With all the talk in the NBA about big threes and super teams, I got to wondering if there are any teams like that in baseball. Now, it is a bit different in the MLB as you don’t have as many superstars moving teams to create these unstoppable forces.
Baseball is also much more of a team game. One or two players in the NBA can carry a team far into the playoffs. In baseball, the entire team needs to be carrying their weight because each player doesn’t have the same opportunity to make a big play throughout the game.
On that note, let’s take a look and see who might have the best “big three” in their lineup in the 2017 season. This is referring to what three players contribute the most to their team as a collective.
Houston Astros: Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa
Combined WAR: 12.1
Altuve: .347/.417/.551 13 HR 50 RBI | Springer: .310/.380/.613 27 HR 65 RBI | Correa: .325/.402/.577 20 HR 65 RBI
The Houston Astros are proving to be one of the greatest teams in recent memory largely thanks to the work of the core hitters in their lineup. It seems though that their years with high draft picks are finally starting to pay off.
Houston has the best record in the American League and second-best in the majors behind the Dodgers, and they’re putting in a bid to win their first world series in franchise history.
All three of these young hitters are All-Stars in 2017 and it is well deserved. Correa may be the front-runner for MVP over Trout, seeing that Trout has been on the DL for the past few weeks. Not to mention, Correa is only 22 years old.
It is also hard to recall a middle infield combination that has been so threatening in recent years. The first one that comes to mind is Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano for the Yankees. Seeing how young Altuve and Correa are now, they may end up being more effective of a duo than Jeter and Cano ever were.
Springer is also really starting to come into his own now. Everyone always knew that he had some serious punch in his bat. At the All-Star break, he is already two home runs away from his single-season record. On top of that, he is hitting the ball much more effectively as his slugging percentage is at an all-time high.
Seeing as none of of these three players are going to be unrestricted free agents for another two full seasons, this powerhouse doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Even though the best player in baseball is in the same division, it seems that the Astros will be running the division for the coming years largely because of this hitting core.
Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy
Combined WAR: 8.4
Harper: .325/.431/.590 20 HR 65 RBI | Zimmerman: .330/.373/.596 19 HR 63 RBI | Murphy: .342/.393/.572 14 HR 64 RBI
Despite the fact that these three hitters are leading the National League in batting average, I had to think about who belonged in this big three. Anthony Rendon had a pretty good bid into this but it was just too difficult to leave the other three out.
Zimmerman has reignited his career and may be having his best year. He has only batted over .300 in his career once but now he is competing with his teammates for the best in the NL.
Harper has continued his rise to super-stardom and nobody seems to be getting in his way. After a somewhat slow 2016 he has reached new levels in 2017. He is currently on pace to break 100 RBIs for the first time in his career and could also reach 40 home runs for the second time.
Thanks to his teammates also hitting the long ball, it is not as easy to pitch around Harper either. Because of Murphy’s success with the Nationals thus far, it is giving Harper more opportunities do excel.
Daniel Murphy has far exceeded the expectations of the Nationals in his first two years with the club. He has become a power threat which he had never been before. We all know how valuable power-hitting second basemen are too. Murphy is also running for the hitting title for the second year in a row. The bottom line is that there is no break from this Nationals lineup. Every batter will be a battle, but these three especially will drive any pitcher nuts.
Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto, Zach Cozart, Adam Duvall
Combined WAR: 8.8
Votto: .315/.427/.631 26 HR 68 RBI | Cozart: .316/.394/.547 9 HR 35 RBI | Duvall: .278/.321/.557 20 HR 61 RBI
The Reds have not been great this year. As I mentioned in the introduction, three players cannot carry a team to greatness. The Reds are a perfect example of that.
Votto and Cozart are both All-Stars this year and along with Duvall they have been a bright spot for Cincinnati. However, their abysmal pitching keeps them in last place in perhaps the worst division in baseball. We are not here to talk about poor pitching however.
Votto has continued a spectacular career despite him being on one of the worst teams in baseball in the past few years. He leads a club that currently ranks in the top 10 in hitting in the majors.
What makes Votto so difficult to pitch against is his smarts at the plate. He is not easy to fool, as he currently has 62 walks on the season compared to 42 strikeouts. With players that hit home runs as much as he does, it is more typical to have a higher rate of strikeouts. That is something that you can see with Votto’s teammate, Duvall.
Adam Duvall broke out as a serious power threat last season. However, he is striking out in 25 percent of his at bats and only walking in five percent of them. In order for him to be an even bigger threat, he is going to take after Votto. He has improved as an overall hitter though as he is on pace to have the highest average and OPS of his career.
Cozart may be a valuable trade piece at the deadline. He has still been hitting on all cylinders despite his injury issues. He provides good pop at the top of the lineup and is a good setup man for whoever follows him. Knowing the Reds’ need for young pitching, they may deal him because of his current value. Because of this, the Cincinnati big three may not be in tact much longer.
New York Yankees: Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorious
Combined WAR: 9.3
Judge: .329/.448/.691 30 HR 66 RBI | Sanchez: .276/.360/.491 13 HR 40 RBI | Gregorius: .291/.346.458 10 HR 38 RBI
Aaron Judge has come onto the scene and is already one of the best hitters in baseball. He largely carries this big three due to his ability to hit the ball out of the park as well as hit for average.
There is no getting around him and his surrounding hitters have made is especially difficult. While the Yankees are fairly banged up at the moment, his supporting cast has been coming through.
Gregorious is not typically known for his bat but rather his glove. He came onto the scene at the plate last season with 20 home runs. This year, he is picking back up where he left off and is nearly a .300 hitter. While he is just an above average hitter on the moment, he is proving to be a key part of the lineup.
Gary Sanchez is proving to be one of the better power-hitting catchers in the league. Despite only playing in 57 games at the midway point in the season, he has 13 home runs. He and Judge are bringing back the Bronx Bombers, and they will be hard to stop for the coming years.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner
Combined WAR: 10.0
Seager: .298/.395/.502 13 HR 45 RBI | Bellinger: .261/.342/.619 25 HR 58 RBI | Turner: .377/.473/.583 10 HR 37 RBI
These three All-Stars have led the best team in baseball to a 61-win season at the break. They are the best team in the National League while being in perhaps the best division in baseball. Cody Bellinger is a big reason for that with his breakout season at the plate.
Justin Turner won the final vote to get into his first All-Star game. The only reason he probably didn’t get in originally was because of the time he has missed. Once he gets enough at-bats to be eligible for the batting title, he may run with it.
Corey Seager is showing that he deserved to be ranked as one of the best prospects in baseball. After his Rookie of the Year campaign last year, it looks like he wants to pass the torch along to his teammate. With Turner coming onto the scene in Los Angeles at the right time, these young players are showing how the Dodgers can win their first championship in almost 30 years.
The Final Rankings
- Houston Astros
- Washington Nationals
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- New York Yankees
- Cincinnati Reds
Colorado Rockies: Nolan Arenado, Mark Renyolds, Charlie Blackmon: Each of these guys have some serious pop.
Tampa Bay Rays: Corey Dickerson, Evan Longoria, Logan Morrison: Dickerson and Morrison are having big years while Longoria continues his stellar career.
Chicago Cubs: Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber: If this was any other year, they might be at the top of the list.
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