The best and worst from MLB lineups in 2013

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This is a quick look at the very best and worst each major league lineup spot has to offer this year. Posted along with each line is the player most responsible. We’ll start out with the good before moving on to the bad.

1. Reds: .292/.442/.517, 9 HR, 37 R, 20 RBI, 5 SB (Shin-Soo Choo)
2. Brewers: .348/.394/.572, 9 HR, 33 R, 23 RBI, 14 SB (Jean Segura)
3. Tigers: .385/.460/.690, 14 HR, 39 R, 55 RBI, 1 SB (Miguel Cabrera)
4. Rockies: .346/.396/.622, 12 HR, 32 R, 50 RBI, 3 SB (Troy Tulowitzki)
5. Orioles: .314/.397/.686, 16 HR, 31 R, 45 RBI, 0 SB (Chris Davis)
6. Mets: .247/.361/.494, 10 HR, 23 R, 20 RBI, 1 SB (Lucas Duda)
7. Rangers: .274/.346/.500, 10 HR, 25 R, 18 RBI, 1 SB (A.J. Pierzynski)
8. Braves: .321/.384/.497, 6 HR, 16 R, 27 RBI, 2 SB (Ramiro Pena)
9. Tigers: .291/.315/.451, 4 HR, 26 R, 23 RBI, 1 SB (Omar Infante)

– I decided to go strictly by OPS here. Taking ballparks into account, Rays cleanup hitters (Evan Longoria) have been better than Colorado’s.

– The Rangers’ 7 hole is a true group effort. One might guess that Mitch Moreland was most responsible, but he’s actually struggled in his seven starts there, posting a .579 OPS. Jeff Baker has an 1.134 OPS in 17 AB there, Pierzynski is at 1.053 in 33 AB, Geovany Soto is at .845 in 31 AB and David Murphy has a .794 OPS in 56 AB.

– Incredibly, Braves No. 8 hitters have been better than any other team’s No. 6 or No. 7 hitters. And they’ve managed an .881 OPS while the Braves’ No. 1 and No. 2 hitters have come in at .665 and .551, respectively. Again, it’s been a group effort: six different players have put in at least five starts there.

Here’s are the worsts of the bunch:

1. Twins: .200/.242/.246, 1 HR, 24 R, 12 RBI, 4 SB (Aaron Hicks)
2. Marlins: .225/.267/.272, 1 HR, 15 R, 9 RBI, 4 SB (Placido Polanco)
3. Athletics: .204/.293/.342, 6 HR, 27 R, 26 RBI, 3 SB (Josh Reddick)
4. Mets: .192/.255/.337, 6 HR, 19 R, 20 RBI, 0 SB (Ike Davis)
5. Twins: .198/.271/.281, 1 HR, 17 R, 16 RBI, 1 SB (Ryan Doumit)
6. Rays: .199/.283/.313, 4 HR, 15 R, 22 RBI, 1 SB (Yunel Escobar)
7. Dodgers: .163/.246/.213, 1 HR, 11 R, 15 RBI, 1 SB (Luis Cruz)
8. Mets: .177/.233/.280, 3 HR, 14 R, 19 RBI, 1 SB (Ruben Tejada)
9. Mariners: .168/.235/.206, 1 HR, 10 R, 11 RBI, 3 SB (Brendan Ryan)

– I excluded NL teams from the No. 9 spot. The Mariners are actually 23rd in the majors, so eight NL teams are beating them in OPS from the nine hole. The Phillies (.571) and Cubs (.567) are tops there among NL teams, and those two are also beating the White Sox and Orioles from the AL. The Pirates are the true No. 30 team for OPS from the ninth spot; they’re hitting .113/.173/.127.

– Braves No. 2 hitters are batting just .171, but at least that’s come with 12 extra-base hits and 20 walks, giving them 11 points of OPS on the Marlins. Astros, White Sox and Nationals No. 2 hitters have all been similarly dreadful, with OPSs in the mid-500s.

– Of course, the Marlins are near the bottom in a lot of spots here. Only from the sixth hole, where Rob Brantly has been pretty good, do they even rate average. They’re getting sub-.600 OPS from the first, second, fifth, seventh and ninth spots in the order.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”