OPS in 21 games in the majors at the end of '19.

                

    Position Battle: First Base

    The Baltimore Orioles will be paying Chris Davis through 2022 no matter what. But since he's posted minus-3.7 WAR over the last three seasons, keeping him at first base on an everyday basis is barely tenable at this point. Especially not while they have 22-year-old slugger Ryan Mountcastle banging on the door.

Boston Red Sox

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    Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. RF Mookie Betts (R)
    • 2. 3B Rafael Devers (L)
    • 3. SS Xander Bogaerts (R)
    • 4. DH J.D. Martinez (R)
    • 5. LF Andrew Benintendi (L)
    • 6. C Christian Vazquez (R)
    • 7. 1B Michael Chavis (R)
    • 8. CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (L)
    • 9. 2B Jose Peraza (R)

                

    Breakout Candidate: Michael Chavis

    Not unlike Austin Riley's, Michael Chavis' rookie campaign in 2019 started strong before falling off amid an escalating rate of swings and misses. But on account of his decent eye for the strike zone and knack for hard contact, it's too soon to dismiss the 24-year-old's potential as a power-hitting first baseman.

               

    Position Battle: First Base

    The Boston Red Sox's offensive mix seems pretty well set, but there's a chance that Bobby Dalbec will push Chavis for the first base gig this spring. The 24-year-old prospect is a good athlete with plenty of power packed into his 6'4", 225-pound frame.

Chicago Cubs

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    Jim Young/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. 1B Anthony Rizzo (L)
    • 2. 3B Kris Bryant (R)
    • 3. SS Javier Baez (R)
    • 4. LF Kyle Schwarber (L)
    • 5. C Willson Contreras (R)
    • 6. RF Jason Heyward (L)
    • 7. CF Ian Happ (S)
    • 8. 2B David Bote (R)

              

    Breakout Candidate: Ian Happ

    Though Ian Happ has experienced all sorts of ups and downs over the last three seasons, he's still only 25 and is coming into 2020 on a high after going off for a 1.846 OPS and five homers in a seven-game span late last September. The Chicago Cubs would certainly love to see more of that from him.

                  

    Position Battle: Center Field, Second Base and Leadoff

    Happ will have to hold off Albert Almora Jr. to prove he belongs in center field. Elsewhere, 22-year-old prospect Nico Hoerner might push David Bote for playing time at second base. And while we have Anthony Rizzo plugged in there, a truly good fit for Chicago's leadoff spot has yet to emerge.

Chicago White Sox

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. 2B Leury Garcia (S)
    • 2. SS Tim Anderson (R)
    • 3. 1B Jose Abreu (R)
    • 4. 3B Yoan Moncada (S)
    • 5. C Yasmani Grandal (S)
    • 6. DH Edwin Encarnacion (R)
    • 7. LF Eloy Jimenez (R)
    • 8. RF Nomar Mazara (L)
    • 9. CF Luis Robert (R)

                

    Breakout Candidate: Eloy Jimenez

    After enjoying a brilliant season in the minors in 2019 and signing a contract extension with the Chicago White Sox in January, Luis Robert is heading into 2020 as a breakout candidate. But Eloy Jimenez is genuinely close to superstardom after a Rookie of the Month-winning surge last September, during which he compiled a 1.093 OPS and nine homers.

               

    Position Battle: Second Base

    In addition to holding off Robert and others for the leadoff spot, Leury Garcia is tasked with keeping his job at second base over prospects Danny Mendick and Nick Madrigal. Despite an utter lack of power, the latter is especially appealing by way of his slick defense and .309 career average in the minors.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. CF Shogo Akiyama (L)
    • 2. 1B Joey Votto (L)
    • 3. 3B Eugenio Suarez (R)
    • 4. 2B Mike Moustakas (L)
    • 5. RF Aristides Aquino (R)
    • 6. LF Jesse Winker (L)
    • 7. SS Freddy Galvis (S)
    • 8. C Tucker Barnhart (L)

             

    Breakout Candidate: Nick Senzel

    Nick Senzel arrived amid a great deal of hype in 2019, but he never made good on it as he struggled offensively and ultimately suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. However, he's only 24, and his .312/.388/.508 career batting line in the minors still speaks to his upside.

             

    Position Battle: Left Field

    The Cincinnati Reds could have cleared either center field or second base for Senzel, but their signings of Shogo Akiyama and Mike Moustakas left him to earn his ticket to everyday at-bats at other positions. Specifically, he seems tasked with beating out Jesse Winker, who crushes right-handers, in left field.

Cleveland Indians

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. SS Francisco Lindor (S)
    • 2. CF Oscar Mercado (R)
    • 3. 1B Carlos Santana (S)
    • 4. 3B Jose Ramirez (S)
    • 5. DH Franmil Reyes (R)
    • 6. 2B Cesar Hernandez (S)
    • 7. LF Jake Bauers (L)
    • 8. C Roberto Perez (R)
    • 9. RF Greg Allen (S)

                   

    Breakout Candidate: Oscar Mercado

    If nothing else, Oscar Mercado figures to provide the Cleveland Indians with plenty of defensive wizardry in center field this season. The 25-year-old's offensive profile is a bit more perplexing, but he has enough power and speed to potentially become a 20/20 player.

                

    Position Battle: Outfield

    Mercado is probably safe in center field, but perhaps not so safe that his job is altogether out of reach for Delino DeShields Jr. DeShields, Jordan Luplow and Bradley Zimmer will also challenge Jake Bauers and Greg Allen for playing time in left and right field.

Colorado Rockies

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    John McCoy/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    • 1. SS Trevor Story (R)
    • 2. CF David Dahl (L)
    • 3. 3B Nolan Arenado (R)
    • 4. RF Charlie Blackmon (L)
    • 5. 2B Ryan McMahon (L)
    • 6. 1B Daniel Murphy (L)
    • 7. LF Sam Hilliard (L)
    • 8. C Tony Wolters (L)

                

    Breakout Candidate: Ryan McMahon

    This feels like a make-or-break season for Ryan McMahon, who hasn't done much to live up to the hype that accompanied him when he was a top-100 prospect. It's a good thing, then, that the 25-year-old is trending up after finishing 2019 with a solid .826 OPS and 17 home runs in the second half.

              

    Position Battle: Left Field

    Sam Hilliard, 25, is a breakout candidate in his own right after slamming 42 home runs between the minors and the majors last season. But since Ian Desmond still has two years remaining on his $70 million contract, the Colorado Rockies might prefer to play him every day in left field if he performs well this spring.

Detroit Tigers

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    Duane Burleson/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. CF JaCoby Jones (R)
    • 2. SS Niko Goodrum (S)
    • 3. DH Miguel Cabrera (R)
    • 4. 1B C.J. Cron (R)
    • 5. LF Christin Stewart (L)
    • 6. 2B Jonathan Schoop (R)
    • 7. 3B Jeimer Candelario (S)
    • 8. C Austin Romine (R)
    • 9. RF Victor Reyes (S)

                

    Breakout Candidate: Christin Stewart

    There aren't many good choices here, but Christin Stewart isn't necessarily a lost cause after flopping as a rookie in 2019. The 25-year-old can still emerge as a cornerstone for the Detroit Tigers' next contender if he taps back into the power that produced 83 long balls in the minors between 2016 and 2018.

               

    Position Battle: Third Base

    Over the last two seasons, Jeimer Candelario hasn't done much with the chance he's gotten to cement himself as the Tigers' third baseman of the future. Any more of that, and the door will be open for Dawel Lugo or Harold Castro to get more reps at third.

Houston Astros

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. CF George Springer (R)
    • 2. 2B Jose Altuve (R)
    • 3. 3B Alex Bregman (R)
    • 4. LF Michael Brantley (L)
    • 5. 1B Yuli Gurriel (R)
    • 6. DH Yordan Alvarez (L)
    • 7. SS Carlos Correa (R)
    • 8. RF Josh Reddick (L)
    • 9. C Martin Maldonado (R)

              

    Breakout Candidate: Kyle Tucker

    Though Kyle Tucker isn't a rookie anymore, he's heading into his first full major league season with oodles of potential. The 23-year-old slashed .297/.375/.571 with 58 homers and 50 steals across two seasons at Triple-A, and he ended 2019 with an .857 OPS, four homers and five steals in 22 games with the Houston Astros.

              

    Position Battle: Right Field

    Though Tucker hasn't supplanted Josh Reddick as the Houston Astros' everyday right fielder yet, the latter should indeed be looking over his shoulder. After a strong debut season in Houston in 2017, Reddick has tallied only 2.9 WAR over the last two seasons. That leaves an opening for Tucker.

Kansas City Royals

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. CF Whit Merrifield (R)
    • 2. SS Adalberto Mondesi (S)
    • 3. RF Hunter Dozier (R)
    • 4. DH Jorge Soler (R)
    • 5. 1B Ryan O'Hearn (L)
    • 6. C Salvador Perez (R)
    • 7. 2B Nicky Lopez (L)
    • 8. 3B Maikel Franco (R)
    • 9. LF Brett Phillips (L)

              

    Breakout Candidate: Adalberto Mondesi

    Adalberto Mondesi was also a breakout candidate last season, yet he was nothing spectacular even before injuries to his left shoulder wrecked his season. Still, the 24-year-old is fun to watch based on his speed and defense alone, and his offensive upside goes beyond the mere .715 OPS he posted last year.

               

    Position Battle: Second Base and Left Field

    If Nicky Lopez fails to show progress after posting 0.2 WAR in 103 games last season, the Kansas City Royals may have to install Whit Merrifield back at second base. If not, Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling will duke it out for at-bats in Alex Gordon's old stomping grounds.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. 2B Tommy La Stella (L)
    • 2. CF Mike Trout (R)
    • 3. 3B Anthony Rendon (R)
    • 4. DH Shohei Ohtani (L)
    • 5. LF Justin Upton (R)
    • 6. RF Brian Goodwin (L)
    • 7. 1B Albert Pujols (R)
    • 8. SS Andrelton Simmons (R)
    • 9. C Jason Castro (L)

               

    Breakout Candidate: Jo Adell

    There's only one Mike Trout, but Jo Adell's five-tool profile gives him a chance to be Diet Mike Trout in the majors. And the 20-year-old prospect's time should come sooner rather than later after he hit a solid .289/.359/.475 on his way to Triple-A last year.

             

    Position Battle: Right Field

    Adell won't push Trout in center or Justin Upton in left field, but Brian Goodwin isn't an insurmountable obstacle in right field. The Los Angeles Angels can always use Goodwin as a fourth outfielder if Adell forces their hand with a hot spring.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. LF Joc Pederson (L)
    • 2. 1B Max Muncy (L)
    • 3. 3B Justin Turner (R)
    • 4. CF Cody Bellinger (L)
    • 5. SS Corey Seager (L)
    • 6. RF Alex Verdugo (L)
    • 7. C Will Smith (R)
    • 8. 2B Gavin Lux (L)

                  

    Breakout Candidate: Gavin Lux

    Gavin Lux is fresh off being named Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year for 2019, which he earned by hitting .347/.421/.607 with 26 homers at Double-A and Triple-A. With a job at second base now in hand, all the 22-year-old has to do now is prove last year's outburst wasn't a fluke.

              

    Position Battle: None

    Barring any major injuries, the Los Angeles Dodgers likely won't have any position battles this spring. They also figure to have perhaps the most fluid lineup in all of baseball, as Enrique Hernandez, Chris Taylor, A.J. Pollock, Austin Barnes and Matt Beaty should see plenty of action this season.

Miami Marlins

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Miami Marlins

    • 1. 3B Jonathan Villar (S)
    • 2. SS Miguel Rojas (R)
    • 3. RF Brian Anderson (R)
    • 4. LF Corey Dickerson (L)
    • 5. 1B Jesus Aguilar (R)
    • 6. C Jorge Alfaro (R)
    • 7. 2B Isan Diaz (L)
    • 8. CF Lewis Brinson (R)

                 

    Breakout Candidate: Isan Diaz

    Though Lewis Brinson will get another shot at a breakout in 2020, his ugly major league track record doesn't inspire much hope. Isan Diaz, on the other hand, is a player to watch after he put himself on the map with a .305/.395/.578 line at Triple-A last season.

             

    Position Battle: Center Field

    If Brinson does continue to struggle this spring, the Miami Marlins might turn to Magneuris Sierra as their everyday center fielder. He's about as fast as they come in center field and on the bases, and he's been a solid .284 career hitter in the minors.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. CF Lorenzo Cain (R)
    • 2. RF Christian Yelich (L)
    • 3. 1B Ryan Braun (R)
    • 4. 2B Keston Hiura (R)
    • 5. C Omar Narvaez (L)
    • 6. LF Avisail Garcia (R)
    • 7. 3B Eric Sogard (L)
    • 8. SS Luis Urias (R)

              

    Breakout Candidate: Luis Urias

    Luis Urias didn't make much of an impression with the San Diego Padres in 2018 and 2019, posting only 1.1 WAR in 83 games. Yet he's only 22 and he boasts an impressive .305/.403/.511 line at Triple-A, so the Milwaukee Brewers are taking a worthwhile chance on him.

              

    Position Battle: Third Base and First Base

    With Mike Moustakas and Travis Shaw out of the picture, Eric Sogard has first dibs on everyday action at the hot corner. However, Orlando Arcia or Jedd Gyorko might have a chance to push Sogard into more of a utility role. Meanwhile, Justin Smoak figures to push Ryan Braun for at-bats at first base.

Minnesota Twins

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. RF Max Kepler (L)
    • 2. SS Jorge Polanco (S)
    • 3. DH Nelson Cruz (R)
    • 4. 3B Josh Donaldson (R)
    • 5. LF Eddie Rosario (L)
    • 6. 1B Miguel Sano (R)
    • 7. C Mitch Garver (R)
    • 8. 2B Luis Arraez (L)
    • 9. CF Byron Buxton (R)

                 

    Breakout Candidate: Byron Buxton

    Yes, Byron Buxton already has parts of five major league seasons under his belt. And yes, the former No. 1 prospect has generally been a disappointment because of injuries and inconsistency. But he's still only 26, and he might build on the solid .827 OPS he posted last season if he can stay healthy in 2020.

                 

    Position Battle: None

    The Minnesota Twins will find ample excuses to use super-utility man Marwin Gonzalez, but their lineup otherwise looks set. And what a lineup it is, as the addition of Josh Donaldson gives them a real chance to top even the record-setting 307 home runs they blasted in 2019.

New York Mets

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. CF Brandon Nimmo (L)
    • 2. 3B Jeff McNeil (L)
    • 3. 1B Pete Alonso (R)
    • 4. 2B Robinson Cano (L)
    • 5. LF J.D. Davis (R)
    • 6. RF Michael Conforto (L)
    • 7. C Wilson Ramos (R)
    • 8. SS Amed Rosario (R)

                   

    Breakout Candidate: Dominic Smith

    Since he's blocked from his natural position by Rookie of the Year-winning first baseman Pete Alonso, the New York Mets might be best off trading Dominic Smith. But if they do keep the 24-year-old, they'll have to find at-bats for him after he slashed .282/.355/.525 with 11 homers in 89 major league games last season.

               

    Position Battle: Left Field and Third Base

    Left field is Smith's best hope of finding at-bats, but he'll have to rise to the top of a depth chart that also includes J.D. Davis and, health permitting, Yoenis Cespedes. Alternatively, the Mets could reinstall Jeff McNeil in left field and go with a Davis-Jed Lowrie platoon at third base.

New York Yankees

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. 2B DJ LeMahieu (R)
    • 2. RF Aaron Judge (R)
    • 3. SS Gleyber Torres (R)
    • 4. DH Giancarlo Stanton (R)
    • 5. C Gary Sanchez (R)
    • 6. CF Brett Gardner (L)
    • 7. 1B Luke Voit (R)
    • 8. 3B Gio Urshela (R)
    • 9. LF Mike Tauchman (L)

             

    Breakout Candidate: Clint Frazier

    The New York Yankees' lineup is arguably too right-handed even without Clint Frazier among their go-to regulars. Nevertheless, the 25-year-old has always had high upside on offense, and he's fresh off teasing some of it with an .806 OPS and 12 homers in 69 games with the Yankees last season.

                 

    Position Battle: Third Base and Left Field

    Though Gio Urshela will get the first crack at the hot corner after his surprise breakout in 2019, Miguel Andujar has a shot at reclaiming the position if he's fully recovered from shoulder surgery. Lest he cede left field to Frazier, Mike Tauchman will also have to prove that his own '19 breakout was the real deal.

Oakland Athletics

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    Stephen Lam/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. SS Marcus Semien (R)
    • 2. 3B Matt Chapman (R)
    • 3. 1B Matt Olson (L)
    • 4. DH Khris Davis (R)
    • 5. CF Ramon Laureano (R)
    • 6. LF Mark Canha (R)
    • 7. RF Stephen Piscotty (R)
    • 8. C Sean Murphy (R)
    • 9. 2B Franklin Barreto (R)

             

    Breakout Candidate: Franklin Barreto

    The Oakland Athletics could have stuck with Jurickson Profar at second base, but it's no wonder they traded him to clear the way for Franklin Barreto. The 23-year-old has nothing left to prove in the minors after posting a .285/.356/.505 line in four seasons at Triple-A.

                

    Position Battle: Second Base

    Barreto may be the de facto favorite at second base, but the A's will have options if he falters this spring. Prospects Sheldon Neuse and Jorge Mateo will be among them. And if all else fails, Tony Kemp could at least keep the position warm for a while if he needs to.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. LF Andrew McCutchen (R)
    • 2. C J.T. Realmuto (R)
    • 3. RF Bryce Harper (L)
    • 4. 1B Rhys Hoskins (R)
    • 5. SS Didi Gregorius (L)
    • 6. 2B Jean Segura (R)
    • 7. 3B Scott Kingery (R)
    • 8. CF Adam Haseley (L)

                

    Breakout Candidate: Scott Kingery

    After a difficult rookie season in 2018, Scott Kingery rebounded with a .788 OPS and 3.0 WAR in 126 games with the Philadelphia Phillies last season. Given how well he played at the hot corner both offensively (.877 OPS) and defensively (eight defensive runs saved), a regular gig at third should suit the 25-year-old well.

               

    Position Battle: Center Field

    Adam Haseley will go into spring training as the favorite in center field, but Roman Quinn might push him for playing time. In the event that both of them fall flat, the Phillies might shift Andrew McCutchen or Bryce Harper to center and Jay Bruce into left or right field.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. SS Kevin Newman (R)
    • 2. LF Bryan Reynolds (S)
    • 3. CF Starling Marte (R)
    • 4. 1B Josh Bell (S)
    • 5. RF Gregory Polanco (L)
    • 6. 3B Colin Moran (L)
    • 7. 2B Adam Frazier (L)
    • 8. C Jacob Stallings (R)

              

    Breakout Candidate: Ke'Bryan Hayes

    If the Pittsburgh Pirates merely want an ace defender at third base, they could go with Ke'Bryan Hayes at the hot corner right now without hesitation. Fortunately for them, the 22-year-old prospect is also generally regarded as having solid offensive potential.

               

    Position Battle: Third Base

    Third base is technically Colin Moran's position to lose, but he doesn't exactly have a firm grip on it after producing only 0.7 WAR across 2018 and 2019. Hayes could potentially force the Pirates' hand with a strong play for Moran's job this spring.

San Diego Padres

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (R)
    • 2. 1B Eric Hosmer (L)
    • 3. 3B Manny Machado (R)
    • 4. LF Tommy Pham (R)
    • 5. RF Trent Grisham (L)
    • 6. C Francisco Mejia (S)
    • 7. CF Franchy Cordero (L)
    • 8. 2B Jurickson Profar (S)

                

    Breakout Candidate: Francisco Mejia

    Austin Hedges is arguably MLB's best defensive catcher, yet his well-below-average bat is Francisco Mejia's ticket to a gig as the Padres' regular catcher. The 24-year-old has plenty of offensive upside, and he may have put himself on track to achieving it with an .866 OPS in the second half of 2019.

                 

    Position Battle: Outfield

    Tommy Pham looks well entrenched as San Diego's everyday left fielder, but figuring out center field and right field will require some work this spring. In addition to Franchy Cordero and Trent Grisham, Wil Myers, Manuel Margot and prospects Josh Naylor and Taylor Trammell will be angling for playing time.

San Francisco Giants

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. LF Mike Yastrzemski (L)
    • 2. C Buster Posey (R)
    • 3. 1B Brandon Belt (L)
    • 4. 3B Evan Longoria (R)
    • 5. SS Brandon Crawford (L)
    • 6. RF Alex Dickerson (L)
    • 7. 2B Mauricio Dubon (R)
    • 8. CF Steven Duggar (L)

               

    Breakout Candidate: Mauricio Dubon

    Mauricio Dubon could brighten up what will otherwise be a dim season for the San Francisco Giants. The 25-year-old is a .300 career hitter in the minors, yet he's only recently begun to come into some power. Out of his 46 career minor league home runs, 20 came just last year.

                  

    Position Battle: Right Field

    Alex Dickerson earned a shot to play every day in right field this season with his work down the stretch of 2019, in which he posted an .880 OPS in 56 games. However, Austin Slater, Jaylin Davis and Chris Shaw will also have eyes on right field this spring.

Seattle Mariners

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    Lindsey Wasson/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. CF Mallex Smith (L)
    • 2. RF Mitch Haniger (R)
    • 3. 3B Kyle Seager (L)
    • 4. C Tom Murphy (R)
    • 5. 1B Daniel Vogelbach (L)
    • 6. LF Kyle Lewis (R)
    • 7. SS J.P. Crawford (L)
    • 8. 1B Evan White (R)
    • 9. 2B Dee Gordon (L)

                 

    Breakout Candidate: Evan White

    The Seattle Mariners seem to think Evan White is ready to break out in 2020, as they preempted the 23-year-old's MLB debut with a six-year contract extension. Judging from his outstanding athleticism (for a first baseman) and .296/.361/.471 career line in the minors, they may be right.

              

    Position Battle: Second Base

    By the usual standards of rebuilding teams, Seattle's everyday lineup looks surprisingly set. Yet despite his relatively lucrative contract, Dee Gordon is on thin ice after posting only 1.1 WAR over the last two years. Austin Nola and Shed Long Jr. will be after his job this spring.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. RF Dexter Fowler (S)
    • 2. 2B Kolten Wong (L)
    • 3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt (R)
    • 4. 3B Matt Carpenter (L)
    • 5. SS Paul DeJong (R)
    • 6. C Yadier Molina (R)
    • 7. LF Tommy Edman (S)
    • 8. CF Harrison Bader (R)

              

    Breakout Candidate: Dylan Carlson

    As we'll discuss in a moment, Dylan Carlson faces a difficult road into the St. Louis Cardinals outfield. However, the 21-year-old is up for traversing it after busting out with a .914 OPS, 26 homers and 20 steals at Double-A and Triple-A last season.

               

    Position Battle: Outfield

    Even with Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena now gone from the organization, the Cardinals still have a plethora of viable outfielders. Though Dexter Fowler is likely safe in right field, Harrison Bader, Tommy Edman, Tyler O'Neill, Lane Thomas and Carlson will be in the mix for the other two spots.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. LF Austin Meadows (L)
    • 2. 2B Brandon Lowe (L)
    • 3. 3B Yandy Diaz (R)
    • 4. 1B Ji-Man Choi (L)
    • 5. RF Hunter Renfroe (R)
    • 6. DH Yoshi Tsutsugo (L)
    • 7. SS Willy Adames (R)
    • 8. CF Kevin Kiermaier (L)
    • 9. C Mike Zunino (R)

                

    Breakout Candidate: Willy Adames

    Willy Adames has yet to put it all together since arriving in the majors in 2018, but he's planted plenty of seeds for his big break. The 24-year-old is a very good defensive shortstop, if nothing else. And after hitting .278/.340/.467 with 10 homers in the second half of 2019, he may be ready to provide more offense in 2020.

                

    Position Battle: None

    The Tampa Bay Rays didn't have a single lineup that they used more than three times last season. So it will go this year, in which Michael Perez, Daniel Robertson, Joey Wendle, Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena should see plenty of action.

Texas Rangers

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. DH Shin-Soo Choo (L)
    • 2. CF Danny Santana (S)
    • 3. RF Joey Gallo (L)
    • 4. 3B Todd Frazier (R)
    • 5. LF Willie Calhoun (L)
    • 6. SS Elvis Andrus (R)
    • 7. C Robinson Chirinos (R)
    • 8. 2B Rougned Odor (L)
    • 9. 1B Ronald Guzman (L)

                 

    Breakout Candidate: Willie Calhoun

    After initially struggling to break through with the Texas Rangers in 2017 and 2018, Willie Calhoun found something in 2019. In only 83 games, the 25-year-old posted an .848 OPS and 21 home runs. He can become a 30- or even 40-homer slugger if he stays on that track.

               

    Position Battle: Second Base

    Though Rougned Odor is under contract through 2022, his sub-zero-WAR seasons in 2017 and 2019 ought to have the Rangers thinking twice about his job at second base. That would be good news for Nick Solak, who earned his shot at an everyday gig with a 32-homer outburst in the minors and majors last season.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. SS Bo Bichette (R)
    • 2. 2B Cavan Biggio (L)
    • 3. LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (R)
    • 4. 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (R)
    • 5. 1B Travis Shaw (L)
    • 6. CF Randal Grichuk (R)
    • 7. DH Teoscar Hernandez (R)
    • 8. RF Derek Fisher (L)
    • 9. C Danny Jansen (R)

               

    Breakout Candidate: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s hotly anticipated debut with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2019 landed with a thud, as he struggled defensively and mustered a good-not-great .772 OPS on offense. Yet he'll only turn 21 on March 16, and his .331/.414/.531 career line in the minors still inspires hope for his future.

               

    Position Battle: Catcher and Right Field

    Danny Jansen would seem to be the favorite as Toronto's No. 1 catcher, but Reese McGuire might swipe the job if he carries over the offensive form that led to an .872 OPS in 30 games in the majors late last season. There's also room for a competition between Derek Fisher, Anthony Alford and Brandon Drury in right field.

Washington Nationals

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    Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    • 1. SS Trea Turner (R)
    • 2. RF Adam Eaton (L)
    • 3. LF Juan Soto (L)
    • 4. 1B Eric Thames (L)
    • 5. 2B Starlin Castro (R)
    • 6. 3B Asdrubal Cabrera (S)
    • 7. C Kurt Suzuki (R)
    • 8. CF Victor Robles (R)

               

    Breakout Candidate: Carter Kieboom

    He'll have to somehow crack the Washington Nationals' crowded infield depth chart—more on that in a moment—but Carter Kieboom is nonetheless a player to watch for 2020. The 22-year-old prospect doesn't have much to prove in the minors after slashing .303/.409/.493 at Triple-A last season.

               

    Position Battle: Infield

    Even setting aside Kieboom's breakout potential, the Nationals will still be tasked with finding at-bats for Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Eric Thames, Howie Kendrick and Wilmer Difo this season. Basically, only Trea Turner figures to have a steady job in the infield in 2020.

             

    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus.