From Slam Diego to the Oakland Zzzz’s: Way-too-early 2023 MLB lineup rankings

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We’re calling these lineup rankings “way-too-early” — and while that might well be true, maybe it’s not. At this point of the winter, teams across MLB have largely completed their heavy lifting. We do still have a few free agents out there and some trades have continued to trickle in, but we are at a point where we can get a pretty good grasp on how each team’s offense is going to look in the coming season.

It’s fair to say that there has been a good amount of reshuffling — both at the top and bottom of the leaderboard — in these rankings since last year’s preseason projections, even if it often feels like we’re looking at the same teams atop the same leaderboards year after year.

While specific ranking slots change frequently, wider-lens changes are a bit slower to come into focus. These are the changes that are most interesting, when a good team suddenly looks great, or when it seems to have slipped into the lower divisions of the majors.

That dynamic is on full display with these rankings, where a new top lineup has emerged, setting a high bar of expectation for a franchise that has never won a World Series. We’ve also got some perennially elite offenses that look, well, not elite. Though, of course, it might be way too early to be drawing these conclusions.

Here is our list.


1. Ha-Seong Kim (2B, R)

2. Juan Soto (RF, L)

3. Manny Machado (3B, R)

4. Xander Bogaerts (SS, R)

5. Jake Cronenworth (1B, L)

6. Nelson Cruz (DH, R)

7. Matt Carpenter (LF, L)

8. Austin Nola (C, R)

9. Trent Grisham (CF, L)

Park-neutral runs: 896

Best traits: everything | Worst traits: nothing

The name missing from the projected Opening Day lineup is Fernando Tatis Jr., who returns from his PED suspension on April 20. At that point, the Padres will have four MVP-level producers atop their batting order. The talent is staggering.

It’s not just a collection of names, either. It’s also a group that does everything well. The Padres rank in the top 10 in all seven of our skill categories, which is why they get to be designated as good at everything and bad at nothing.

The Padres forecast to rank third in park-adjusted batting average and top the majors in secondary average. Which covers pretty much everything. And it’s a deep lineup: The Padres have eight players forecasted to finish in the 70th percentile or better by OPS, including the four MVP hopefuls in the 90-to-100 group. In fact, they are all in the 95th percentile or above.

Simply put: Given good health and representative performances from its core, this might well turn out to be the best offense in Padres history.


1. Tommy Edman (SS, S)

2. Willson Contreras (C, R)

3. Paul Goldschmidt (1B, R)

4. Nolan Arenado (3B, R)

5. Brendan Donovan (2B, L)

6. Tyler O’Neill (LF, R)

7. Lars Nootbaar (RF, L)

8. Juan Yepez (DH, R)

9. Dylan Carlson (CF, S)

Park-neutral runs: 842

Best traits: patience, strike-zone command, long ball, BABIP | Worst traits: speed

This doesn’t look like the most athletic Cardinals team in history but it does look like a lineup that can mash up and down the order. As in from the very top to the very bottom.

For that statement to turn out to be true, it’ll require continued development and success from some young players, such as Carlson, Nootbaar, Donovan and Yepez. But it’s an impressive mix and the base lineup doesn’t even include youngsters Nolan Gorman, who can mash but has questionable strike-zone command, and Jordan Walker, who could hit St. Louis with a flourish this season.

When we say that the Cardinals’ applied speed is a weakness, it’s just an observed trait, not a condemnation, as this is simply how the club has been built — and that trait hasn’t derailed the ability of St. Louis to field elite defenses.

The lineup, already deep, got even longer with the offseason addition of Contreras. The Cardinals are projected to have six players in the 90th percentile or better by OPS+, the most of any club in the majors.


1. Ronald Acuna Jr. (RF, R)

2. Michael Harris II (CF, L)

3. Austin Riley (3B, R)

4. Matt Olson (1B, L)

5. Sean Murphy (C, R)

6. Ozzie Albies (2B, S)

7. Eddie Rosario (LF, L)

8. Marcell Ozuna (DH, R)

9. Vaughn Grissom (SS, R)

Park-neutral runs: 831

Best traits: long ball, gap-to-gap, contact | Worst traits: BABIP

The Braves have built a consistent, self-regenerating powerhouse of offensive talent that doesn’t look like it’s going to fade any time soon.

As for the power part of the equation, Atlanta projects to lead the majors in both isolated power and slugging percentage. That’s a pretty good starting point, but the Braves also rank third in projected secondary average, so it’s not just a team that hits the ball far … it’s a team that works the zone and makes consistent contact. The Braves hit a lot of fly balls but if that’s the worst thing about your offense, you’re in good shape.


1. Jose Altuve (2B, R)

2. Michael Brantley (DH, L)

3. Alex Bregman (3B, R)

4. Yordan Alvarez (LF, L)

5. Jose Abreu (1B, R)

6. Kyle Tucker (RF, L)

7. Jeremy Pena (SS, R)

8. Chas McCormick (CF, R)

9. Martin Maldonado (C, R)

Park-neutral runs: 819

Best traits: patience, contact, strike-zone command, long ball | Worst traits: BABIP, speed

If the defending champs take a step back this season, it doesn’t look like the culprit will be their offense, as the Astros project to narrowly edge the Blue Jays for the best attack in the American League. It is an older group with a little less athleticism than past seasons, and it’s somewhat more power-reliant than the Astros were a few years ago. Whatever. They’re the champs.

Let’s say the above lineup projection is accurate and is one that manager Dusty Baker can not only run out most days, but would be the default batting order once we get to October. It would make sense, as it allows Baker to go righty-lefty deep into the order and it splits up premier lefty hitters Alvarez and Tucker. The projected on-base percentiles for the top four, in front of newcomer Abreu, go 96, 93, 97 and 99, respectively. For the aggressive, contact-heavy Abreu, who has led the AL in RBIs twice and averaged 110 per 162 games, that’s a lot of ducks on the pond.

Then, after all that, you have Tucker and Pena. Wow.


1. George Springer (RF, R)

2. Bo Bichette (SS, R)

3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B, R)

4. Alejandro Kirk (C, R)

5. Daulton Varsho (LF, L)

6. Matt Chapman (3B, R)

7. Brandon Belt (DH, L)

8. Whit Merrifield (2B, R)

9. Kevin Kiermaier (CF, L)

Park-neutral runs: 816

Best traits: patience, contact, strike-zone command, long ball | Worst traits: gap-to-gap, BABIP

The Blue Jays have become gradually more of a take-and-rake club with the additions this winter of Varsho and Belt, to go with last year’s pickup of Chapman. If the new dimensions at the Rogers Centre turn out to favor that kind of hitter, it’s not a bad time to be this kind of offense.

What sets Toronto apart from other teams heavy in patience and power is that the Jays also make enough consistent contact to maintain a good team average, and have a good amount of speed in the lineup. It’s also a balanced group now that lefty hitters Belt, Varsho and Kiermaier have joined the club.


1. Mookie Betts (RF, R)

2. Freddie Freeman (1B, L)

3. Will Smith (C, R)

4. Max Muncy (3B, L)

5. J.D. Martinez (DH, R)

6. Gavin Lux (SS, L)

7. Trayce Thompson (CF, R)

8. Chris Taylor (2B, R)

9. James Outman (LF, L)

Park-neutral runs: 814

Best traits: patience, contact, strike-zone command, gap-to-gap, BABIP | Worst traits: long ball, speed

It seems likely the Dodgers’ lineup will take a comparative step back on offense after losing Trea Turner and Justin Turner. However, that’s entirely different than saying the Dodgers will struggle to score runs.

The Dodgers project as the most patient team in the majors and once again will grind opponents with a collective domination of the strike zone and elite on-base percentages. However, this club looks to have a little bit less raw power than past Dodgers teams, as it projects to finish 12th in isolated power and 15th in homer percentage.

But the stark difference in this lineup is that, for the Dodgers, it lacks the usual depth of star power. Certainly, few, if any, teams can match the one-two punch of Betts and Freeman, and Smith is a star-level catcher. But the Dodgers have just three hitters projected to finish in the top 90th percentile or better by OPS+.

This is perhaps the natural consequence of a quiet winter.


1. Julio Rodriguez (CF, R)

2. Ty France (1B, R)

3. Eugenio Suarez (3B, R)

4. Teoscar Hernandez (RF, R)

5. Kolten Wong (2B, L)

6. Cal Raleigh (C, S)

7. J.P. Crawford (SS, L)

8. AJ Pollock (DH, R)

9. Jarred Kelenic (LF, L).

Park-neutral runs: 799

Best traits: speed, long ball, gap-to-gap, patience | Worst traits: contact

It has been a whirlwind for roster watchers in Seattle. Mitch Haniger, Jesse Winker, Adam Frazier, Carlos Santana and Kyle Lewis are out. Hernandez, Wong and Pollock are in.

The end result looks good, though you’d still like to see fewer strikeouts in the lineup. There’s a good mix of power and speed or players, like Rodriguez, who feature both. The addition of Hernandez only adds to the raw power in the order, with him, J-Rod, Suarez and Raleigh all projecting in the 90th percentile or better in isolated power.

France is a hitter with decent power, good strike zone command and excellent contact ability, a skill set that helps balance the lineup.


1. Brandon Nimmo (CF, L)

2. Starling Marte (RF, R)

3. Francisco Lindor (SS, S)

4. Pete Alonso (1B, R)

5. Jeff McNeil (2B, L)

6. Daniel Vogelbach (DH, L)

7. Mark Canha (LF, R)

8. Eduardo Escobar (3B, S)

9. Omar Narvaez (C, L)

Park-neutral runs: 795

Best traits: patience, contact, strike-zone command, gap-to-gap, BABIP | Worst traits: long ball

The Mets get on base and have a lineup full of hitters who control the zone and make contact when they swing. The power is more of the extra-base variety than long ball city, but that was the case last season when New York won 101 games.

It’s a group deep in good, non star-level producers outside of stars Alonso, Nimmo and Lindor. But there are five hitters, including Lindor, projected in the 80-to-89th percentile group by OPS+, and another three in the 70s.

Two of those players are the youngsters — Brett Baty and Francisco Alvarez — so a big source of intrigue is whether that pair can force their way into regular playing time on a roster with so many quality veterans. For Baty, the collapse of the Carlos Correa deal makes that quite a bit more likely.


1. Trea Turner (SS, R)

2. Kyle Schwarber (LF, L)

3. Rhys Hoskins (1B, R)

4. J.T. Realmuto (C, R)

5. Nick Castellanos (RF, R)

6. Darick Hall (DH, L)

7. Alec Bohm (3B, R)

8. Bryson Stott (2B, L)

9. Brandon Marsh (CF, L)

Park-neutral runs: 779

Best traits: BABIP, speed, gap-to-gap, long ball | Worst traits: contact, strike-zone command

This isn’t a bad outlook for a club that doesn’t expect its best hitter, Bryce Harper, back until around midseason. When Harper comes back, he’ll join former Nationals teammate Turner to give the Phillies a dynamic one-two punch.

But it’s more than those two. It’s an interesting lineup, with plenty of power both in the gaps and over the wall, a lot of strikeouts and several high-level athletes, led by Turner.

Beyond an early return for Harper, the best hope for the Phillies’ attack to move from here to the top of the majors is for the three youngest players — Stott, Marsh and Bohm — to take a step or two forward at the plate.


1. Gleyber Torres (2B, R)

2. Aaron Judge (RF, R)

3. Anthony Rizzo (1B, L)

4. Giancarlo Stanton (DH, R)

5. Josh Donaldson (3B, R)

6. Oswaldo Cabrera (LF, S)

7. Harrison Bader (CF, R)

8. Oswald Peraza (SS, R)

9. Jose Trevino (C, R)

Park-neutral runs: 766

Best traits: patience, strike-zone command, long ball | Worst traits: gap-to-gap, speed

It seems there is a certain amount of pessimism about the Yankees’ lineup. It’s not unwarranted after the lackluster showing by the New York offense for much of the second half of last season, Judge aside. The offseason has seen the departure of Carpenter and Andrew Benintendi, with the Yankees adding only depth players from outside the organization.

One way to think about it: Judge carried the offense last year and there is no way he can repeat what he did last season. Maybe so. Probably so. But Judge, if he stays on the field, isn’t likely to fall off a cliff, either. It’s not hard to envision him dropping to the low 40s or so in the homer category while seeing his on-base percentage shoot into the .450-plus range with a walk total that goes off the charts. Pitchers are and will be scared to pitch to him.

The Yankees once again will feature plus power, plus patience and solid contact ability. They are plodding at several spots on the field but their overall athleticism is bolstered by a full season from Bader and the increased usage of prospects Cabrera, Peraza and Anthony Volpe.


1. Steven Kwan (LF, L)

2. Amed Rosario (SS, R)

3. Jose Ramirez (3B, S)

4. Josh Bell (DH, S)

5. Andres Gimenez (2B, L)

6. Josh Naylor (1B, L)

7. Oscar Gonzalez (RF, R)

8. Mike Zunino (C, R)

9. Myles Straw (CF, R)

Park-neutral runs: 765

Best traits: contact, gap-to-gap, strike-zone command, speed, BABIP | Worst traits: long ball, patience

As long as you’re not overly fixated on long balls, the Guardians have the recipe to be the most exciting offense in the majors. They rank second in forecasted batting average, first in contact frequency, 27th in patience and first in applied speed. They are the antithesis of how we think of offense in 2023, and that’s a good thing, especially because they win.

Ramirez is once again the anchor. There are a number of candidates to be the two to his one, led by last year’s breakout player, Gimenez. The player to keep an eye on is Gonzalez, who flashed displays of star potential last season, including the playoffs, and has a great mix of power and contact. If he can find just a little patience to pepper in, look out.


1. Yandy Diaz (3B, R)

2. Wander Franco (SS, S)

3. Randy Arozarena (LF, R)

4. Brandon Lowe (2B, L)

5. Harold Ramirez (DH, R)

6. Manuel Margot (RF, R)

7. Jonathan Aranda (1B, L)

8. Christian Bethancourt (C, R)

9. Jose Siri (CF, R)

Park-neutral runs: 764

Best traits: contact, strike-zone command, gap-to-gap, BABIP, speed | Worst traits: patience, long ball

When you think of Rays offenses of recent vintage you think about a lot of “three true outcomes” baseball, but they have evolved into a different kind of unit. This version of the Rays looks like it’ll make plenty of contact, hit for average, flash athleticism all over the field and feature more gap power than long ball power.

The avatar for this evolution is of course Franco who, when he’s right, gets his bat on everything with an aggressive approach and keeps outfielders chasing drives that are plugging the alleys. It’s not just a collection of position players that complements the Rays’ emphasis on run prevention; it has a chance to be fun to watch — and effective — in and of itself.


1. Christian Yelich (LF, L)

2. Willy Adames (SS, R)

3. Rowdy Tellez (1B, L)

4. William Contreras (C, R)

5. Jesse Winker (DH, L)

6. Luis Urias (3B, R)

7. Garrett Mitchell (CF, L)

8. Tyrone Taylor (RF, R)

9. Brice Turang (2B, L)

Park-neutral runs: 761

Best traits: patience, strike-zone command, BABIP | Worst traits: contact, gap-to-gap, speed

The Brewers have a formula. They work the count — resulting in plenty of walks, a decent on-base rate and bushels of whiffs. They do seem to be positively evolving in the batting average category, though station-to-station baseball remains likely, as they are plodding at a number of spots.

Change is underway in the form of rising prospects, but it’s too soon to say we’ll see the results on the bottom line in 2023. As it is, the Brewers will do what they do: try to win with pitching and defense and hope that a homer surge can lift them beyond the middle of the pack offensively. It’s worked for them before.


1. Tim Anderson (SS, R)

2. Andrew Benintendi (LF, L)

3. Luis Robert Jr. (CF, R)

4. Eloy Jimenez (DH, R)

5. Yoan Moncada (3B, S)

6. Andrew Vaughn (1B, R)

7. Yasmani Grandal (C, S)

8. Gavin Sheets (RF, L)

9. Romy Gonzalez (2B, R)

Park-neutral runs: 723

Best traits: BABIP, gap-to-gap, contact | Worst traits: patience, strike-zone command, long ball, speed

The White Sox are a hodgepodge of extreme offensive traits. They project to lead the majors in BABIP and average. They project to finish dead last in patience and second-to-last in secondary average. They are too aggressive, especially as they don’t project to have the homer totals to justify their ultra-impatient approach at the plate. But they do get the bat on the ball.

At the same time, Chicago has the potential to race past its homer projections. Jimenez and Robert both have the raw power to reach 40 homers. Vaughn has the ability to offer much of what the White Sox got from he departed Abreu. Prospect Oscar Colas is yet another impatient hitter but one with a lot of power potential.

Really, it’s fitting the White Sox’s lineup lands right in the middle of the pack because it’s so hard to make sense of these forecasts. Any finish five-to-eight spots above or below this ranking would not be surprising.


1. Byron Buxton (CF, R)

2. Carlos Correa (SS, R)

3. Jorge Polanco (2B, S)

4. Max Kepler (RF, L)

5. Jose Miranda (3B, R)

6. Joey Gallo (LF, L)

7. Alex Kirilloff (1B, L)

8. Christian Vazquez (C, R)

9. Nick Gordon (DH, L)

Park-neutral runs: 722

Best traits: long ball | Worst traits: strike-zone command, BABIP, speed

The Twins should again feature plenty of power — and that should be the basis of their offense, as they project eighth in homer percentage and seventh in slugging. There’s not a lot of applied speed outside of Buxton and Gordon, though Royce Lewis would add to that category if he is able to get healthy and earn significant time in the majors this season. Monday’s deal to add Michael A. Taylor adds speed and defense, as well. In fact, a defensive outfield of Buxton, Taylor and Gallo would be as good as you can find.

But we’re talking hitting, and the Twins need Buxton to stay on the field (as always) to give Correa a consistent co-anchor for the attack. Continued improvement from Miranda could further balance that attack, which beyond these guys will rely on outperforming homer forecasts to rise above the middle of the pack at the plate.


1. Marcus Semien (2B, R)

2. Corey Seager (SS, L)

3. Nathaniel Lowe (1B, L)

4. Adolis Garcia (RF, R)

5. Jonah Heim (C, S)

6. Josh Jung (3B, R)

7. Brad Miller (DH, L)

8. Leody Taveras (CF, S)

9. Josh H. Smith (LF, L)

Park-neutral runs: 719

Best traits: speed, long ball | Worst traits: patience, contact, strike-zone command, gap-to-gap

The list of the Rangers’ offensive strengths and weaknesses tell the story of their group of position players, at least those beyond the stable production of Semien and Seager, along with the underrated Lowe. They have guys who can run and who can hit the ball far. But can they exhibit the professional aspects of hitting at a level that allows for these other strengths to shine?

The best examples of what we’re getting at are Garcia and Bubba Thompson, though the latter isn’t projected as a regular here. Garcia projects to the 89th percentile in applied speed and 86th in long ball percentage. Overall, he’s just in the 68th percentile by OPS+ because he’s in the 20th percentile or worse in indicators like patience, contact and overall strike zone command.

Thompson is more of a gap power hitter than a pure long ball threat, and he possesses the highest forecasted speed score in the majors. But alas, he’s in the fourth percentile in strike zone command. There’s too much of this kind of thing on a Rangers roster that has a lot of intriguing, yet differing, possibilities.


1. Oneil Cruz (SS, L)

2. Bryan Reynolds (CF, S)

3. Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B, R)

4. Ji-Man Choi (1B, L)

5. Andrew McCutchen (LF, R)

6. Carlos Santana (DH, S)

7. Jack Suwinski (RF, L)

8. Rodolfo Castro (2B, S)

9. Austin Hedges (C, R)

Park-neutral runs: 717

Best traits: patience | Worst traits: contact, gap-to-gap

While it’s not enough to give the Pirates a league-average offensive projection (733 runs is average in these forecasts), they did acquire their way into a lineup strength this winter: Patience, in the form of walks. By acquiring McCutchen (85th percentile in patience), Santana (97th) and Choi (98th), the Bucs add that discerning trio to returnees Reynolds (74th) and Suwinski (81st) — and hey, it’s something.

The patience and the possibility of league-average isolated power figures could actually push the Pirates to the average level at the plate if they can match those traits with a modicum of contact. They rank 27th in this area and it’s the one to focus on, especially when it concerns younger hitters like Cruz and Suwinski. Get those whiffs down and see if the Pirates can score a few runs this year.


1. Taylor Ward (LF, R)

2. Mike Trout (CF, R)

3. Shohei Ohtani (DH, L)

4. Anthony Rendon (3B, R)

5. Hunter Renfroe (RF, R)

6. Brandon Drury (2B, R)

7. Jared Walsh (1B, L)

8. Logan O’Hoppe (C, R)

9. Luis Rengifo (SS, S)

Park-neutral runs: 717

Best traits: long ball, patience, strike-zone command | Worst traits: contact, BABIP, speed

Frankly, this might be an optimistic forecast, as I was pretty generous with playing time outlooks for Trout and Rendon. Reports on the pair, as far as they’ve come out this winter, are good. But Rendon has played just 105 games over the past two seasons combined, while Trout sits at 155.

Even with that optimism, the Angels’ attack looks so-so. They have top-10 power and no real glaring holes except for a No. 29 ranking in applied speed. They are just middle of the pack except for homers but are dragged down by strikeouts and a lack of BABIP, likely because of a lot of swing planes that generate fly balls.


1. Thairo Estrada (2B, R)

2. Mike Yastrzemski (CF, L)

3. Mitch Haniger (RF, R)

4. Joc Pederson (DH, L)

5. Michael Conforto (LF, L)

6. Wilmer Flores (3B, R)

7. Brandon Crawford (SS, L)

8. LaMonte Wade Jr. (1B, L)

9. Joey Bart (C, R)

Park-neutral runs: 713

Best traits: Patience, long ball | Worst traits: contact, BABIP, speed

The Giants are ranked sixth in patience and fourth in long ball percentage, so there are clear strengths for this group. To elevate this standing, they’ll need fewer strikeouts and more success than anticipated on balls in play, both in terms of hits and extra bases that don’t leave the yard.

It’s a slow team, ranking 28th in applied speed. The highest forecasted park neutral batting average belongs to Estrada — at .258. That’s just kind of how the Giants are designed and it’s part of why it’s a shame they didn’t come away with Correa. It’s a deep group of professional hitters but this is a lineup that needs a star, or three.


1. Nico Hoerner (2B, R)

2. Dansby Swanson (SS, R)

3. Ian Happ (LF, S)

4. Seiya Suzuki (RF, R)

5. Eric Hosmer (1B, L)

6. Trey Mancini (DH, R)

7. Cody Bellinger (CF, L)

8. Christopher Morel (3B, R)

9. Tucker Barnhart (C, L)

Park-neutral runs: 710

Best traits: BABIP | Worst traits: patience

The Cubs have at least put themselves in position to have a breakout offensive season, even if the baseline forecast is more middle of the pack. It’s a resume without any really glaring weaknesses, though you’d maybe like to see some more walks. But there aren’t any elite strengths either.

Chicago’s hope comes largely from the potential of individuals on the depth chart to push this middling projection upward. It starts with Swanson maintaining what he did during his last season in Atlanta. Suzuki could be better and Hoerner could continue his growth.

But the biggie is Bellinger. There’s little reason to think the change in scenery will snap him back to MVP form. But if he did come something close to that, that would be the peg the Cubs need on which to hang their hopes for an offensive breakout.


1. Luis Arraez (2B, L)

2. Jean Segura (3B, R)

3. Jazz Chisholm Jr. (CF, L)

4. Garrett Cooper (1B, R)

5. Avisail Garcia (RF, R)

6. Jorge Soler (DH, R)

7. Joey Wendle (SS, L)

8. Bryan De La Cruz (LF, R)

9. Jacob Stallings (C, R)

Park-neutral runs: 710

Best traits: contact, BABIP, speed | Worst traits: patience, gap-to-gap, long ball

It’s hard to see how the Marlins could be building a contention-worthy team defense with this group, but from an offensive standpoint, it kind of looks like Miami is trying to replicate what worked so well for Cleveland last season.

The starting point is a lack of power. No, it’s not something you really strive for, just something you have that motivates you to get creative when it comes to building an offense. The Marlins have that starting point, ranking 25th in isolated power, 27th in homer percentage and 25th in overall slugging.

Still, in the wake of the Segura signing and the trade acquisition of Arraez, there are some good traits as well. The Marlins rank 11th in average but fourth in BABIP, which suggests that if they can get the ball in play, they have a good shot at an average or better on-base rate — as long as they don’t crater in walks.

There’s also some good applied speed, especially when it comes to Chisholm and Jon Berti. The Marlins will need one or two middle-of-the-order guys to hit the upper end of their power projection to make it all work — Cooper and Soler are the best candidates. But there are things here to work with.


1. Corbin Carroll (CF, L)

2. Ketel Marte (2B, S)

3. Jake McCarthy (RF, L)

4. Christian Walker (1B, R)

5. Josh Rojas (3B, L)

6. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (LF, R)

7. Evan Longoria (DH, R)

8. Carson Kelly (C, R)

9. Nick Ahmed (SS, R).

Park-neutral runs: 708

Best traits: gap-to-gap, speed | Worst traits: BABIP

The Diamondbacks have some good things happening, with possibilities for breakout-type performances from a number of players in this group and from some not listed here, like Kyle Lewis and Alek Thomas.

The focus, for now, is on McCarthy and Carroll. For McCarthy, it’s a matter of becoming a little more patient in an effort to up his on-base percentage. In doing so, perhaps he could make more consistent contact, which would get more balls in play so that he can let his elite speed score shine. For Carroll, it’s all about making more consistent contact. The raw power and the secondary skills are already in place.


1. Cedric Mullins (CF, L)

2. Adley Rutschman (C, S)

3. Gunnar Henderson (SS, L)

4. Anthony Santander (RF, S)

5. Ryan Mountcastle (1B, R)

6. Ramon Urias (3B, R)

7. Kyle Stowers (DH, L)

8. Austin Hays (LF, R)

9. Adam Frazier (2B, L)

Park-neutral runs: 693

Best traits: gap-to-gap, speed | Worst traits: contact, strike-zone command, patience, long ball

The Orioles are young but they already rank high in a couple of categories, like gap power (first) and applied speed (fifth). That’s an exciting combo, but what they need is for some of the gappers from Henderson and Rutschman, among others, to leave the yard. You figure that’s just a matter of when, not if.

For now, what you want to see are collective steps forward in the plate discipline area. More walks, more contact. Improving in those areas is the best route to taking a step forward in the long ball category.


1. Masataka Yoshida (LF, L)

2. Enrique Hernandez (SS, R)

3. Rafael Devers (3B, L)

4. Justin Turner (DH, R)

5. Alex Verdugo (RF, L)

6. Adam Duvall (CF, R)

7. Triston Casas (1B, L)

8. Adalberto Mondesi (2B, R)

9. Reese McGuire (C, L)

Park-neutral runs: 670

Best traits: contact, strike-zone command | Worst traits: BABIP, speed

This is kind of a grim outlook for the Boston offense, one dragged down by a No. 28 ranking in BABIP. I’m not sure I love that conclusion, but with below-average long ball potential and a so-so outlook in the patience category, a middling outlook is really about the best you can do from a forecast standpoint.

One of the areas of uncertainty is Yoshida, who the projections see as a strike zone discipline master but a little lagging when it comes to a BABIP that you’d expect will trend to elite — if he’s for real and translates his game to MLB. If he’s the player the Red Sox signed him to be, he’ll be elite in BABIP.

Anyway, if you don’t like this park-neutral projection for the Boston offense, consider this: Last year, the Red Sox scored 343 runs on the road. If you think of that as a half-season of a park-neutral performance, then double it to get a full-season projection. That’s 686, and Boston lost Martinez and Bogaerts.


1. MJ Melendez (DH, L)

2. Bobby Witt Jr. (SS, R)

3. Salvador Perez (C, R)

4. Vinnie Pasquantino (1B, L)

5. Edward Olivares (RF, R)

6. Kyle Isbel (LF, L)

7. Hunter Dozier (3B, R)

8. Michael Massey (2B, L)

9. Drew Waters (CF, S)

Park-neutral runs: 656

Best traits: speed, long ball | Worst traits: patience, contact, strike-zone command, gap-to-gap, BABIP

The Royals have speed, even after trading away Taylor on Monday and Mondesi on Tuesday. We don’t know what’s going to happen to the stolen base landscape for sure this season, but K.C. should again have a high number of steals. The Royals also have the seventh-ranked speed score, though that ranking was second before the trades.

These seem like classic Royals traits but these aren’t your grandfather’s Royals. K.C. forecasts to rank 29th in batting average but 12th in long ball percentage. (Remember, again, these are park-adjusted observations.) This club is very light on contact, patience and general strike-zone command.

This power and speed combination is a product of the kinds of players the Royals have developed, led by Witt, whose progress will be one of the more important aspects of Kansas City baseball this season. Though, the further development of Melendez, Pasquantino and Nick Pratto is just as important.


1. Austin Meadows (RF, L)

2. Javier Baez (SS, R)

3. Riley Greene (CF, L)

4. Jonathan Schoop (2B, R)

5. Kerry Carpenter (DH, L)

6. Eric Haase (C, R)

7. Nick Maton (3B, L)

8. Spencer Torkelson (1B, R)

9. Akil Baddoo (LF, L)

Park-neutral runs: 627

Best traits: long ball | Worst traits: patience, contact, strike-zone command, gap-to-gap, BABIP, speed

It’s shocking how far the outlook for Baez has fallen. He’s in just the 58th percentile in OPS+ despite his speed and power. Yes, he’s in the fifth percentile in strike zone discipline, but he has always had success with that. The Tigers badly need Baez to have a big bounce-back season.

As for the Tigers overall, it’s just bad: 28th in average, 29th in on-base percentage, 26th in slugging. Improvement for Baez, a full season for Meadows, steps forward for Greene and Torkelson — these are the things for Tigers fans to root for in 2023.

Those and a Pujols-style farewell season for Miguel Cabrera.


1. Yonathan Daza (CF, R)

2. Kris Bryant (LF, R)

3. Ryan McMahon (3B, L)

4. C.J. Cron (1B, R)

5. Charlie Blackmon (DH, L)

6. Brendan Rodgers (2B, R)

7. Randal Grichuk (RF, R)

8. Elias Diaz (C, R)

9. Ezequiel Tovar (SS, S)

Park-neutral runs: 623

Best traits: BABIP | worst traits: patience, contact, strike-zone command, gap-to-gap, long ball, speed

The Rockies weren’t really good at anything offensively last season. Apparently they felt like that was a total fluke because they brought back more or less the same team, though there is some possibility of new production in pickup Nolan Jones, who ran out of opportunity in Cleveland. Not surprisingly, the Rockies don’t project to be good at anything offensively this season, either.


1. Lane Thomas (RF, R)

2. CJ Abrams (SS, L)

3. Joey Meneses (DH, R)

4. Keibert Ruiz (C, S)

5. Corey Dickerson (LF, L)

6. Jeimer Candelario (3B, S)

7. Luis Garcia (2B, L)

8. Dominic Smith (1B, L)

9. Victor Robles (CF, R)

Park-neutral runs: 618

Best traits: contact, gap-to-gap | Worst traits: patience, strike-zone command, long ball

Well, it’s a work in progress. At least there has been a significant turnover in names from last offseason. We should get a full season in the majors from Abrams and his combination of hyperaggressiveness, contact ability, gap power and speed will make him one of the more exciting players in the National League. That impatience-contact combination is a team trait. The Nats rank seventh in contact but 29th in patience.


1. TJ Friedl (LF, L)

2. Jonathan India (2B, R)

3. Joey Votto (1B, L)

4. Tyler Stephenson (C, R)

5. Wil Myers (RF, R)

6. Jake Fraley (DH, L)

7. Spencer Steer (3B, R)

8. Kevin Newman (SS, R)

9. Nick Senzel (CF, R)

Park-neutral runs: 607

Best traits: patience | Worst traits: long ball

None of the projection systems are predicting a bounce-back season for Votto. You can understand that. He’s 39 and coming off a .205/.319/.370 campaign, but it’s still a little heartbreaking.

It also means that the Reds have only one hitter forecasted to finish in the 70th percentile or better in OPS+ — catcher Stephenson, who’s in the 71st percentile. I keep thinking that the Reds’ park-neutral slugging percentage (.378, ranked last in the majors) has to be low, perhaps a product of an overzealous park factor penalizing them for Great American Ballpark.

Alas, the Reds’ road slugging last season was .348.


1. Tony Kemp (2B, L)

2. Ramon Laureano (RF, R)

3. Seth Brown (1B, L)

4. Aledmys Diaz (DH, R)

5. Jace Peterson (3B, L)

6. Shea Langeliers (C, R)

7. Conner Capel (LF, L)

8. Nick Allen (SS, R)

9. Esteury Ruiz (CF, R)

Park-neutral runs: 605

Best traits: patience, speed | Worst traits: contact, strike-zone command, gap-to-gap, long ball, BABIP

The Reds and the Athletics squared off in the World Series in both 1972 and 1990. The ’90 Fall Classic was a sweep but the ’72 version was a flat-out classic. The Reds and the Athletics aren’t going to play in the 2023 World Series, so let’s try to remember the good times.

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