Baseball

Each AL Team’s Best Lineup Trio Since 2000

|
Image for Each AL Team’s Best Lineup Trio Since 2000

Every MLB team has been blessed with having multiple star players on their roster at the same time. A lot of these players tend to bat consecutively in the batting order, similar to the 1927 Yankees‘ Murderers’ Row. Since 2000, each team has had a trio of hitters in their lineup that terrorized opposing pitching over the course of the season.

Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo –– 2016

The 2016 Orioles snuck into the playoffs as the second Wild Card team in the AL with 89 wins. They led the majors with 253 homers, and 122 of them came from Machado, Davis, and Trumbo. Machado led the team with an .894 OPS (130 OPS+) and racked up 37 homers and 7.3 rWAR while finishing fifth in MVP voting. Trumbo meanwhile had a career year, leading the majors with 47 homers to go with an .850 OPS (122 OPS+), while also snagging a Silver Slugger and making the All-Star Game. While Davis’ sharp decline began this season, he still was able to smack 38 homers and put up an above-average .792 OPS (110 OPS+). Unfortunately, the Orioles were bounced from the playoffs in the Wild Card game and haven’t had a winning season since.

Boston Red Sox: Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz –– 2003

The mid-2000s Red Sox were an absolute juggernaut offensively, scoring over 900 runs in three consecutive seasons from 2003-2005. The ’03 team put up a whopping 961 runs (5.93 runs per game) to pace the American League and all but two of their starting position players had an OPS over .800. Garciaparra, Ramirez, and Ortiz hit in the 3, 4, and 5 spots in the lineup, each slugging north of .500 and driving in over 100 runs. “Nomah” was one of the best shortstops in baseball, hitting .301/.345/.524 (121 OPS+) with 28 homers, 105 RBIs, and 6.1 rWAR. Ramirez meanwhile led the team with a 1.014 OPS (160 OPS+) and 37 homers with 104 RBIs, and Ortiz had a breakout season, chipping in a .961 OPS (144 OPS+) with 31 homers and 101 RBIs. The Red Sox would have to wait one more year to break their curse though, as they fell in the ALCS to the Yankees.

Chicago White Sox: Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye –– 2006

The 2006 White Sox were far superior offensively to their World Series-winning squad from the year prior. They scored 868 runs in 2006, compared to 741 in 2005, and they hit an AL-best 236 homers. Thome in his age-35 season managed to crack 42 homers and put up a strong .288/.416/.598 (155 OPS+) batting line. Dye meanwhile had the best season of his career, batting .315/.385/.622 (151 OPS+) with 44 homers and 120 RBIs. Konerko, consistent as ever, put up a .313/.381/.551 (134 OPS+) line with 35 homers and 113 RBIs. While the Southsiders saw their offense take a step forward, their pitching staff took a massive step back, and the team missed the playoffs.

Cleveland Indians: Jhonny Peralta, Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez –– 2005

The 2005 Indians somehow missed the playoffs despite having the best ERA in the AL and scoring the fourth-most runs in the league. Peralta and Martinez both had breakout seasons, while Hafner delivered his second straight outstanding season. Peralta hit a strong .292/.366/.520 (137 OPS+) with 24 homers and 78 RBIs, all of which ended up being his career highs. Hafner was the team’s best hitter, socking 33 homers with a .305/.408/.595 (168 OPS+) batting line. Martinez meanwhile was one of the best offensive catchers in baseball, hitting .305/.378/.475 (130 OPS+) with 20 homers and 80 RBIs.

Detroit Tigers: Gary Sheffield, Magglio Ordoñez, Carlos Guillen –– 2007

You probably expected to see a Miguel Cabrera-led trio here, but Sheffield, Ordoñez, and Guillen actually were better than any trio Cabrera ever had. While Sheffield had a down year by his standards, he still put up a solid .839 OPS (119 OPS+) with 25 homers. Ordoñez had one of the best seasons in franchise history, hitting .363/.434/.595 (166 OPS+) with 28 homers, 54 doubles, and 139 RBIs. He led the majors in both average and doubles and finished second in AL MVP voting. Guillen contributed an All-Star campaign as well, hitting .295/.357/.502 (122 OPS+) with 21 homers and 102 RBIs. Just like the 2006 White Sox though, these Tigers had a fairly mediocre pitching staff and missed the playoffs as a result.

Houston Astros: Carlos Beltran, Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman –– 2004

The 2004 Astros already had a solid offense, but they became elite after they picked up Carlos Beltran that summer. After the trade, Beltran hit .258/.368/.559 (135 OPS+) with 23 homers, 28 steals, and 4.5 rWAR in 90 games. Beltran then had one of the greatest postseasons in baseball history, going 20-for-46 with eight homers and 14 RBIs before the ‘Stros were eliminated by the Cardinals.

Bagwell‘s numbers declined a little bit that season, but he still hit .266/.377/.465 (116 OPS+) with 27 homers and 89 RBIs, and he contributed two homers in Houston’s NLDS defeat of the Braves. Berkman meanwhile was the team’s best hitter, batting a rollicking .316/.450/.566 (160 OPS+) with 30 homers, 40 doubles, 106 RBIs, and 6.0 rWAR. He finished seventh in NL MVP voting and was fantastic in the postseason, going 16-for-44 with four homers and 12 RBIs.

Kansas City Royals: Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Kendrys Morales –– 2015

The Royals in 2015 were second from the bottom in the AL in home runs, but that didn’t stop them from claiming their first World Series title since 1985. All three of these players received MVP votes. Cain finished third in the voting, batting .307/.361/.477 (125 OPS+) with 16 homers, 28 steals, and 7.0 rWAR. Hosmer hit .297/.363/.459 with 18 homers and 93 RBIs, while also compiling 4.3 rWAR.

Morales reaped the rewards of hitting behind Cain and Hosmer, as he led the team with 106 RBIs to go with 22 homers and a .290/.362/.485 (127 OPS+) batting line. Morales also hit a spectacular .335/.416/.596 with runners in scoring position and was just as good with two outs and runners in scoring position, hitting .306/.416/.635 in those situations. He was awarded a Silver Slugger and the Edgar Martinez Award for his outstanding play as the team’s designated hitter.

Los Angeles Angels: Tim Salmon, Garrett Anderson, Troy Glaus –– 2002

One day, this trio could get supplanted by a Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani-led crew, but instead, it’s another player with a fish name getting the spot. The 2002 Angels averaged 5.25 runs per game and all but two of their everyday players had an OPS+ of over 100.

Salmon had a big bounce-back season, hitting .286/.380/.503 (133 OPS+) with 22 homers, 37 doubles, and 88 RBIs. He was strong in the postseason too, hitting .288/.382/.525 with four homers and 12 RBIs.

Anderson had arguably the best season of his illustrious career, batting .306/.332/.539 (127 OPS+) with 29 homers, 123 RBIs, 5.0 rWAR, and an MLB-leading 56 doubles. He earned a Silver Slugger and an All-Star Game appearance while finishing fourth in MVP voting.

While Glaus had a bit of a disappointing regular season, he was still able to pitch in with 30 homers, 111 RBIs, and an .805 OPS (113 OPS+). In the postseason though, Glaus had the best October performance in franchise history, going 21-for-61 with seven homers and 13 RBIs. He was particularly great in the World Series, hitting .385/.467/.846 with three homers and eight RBIs, winning series MVP honors in the process.

Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel –– 2009

Joe Mauer had arguably the best offensive season ever for a catcher in 2009. He hit a blistering .365/.444/.587 (171 OPS+) with a career-high 28 homers and 96 RBIs. He won the AL MVP award, claiming 27 of the 28 first-place votes. Mauer had a pretty strong supporting cast too. Morneau hit .274/.363/.516 (130 OPS+) with 30 homers and 100 RBIs, while Kubel had a career year, hitting .300/.369/.569 (137 OPS+) with 28 homers and 103 RBIs. Thanks in part to this group, the Twins snagged the AL Central in a game 163 over the Tigers before falling to the Yankees in the ALDS.

New York Yankees: Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui –– 2009

The Yankees were easily the best team in baseball in 2009. Their offense ranked first in the AL in homers (244), runs (915), OBP (.362), slugging (.478), and OPS (.839). They had seven players hit over 20 homers and all but one of their everyday players had an OPS+ over 100.

Teixeira led the charge, hitting .292/.385/.565 (141 OPS+) with an AL-leading 39 homers and 122 RBIs. He finished second in the AL MVP voting and won a Silver Slugger. A-Rod was also a top-10 MVP finisher, hitting .286/.402/.532 (138 OPS+) with 30 homers and 100 RBIs. He also had the best postseason of his career, going 19-for-52 with six homers and 18 RBIs. Matsui hit a strong .274/.367/.509 (123 OPS+) with 28 homers and 90 RBIs while serving as the team’s DH. He dominated in the World Series, hitting an insane .615/.643/1.385 with three homers and eight RBIs, earning series MVP honors.

Oakland A’s: Marcus Semien, Matt Chapman, Matt Olson –– 2019

This is the only trio on this list that hit in the top three spots of their team’s lineup. Semien, Chapman, and Olson all received MVP votes, with Semien finishing the highest at third. He hit .285/.369/.522 (139 OPS+) with 33 homers, 92 RBIs, and 8.4 rWAR. Chapman finished sixth in the voting, hitting .249/.342/.506 (127 OPS+) with 36 homers, 91 RBIs, and 7.7 rWAR. Olson had identical home run and RBI totals to Chapman, but did so in just 127 games and hit .267/.351/.545 (139 OPS+), finishing 21st in MVP voting. Unfortunately, the bats went silent as the A’s were eliminated in the AL Wild Card game by the Rays.

Seattle Mariners: Edgar Martinez, John Olerud, Bret Boone –– 2001

There’s a reason why the Mariners won 116 games in 2001. They had a plus-300 run differential and averaged a whopping 5.72 runs per game. Five of their everyday position players made the All-Star Game: AL MVP and Rookie of the Year Ichiro Suzuki, Mike Cameron, Edgar Martinez, John Olerud, and Bret Boone.

Martinez, Olerud, and Boone occupied the 3, 4, and 5 spots in the lineup. Martinez led the team in OPS, hitting .306/.423/.543 (160 OPS+) with 23 homers, 40 doubles, and 116 RBIs. Olerud hit .302/.401/.472 (136 OPS+) with 21 homers and 95 RBIs while also drawing a team-leading 94 walks compared to just 70 strikeouts. Boone meanwhile had the best season of his career, hitting .331/.372/.578 (153 OPS+) with 37 homers and an AL-leading 141 RBIs. He also racked up 8.8 rWAR and finished third in AL MVP voting. Despite all of this greatness, the Mariners were sent packing by the Yankees in the ALCS.

Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria, Carlos Peña, Ben Zobrist –– 2009

The Rays failed to reach the playoffs in 2009, but it wasn’t because of their offense. They averaged 4.96 runs per game, led by Longoria, Peña, and Zobrist. Longoria backed up his Rookie of the Year-winning campaign by hitting .281/.364/.526 (133 OPS+) with 33 homers, 113 RBIs, and 7.0 rWAR. Peña only had a .227 batting average but finished with an .893 OPS and still finished tied for the AL lead in homers with 39 despite missing the final few weeks of the season. Zobrist broke out in a big way, hitting .297/.405/.543 (149 OPS+) with 27 homers, 91 RBIs, and 8.6 rWAR, which was tops among AL position players. All three of these players made the All-Star Game and Zobrist and Longoria both earned MVP votes.

Texas Rangers: Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez –– 2001

The 2001 Rangers were a powerhouse offensively, averaging 5.49 runs per game and leading the AL 246 homers. Unfortunately, their pitching was quite the opposite, which led the team to a last-place finish with a 73-89 record. A-Rod, Palmeiro, and Pudge did their best to keep the team afloat, even if it meant taking steroids. A-Rod finished sixth in MVP voting, hitting .318/.399/.622 (160 OPS+) with an AL-best 52 homers, 135 RBIs, and 8.3 rWAR. Palmeiro continued to rake in his age-36 season, hitting .271/.381/.563 (141 OPS+) with 47 homers and 123 RBIs, finishing 14th in MVP voting. Pudge only played in 111 games, but he hit .308/.347/.541 (126 OPS+) with 25 homers, 65 RBIs, and 5.0 rWAR. He likely would’ve also received MVP votes had he played in more games.

Toronto Blue Jays: Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion –– 2015

The Blue Jays had the best offense in the majors by a country mile in 2015. They averaged 5.5 runs per game, making them the only team in MLB to average greater than five runs per game that season (the Yankees had the second-highest number at 4.72).

Donaldson was Toronto’s best player and took home the AL MVP award. He batted .297/.371/.568 (151 OPS+) with 41 homers, 123 RBIs, and 7.1 rWAR. Bautista finished eighth in MVP voting, batting .250/.377/.536 (145 OPS+) with 40 homers and 110 RBIs. Encarnacion finished 12th in MVP voting, hitting .277/.372/.557 (148 OPS+) with 39 homers and 111 RBIs.

Thanks in large part to these three, the Blue Jays won the AL East and snapped their 23-year-long playoff drought. Bautista delivered the exclamation point on their season with his iconic three-run homer against the Rangers in the ALDS.

Follow me on Twitter at @Mathias_A_K for more of my content. Don’t forget to listen to our baseball podcast, Cheap Seats Chatter! We’ll see ya there!

Come join the discussion made by the fans at the Overtime Heroics forums! A place for all sports! 

main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

Share this article

Mathias is a graduate student at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. He is currently studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism on the Sports Media and Communications track. He graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2021, where he studied journalism and served as the Sports Editor and Opinions Editor for the school's newspaper, The Signal. He joined Overtime Heroics as a writer in June of 2019 and became an editor in December of 2020 before taking over the MLB department in June of 2021. Mathias is also a former varsity swimmer and is the youngest of five kids.