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Each NL Team’s Best Lineup Trio Since 2000

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Recently, we went through all of the AL teams and determined who their most dominant hitters were this century that also hit consecutively in the lineup. On the NL side, there are plenty of recognizable names and a few trios that dominated for teams that missed the playoffs. They all struck fear into opposing teams when they saw the lineup card and gave their teams the best chance to win.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt, J.D. Martinez, Jake Lamb –– 2017

The Diamondbacks were already averaging 5.0 runs per game in 2017 but had lost 8 of their last 11 games when they acquired J.D. Martinez on July 18. From there on out, Arizona’s offense continued their strong performance and the team went 39-24, snagging the first NL Wild Card spot.

Goldschmidt had a typical dominant season, batting .297/.404/.563 (142 OPS+) with 36 homers and 120 RBIs. He was an All-Star for the fifth straight season and finished third in NL MVP voting. Lamb was a first-time All-Star and while his numbers tailed off in the second half, he still finished with a career-best .844 OPS (112 OPS+) while racking up 30 homers and 105 RBIs.

As for Martinez, he went on the most dominant tear of his career after arriving in Phoenix. In 62 games with the team, Martinez hit a scorching .302/.366/.741 (170 OPS+) while clubbing 29 homers, 16 of which came in September. On Sept. 4, Martinez etched his name in baseball history by smacking four homers in a game against the Dodgers. Despite spending less than half a season in the NL, Martinez finished 14th in the NL MVP voting. While the D-Backs were swept in the NLDS, Martinez hit well, going for 4-for-11 with a homer.

Atlanta Braves: Gary Sheffield, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones –– 2003

In the late 90s and early 2000s, the Braves are mainly remembered for their pitching, but in 2003, their offense had a year for the ages. They averaged 5.6 runs per game and scored over 900 runs for the first time since 1895 when the team was known as the Boston Beaneaters. Atlanta had six players hit upwards of 20 homers and seven of their nine regulars had an OPS+ over 100. Thanks in large part to their offense, the Braves won over 100 games for the fifth time in seven years.

Gary Sheffield led the charge on offense. He hit .330/.419/.604 (162 OPS+) with 39 homers, 132 RBIs, and a career-high 6.8 rWAR. Sheffield also walked 86 times against just 55 strikeouts, nabbed a Silver Slugger and an All-Star Game nod, and finished third in NL MVP voting.

Hitting behind Sheff were the Jones boys, who put up their normal strong numbers. Chipper Jones hit .305/.402/.517 (137 OPS+) with 27 homers and 106 RBIs. Andruw Jones hit .277/.338/.513 (117 OPS+) with 36 homers and 116 RBIs. Not even listed in this trio is Javy Lopez, who led the team with 43 homers and a 1.065 OPS. In fact, Lopez would frequently bat sixth behind Sheffield and the Jones boys. Despite all of their success, the Braves were upset by the Cubs in the NLDS.

Chicago Cubs: Sammy Sosa, Moises Alou, Aramis Ramirez –– 2004

The 2004 Cubs narrowly missed out on October ball, going 89-73 and finishing third in a strong NL Central. Their offense was led by two guys in their mid-30s –– Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou –– and 26-year-old Aramis Ramirez.

Slammin’ Sammy began to decline a little bit, but he still hit .253/.332/.517 (114 OPS+) with 35 homers and 80 RBIs. This ended up being the last season Sosa spent with the Cubs. Alou meanwhile continued to mash in his age-37 season, hitting .293/.361/.557 (132 OPS+) while smacking a career-high 39 homers and driving in 106 runs. Ramirez had the best season of his career, hitting .318/.373/.578 (139 OPS+) with 36 homers and 103 RBIs.

Cincinnati Reds: Jesse Winker, Nick Castellanos, Joey Votto –– 2021

This trio is the only one on either list from the current season. Unfortunately for the Reds, they will fall short of the playoffs in 2021, but it isn’t the fault of these three players. While Winker missed six weeks due to injury, he mashed when he was healthy. He made his first All-Star Game appearance, hitting .305/.394/.556 (139 OPS+) with a career-high 24 homers and 71 RBIs. Castellanos also was a first-time All-Star, hitting .310/.362/.574 (134 OPS+) with 33 homers, 37 doubles, and 97 RBIs.

Votto wasn’t an All-Star, but the 37-year-old helped power the Reds back into playoff contention with a monstrous second half. He’s hitting .270/.379/.568 (138 OPS+) with 35 homers, 24 of which have come since the All-Star break. It’s a possibility that all three of these players receive MVP votes.

Colorado Rockies: Matt Holliday, Todd Helton, Garrett Atkins –– 2007

The Rockies finished the 2007 regular season by winning 14 of their last 15 games, including a game 163 against the Padres to decide the NL Wild Card race. The Rockies then went on to sweep their first two playoff series against the Phillies and D-Backs before losing to the Red Sox in the World Series.

Colorado’s offense carried the team to the playoffs, averaging 5.28 runs per game. Matt Holliday was arguably the best hitter in the NL, batting a scalding .340/.405/.607 (151 OPS+) with 36 homers, 50 doubles, 137 RBIs, and 6.0 rWAR. He led the league in batting average, doubles, RBIs, hits, and total bases. Holliday also was an All-Star and Silver Slugger while finishing second in NL MVP voting.

Helton turned another strong season despite not hitting for a ton of power. He batted .320/.434/.494 (133 OPS+) with 17 homers, 42 doubles, 91 RBIs, and 116 walks against 74 strikeouts. Atkins meanwhile had his second straight good year, hitting .301/.367/.486 (113 OPS+) with 25 homers and 111 RBIs.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy –– 2019

The Dodgers had the best record in the NL in 2019, winning 106 games. They also led the NL in runs scored, averaging 5.47 runs per game. Cody Bellinger was the team’s brightest star, hitting .305/.406/.629 (167 OPS+) with 47 homers, 115 RBIs, and 8.6 rWAR. Bellinger made his second All-Star Game and won the NL MVP Award.

Turner and Muncy both provided excellent protection for Bellinger in the lineup. Turner hit .290/.372/.509 (130 OPS+) with 27 homers and 67 RBIs. Muncy made his first All-Star Game appearance, hitting .251/.374/.515 (132 OPS+) with 35 homers, 98 RBIs, and 5.3 rWAR. He finished 15th in NL MVP voting for the second straight season. In the playoffs though, the Dodgers’ bats went silent and they were knocked off by the eventual World Champion Nationals.

Miami Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna –– 2017

The Marlins only finished 77-85 in 2017, but Stanton, Yelich, and Ozuna made the team very exciting to watch. Stanton finally stayed healthy for a full season and lit the world on fire, hitting .281/.376/.631 (169 OPS+, best in the NL) with an MLB-leading 59 homers and 132 RBIs. He also put 7.9 rWAR and won the NL MVP award.

Yelich mainly hit third in the order behind Stanton and had a solid season. He hit .282/.369/.439 (120 OPS+) with 18 homers, 36 doubles, and 81 RBIs. Ozuna was the team’s cleanup hitter and had the best season of his career. He made his second All-Star Game, batting .312/.376/.548 (149 OPS+) with 37 homers and 124 RBIs while also finishing 15th in MVP voting. In a shocking turn of events though, all three of these players were traded after the season.

Milwaukee Brewers: J.J. Hardy, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder –– 2007

The 2007 Brewers averaged 4.94 runs per game, good for fifth-best in the NL. Unfortunately, their pitching staff was mediocre and they missed out on the playoffs by two games.

Hardy, Braun, and Fielder hit 2-3-4 in the Milwaukee lineup. Hardy made his first All-Star Game, batting .277/.323/.463 (101 OPS+) with 26 homers, 30 doubles, and 80 RBIs. Braun burst onto the scene and won NL Rookie of the Year, hitting .324/.370/.634 (154 OPS+) with 34 homers and 97 RBIs. Braun’s slugging percentage was tops in the NL and he finished 24th in MVP voting. Fielder also was a first-time All-Star, batting .288/.395/.618 with an NL-best 50 homers and 119 RBIs. Fielder also snagged his first Silver Slugger and finished third in MVP voting.

New York Mets: Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, David Wright –– 2006

The Mets were arguably the best team in baseball in 2006. All but one of their everyday position players had an OPS+ over 100 and they averaged 5.15 runs per game. They had four position players make the All-Star Game and four players finish within the top 12 of MVP voting.

Hitting the middle of the lineup, Beltran, Delgado, and Wright did nothing but terrorize opposing pitchers. Beltran had the best season of his career, hitting .275/.388/.594 (150 OPS+) with (at the time) a franchise record-tying 41 homers, 116 RBIs, and 8.2 rWAR. Beltran won a Silver Slugger and finished fourth in MVP voting. Delgado thrived in his first year in Flushing, hitting .265/.361/.548 (131 OPS+) with 38 homers and 114 RBIs. Delgado also finished 12th in MVP voting. Wright made his first All-Star Game, hitting .311/.381/.531 (133 OPS+) with 26 homers, 40 doubles, and 116 RBIs. He competed in the Home Run Derby and finished ninth in MVP voting.

The Mets finished the season with 97 wins but their pitching staff began to fall apart due to injuries. After breezing through the NLDS, the Mets were upset by the Cardinals in the NLCS, thus ending their fantastic season.

Philadelphia Phillies: Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Aaron Rowand –– 2007

If the Phillies’ pitching staff didn’t rank 13th in the NL in ERA, they would’ve had a strong shot to make the World Series. Their offense averaged an NL-leading 5.5 runs per game and had three players finish in the top 10 of MVP voting.

Utley was the team’s most complete hitter, batting .332/.410/.566 (146 OPS+) with 22 homers, 48 doubles, 7.8 rWAR, and 103 RBIs. Utley was an All-Star, won a Silver Slugger, and finished eighth in MVP voting. Howard followed up his MVP-winning season by hitting .268/.392/.584 (145 OPS+) with 47 homers and 136 RBIs while finishing fifth in MVP voting. Rowand made the only All-Star Game of his career, hitting .309/.374/.515 (124 OPS+) with 27 homers, 45 doubles, and 89 RBIs.

Thanks in large part to their offense, the Phillies were able to narrowly win the NL East. They didn’t last in the playoffs though as they were swept by the Rockies in the NLDS.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Russell Martin –– 2014

The Pirates made the 2014 playoffs mainly because of their pitching staff, but they had some solid pieces on offense as well. McCutchen actually improved upon his numbers from his MVP season, batting .314/.410/.542 (166 OPS+) with 25 homers, 38 doubles, and 83 RBIs. Cutch led the NL in OBP, OPS, and OPS+ while making his fourth consecutive All-Star Game, winning his second straight Silver Slugger, and finishing third in MVP voting. Walker was also a Silver Slugger receipient, hitting .271/.342/.467 (126 OPS+) with a career-high 23 homers and 76 RBIs. Martin had a resurgence, hitting .290/.402/.430 with 11 homers, 67 RBIs, and 5.7 rWAR while finishing 13th in MVP voting.

The Pirates won 88 games, good enough to snag the first Wild Card spot in the NL. Unfortunately, they were stifled by Madison Bumgarner and were sent packing in the Wild Card Game.

San Diego Padres: Mark Loretta, Brian Giles, Phil Nevin –– 2004

Loretta, Giles, and Nevin all tend to get overshadowed by other great players at their positions during their careers. In 2004, they hit 2-3-4 in the San Diego lineup and helped a struggling franchise take a big step forward after five straight losing seasons.

Loretta had a career year, batting .335/.391/.495 (138 OPS+) with 16 homers, 47 doubles, 76 RBIs, and 6.0 rWAR. He made his first All-Star Game, snagged a Silver Slugger, and finished ninth in MVP voting. Giles had a solid first full season in San Diego, hitting .284/.374/.475 (128 OPS+) with 23 homers and 94 RBIs while drawing 89 walks against 80 strikeouts. Nevin had another strong season with the bat, hitting .289/.368/.492 (130 OPS+) with 26 homers and 105 RBIs while receiving a down-ballot MVP vote.

Despite winning 87 games, the Padres missed the playoffs.

San Francisco Giants: Rich Aurilia, Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent –– 2001

Everyone knows what Barry Bonds did in 2001. In his age-36 season, Bonds hit a monstrous .328/.515/.863 (259 OPS+) with an MLB-record 73 homers while driving driving in 137 runs and drawing a whopping 177 walks. He also racked up a ridiculous 11.9 rWAR and won the first of four consecutive MVP awards.

Surrounding Bonds in the lineup though, Aurilia and Kent both had strong seasons too. Aurilia easily had the best season of his career, hitting .324/.369/.572 (146 OPS+) with 37 homers, 97 RBIs, 6.7 rWAR, and NL-leading 206 hits. Aurilia made his lone All-Star Game appearance, won a Silver Slugger, and finished 12th in MVP voting. Kent meanwhile had another great season with the bat, hitting .298/.369/.507 (131 OPS+) with 22 homers, 49 doubles, and 106 RBIs. Kent was an All-Star for the third straight season and won a Silver Slugger.

Despite the greatness from Bonds, Kent, and Aurilia, the Giants missed the playoffs. The rest of the lineup was mediocre as was the pitching staff. They won 90 games, but finished behind the D-Backs for the division.

St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds –– 2004

This right here might be the most dominant trio we’ll see for a long time. These three players finished third, fourth, and fifth in NL MVP voting respectively. Of course, none of them won the award because Barry Bonds was still being Barry Bonds.

Pujols paced the team offensively, batting .331/.415/.657 (173 OPS+) with 46 homers, 51 doubles, 123 RBIs, and 8.5 rWAR. He also drew 82 walks against just 52 strikeouts. Rolen had the best season of his career, hitting .314/.409/.598 (158 OPS+) with 34 homers, 124 RBIs, and a team-leading 9.2 rWAR. All of those numbers were career highs for Rolen. Unlike the other two, Edmonds was somehow left off the All-Star Game roster, but he hit a superb .301/.418/.643 (171 OPS+) with 42 homers, 111 RBIs, and a career-high 7.2 rWAR.

As a result, the Cardinals led the NL with 5.28 runs per game and had the best record in baseball at 105-57. They went on to make the World Series but were swept by the Red Sox.

Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy –– 2017

The 2017 Nationals averaged 5.05 runs per game and had four players have an OPS north of .900 –– Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, and Anthony Rendon. Harper, Zimmerman, and Murphy were all All-Stars and hit 3-4-5 in the lineup.

Harper missed time with a leg injury, but dominated when he was healthy, batting .319/.413/.595 (156 OPS+) with 29 homers and 87 RBIs. He finished 12th in MVP voting and could’ve finished higher had it not been for his injury. Zimmerman had a career renaissance, batting .303/.358/.573 (134 OPS+) with a career-high 36 homers and 108 RBIs while earning down-ballot MVP votes. Murphy had his second straight strong year, hitting .322/.384/.543 (136 OPS+) with 22 homers, 43 doubles, and 93 RBIs.

The Nationals finished the regular season with 97 wins and the second-best record in the NL. In the NLDS though, they were ousted by the Cubs in five games.

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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.