There are plenty of good offensive teams. There are plenty of poor offensive teams. Then, there are plenty of elite offensive teams.
This year’s offseason saw many top notch offenses become weaker. The New York Yankees missed out on a couple big-name free agents, and many other tier two-like free agents spurned them. The Texas Rangers lost Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli, both of whom accounted for 67 of the Rangers 200 home runs in 2012.
It’s no longer the Yankees and everyone below. In fact, the Yankees are the new below to the three teams below.
Los Angeles Angels
Even without the addition of Josh Hamilton, the Angels probably would’ve had enough fire power to top this list. Of course now, the addition if Hamilton seals the notion that the Angels are the best offensive team in baseball.
Let’s play out some scenarios.
Albert Pujols had an “off” year by his standards in 2012. By off, I mean 30 home runs and an .859 OPS. For most, this type of year would be a memorable one, but a season like that from Pujols raises some red flags, especially after he signed a ludicrous long-term deal last offseason.
So, let’s say that Pujols reverts back to the vintage Pujols, which is a plausible prediction. Bill James projects him to hit .305 with 38 home runs in 2013, and several other projection modules see him progressing, not regressing. The Angels’ offense would get another jolt, internally.
Additionally, Mike Trout will open the season with Los Angeles instead of being called up in mid-May. This won’t be a huge difference, but an extra month of Trout couldn’t hurt, right?
Peter Bourjos is the only question mark in the Angels’ lineup, which actually isn’t all that bad. He isn’t going to hit for much pop, but his lethal speed will give the Angels lineup a different dimension, aside from power. Optimizing this God-given speed will imply that he gets on base consistently, and that will be a steep task for such an unproven hitter. The good part is that he won’t be expected to carry their offense.
There ultimately isn’t lineup stacked up like the Angels. And while paper doesn’t win games, the Angels’ lineup certainly looks good on paper.
Toronto Blue Jays
This offseason, the Blue Jays added to an already solid offensive unit. Namely, Jose Reyes came over via trade from the Miami Marlins, Melky Cabrera was signed as a free-agent and Emilio Bonifacio also came over from the trade with the Marlins. All figure to be fixtures in Toronto’s everyday lineup.
With all of these new arrivals, the Blue Jays’ offense will remain a power-hitting squad. In 2012, they finished sixth in baseball in the home run department with 198 blasts, and their ISO (Isolated Power) mark ranked ninth.
More notably, a good chunk of Toronto’s power production occurred without Jose Bautista, who’s one of baseball’s biggest power threats. Bautista played in a grand total of just 92 games thanks to a wrist injury that shelved him for more than a month, before he finally returned in late August for a couple of games.
Bautista was well on his way to another 40 home-run season, if not more. If he stays healthy, there’s a good chance he approaches the 50 home-run plateau, which isn’t all that high considering that he leads the MLB in home runs since 2010.
Speaking of power, Edwin Encarnacion provided plenty of pop in 2012. He hit 42 home runs and finished second in baseball with a .277 ISO. But the question for Encarnacion is whether he can sustain this power surge over a long period of time. In other words, he has to prove that 2012 was not a fluke, because right now that’s the conclusion that many pundits are jumping to.
Overall, the Blue Jays have a good combination of speed and power. Colby Rasmus can do a little of both, as can youngsters Brett Lawrie and J. P. Arencibia. And with a drastically improved pitching staff, the Blue Jays offense will get plenty more respect in 2013.
The Washington Nationals took baseball by a storm in 2012, finishing with the best overall record in the major leagues. While their stellar rotation gets a lot of kudos for the job it did, the Nationals’ offense also deserves some recognition.
Adam LaRoche led the Nationals with 33 home runs and a .853 OPS. He stepped it up when they most needed him, hitting 10 home runs in September and October combined, which fueled Washington’s bid for the top seed in the National League.
LaRoche probably can’t be expected to hit 30-plus home runs again. After all, 2012 was the first year he surpassed 30 in that department, and ZiPS projects him to hit a mere 19 home runs in 2013. The Nationals’ offense doesn’t hinge on solely LaRoche, however. In fact, they don’t rely on one single guy to light up the scoreboard.
Bryce Harper will only improve in his second year. If all goes well, he could break the 30 home-run plateau. Ryan Zimmerman is a capable of hitting in the high .200’s with 20-25 home runs, if he stays healthy. Then, they have guys like Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Jayson Werth who round out the group, but are all very capable in their own regard.
The acquisition of Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins was a quiet, yet wise move. Span is a true leadoff hitter, if there’s still such a thing, and the Nationals didn’t have that part of the puzzle last year. The leadoff spot wasn’t nonexistent by any means, but Werth or Harper are better suited in RBI situations.
Like the Angels, the Nationals’ offense doesn’t have many holes. They aren’t leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the NL, but until the Los Angeles Dodgers prove something, Washington is the superior offense.