Washington led the NL in OPS last season, and Fangraphs expects that number to actually jump in 2018 with a full slate of at-bats for Adam Eaton, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, and Michael Taylor. If they can ever get a clean bill of health, the Nationals might have the most formidable lineup in the NL.
The Cubs and Dodgers also form potent groups with plenty of depth one through eight. But the Nationals front the otherworldly Harper with two high-quality leadoff men and support him with two MVP-level batters (plus Ryan Zimmerman, a two-time All-Star). Opposing pitchers are not looking forward to that crew at full strength.
Elsewhere among the contenders, the Giants have plenty of names dotting their lineup; unfortunately, they are all getting long in the tooth. But while the rest of baseball looks to the future, there is something admirable about San Francisco still looking to win today. I’m just not sure if it will work.
The Brewers provide another interesting lineup. Milwaukee has five really talented hitters in Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, and Ryan Braun. The only problem is four of those guys are outfielders, and there isn’t really another spot to put any of them. The Brewers are working out Braun at first base, but the 34-year-old has never been known for his defense. Barring a late trade, expect manager Craig Counsell to shoehorn all four guys into the lineup on a regular basis with creative platoons and rest days.
Colorado, Arizona, and St. Louis all have nice lineups, but I’m not as excited about them. Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt are two of the best hitters alive, and they both have effective sidekicks in Charlie Blackmon and A.J. Pollock, but there isn’t a ton of meat on the bone through the rest of the order. I like Marcell Ozuna, but unless Ozuna or Tommy Pham build upon their impressive 2017 seasons, the Cards don’t have that one big-ticket stud who can carry a lineup.