MLB

The 15 Best MLB Lineups of the 21st Century

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)…

HONORABLE MENTION:

2016 Toronto Blue Jays

The Lineup
C-Russell Martin
1B-Justin Smoak
2B-Devon Travis
SS-Troy Tulowitzki
3B-Josh Donaldson
LF-Michael Saunders
CF-Kevin Pillar
RF-Jose Bautista
DH-Edwin Encarnacion

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 Lineup
C-Ramon Hernandez
1B-Scott Hatteberg
2B-Mark Ellis
SS-Miguel Tejada
3B-Eric Chavez
LF-David Justice
CF-Terrence Long
RF-Jermaine Dye
DH-Ray Durham

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 Lineup
C-Alex Avila
1B-Prince Fielder
2B-Omar Infante
SS-Jhonny Peralta
3B-Miguel Cabrera
LF-Andy Dirks
CF-Austin Jackson
RF-Torii Hunter
DH-Victor Martinez

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 Lineup
C-Yorvit Torrealba
1B-Todd Helton
2B-Kazuo Matsui
SS-Troy Tulowitzki
3B-Garrett Atkins
LF-Matt Holliday
CF-Willy Taveras
RF-Brad Hawpe

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 Lineup
C-Brad Ausmus
1B-Jeff Bagwell
2B-Jeff Kent
SS-Adam Everett
3B-Morgan Ensberg
LF-Craig Biggio
CF-Carlos Beltran
RF-Lance Berkman

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 Lineup
C-Carlos Ruiz
1B-Ryan Howard
2B-Chase Utley
SS-Jimmy Rollins
3B-Greg Dobbs
LF-Pat Burrell
CF-Aaron Rowand
RF-Shane Victorino

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 Lineup
C-Charles Johnson
1B-Paul Konerko
2B-Ray Durham
SS-Jose Valentin
3B-Herbert Perry
LF-Carlos Lee
CF-Chris Singleton
RF-Magglio Ordonez
DH-Frank Thomas

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

The Lineup
C-Mike Napoli
1B-Mitch Moreland
2B-Ian Kinsler
SS-Elvis Andrus
3B-Adrian Beltre
LF-David Murphy
CF-Josh Hamilton
RF-Nelson Cruz
DH-Michael Young

The Reasoning

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

The Lineup
C-Wilson Contreras/David Ross/Miguel Montero
1B-Anthony Rizzo
2B-Ben Zobrist
SS-Addison Russell
3B-Kris Bryant
LF-Kyle Schwarber
CF-Dexter Fowler
RF-Jason Heyward

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 Lineup
C-Benito Santiago
1B-J.T. Snow
2B-Jeff Kent
SS-Rich Aurilia
3B-Ramon Martinez
LF-Barry Bonds
CF-Marvin Bernard
RF-Armando Rios

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

The Lineup
C-Paul Lo Duca
1B-Carlos Delgado
2B-Jose Valentin
SS-Jose Reyes
3B-David Wright
LF-Cliff Floyd
CF-Endy Chavez
RF-Carlos Beltran

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 Lineup
C-Jason Varitek
1B-Kevin Youkilis
2B-Dustin Pedroia
SS-Julio Lugo
3B-Mike Lowell
LF-Manny Ramirez
CF-Coco Crisp
RF-J.D. Drew
DH-David Ortiz

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 Lineup
C-Dan Wilson
1B-John Olerud
2B-Bret Boone
SS-Carlos Guillen
3B-David Bell
LF-Mark McLemore
CF-Mike Cameron
RF-Ichiro Suzuki
DH-Edgar Martinez

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 Lineup
C-Sandy Alomar
1B-Jim Thome
2B-Roberto Alomar
SS-Omar Vizquel
3B-Travis Fryman
LF-Richie Sexson
CF-Kenny Lofton
RF-Manny Ramirez
DH-David Justice

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 Lineup
C-Javy Lopez
1B-Julio Franco
2B-Marcus Giles
SS-Rafael Furcal
3B-Vinny Castilla
LF-Chipper Jones
CF-Andruw Jones
RF-Gary Sheffield

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 Lineup
C-Jorge Posada
1B-Mark Teixeira
2B-Robinson Cano
SS-Derek Jeter
3B-Alex Rodriguez
LF-Johnny Damon
CF-Melky Cabrera
RF-Nick Swisher
DH-Hideki Matsui

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 Lineup
C-Jason Varitek
1B-Kevin Millar
2B-Todd Walker
SS-Nomar Garciaparra
3B-Bill Mueller
LF-Manny Ramirez
CF-Johnny Damon
RF-Trot Nixon
DH-David Ortiz

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.

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