Lineup discussion: AL West

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
6:00
PM ET
Here is our final division as we examine the lineups of each team. Or potential lineups. We talk a lot about lineups even though they change on almost a daily basis.

The Rangers made the flashy offseason additions, but do they have the best lineup in the West? Read and vote!

AthleticsOakland Athletics

Key question: Will Billy Beane's stuff work in the playoffs?
The A's scored the third-most runs in the American League in 2013, scoring 54 more than they did in 2012 even though Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick both declined significantly.

Projected lineup
Coco Crisp, CF
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Jed Lowrie, SS
Brandon Moss, 1B
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
John Jaso, DH
Josh Reddick, RF
Derek Norris, C
Eric Sogard, 2B

The A's ranked third in the AL in home runs and third in walks -- hey, kind of an old-school Billy Beane offense. Donaldson had an MVP-caliber season while Moss pounded 30 home runs in just 505 plate appearances. Bob Melvin liked to flip Donaldson and Lowrie between the 2 and 3 spots depending on the pitcher. There are depth/platoon opportunities with Craig Gentry in the outfield, Nate Freiman at first base and Nick Punto and Alberto Callaspo in the infield. Melvin used 133 lineups, and the only player to start at least half the games in one spot was Crisp, who had 127 starts in the leadoff position. Expect more of the same.

Suggestion: If the A's carry 12 pitchers, that means four bench guys. I just listed four, but that doesn't include a backup catcher. If Jaso ends up being the DH a lot -- and with a .391 OBP over the past two seasons, he's a valuable bat -- the A's may want to consider carrying Stephen Vogt as a third catcher. That likely means sending Freiman down and giving Moss a chance to play against left-handers or cutting one of the infielders. Of course, these things have a way of working themselves out with injuries. Or the A's could carry 11 pitchers (yeah, right).

RangersTexas Rangers

Key question: Who should hit second?
Shin-Soo Choo replaces Ian Kinsler in the leadoff spot, but indications are that Ron Washington will stick with Elvis Andrus as the No. 2 hitter, Andrus' primary position in the lineup the past three seasons. He is coming off a career-low .328 OBP and had just 25 extra-base hits. He did have his best year on the bases, swiping 42 of 50. Washington likes him there because he's a good bunter; Andrus has led the AL three times in the past four years in sacrifice bunts.

Projected lineup
Shin-Soo Choo, LF
Elvis Andrus, SS
Prince Fielder, 1B/DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Alex Rios, RF
Mitch Moreland, DH/1B
Jurickson Profar, 2B
Geovany Soto, C
Leonys Martin, CF

Washington has said he intends to bat Fielder third and Beltre cleanup. It probably makes a little more sense to go the other way, especially if Fielder rebounds to his usual .400-plus OBP. You're better off having the higher OBP guy hitting fourth, but it's not a big deal. Rios is the logical No. 5 hitter, so Washington will have the luxury of penciling in the same five on a regular basis.

Suggestion: ZiPS sees Profar hitting .261/.330/.406, but many think he's capable of doing better than that. If so, he would be an improvement on Andrus in the No. 2 spot and give Washington more reason to play for a big inning rather than giving outs away.

AngelsLos Angeles Angels

Key question: Where will Mike Trout hit?
Mike Scioscia has indicated he wants Trout hitting in front of Albert Pujols, meaning a 2-3-4 combo of Trout, Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Kudos to Scioscia for not simply hitting Trout third because that's where you're supposed to bat your best hitter.

SportsNation

Which team has the best lineup in the AL West?

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    21%
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    45%
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    25%
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    7%
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    2%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,548)

Projected lineup
Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Josh Hamilton, LF
David Freese, 3B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS

Remember when the Angels were known for their baserunning? Trout stole 33 bases last year, but Aybar was second with only 12. That's why Calhoun may hit leadoff even though he's not a big speed threat. With a .301 OBP, Aybar is no longer worthy of hitting first or second like he did much of last season. Freese probably gets first shot at the fifth spot, although he hit just .262 with nine home runs in 138 games with St. Louis.

Suggestion: I like the idea of hitting Calhoun leadoff and Trout second. By hitting Trout second, he's in a position that's both a run-scoring slot and, particularly in the AL, an RBI slot. Now if Pujols can stay healthy and Hamilton rebounds ...

MarinersSeattle Mariners

Key question: Who will protect Robinson Cano?
Nelson Cruz, come on down!

Projected lineup
Brad Miller, SS
Kyle Seager, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Corey Hart, DH
Logan Morrison, "RF"
Justin Smoak, 1B
Michael Saunders, CF
Mike Zunino, C
Dustin Ackley, LF

I have no idea how this will work out other than that Cano will hit third. Miller showed some potential leadoff skills last season, so he probably gets first shot there over Ackley, while Seager moves up from third to second. Did you know the Mariners hit the second-most home runs in the majors last year? They also ranked seventh in the AL in walks. What they didn't do was hit doubles (13th in the AL) or hit for average (.237, last in the AL) and thus ranked 12th in the AL in runs.

Suggestion: The lineup is very lefty-heavy with Miller, Seager, Cano, Morrison, Saunders and Ackley. Cruz isn't a great player, but he would be a better fit in right than Morrison, whose natural position is DH. (Note the quote marks around his spot in the projected lineup.) Just don't overpay or give Cruz more than two years.

AstrosHouston Astros

Key question: Will George Springer start on Opening Day?
Here's a quote from GM Jeff Luhnow in late January: "I think George Springer will be a starting outfielder in Houston this year. Whether it happens Opening Day or sometime during the season, he's a special talent." That sounds like a guy headed back to Triple-A in April. For one thing, it saves on his service time. Also, if Dexter Fowler is the center fielder, Springer will get some game action in right before heading to the majors.

Projected lineup
Dexter Fowler, CF
Jose Altuve, 2B
Jason Castro, C
Chris Carter, DH
George Springer, RF
Jesus Guzman, 1B
L.J. Hoes, LF
Matt Dominguez, 3B
Jonathan Villar, SS

The rebuilding continues. Along with Springer, expect to see first baseman Jonathan Singleton and outfielder Domingo Santana at some point. The Astros were 14th in the AL in runs scored and haven't ranked higher than 11th in their league since 2004. Astros fans have forgotten what a good offense looks like.

Suggestion: Um, don't lose 111 games again?

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

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