Ranking all 30 MLB teams’ Opening Day lineups: Braves, Dodgers lead way, Yankees much improved


Major-league lineups seem to get better and deeper every season. Just look at the New York Yankees, who acquired Juan Soto to form a dynamic duo with Aaron Judge. Or the Los Angeles Dodgers, who signed free-agent boppers Shohei Ohtani and Teoscar Hernández to join superstars Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. And don’t sleep on the world champion Texas Rangers, who should be bolstered by a full season of at-bats from talented rookie outfielders Wyatt Langford and Evan Carter.

In general, major-league lineups have more speed and power than ever before with athleticism that matches what the sport saw in the 1970s. Here’s how I rank the Opening Day lineups for all 30 teams as an exciting season gets underway.


The Braves led MLB last year in OPS, runs and home runs and are running back the entire lineup except left field, where they’re expected to platoon Jarred Kelenic and Adam Duvall. Ronald Acuña Jr. was the National League MVP and opened the 40-70 Club, finishing with 41 homers and 73 stolen bases. The Braves had five hitters who belted at least 30 homers: Acuña, Matt Olson (54), Marcell Ozuna (40), Austin Riley (37) and Ozzie Albies (33).

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The Dodgers had the second-best offense in the majors last year and have added a two-time league MVP (Shohei Ohtani) and a two-time Silver Slugger winner (Teoscar Hernández). Seven of the nine players in their Opening Day starting lineup hit at least 20 home runs last year.

The world champion Rangers were third in the majors last year in runs scored and will add two leading American League Rookie of the Year candidates, Wyatt Langford and Evan Carter, to their lineup. (Carter had 75 plate appearances at the end of the regular season last year.) Corey Seager, a three-time Silver Slugger winner and two-time World Series MVP, leads the way.

The Astros were able to extend the face of their franchise, Jose Altuve, this offseason and once again return the strong core around him that includes Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez. Yainer Diaz takes over as the everyday catcher, which should add even more offense to the second half of their lineup.

The Phillies have a well-balanced lineup with proven veterans and leaders including Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner and J.T. Realmuto but also a group of players entering their prime years in Bryson Stott, Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh. That combination gives them a deep, consistent and deadly lineup.

The Orioles have a strong nucleus of young hitters led by Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Colton Cowser and Jackson Holliday, along with Coby Mayo and Samuel Basallo who are in the minors but en route. They also have proven veterans like Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle. It’s a lineup that won 101 games last year and I expect it to do the same this year.

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Juan Soto will benefit from hitting in front of Aaron Judge and from the small confines of right field at Yankee Stadium. I think he could have an MVP season. The additions of Soto and Alex Verdugo should boost the Yankees’ on-base percentage, which last year ranked 27th in the majors. Anthony Volpe should be able to build on his 21-home run, 24-stolen base rookie season. But the key to this offense will be the aging veterans Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu — how much do they have left in the tank?

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The defending National League champions have a lineup filled with contact and speed that finished second in the majors in stolen bases (166) last year while recording the fourth-fewest strikeouts. The Diamondbacks’ biggest offensive weakness was power as they finished 22nd in home runs. However, they improved in that area this offseason with the acquisitions of third baseman Eugenio Suárez and DH Joc Pederson.

The Rays were fourth in the majors last year in OBP, slugging and runs scored. And they basically return the same lineup apart from Wander Franco, who is on trial for physical and sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation of a minor. Jonathan Aranda, Harold Ramírez and Josh Lowe appear ready to break out this season.

The Reds have one of the best young lineups in MLB with seven of their nine projected starters between 22 and 27 years old, which means many of them are primed for breakout seasons. Elly De La Cruz has the highest ceiling while Matt McLain, who could miss Opening Day, is their most technically sound player. Spencer Steer’s versatility is valuable and he posted the NL’s 20th-best OPS (.820) last season. Christian Encarnacion-Strand has a chance to be a middle-of-the-order impact bat for years to come.

After trading Juan Soto in the offseason, the Padres are counting on improved seasons from Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth. Rookie Jackson Merrill made the team out of spring training as the starting center fielder and they’ll need him to deliver. Their best player, Fernando Tatis Jr., will need to take his game to an MVP level for the Padres to improve from 13th in runs scored last year to 10th this year.

The Twins have an interesting lineup that has a high ceiling but also a low floor. They need three of their best hitters — Royce Lewis, Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton — to stay healthy and play full seasons. They also need their young hitters led by Edouard Julien (who has special plate discipline), Matt Wallner (great power) and Alex Kirilloff (also needs to stay healthy) to live up to their enormous potential.

The Cubs were able bring back their best offensive player, Cody Bellinger, and right fielder Seiya Suzuki is primed for the best year of his career. Ian Happ and Christopher Morel supply speed and power while Nico Hoerner led the team with 43 steals last year. But how much power will the Cubs get from the infield corners and catcher?

The Brewers offense is loaded with speed including outfielders Garrett Mitchell and Jackson Chourio and it added much-needed power in the offseason with the signing of first baseman Rhys Hoskins. William Contreras has quickly become a top five offensive catcher in the sport. Willy Adames should bounce back from a subpar season and have a better year at the plate.

Pete Alonso should be good for another 40 home runs while Francisco Lindor will try to repeat his 31 homers and 31 stolen bases from last season. Francisco Alvarez looks set for a breakout season behind the plate. Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil should post high on-base percentages once again. The biggest question: How much offense will the Mets get from right field, center field, third base and DH?

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The Mariners spent the offseason reducing strikeouts and improving contact rate but as a result lost some power when they traded Eugenio Suárez to the Diamondbacks and let Teoscar Hernández leave in free agency. Julio Rodríguez should be an MVP candidate and their offense should be more consistent, but we’ll see if it means more runs scored after ranking 12th in MLB last year.

The Cardinals are hoping for bounce-back years from Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado and breakout seasons from second baseman Nolan Gorman, outfielder Jordan Walker and outfielder Lars Nootbaar. Rookie center fielder Victor Scott II might not make the team out of spring training, but it won’t be long before he’s helping the Cardinals offense.

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The Blue Jays’ lineup is built around their young superstars, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who are playing for long-term contracts. George Springer appears to be starting to decline with age (34) but Toronto did a good job in signing DH Justin Turner to replace the production of Matt Chapman, who signed with San Francisco. The Blue Jays finished middle of the pack in runs scored last year and didn’t get better this offseason.

The Giants were active this offseason and upgraded their lineup by signing center fielder Jung Hoo Lee, designated hitter Jorge Soler and third baseman Matt Chapman. Lee will improve their on-base percentage while Soler and Chapman will boost their right-handed power. The Giants have an average major-league player at every position except shortstop in their lineup.

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The Red Sox are led by superstar third baseman Rafael Devers, who topped the team with 33 homers last year. First baseman Triston Casas was the only other Red Sox to hit more than 20 homers as he finished with 24 and should be able to get to 30 this year. Trevor Story is healthy and hoping to hit at least 20 homers with 20 steals. Ex-Cardinal Tyler O’Neill has power, but can he stay healthy? Jarren Duran supplies the stolen bases (24 in 26 attempts last season).

The Tigers offense is built around right fielder Riley Greene, first baseman Spencer Torkelson and rookie second baseman Colt Keith. Greene can hit the best pitchers’ best pitches, Torkelson is good for 30 home runs and Keith has a chance to develop into one of the best offensive second baseman in the league. The bottom third of this lineup needs improvement though.

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The Pirates are slowly but surely building their lineup and have a strong core led by shortstop Oneil Cruz, third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, left fielder Bryan Reynolds, catcher Henry Davis and right fielder Jack Suwinski. The club has surrounded them with veterans such as Andrew McCutchen, Rowdy Tellez and Michael A. Taylor. Cruz needs to reduce his holes at the plate, Hayes needs to learn to lift the ball and Suwinski needs to be more consistent offensively.

Life after Shohei Ohtani begins. Mike Trout is still one of the best hitters in baseball if he can stay healthy and the young trio of first baseman Nolan Schanuel, shortstop Zach Neto and catcher Logan O’Hoppe give the Angels something to build around.

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The Royals’ lineup is built around face of the franchise Bobby Witt Jr., who hit 30 homers and stole 49 bases last year and was rewarded with a landmark extension. But only two other players in their lineup hit 20 or more homers in 2023: Hunter Renfroe and Salvador Perez. The Royals will need left fielder MJ Melendez and first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino to have breakout seasons for this offense to improve significantly.

It all starts with José Ramírez, one of the best overall third baseman in the game. Last year he hit 24 home runs and stole 28 bases. However, he was the only player in the Guardians’ lineup with 20 or more home runs. First baseman/DH Josh Naylor hit .308 with 17 homers but has way more power in his bat. Kyle Manzardo, whom they acquired from Tampa Bay in the Aaron Civale trade, won’t make the team out of spring training but should provide some power in the majors this year. Andrés Giménez should have a bounce-back year at the plate but this offense needs a lot more for the Guardians to make the playoffs.

The White Sox offense is led by center fielder Luis Robert Jr., who hit 38 home runs last year with 20 stolen bases. They’re hoping that DH Eloy Jiménez can stay healthy and play a full season and that Andrew Vaughn will have a breakout campaign. Their defense up the middle is much better than last year but they sacrificed offense for that improvement.

The Marlins need Jazz Chisholm Jr. to stay healthy for a full season and realize his potential. They’re hoping their infield corners, led by Josh Bell and Jake Burger, will provide 50 home runs combined. Luis Arraez has already won batting titles in both leagues and is favored to again win the NL crown this year. The biggest questions for this offense are at the outfield corners and the DH spot. The Marlins finished 26th in runs scored last year and that was with 36 home runs from Jorge Soler, who left in free agency.

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The Nationals have talented young major-league players like CJ Abrams, Keibert Ruiz and Lane Thomas. But the club’s future is bright with prospects such as James Wood, Dylan Crews, Brady House and Robert Hassell III knocking on the door. Expect Wood to be promoted by May and Crews by June or July. The Nationals might start the year ranked 28th on this list but could finish much higher after their prospects start arriving and doing damage.

The Rockies have a lot of prospects who are getting closer to the majors, including outfielders Sterlin Thompson, Yanquiel Fernandez, Jordan Beck and Zac Veen, infielder Adael Amador and catcher Drew Romo. When they all arrive, the Rockies could move swiftly up these rankings (much like the Nationals could). In the meantime, Nolan Jones is ready to build off his 20-home run, 20-stolen base rookie season and shortstop Ezequiel Tovar off his 15-homer, 11-steals rookie year. However, despite the Coors Field effect, only two Rockies players hit more than 15 homers last year.

The A’s lineup is highlighted by second baseman Zack Gelof, who hit 14 homers with an .841 OPS in 270 at-bats last season and stole 14 bases, along with veterans Brent Rooker and Seth Brown, who combined to hit 44 bombs. Esteury Ruiz provides the speed and had a league-leading 67 stolen bases in 2023. However, the A’s lineup doesn’t have a single player with an OBP better than .337 last season or a batting average better than .267.


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(Top image: Ronald Acuña Jr.: Alex Slitz / Getty Images; Juan Soto: Miguel J. Rodriguez Carrillo / VIEWpress)





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