As part of the ongoing theme of the week, we rank the top 10 lineups today:
As the 2013 season opens, there may be more pressure on Angels Manager Mike Scioscia than any other person in the majors. But there will be a day in late February or early March when he sits down to write out his lineup and he'll experience at least a moment of peace, while listing the names ... Mike Trout. Albert Pujols. Josh Hamilton. Mark Trumbo. Howie Kendrick. Chris Iannetta.
The Angels are going to score runs. A whole lot.
A tangible difference: Trumbo was an American League All-Star and put on an incredible show at the Home Run Derby, but his production fell off dramatically in the last couple of months -- after hitting .306 in the first half of the season, he batted .204 in August and .183 in September, with 67 strikeouts in 179 at-bats over those two ugly months. Is he an All-Star, or is he closer to being what he was in the second half of the season? We'll see. The Angels made the decision to trade Kendrys Morales and essentially free the DH spot for Trumbo.
Ron Roenicke's team led the majors in extra-base hits last year with 541 and led the National League in runs, in spite of an inconsistent year from Rickie Weeks, who hit .199 in the first half. Aramis Ramirez turned out to be one of the best signings of 2012, racking up 80 extra-base hits and 105 RBIs. Ryan Braun has missed only 36 games over the past five seasons and is a production machine: He has led the National League in OPS in each of the past two seasons.
A tangible difference: Catcher Jonathan Lucroy has quietly become one of the most effective players at his position -- he ranked fifth in OPS among major-league catchers with at least 300 plate appearances, at .873. Lucroy is extremely adept at putting the ball in play, with damage: He had 33 extra-base hits last season, with only 44 strikeouts, and was third in the majors hitting with runners in scoring position at .389.