As baseball embraces a new golden age of long balls and strikeouts, we look back at some of the most potent, powerful, and downright scary offenses of the past 17 years. We did our best not to discriminate based on lack of a DH, steroid use, or Jeff Kent being a massive douche turkey. Let’s start with two teams who weren’t allowed on the roller coaster (AKA they fell just short)…
2016 Toronto Blue Jays
The Reasoning: More right-handed power than Hellboy made this lineup a minefield for pitchers. They were always one swing, or one Ed-wing away from taking over a ballgame.
2002 Oakland A’s
The Reasoning: The Moneyball team! They were all about data and drawing walks, right? That’s what the movie told me. What the B-Pitt classic left out is that a heavily-juiced Miguel Tejada hit 34 bombs and knocked in 134, while Eric Chavez matched him with a career-high 34 taters of his own. But yeah, they also walked a lot.
And now we delve into the big boys. The true bashers, mashers, and needle-snatchers who made watching baseball in the 2000s infinitely more enjoyable…
15. 2013 Detroit Tigers
The Reasoning: Possibly the worst defensive infield in history also happened to be one of the most dangerous lineups of the last five years. Pitchers were popping Xanax anytime they had to go through Cabrera, Fielder, and Martinez in succession. Oh, and ANDY DIRKS!
14. 2007 Colorado Rockies
The Reasoning: Coors Field, Shmoors Field. Wait, you’re saying that’s not a legitimate argument? Okay, fair enough, but mile-high altitude aside, this team could rake like a fifth grader trying to earn his first allowance. Only one starter (Torrealba) hit below .288 and Tulo, Atkins, Holliday, and Hawpe all hit 24+ homers and drove in 99+ runs.
13. 2004 Houston Astros
The Reasoning: Every pitcher in baseball was allergic to these Killer B’s, as the fearsome foursome of mashers whose last names started with the second letter of the alphabet dominated National League pitching that season. Jeff Kent, eager to be included in the club but ostracized due to his K-beginning surname, played his part with 27 bombs and a team-leading 107 RBIs.
12. 2007 Philadelphia Phillies
The Reasoning: Before he was selling you subs, Ryan Howard was busy belting bombs for the Phillies. 47 of them in 2007, to be exact. It also didn’t hurt that the keystone combo of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley combined for 52 homers and 197 RBIs.
11. 2000 Chicago White Sox
The Reasoning: Which team scored the most runs in a single season in the 21st century? Why, none other than the 2000 White Sox. It was Frank Thomas’ last year of truly being “The Big Hurt” and the beginning of Magglio Ordonez’s prime.
10. 2012 Texas Rangers
Balanced, professional, and powerful. Yes, all three of those adjectives have been used to describe our author’s nether regions, but in this case, we’re talking about the 2012 Rangers. Josh Hamilton’s final year of dominance, a typically brilliant season from Beltre, and Mike Napoli’s last year behind the plate meant hell for opposing hurlers.
9. 2016 Chicago Cubs
C-Wilson Contreras/David Ross/Miguel Montero
The Reasoning: We couldn’t make this list without the curse-breaking 2016 World Champs. Featuring young stars entering their prime (Bryant, Rizzo, Russell) and veteran switch-hitters (Zobrist, Fowler) who knew how to work pitchers and get on base, this lineup had zero weak spots. #WeAin’tAfraidOfNoGoat
8. 2001 San Francisco Giants
The Reasoning: We all know 2001 is the year Barry Bonds hit his record 73 homers, but did you know that Bonds’ OPS that year was 1.379? Or that Rich Aurilia hammered 37 dingers of his own? Baseball desperately needs another Barry-esque super-villain. Steroids were da bomb.
7. 2006 New York Mets
C-Paul Lo Duca
The Reasoning: Ne’er had the world seen a pair of Carloses like Beltran and Delgado. The same-named Puerto Ricans combined for 79 homers and 230 RBIs that season, while fleet-footed shortstop Jose Reyes swiped 64 bags and scored 122 runs. Too bad they pulled a Mets and blew it in the playoffs.
6. 2007 Boston Red Sox
The Reasoning: Any lineup with Manny and Big Papi back-to-back could be featured on this list, but throw in a rookie Dustin Pedroia, a monster year from Mike Lowell, and a bearded, bald-headed walk machine by the name of Kevin Youkilis and you have a team for the ages.
5. 2001 Seattle Mariners
The Reasoning: Guided by a roided-out Bret Boone, the ever-consistent Edgar Martinez, and a fresh-legged rookie named Ichiro, this lineup could hurt you in more ways than a creative dominatrix. You don’t win the most games ever by accident.
4. 2000 Cleveland Indians
The Reasoning: If this list featured teams from the ’90s, the Indians would probably dominate the top five spots, but as we’re staying true to our title, we’ll feature the Y2K Tribe. The last year with the whole band together (Manny, Thome, Alomar x2, Lofton, Vizquel) saw Cleveland actually miss the playoffs. How that core never won a World Series will be a mystery for the ages.
3. 2003 Atlanta Braves
The Reasoning: For context, Marcus Giles hit .316 with 21 homers and 69 RBIs that season. Marcus Giles did that. Home run totals for the starting lineup went 43, 39, 36, 27, 22, 21, 16, 15. Nothing like all-natural Georgia-bred peach power.
2. 2009 New York Yankees
The Reasoning: For an opposing pitcher, this lineup was harder to get through than the U.S. tax code. There simply wasn’t an easy out to be had, so it’s no surprise they went on to win the Series.
1. 2003 Boston Red Sox
The Reasoning: The year before they shattered the curse, Boston hit .289 as a team (!) and scored 961 runs. Eight of their nine regulars had 85+ RBI. More importantly, however, they had Trot Mother F**king Nixon.