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Opening Day Lineup Power Rankings

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Play ball! Now that the 2021 MLB season is underway, the gaping hole in our lives that opened after the final out of the World Series can finally be filled. In the spirit of baseball being back, I laid out my Opening Day Pitching Staff Power Rankings. Now that you have that knowledge, let’s take it to the other side of the ball and focus on the lineups.

In order to make things even between AL/NL teams, I’m acting as if the universal DH rule is still in play. I slotted the best bench bat into the DH spot for the NL teams so we can pretend Rob Manfred didn’t pull the most evil stunt of the offseason and take something so amazing away. I should also mention these rankings are once again based off the Opening Day lineups, so teams that are missing players due to injury might have a lower ranking as a result. Let’s start off with the teams that barely missed the cut:

Honorable Mentions:

Chicago White Sox

Opening Day Lineup:

C- Yasmani Grandal

1B- Jose Abreu

2B- Nick Madrigal

3B- Yoan Moncada

SS- Tim Anderson

LF- Leury Garcia

CF- Luis Robert

RF- Adam Eaton

DH- Zack Collins

The White Sox just barely missed the cut for the Top 5 in my rankings once again. Any team that features a reigning MVP, a former batting champion, and a Rookie of the Year runner-up should be mentioned. The loss of Eloy Jiminez to a ruptured pectoral tendon in Spring Training hurt them big time. While it is possible he will return towards the end of the regular season, he is expected to miss at least 5-6 months and that will be a huge loss of production that needs to be filled.

Thankfully, big bats such as Abreu, Robert and Moncada are there to pick up some slack. Tim Anderson and Nick Madrigal are both guys that can spray the ball across the whole field and hit for a high average, and let’s not forget about one of the best offensive catchers in the game today, Yasmani Grandal. I’m looking at young guys Zack Collins and Andrew Vaughn to provide some juice to the lineup and help ease the pain of the Jiminez loss.

Houston Astros

Opening Day Lineup:

C- Martin Maldonado

1B- Yuli Gurriel

2B- Jose Altuve

3B- Alex Bregman

SS- Carlos Correa

LF- Michael Brantley

CF- Myles Straw

RF- Kyle Tucker

DH- Yordan Alvarez

As much as it pains me to put the Asterisks in these rankings, I have to admit they do have a very solid lineup. The loss of Springer will hurt a lot, but similar to the Sox, they have plenty of guys to pick up the slack. Yes, Myles Straw is nowhere near the player Springer is, but he provides something Springer didn’t- elite speed. Alex Bregman is absolutely one of the best hitters in the game still, and they also have reigning MVP (although I question whether he really should be) Jose Altuve.

If Carlos Correa can improve on his disappointing 2020 season, this could be the best offensive infield in the game. When you add in another veteran in Michael Brantley, who’s perennially a shoe in to hit .300+ and one of the best young bats in the game in Yordan Alvarez, it starts to get even scarier. The X-Factor of this lineup in 2021 will be Kyle Tucker. He had a very solid 2020 and is finally solidified as an everyday player without a doubt, so his performance this season will be crucial to the performance of the ‘Stros.

5. San Diego Padres

Opening Day Lineup:

C- Victor Caratini

1B- Eric Hosmer

2B- Jake Cronenworth

3B- Manny Machado

SS- Fernando Tatis Jr.

LF- Jurickson Profar

CF- Tommy Pham

RF- Wil Myers

DH- Jorge Mateo

I can’t make a Top 5 without including Slam Diego. Top to bottom, you could argue Houston or Chicago has the better lineup, but the 2-3 punch of Tatis Jr. and Machado is without question the best SS-3B duo in the game. Neither the Sox or ‘Stros have multiple MVP contenders in their lineup, and that’s what put the Pads over the edge here. If Trent Grisham weren’t absent due to a minor hamstring strain and Austin Nola due to a fractured finger, there would be no question about this lineup.

Myers, Pham and Cronenworth are often forgotten as above-average players, and they are very valuable pieces that give pitchers headaches outside Machado and Tatis. Let’s not forget about the veteran Eric Hosmer. Yes, he’s not an elite offensive threat anymore, if he ever really was. But he is yet another piece that prevents pitchers from taking a break anywhere in the lineup. Once the Pads are back at full health, this team will be even scarier.

4. New York Mets

Opening Day Lineup:

C- James McCann

1B- Pete Alonso

2B- Jeff McNeil

3B- JD Davis

SS- Francisco Lindor

LF- Dominic Smith

CF- Brandon Nimmo

RF- Michael Conforto

DH- Kevin Pillar

The Top 4 of my rankings is where I had to make some big decisions. From here up, I was really splitting hairs to decide which team is the better than the other. These Top 4 are all elite as it gets. The Mets brought in several new big names, including Lindor and McCann, which helped them ascend all the way to the 4 spot in my 2021 rankings. The only weakness in this lineup I see is the hypothetical DH for the sake of the article. Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith are both absolute mashers and when you add in the Lindor-Conforto duo, you have yourself an extremely solid crew.

The unsung hero of the Mets is Jeff McNeil. One of my favorite attributes in a player is the ability to be versatile enough to slot into nearly any position on the field. Not only does McNeil give the Mets that, but he also provides a plus bat to supplement the several they already have. If JD Davis and/or Brandon Nimmo break out this year, this team could end up being the NL East favorite.

3. Atlanta Braves

Opening Day Lineup:

C- Travis d’Arnaud

1B- Freddie Freeman

2B- Ozzie Albies

3B- Austin Riley

SS- Dansby Swanson

LF- Marcell Ozuna

CF- Christian Pache

RF- Ronald Acuna

DH- Pablo Sandoval

The reason I have Atlanta eclipsing the Mets here is because they’re another one of the teams that have two of the best players in the game in the middle of the lineup in Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna. I was very happy to see Freddie finally get the recognition he deserved last year when he received his first MVP award. Ronald Acuna is the biggest threat to have a 40/40 season in the game right now (he was 3 SB short in 2019). When you add in a newly re-signed Ozuna, one of the best offensive second basemen in the game in Ozzie Albies, and an ever improving Dansby Swanson, pitchers start to tremble.

The most underrated piece of this lineup is the backstop, Travis d’Arnaud. He’s coming off a 2020 campaign that saw him rake a cool .321/.386/.919 with 9 HR’s and 34 RBI. Very solid for a catcher. The X-Factor of this lineup will be Austin Riley. He has the potential to be another 30+ HR guy in the lineup, but he’ll have to overcome past struggles to be that guy. I’ve seen him switch to more of a contact-first approach in 2020 and in Spring Training this year which gives me reason to believe he can, and will be him.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Opening Day Lineup:

C- Will Smith

1B- Max Muncy

2B- Gavin Lux

3B- Justin Turner

SS- Corey Seager

LF- Chris Taylor

CF- Cody Bellinger

RF- Mookie Betts

DH- AJ Pollock

The Dodgers have claimed another Top 2 spot in my power rankings. I think this speaks huge volumes to the historic talent they have at their disposal and why they are the favorites to repeat as World Series champs in 2021. Betts and Bellinger are obviously the main talents and perennial MVP contenders. Corey Seager is coming off a career best season and is in a contract year, so he has something to prove. Max Muncy is another versatile bat and 30+ HR threat. Will Smith is one of the best offensive catchers in the game. Justin Turner is a very good vet and solid middle of the lineup piece.

The reason I don’t have them at #1 is because the lineup outside the previously mentioned guys is somewhat weak. Gavin Lux could absolutely have a breakout year in 2021, but he has yet to prove he’s ready to do that. Chris Taylor is valuable for his defensive flexibility, but he’s not the best bat. AJ Pollock is past his prime and can still be a valuable player, but having him as the DH in the hypothetical lineup hurt the Dodgers’ stock as a whole. If they retained Joc Pederson and Kike Hernandez, they’d absolutely be in the top spot. Nonetheless, these guys are professional hitters and will have another very good year in 2021.

1. New York Yankees

Opening Day Lineup:

C- Gary Sanchez

1B- Jay Bruce

2B- DJ Lemahieu

3B- Gio Urshela

SS- Gleyber Torres

LF- Clint Frazier

CF- Aaron Hicks

RF- Aaron Judge

DH- Giancarlo Stanton

The Bronx Bombers will live up to their namesake in 2021. The main question mark I have about this team is the absence of 2020 home run champ Luke Voit. A partial meniscus tear will sideline him until May. His hole will be filled by Jay Bruce, who was able to squeeze onto the roster because of Voit’s injury. I’m not saying Bruce won’t be a good player, but his age has me skeptical. The short porch in Yankee Stadium could turn out to be a Godsend for his career. DJ Lemahieu will have another MVP and Batting Title contender type year, and the underrated Aaron Hicks will be in contention for highest OBP in the AL with his uncanny ability to draw walks.

I’m most excited to see Clint Frazier get his shot at being the undisputed Left Fielder in the Bronx. As I’ve previously mentioned, he’s my favorite player in the game right now and I expect nothing but good things out of the kid. Gleyber Torres can only get better after his bad 2020 season. I don’t see a way Judge and Stanton miss as many games this year as they did in 2020. My bold prediction for the Yanks this year is the improvement of Gary Sanchez. If he can’t put things together in 2021, he knows it’s his last shot and the team will move on from him.

The combination of that with the glowing reports coming from the Yankees’ camp and solid Spring Training performance give me reason to believe this is the year. When you throw in the perennially underrated Gio Urshela, you get another year of a historic Yanks offense that claims the top spot in my rankings.

Similar to the pitching power rankings, these are absolutely subject to change. I expect that to happen over the course of the year, so stay tuned for more!

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