ESPN’s analyst Bradford Doolittle projected the top MLB Lineups for 2020 this week. To the shock of nobody people were mad. Behind an ESPN+ paywall and from the safe eyes of basic thinking humans is where these rankings might just belong because the Yankees, despite pounding baseballs for the last two years, are projected to be the 9th best lineup in 2020.
Since I am an investigative journalist I decided to pay the $4.99 to see how Doolittle came to this conclusion. I don’t want to mince his words so here is what he wrote.
“Each team’s ranking is listed for the following categories: contact (strikeout percentage); patience (walk percentage); power (isolated power, i.e., slugging percentage minus batting average); speed (based on a statistical speed score, not actual measured foot speed via Statcast), and balance (how well a lineup matches up against both lefties and righties). All numbers mentioned in this piece have been converted to a park-neutral context.”
Then there is this last criteria on plate appearances.
“The clubs are slotted according to their projected rate of runs created per 600 plate appearances for the players listed. The players were selected based on whom I anticipate will get the most playing time over the course of the season rather than who is expected to be on the Opening Day lineup card.”
This is the final criteria used to rank these lineups:
These are the 8 teams ahead of the Yankees. Get ready for it.
Astros Dodgers Mets Angels Cubs Athletics Braves Red Sox Yankees
I didn’t hate the idea that the Mets are projected to have a good lineup. They didn’t miss out on the playoffs because of hitting. Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, JD Davis, Michael Conforto, Wilson Ramos and Amed Rosario were all very productive in 2019. If Edwin Diaz and the rest of their bullpen didn’t enjoy letting other teams win, they probably make the wild card with over 90 games won instead of 85.
It’s the fact that the Yankees are thrown 6 slots after them and 5 slots after the Angels that’s brutal. You want to make the argument that the Mets belong in the top 5? Sure I’ll take it. The Angels though? The difference between this year and last year is Anthony Rendon.
Even if Rendon does make an impact, does that make them that much better than the Yankees? Look at what the Yankees have done the last two years.
1st in HR: 573 1st in Runs: 1,794 1st in RBI: 1,725 7th in AVG: .258 5th in OBP: .334 1st in SLG: .471 1st in OPS: .805 2nd in wRC+: 114
The Yankee lineup will still be the same as last year and the 2019 Bombers far eclipsed those 2018 ones. The 2020 Yankees will probably be healthier too — at least we can hope they will be.
Giancarlo Stanton will do Giancarlo Stanton things. Aaron Judge will do Aaron Judge things. Gleyber Torres will continue to grow. Miguel Andujar will begin golfing doubles out of the dirt again. Gio Urshela will assume the role of this generation’s Graig Nettles — a Graig Nettles with above average Exit Velocity (Top 76% in MLB), above average Hard Hit % (Top 60%) and an elite Expected Batting AVG (Top 92%).
You can’t guarantee that they’ll break their own personal home run marks again. That’s impossible to predict and largely dependent on the construction of the baseball. Even still, if they fall short of that, the Yankees are still an elite lineup. The numbers prove it no matter what criteria you invent.