Power Ranking All 30 MLB Lineups at the Start of 2021 Season

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2021

Power Ranking All 30 MLB Lineups at the Start of 2021 Season

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    The old adage says that pitching wins championships, but it's awfully difficult to even reach the postseason without a productive offensive attack.

    A high-powered lineup can take a lot of pressure off the pitching staff, and last year the highest-scoring team in baseball was the one covered in confetti at the end of the season, as the Los Angeles Dodgers paced the majors with 5.8 runs per game.

    After a busy offseason of roster shuffling, it's worth taking an updated look at how all 30 lineups stack up heading into the 2021 season.

    Lineups are ranked based on star power, lack of holes, depth and recent production, with each team's projected Opening Day lineup used as the default.

    Off we go.

         

    Check out Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations for the 2021 Season for a look at the pitching side of things.

Nos. 30-26

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    Trevor Story
    Trevor StoryMatt York/Associated Press

    30. Pittsburgh Pirates

    Projected Lineup: 2B Adam Frazier, SS Kevin Newman, 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes, 1B Colin Moran, LF Bryan Reynolds, RF Gregory Polanco, CF Anthony Alford, C Jacob Stallings

    Trading Josh Bell robs the Pirates of anything close to a proven run producer in the middle of their lineup. Ke'Bryan Hayes is among the NL Rookie of the Year front-runners, while Kevin Newman and Bryan Reynolds both have some under-the-radar potential, but this lineup is not going to put up many crooked numbers.

         

    29. Colorado Rockies

    Projected Lineup: LF Raimel Tapia, 3B Ryan McMahon, SS Trevor Story, RF Charlie Blackmon, 1B C.J. Cron, CF Sam Hilliard, 2B Garrett Hampson, C Elias Diaz

    The Rockies' surface-level offensive production will always look at least average thanks to Coors Field. However, they ranked 29th in the majors with a 76 wRC+ as a team last year, and trading Nolan Arenado does nothing to improve their outlook.

           

    28. Texas Rangers

    Projected Lineup: SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa, LF David Dahl, RF Joey Gallo, 2B Nick Solak, 3B Rougned Odor, DH Nate Lowe, 1B Ronald Guzman, C Jose Trevino, CF Leody Taveras

    With Khris Davis and Willie Calhoun both headed for the injured list to start the year, the Rangers will be able to mix and match in the DH role. The new middle-infield tandem of Nick Solak and Isiah Kiner-Falefa has a chance to be a big part of the team's future plans, while a bounce-back season from slugger Joey Gallo could make him a hot commodity on the trade block.

        

    27. Baltimore Orioles

    Projected Lineup: CF Cedric Mullins, 1B Trey Mancini, RF Anthony Santander, LF Ryan Mountcastle, 3B Maikel Franco, DH Austin Hays, C Chance Sisco, SS Freddy Galvis, 2B Ramon Urias

    Anthony Santander and Ryan Mountcastle both showed some intriguing potential last year. Can others like Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Chance Sisco take a similar step forward? A healthy Trey Mancini could quickly reclaim his standing as the best hitter on the team.

         

    26. Detroit Tigers

    Projected Lineup: LF Robbie Grossman, 3B Jeimer Candelario, SS Willi Castro, DH Miguel Cabrera, 2B Jonathan Schoop, C Wilson Ramos, RF Nomar Mazara, 1B Niko Goodrum, CF JaCoby Jones

    Offseason additions Robbie Grossman, Wilson Ramos and Nomar Mazara make this a more complete lineup. Willi Castro and Jeimer Candelario look like building blocks after strong 2020 seasons. And don't sleep on a bounce-back year from Miguel Cabrera, who quietly ranked among the MLB leaders in exit velocity (97th percentile) and hard-hit rate (91st percentile) last year.

Nos. 25-21

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    Jose Ramirez
    Jose RamirezRon Schwane/Associated Press

    25. Miami Marlins

    Projected Lineup: LF Corey Dickerson, CF Starling Marte, 1B Jesus Aguilar, 3B Brian Anderson, RF Adam Duvall, SS Miguel Rojas, 2B Jazz Chisholm, C Jorge Alfaro

    A full season of Starling Marte and the addition of slugger Adam Duvall should give the Marlins lineup a boost, but the offense still lags behind an exciting young pitching staff. Expect more young talent to break through in 2021, starting with toolsy middle infielder Jazz Chisholm, who was acquired in exchange for Zac Gallen in 2019.

         

    24. Cleveland

    Projected Lineup: 2B Cesar Hernandez, 3B Jose Ramirez, LF Eddie Rosario, DH Franmil Reyes, RF Josh Naylor, 1B Jake Bauers, C Roberto Perez, SS Andres Gimenez, CF Ben Gamel

    Swapping out Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana for Andres Gimenez and Jake Bauers is an undeniable downgrade at two premium offensive positions. That said, third baseman Jose Ramirez is a perennial MVP candidate, Franmil Reyes is a 40-homer threat, and the corner outfield duo of Eddie Rosario and Josh Naylor is capable of picking up some run-production slack.

          

    23. Seattle Mariners

    Projected Lineup: RF Mitch Haniger, 2B Dylan Moore, CF Kyle Lewis, 3B Kyle Seager, DH Ty France, C Tom Murphy, LF Taylor Trammell, 1B Evan White, SS J.P. Crawford

    A healthy Mitch Haniger and spring training standout Taylor Trammell will join Kyle Lewis in what should be a productive outfield, and it's only a matter of time before Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez crash the party. Evan White is capable of far more than he showed as a rookie, and Ty France could be a late-blooming slugger.

        

    22. Arizona Diamondbacks

    Projected Lineup: CF Ketel Marte, LF David Peralta, 1B Christian Walker, 3B Eduardo Escobar, RF Pavin Smith, C Carson Kelly, SS Nick Ahmed, 2B Josh Rojas

    With Kole Calhoun sidelined to start the regular season, 2017 first-round pick Pavin Smith and speedy Tim Locastro will get an opportunity in right field, but that leaves a major power void. Veterans David Peralta and Eduardo Escobar are logical trade candidates if the team decides to sell this summer.

         

    21. San Francisco Giants

    Projected Lineup: 1B Tommy La Stella, 2B Donovan Solano, RF Mike Yastrzemski, C Buster Posey, LF Alex Dickerson, 3B Evan Longoria, SS Brandon Crawford, CF Mauricio Dubon

    Brandon Belt is 50/50 to be in the Opening Day lineup after a trying offseason that included heel surgery, COVID-19 symptoms and mononucleosis. He'll be the primary first baseman once he's ready to roll after a stellar 2020 season, while Tommy La Stella will play every day in a super-utility role. This is a team in transition, and young players like Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos and Jaylin Davis could see significant playing time before the season is over.

Nos. 20-16

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    Christian Yelich
    Christian YelichCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    20. Cincinnati Reds

    Projected Lineup: LF Jesse Winker, RF Nick Castellanos, SS Eugenio Suarez, 3B Mike Moustakas, CF Nick Senzel, C Tucker Barnhart, 1B Max Schrock, 2B Jonathan India

    Spring standout Max Schrock is a placeholder at first base while Joey Votto gets back into game shape following a positive COVID-19 test. Veteran sluggers Nick Castellanos, Eugenio Suarez and Mike Moustakas are all proven run producers, while Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel and Jonathan India are potential long-term pieces.

            

    19. Milwaukee Brewers

    Projected Lineup: 2B Kolten Wong, CF Lorenzo Cain, LF Christian Yelich, 1B Keston Hiura, 3B Travis Shaw, RF Jackie Bradley Jr., SS Luis Urias, C Omar Narvaez

    The return of Lorenzo Cain and bounce-back candidates Christian Yelich and Keston Hiura give the Brewers lineup significant in-house upside. It's hard to know what to expect from Jackie Bradley Jr. offensively, and the same goes for the duo of Orlando Arcia and Luis Urias at shortstop. Can Travis Shaw return to his previous 30-homer form?

        

    18. Kansas City Royals

    Projected Lineup: 2B Whit Merrifield, SS Adalberto Mondesi, 1B Carlos Santana, C Salvador Perez, DH Jorge Soler, LF Andrew Benintendi, 3B Hunter Dozier, RF Kyle Isbel, CF Michael Taylor

    The Royals signed Carlos Santana to anchor the middle of the lineup, bought low on Michael Taylor in center field and traded for Andrew Benintendi, who could benefit greatly from a change of scenery. Add in sluggers Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier along with hit machine Whit Merrifield, and this lineup could really surprise some people.

        

    17. Oakland Athletics

    Projected Lineup: LF Mark Canha, CF Ramon Laureano, 3B Matt Chapman, 1B Matt Olson, C Sean Murphy, DH Mitch Moreland, RF Stephen Piscotty, SS Elvis Andrus, 2B Jed Lowrie

    Losing Marcus Semien and Tommy La Stella in free agency changes the complexion of the lineup, but Mark Canha has the on-base ability to be an asset at the top of the order. Assuming everyone stays healthy and plays up to their potential, there is no glaring hole in this lineup. We have not yet seen the best Ramon Laureano and Sean Murphy have to offer.

         

    16. Chicago Cubs

    Projected Lineup: CF Ian Happ, C Willson Contreras, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Kris Bryant, LF Joc Pederson, SS Javier Baez, RF Jason Heyward, 2B David Bote

    All the big pieces are still in place for the Cubs offensively, aside from Kyle Schwarber, who was replaced with Joc Pederson in free agency. Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo are all staring down free agency next winter, while Willson Contreras is two years away, so there's a lot at stake for many of the team's top hitters in 2021. Can Ian Happ maintain the strides he made last year?

Nos. 15-11

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    Nolan Arenado
    Nolan ArenadoJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    15. Washington Nationals

    Projected Lineup: CF Victor Robles, RF Juan Soto, SS Trea Turner, 1B Josh Bell, LF Kyle Schwarber, 2B Starlin Castro, C Yan Gomes, 3B Josh Harrison

    The Nationals offense was a mess beyond Juan Soto and Trea Turner last season. Adding sluggers Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber this offseason should help protect that standout duo, and former top prospect Victor Robles still has significant untapped upside. A non-factor last year after suffering a broken wrist in August, Starlin Castro hit .270 with 22 home runs and 86 RBI in 2019 while playing in a pitcher-friendly home ballpark in Miami.

         

    14. Los Angeles Angels

    Projected Lineup: 2B David Fletcher, DH Shohei Ohtani, CF Mike Trout, 3B Anthony Rendon, LF Justin Upton, 1B Jared Walsh, SS Jose Iglesias, C Max Stassi, RF Dexter Fowler

    Offense has never been in question for the Angels. With Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon as two proven superstars, Shohei Ohtani crushing bombs this spring, Jared Walsh hinting at his breakout potential last September and David Fletcher hitting everything at the top of the lineup, this team is going to score plenty of runs.

        

    13. Tampa Bay Rays

    Projected Lineup: 1B Yoshi Tsutsugo, LF Randy Arozarena, DH Austin Meadows, 2B Brandon Lowe, RF Manuel Margot, 3B Joey Wendle, SS Willy Adames, CF Kevin Kiermaier, C Mike Zunino

    The Rays lineup was an asset for the first time in years last season. With postseason hero Randy Arozarena entrenched in left field and Brandon Lowe quietly racking up 31 home runs in 138 games the past two years, this team has some big bats. It's only a matter of time before uber-prospect Wander Franco joins them, and speedy second baseman Vidal Brujan could also make an impact in 2021.

        

    12. St. Louis Cardinals

    Projected Lineup: 2B Tommy Edman, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 3B Nolan Arenado, SS Paul DeJong, C Yadier Molina, CF Dylan Carlson, LF Tyler O'Neill, RF Justin Williams

    The Cardinals completely transformed their offense with the addition of Nolan Arenado. His numbers could dip a bit leaving Coors Field, but he is one of the game's elite players, and he'll provide much-needed protection for Paul Goldschmidt. Young outfielder Dylan Carlson turned a corner late last season, and he'll begin the year among the NL Rookie of the Year favorites.

         

    11. Minnesota Twins

    Projected Lineup: LF Luis Arraez, RF Max Kepler, 3B Josh Donaldson, DH Nelson Cruz, 2B Jorge Polanco, 1B Miguel Sano, CF Byron Buxton, SS Andrelton Simmons, C Ryan Jeffers

    Third baseman Josh Donaldson and catcher Mitch Garver hit just eight home runs last year after combining for 68 during the 2019 season, and both are capable of bouncing back in a big way. Ageless wonder Nelson Cruz is back on a new one-year, $13 million contract. It's only a matter of time before Alex Kirilloff takes over as the everyday left fielder.

Nos. 10-6

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    Francisco Lindor
    Francisco LindorLynne Sladky/Associated Press

    10. Boston Red Sox

    Projected Lineup: 2B Enrique Hernandez, CF Alex Verdugo, SS Xander Bogaerts, 3B Rafael Devers, DH J.D. Martinez, RF Hunter Renfroe, 1B Bobby Dalbec, C Christian Vazquez, LF Franchy Cordero

    The Red Sox offense looks different without Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, but they still have three top-tier offensive players in Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez. Alex Verdugo is going to be a perennial batting title contender, Bobby Dalbec has looked like the AL Rookie of the Year front-runner this spring, and Hunter Renfroe could be the steal of the offseason on a one-year, $3.1 million deal.

         

    9. Philadelphia Phillies

    Projected Lineup: LF Andrew McCutchen, 1B Rhys Hoskins, RF Bryce Harper, C J.T. Realmuto, 3B Alec Bohm, SS Didi Gregorius, 2B Jean Segura, CF Odubel Herrera

    Re-signing catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Didi Gregorius ensured that the Phillies will once again have an above-average offense, and it has a chance to be great if Alec Bohm takes the significant step forward many are anticipating. With an average-at-best starting rotation, it will be up to the offense to shoulder the load.

        

    8. Houston Astros

    Projected Lineup: 2B Jose Altuve, LF Michael Brantley, 3B Alex Bregman, SS Carlos Correa, DH Yordan Alvarez, 1B Yuli Gurriel, RF Kyle Tucker, C Jason Castro, CF Myles Straw

    The loss of George Springer is going to have a dramatic effect in Houston, even if a healthy Yordan Alvarez can replace much of his statistical production. Springer was the table-setter atop the lineup and a spark for the entire offense. His replacement, Myles Straw, could make a run at leading the majors in steals with regular playing time and has the on-base ability to eventually get a crack at the leadoff spot. He's a clear X-factor in Houston.

       

    7. Chicago White Sox

    Starting Lineup: SS Tim Anderson, C Yasmani Grandal, 1B Jose Abreu, 3B Yoan Moncada, CF Luis Robert, DH Andrew Vaughn, RF Adam Eaton, LF Leury Garcia, 2B Nick Madrigal

    Originally slotted in the No. 3 spot in these rankings prior to the Eloy Jimenez injury, the White Sox inevitably take a tumble after losing one of the game's rising stars and a 30-homer, 100-RBI threat in the No. 5 spot in the batting order. There's a chance top prospect Andrew Vaughn can pick up the slack, but until he proves he's MLB-ready, it's hard not to look at the bottom of the order as a bit of a weakness.

           

    6. New York Mets

    Projected Lineup: CF Brandon Nimmo, SS Francisco Lindor, RF Michael Conforto, 1B Pete Alonso, LF Dominic Smith, 2B Jeff McNeil, 3B J.D. Davis, C James McCann

    The addition of Francisco Lindor grabbed headlines and gave the Mets a superstar and bona fide MVP candidate in the middle of the lineup. Signing James McCann could prove to be an equally important move, shoring up a suspect catcher position. Add in young sluggers Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith, and this is a dangerous offensive team. The stellar bench unit of Jonathan Villar, Albert Almora Jr. and Kevin Pillar also deserves a mention.

5. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Bo Bichette
    Bo BichetteGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup: CF George Springer, 2B Marcus Semien, SS Bo Bichette, RF Teoscar Hernandez, 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr., 3B Cavan Biggio, DH Rowdy Tellez, C Danny Jansen

    Bench: C Alejandro Kirk, IF Joe Panik, OF Jonathan Davis, OF Randal Grichuk

    Already a dangerous lineup with a dynamic young offensive core of Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Cavan Biggio, the Toronto Blue Jays joined the ranks of the game's elite by signing George Springer and Marcus Semien in free agency.

    Rowdy Tellez posted a 140 OPS+ with eight home runs and 23 RBI in 127 plate appearances last year, and he's going to hit eighth in the lineup.

    The only real question offensively is Danny Jansen at catcher, and he could wind up splitting time with offensive standout Alejandro Kirk before the season is over.

    If all the pieces fit together seamlessly, this group could make a run at the No. 1 spot.

4. San Diego Padres

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    Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.
    Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.Associated Press

    Starling Lineup: CF Trent Grisham, SS Fernando Tatis Jr., 3B Manny Machado, 1B Eric Hosmer, LF Tommy Pham, RF Wil Myers, 2B Jake Cronenworth, C Victor Caratini

    Bench: C Luis Campusano, IF Ha-Seong Kim, IF/OF Jorge Mateo, IF/OF Jurickson Profar

    After finishing 27th in the majors in runs scored during the 2019 season, the San Diego Padres soared to third in that category with 5.4 runs per game and a .798 OPS as a team this past season.

    Third baseman Manny Machado and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. finished third and fourth in NL MVP voting, respectively, while right fielder Wil Myers also received some down-ballot support during a terrific bounce-back season.

    Rookie center fielder Trent Grisham was one of six players with at least 10 home runs and 10 steals last season, while a healthy Tommy Pham is more than capable of returning to the power-speed form he showed in tallying a pair of 20/20 seasons in the past.

    KBO standout Ha-Seong Kim is the X-factor as he looks to make the transition stateside, and a healthy Austin Nola will make this lineup even better when he recovers from a fractured finger and returns to the starting catcher role.

3. Atlanta Braves

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    Ronald Acuna Jr.
    Ronald Acuna Jr.John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: RF Ronald Acuna Jr., 2B Ozzie Albies, 1B Freddie Freeman, LF Marcell Ozuna, C Travis d'Arnaud, SS Dansby Swanson, 3B Austin Riley, CF Cristian Pache

    Bench: C Alex Jackson, 1B/3B Pablo Sandoval, IF Ehire Adrianza, OF Ender Inciarte

    The Atlanta Braves kept one of baseball's most potent lineups intact when Marcell Ozuna was brought back on a four-year, $65 million contract. After leading the NL in home runs (18) and RBI (56) last year, he's set the bar high for his second year in Atlanta.

    Reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman could easily defend the hardware or pass it on to Ronald Acuna Jr., who made significant strides at the plate last year when he raised his walk rate from 10.6 to 18.8 percent while continuing to be a dynamic power-speed threat.

    Ozzie Albies is the best offensive second baseman in the game, Dansby Swanson had his best season at the plate in 2020, Travis d'Arnaud was hitting cleanup in the playoffs, and young third baseman Austin Riley is a 30-homer threat.

    Even if slick-fielding rookie Cristian Pache is overmatched at the plate as a rookie, this team is going to pile up runs.

2. New York Yankees

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    Aaron Judge
    Aaron JudgeGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Starting Lineup: 2B DJ LeMahieu, RF Aaron Judge, CF Aaron Hicks, DH Giancarlo Stanton, SS Gleyber Torres, 1B Jay Bruce, LF Clint Frazier, 3B Gio Urshela, C Gary Sanchez

    Bench: C Kyle Higashioka, IF Tyler Wade, OF Brett Gardner, OF Mike Tauchman

    With Luke Voit headed for the injured list as he recovers from a partially torn meniscus that is expected to sideline him until May, veteran Jay Bruce has earned his spot on the New York Yankees roster as a non-roster invitee.

    Even with the slugging first baseman sidelined, this is still a stacked offense.

    Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton remain two of the most prolific power hitters in the sport and start the year with clean bills of health, DJ LeMahieu was retained on a six-year, $90 million deal after becoming the first player ever to win a batting title in both leagues, and Gleyber Torres remains a bright young star even after a disappointing 2020.

    Clint Frazier will finally get a chance to show what he can do in a regular role, and catcher Gary Sanchez has a lot to prove after losing his starting job in the postseason last year, but the pieces are in place for this to be one of the most potent offenses in the sport.

    The X-factor will once again be their ability to stay healthy.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Corey Seager and Mookie Betts
    Corey Seager and Mookie BettsAssociated Press

    Starting Lineup: RF Mookie Betts, SS Corey Seager, 3B Justin Turner, 1B Max Muncy, C Will Smith, CF Cody Bellinger, LF AJ Pollock, 2B Gavin Lux

    Bench: C Austin Barnes, IF Zach McKinstry, IF Edwin Rios, IF/OF Matt Beaty, IF/OF Chris Taylor

    The Los Angeles Dodgers lost Swiss Army knife Enrique Hernandez and left-handed-hitting outfielder Joc Pederson to free agency, but the rest of baseball's best offense a year ago returns intact.

    They led the majors in runs scored (349) and home runs (118) during the regular season and kept swinging it well on their way to a long-awaited World Series title.

    Mookie Betts is a perennial MVP candidate, Corey Seager took his game to another level last October, Justin Turner remains an extremely difficult out, and sluggers Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger provide value with their run production and defensive versatility.

    The flashes Matt Beaty and Edwin Rios have shown off the bench have made this a deeper team, and Gavin Lux could finally be ready to live up to the hype after an impressive spring training performance.

    This is the team to beat entering 2021, and while its stacked pitching staff is a big part of that, the offense has the potential to be a force in its own right.

               

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.