Columnists, Sports

Fair or Foul: Seven most improved lineups for 2022

Free agency and trades keep producing drastic lineup changes ahead of the 2022 season. Teams are moving at the speed of light to get their guys ready for Opening Day on April 7. Here are my rankings of the seven most improved lineups given each team’s new additions.

  1. Seattle Mariners
Alexia Nizhny/DFP STAFF

The Mariners added Eugenio Suarez, a prime candidate for a bounceback season, versatile contact hitter Adam Frazier and slugger Jesse Winker. Combine all of this with Abraham Toro, Kyle Lewis, Mitch Haniger and prospects like Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic, and Seattle looks ready to contend again in 2022. There are plenty of “ifs” here, and the Mariners have to compete with Trout and Ohtani on the Angels and Bregman, Tucker and Alvarez in Houston. The Mariners added contact, power, lefties and righties. The hitting is balanced and Seattle can play up to their expectations for the first time in decades.

  1. New York Yankees

They might not have added a superstar this offseason — no Matt Olson, Freddie Freeman, elite shortstop or ace-level starting pitcher — but this lineup looks much better than that of 2021. With Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson added, and Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez gone, there should be more contact hitting, more power from third base, more walks and most importantly, fewer strikeouts. Anthony Rizzo back for a full season, and fully healthy after a bout with COVID-19 last year, adds much needed balance. The Red Sox and Blue Jays have more stars and more diverse skillsets in their lineups, but the Yankees are still the “Bronx Bombers,” and their lineup is improved upon from last season.

  1. Boston Red Sox

Trevor Story coming in is enough to argue that the Sox’s lineup is vastly improved. Thanks to Story’s power, speed and reduced strikeout rate last season, he makes Boston’s lineup intimidating for one more spot down the list. With Kike Hernandez, Xander Bogaerts, JD Martinez, Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo all in the mix already, Story slides in right in the middle of that lineup. Story will need to prove that he can play as well away from Coors Field in Colorado as he did at that ballpark when he was with the Rockies. However, if he can do that, and adjust to second base in 2022, Boston may end up with the best lineup in the A.L. East next season.

  1. New York Mets

Tons of veteran talent was added to this lineup this offseason. Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar and Starling Marte joined up with Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso. New owner Steve Cohen told the whole baseball world he would spend big to improve the Mets and he did just that. With the Braves improving their lineup and greatly improving their pitching, and the Phillies having two new mashers in their lineup, the Mets are better too. Expect both east divisions to be 162-game wars for the title in 2022.

  1. Philadelphia Phillies

This team already has J.T. Realmuto and reigning N.L. MVP Bryce Harper. Add in Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber to the fold and the middle of the Phillies’ lineup is nothing but power. Castellanos and Schwarber will not improve team-defense at all, but both hitters can crush home runs. Fielding woes will not matter with three straight hitters who slug at elite levels. The Phillies already had a strong rotation and an improved bullpen, so this shiny new lineup will surely help Philly contend with the Mets and Braves next season.

  1. Texas Rangers

Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Mitch Garver are now on the Rangers. That is an enormous improvement from last season, when Texas’ lineup was the only thing worse than its pitching staff. Add on depth pieces like Brad Miller, Matt Carpenter and Jake Marisnick, and the Rangers greatly improved their squad this offseason. With the Angels, Astros and Mariners all great or on the way there, Texas has a tall mountain to climb in order to contend. They spent over $500 million to get better, and they are definitely better.

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers

As if the Dodgers’ lineup needed any more help. Now, add California-native, 2020 N.L. MVP and World Champion first-baseman Freddie Freeman into the mix. The Dodgers have become a superteam. The bottom-two of the Dodgers’ lineup in 2022 will likely consist of 2019 NL M.V.P. Cody Bellinger, and A.J. Pollock, who hit almost .300 last season. With Chris Taylor and Justin Turner re-signing, and Trea Turner, Mookie Betts, Max Muncy and Will Smith rounding out the squad, no better lineup has existed in the 21st century. There is no way L.A. cannot be anything but World Series favorites in 2022.

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