PL Best in Baseball: Lineups

Baseball's most fearsome lineups for the 2024 season.

Welcome to Pitcher List’s Best in Baseball series! With spring training well underway and the start of the season right around the corner, we’re ramping up the hype train with a series of articles that look at the best groups of players around the league in various categories.

While our name is Pitcher List and we love to focus on the nastiest arsenals and filthiest strikeouts around the league, we’re going to start things off a little differently. Today, we’re focusing exclusively on anything BUT the pitchers and instead looking closely at some of the most fearsome lineups in the league. These are the lineups you hate to see on your pitchers’ schedules and make you think about benching a starter just to make sure you don’t blow the week with one poor outing.

So, what qualifies a team for a spot on this list? Is it just about scoring runs? Well, partially. The purpose of a good lineup is to score as many runs as possible, after all. Last year’s offensive performance is a key factor when ranking these lineups, as past performance is the best predictor of future outcomes, but we also need to consider the additions or subtractions a team has made between seasons. This can mean a big trade, free agent signing, or as we’ll see with a couple of these teams, the impending promotion of a big prospect.

With the groundwork set, let’s not waste any more time and get into the best lineups in baseball, starting at the top with…


1. Atlanta Braves

Projected Lineup:

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr., RF
  2. Ozzie Albies, 2B
  3. Austin Riley, 3B
  4. Matt Olson, 1B
  5. Marcell Ozuna, DH
  6. Michael Harris II, CF
  7. Sean Murphy, C
  8. Jarred Kelenic, LF
  9. Orlando Arcia, SS

I’m sure you’re all shocked about this one. The Braves lit the league on fire last year, leading the league by a considerable margin in runs scored (947) and OPS (.845). No team had reached 947 runs since the Yankees scored 968 in 2007, and the Braves also tied the 2019 Twins’ season-long record with 307 home runs in 2023. Considering the Braves accomplished this in a (theoretically) post-juiced ball world makes these accomplishments all the more impressive.

Leading the charge for the Braves is, of course, Ronald Acuña Jr., who put together one of the most impressive individual seasons of all time in 2023 en route to a unanimous NL MVP award. When you have the league leader in OBP and steals hitting at the top of the order with mashers like Ozzie AlbiesAustin Riley, and Matt Olson behind him, it’s hard to give this offense anything but the top spot. And the scariest part? This lineup could be even better this year with the addition of Jarred Kelenic in left field.

Of course, replicating a season as impressive as 2023 is a tall task, and there’s a good chance they don’t produce quite to the extent that they did last year. There are plenty of valid question marks surrounding this lineup: can Ronald Acuña Jr. stay healthy for a full season again? Will Matt Olson be able to replicate his career year? Will Marcell Ozuna and Sean Murphy be able to sustain high levels of production? Can Michael Harris II reach that next gear as a hitter? Even with these questions, the stratospheric upside of this offense remains terrifying and is a lock for the top spot in this list. My best advice to pitchers facing this lineup? Good luck. You’re gonna need it.


2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Projected Lineup:

  1. Mookie Betts, 2B
  2. Shohei Ohtani, DH
  3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
  4. Will Smith, C
  5. Max Muncy, 3B
  6. James Outman, CF
  7. Teoscar Hernández, LF
  8. Jason Heyward, RF
  9. Gavin Lux, SS

If not for the juggernaut in Atlanta, the Dodgers would be a certainty to take the top spot on this list, but they’ll have to settle for second place this time around. The Dodgers had a fantastic 2023 as well, scoring 906 runs and posting a .795 OPS, both of which were a (distant) second to the Braves. Los Angeles still has a great opportunity to finish as the top offense this year, especially with the additions they’ve made in the offseason to strengthen their lineup.

Let’s start with the obvious: yes, Shohei Ohtani is incredible and somehow makes the top third of this lineup even more formidable than it was before, but the improvements don’t stop there. Gavin Lux is back from ACL surgery to serve as the primary shortstop and also added Teoscar Hernández to the outfield, a move that has flown under the radar in comparison to Shohei’s monster contract. Hernández mashes lefties, holding a career .887 OPS against southpaws (compared to .772 against righties), providing stability in the bottom third of this Dodgers lineup.

This highlights one advantage the Dodgers may hold over the Braves in terms of lineup strength: flexibility. While the Braves have a fairly thin reserve of bench bats to pull from, the Dodgers can turn to players like Miguel RojasChris Taylor, and Kiké Hernández to play matchups in a pinch and adjust their lineup based on the pitcher’s throwing arm. While these vets may be past their prime, they give an added level of depth and flexibility to their lineup that Atlanta doesn’t quite have, firmly placing the Dodgers in our number two spot.


3. Texas Rangers

Projected Lineup:

  1. Marcus Semien, 2B
  2. Corey Seager, SS
  3. Adolis García, RF
  4. Evan Carter, LF
  5. Josh Jung, 3B
  6. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B
  7. Jonah Heim, C
  8. Wyatt Langford, DH
  9. Leody Taveras, CF

While their pitching staff still has a lot of question marks, the defending champs from Arlington should have very little to worry about (and lots to look forward to) when it comes to their lineup. The Rangers were third in runs (881) and OPS (.790) in 2023 and return all of their key contributors, with Marcus SemienCorey Seager, and Adolis García leading the way. As long as Seager doesn’t take too long to recover from sports hernia surgery, this lineup should be at full strength come opening day.

Of course, the biggest headline for the Rangers are rookie phenoms Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford. Carter got some reps last season and crushed the ball throughout the last month of the regular season (.306/.413/.645!) and the postseason en route to a World Series title, showing that he’s not one to shy away from the limelight. Langford may be an even better prospect than Carter, slashing .360/.480/.677 across three levels in the minors in 2023, and he already has three home runs in just 20 plate appearances thus far in spring training. The Rangers will be hard-pressed to leave Langford off the Opening Day roster with this track record.

With the ascension of their two rookie outfielders and a dominant core still intact, this Rangers team should do a lot of damage all season long and have the potential to be baseball’s best offense in 2024. Let’s hope they can get their pitching figured out sooner rather than later.


4. Houston Astros

Projected Lineup:

  1. Jose Altuve, 2B
  2. Yordan Alvarez, DH
  3. Alex Bregman, 3B
  4. Kyle Tucker, RF
  5. José Abreu, 1B
  6. Yainer Diaz, C
  7. Chas McCormick, LF
  8. Jeremy Peña, SS
  9. Jake Meyers, CF

In 2023, the Astros were fifth in both runs (827) and OPS (.768) but managed to win the AL West over the Texas Rangers, who were third in both categories. Houston’s lineup is largely unchanged from years past, featuring the same core four players at the top of the order.

The Astros’ 2023 was highlighted by two main storylines, the first of which was the injuries to Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez. Altuve only played 90 games in 2023, missing most of the first half of the season after suffering a broken thumb in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, but still had a fantastic season, posting a .311/.393/.522 slash line with 17 home runs and 14 steals. Álvarez, meanwhile, posted an equally impressive .293/.407/.583 line with 31 home runs but also missed a good chunk of time with an oblique injury. The health of their top two hitters is paramount to the Astros maintaining their dominance in the AL West.

With some of their stars on the IL, the other big story for the Astros was the ascension of Chas McCormick and Yainer Diaz as everyday contributors. McCormick posted career highs across the board in his third year in the bigs and found a way to use his legs, stealing 19 bags in 2023 compared to just four in both 2021 and 2022. McCormick figures to be the everyday left fielder for the Astros, which may help limit Álvarez’s injury risk by allowing him to stay in the DH spot. Even more impressive was Yainer Diaz exploding onto the scene in 2023 with an .846 OPS and 23 home runs in just 104 games. That OPS would have been the highest among qualified catchers, showcasing Diaz’s elite hitting talent that should boost this Astros lineup.

While the Astros haven’t made any significant additions to their offense, they haven’t needed to–last season proved they have everything they need in-house to be a top-tier offense once again. If their stars can stay healthy for most of the year, Houston should once again be one of the best offenses in 2024.


5. Philadelphia Phillies

Projected Lineup:

  1. Kyle Schwarber, DH
  2. Trea Turner, SS
  3. Bryce Harper, 1B
  4. Nick Castellanos, RF
  5. Alec Bohm, 3B
  6. Bryson Stott, 2B
  7. J.T. Realmuto, C
  8. Brandon Marsh, LF
  9. Johan Rojas, CF

The first four spots on this list felt like fairly obvious choices, but choosing the last team to round out the top five was much more difficult. You’ll see the other contenders that were close below, but I ultimately decided to give this spot to the Phillies because I think this lineup has both a higher floor and ceiling than some of the other teams that could have gone here.

The top half of this lineup is filled with stars who have flaws and struggled in 2023 but contain huge upside and showed flashes down the stretch. Kyle Schwarber isn’t your prototypical leadoff man by any means, but he still drew tons of walks and hit 47 home runs as perhaps the most perfect three true outcomes player in the league (somewhere, Adam Dunn is nodding with approval). Trea Turner was abysmal in the first half of the season, posting a .687 OPS before the break but a more familiar .901 OPS over the second half. Bryce Harper gets a free pass on this one as he returned to action very quickly after recovering from Tommy John and should be closer to his normal self in 2024. Finally, Nick Castellanos didn’t have his best season in 2023, but still hit 29 home runs and improved from a poor first year in Philly. If he can continue to ramp things up, this top four can compete with the best in the league.

While this lineup isn’t as strong top-to-bottom as some of the best in the league, there’s a clear upside for the Phillies to be a top-five offense in 2024. Even despite the struggles they faced in 2023, the Phillies managed to be 8th in runs scored (796) and 6th in team OPS (.765). If they can get all the wheels clicking, this is a lineup with tons of firepower.


The Rest of the Best


6th.   Baltimore Orioles

7th.   New York Yankees

8th.   Arizona Diamondbacks

9th.   Chicago Cubs

10th. Cincinnati Reds

The Orioles and the Yankees were the two other teams I strongly considered for the No. 5 spot on this list, but I decided to exclude them for different reasons. The Orioles certainly have one of the most exciting and interesting lineups in the sport, led by young guns Adley RutschmanGunnar Henderson, and prospect extraordinaire Jackson Holliday, but the excitement of these young players is also a weakness, as they lack the experience of some of the better offenses in the league. This lineup has top-five potential, but it will likely experience some growing pains along the way as its stars get accustomed to playing in the bigs.

The Yankees, on the other hand, are coming off an abysmal 2023 in which they finished 25th in runs scored for the season. 2024 should be a different story for two huge reasons: a healthy Aaron Judge and the arrival of Juan Soto (who, by the way, is still younger than Adley Rutschman). The Bronx Bombers still have a decent supporting cast and the star power to return to their ways of being a perennial top-five lineup.

The Arizona Diamondbacks weren’t the most fearsome of lineups in 2023, but they showed flashes of greatness as Corbin Carroll began his ascent to stardom. Ketel Marte also had a solid bounce-back year and Christian Walker continues to be one of the more underrated power bats in the league. The team also upgraded in key spots during the offseason, adding Eugenio Suárez to man the hot corner and Joc Pederson as a power-hitting lefty DH. If Gabriel Moreno can find a way to hit for a little more power, this lineup could surprise people in 2024.

The Cubs also break into the top 10 on this list with the re-signing of Cody Bellinger, who acted as the spark plug for the league’s 6th-highest run-scoring team in 2023. This lineup has players that can hit for average near the top in Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson as well as plenty of decent power hitters in Seiya Suzuki and the team’s X-factor, Christopher Morel. A key piece for this offense will be Pete Crow-Armstrong, who struggled in his first short big-league stint in 2023.

Finally, we have one of the most intriguing offenses in the league with the Cincinnati Reds. This team is locked and loaded with young star power, headlined by Elly De La Cruz and fellow infielders Matt McLainChristian Encarnacion-Strand, and Noelvi Marte. All four of these players are under the age of 25, which my neuroscience side will tell you means their prefrontal cortex, the decision-making part of the brain, isn’t fully developed yet. For the same reason that your car insurance is higher under the age of 25, the risks with these players are also higher, but you can’t deny they’re going to be a blast to watch.

And that rounds out our first “Best in Baseball” article of the 2024 preseason. I’m sure everyone reading has the exact same top 10 listed here in the exact same order, so feel free to let us know where you think we got it right and where we might have missed the mark in these rankings. Next up, we’re going to tackle a few positional groups and take into account both offense and defense, starting with the best infields later this week.


Photo courtesy of Icon Sportswire
Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@KUWasemiller on Twitter / @kurt_player02 on Instagram)

Christian Otteman

Christian Otteman is a hopelessly optimistic Cubs fan living in Milwaukee just looking to share his love of this beautiful game with others. He is especially a fan of the wild and weird things that only a game like baseball can produce. While he's not watching baseball, Christian is playing golf, hosting trivia, and working on his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Marquette University.

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