Middle of the lineup is where you will find some of the most prolific hitters in the game. Some teams have a 3-4 punch like Votto and Bruce, Braun and Ramirez, and Davis and Jones that can make opposing pitchers cringe. Here's my personal top 10, 3-4 duos in baseball.
Note* Managers move their lineups around, so the guys on the list don't always hit 3-4 in the lineup so I went with the guys I thought were the best two hitters on their teams. The order is purely based on a simple mathematical calculation of runs driven in and runs scored. Some of the numbers are skewed because the players did not play a full season last season so you will have numbers from 2012 and influencing the list for certain players.
I will score this by adding the RBI's and Runs scored of each duo, for their last FULL SEASON and then subtracting the number of home runs hit from that total. Subtracting the home runs will give us a total number of run production without extra bonuses since players get credit for a run scored and an RBI when they hit a home run.
Total Runs Produced = Player 1:((RBI's+Runs)-Home runs)+((RBI's+Runs)-Home runs):Player 2
*Last full season implies the last season in which the played at least 130 games.
Chris Davis led the league last season in home runs with 53 and RBIs with 138, and Adam Jones has hit .280 or better in each of the past four seasons, along with 25 home runs or more in each of the past 3 years. Both these. Davis' breakout last season shouldn't have been a huge shock by anybody. In 2012, he hit 33 home runs and drove in 85, meaning that the power surge from last season may not be a one-time thing.
Whether you have an issue with Ryan Braun is completely irrelevant when it comes to run production. Before his suspension he drove in 112 runs and scored a league high 108 runs, also leading the league with 41 home runs. Ramirez's last full season was also in 2012 when he drove in 105 runs and led the league with 50 doubles. Before doing the math I did not have these guys this high on the list, but numbers do not lie.
People saying Mark Trumbo need to settle down just a bit. While he does not hit for a high average, the guy is a run producer. driving in just under 300 runs in his first 3 full seasons and hitting 95 home runs going into his fourth full season. Any guy who averages 30+ home runs in his first 3 full seasons should be respected. As for MVP runner up Paul Goldschmidt, it was quite the season for him in 2013, driving in a NL high 125 runs and belting 36 home runs while hitting .302. This guy is quite the masher.
If Prince Fielder was still in Detroit, The Tigers would probably be higher on this list. Cabrera is the best all around hitter in baseball and Victor Martinez is a solid enough hitter to have this duo at number 4. Cabrera has hit 30 or more home runs in 9 of the 11 full seasons he has spent in the majors. His career batting average is .321 and has hit above .320 in 8 of the 11 seasons including the past 5 full seasons. Martinez doesn't come close to Cabrera in terms of offensive production but then again there are very few player that do. However he does hit at or around .300 every season with a career batting average of .303. He is also a strong run producer that has driven in 100 runs four times during his career.
This surprised me just as much as it surprised you, seeing as how the rest of the teams in the top 10 are projected to be someone relevant this season (except maybe #6). The last time Wright played at least 130 games was in 2012when he drove in 93 runs and scored 91 times. For the Yankees, Granderson's last 130 game or more season came in 2012 also when he drove in 106 runs and scored 102 times. A little known fact about David Wright, since 2004, his rookie season, David Wright has the most hits of any NL player in baseball with 1,566. Obviously Granderson's power numbers will not be the same at Citi Field as they were at Yankee Stadium, but lets see if he can still be a big run producer.
These numbers are slightly inflated because I am going off of the last time Bautista played at least 130 games, which was in 2011. But Joey-Bats can still hit and hit with authority as he has still hit 27 and 28 home runs in two injury shortened seasons. Encarnacion is pretty similar to Bautista in terms of power and batting average. Hitting 36 home runs in 2013 and 42 in 2012. These two together in a lineup are dangerous if both stay healthy.
Many teams try to stay away from having two lefties back to back in the middle of the lineup and the Reds do have Brandon Phillips to split these two up, but Jay Bruce and and Joey Votto are a deadly duo. Votto doesn't have the raw power of Bruce, but is an overall better hitter with a .314 career batting average and .419 career on base percentage. He usually hovers around 25 home runs per year but has shown the ability to hit 37 like he did in 2010. Bruce provides the lineup's power hitting 30 or more in each of the past 3 seasons.
Without much attention, at least not here on the east coast, Adrian Beltre has been putting up solid numbers, with a few hiccups, since 2004. Many people forget he has been in the league for 17 years and he is still hitting 30 home runs and driving in 90-110 runs a year. Fielder's power numbers were down from what we have come to expect from him in years past, but he still drove in runs for the Tigers last year, and still had a good batting average. There has been some early worry surrounding him this year, but Prince can hit and I'm sure he is going to be just fine in that Ranger lineup.
Yeah, yeah I'm well aware that the Braves has Chris Johnson hitting cleanup not Justin Upton, But Upton is part of the future in Atlanta along with Freddie Freeman. Freeman, as I said in an article yesterday, is an run producing machine, driving in 109 runs, despite only hitting 23 home runs. Upton was in a way the opposite last year. Upton scored a lot of runs, but only drove in 70 RBI's despite hitting 27 home runs. These two together though do produce a lot of runs and are going to for a long time.
10. Colorado Rockies: Carlos Gonzalez (2012) and Troy Tulowitzki (2011). Score: 308
Tulo is hurt, all the time. But when he isn't hurt he consistently puts up huge numbers and dazzles at short stop. In his last season of more than 130 games, he drove in 105 runs and hit 30 long balls. Cargo is another beast in the middle of their order, who had his best year in 2010 belting 32 home runs and driving in 117 runs.
11. St Louis Cardinals: Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina. Score: 307
12. Seattle Mariners: Robinson Cano and Cory Hart (2012). Score: 305
13. Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez. Score: 304.
14. Boston Red Sox: David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. Score: 298.
15. LA Dodgers: Hanley Ramirez (2012) and Adrian Gonzalez. Score: 294.
16. Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer (2012) and Jason Kubel (2012). Score: 292
17. LA Angels: Albert Pujolsand Josh Hamilton. Score: 291
18. Oakland A's: Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson. Score: 288
19.Philadelphia Phillies: Ryan Howard (2011) and Chase Utley. Score: 288
20. Kansas City Royals: Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler. Score: 277
21.Washington Nationals: Jason Werth and Bryce Harper (2012). Score: 276
22. New York Yankees:Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury. Score 275
* When Teixeira comes back the score increases to 301, which places them in 13th.
23. Tampa Bay Rays: James Loney and Evan Longoria. Score: 263
24. Cleveland Indians: Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana. Score: 252
25. San Francisco Giants: Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey. Score: 234
26. Chicago Cubs: Anthony Rizzo and Nate Schierhotlz. Score: 225
27. Houston Astros: Jose Altuve and Jason Castro. Score: 212
28. Miami Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton (2011) and Garret Jones. Score: 209
29. San Diego Padres: Chase Headley and Yonder Alonso. Score: 196
30. Chicago White Sox: Conor Gillaspie and Adam Dunn. Score: 185
* Jose Abreu hasn't had any full big league seasons yet therefore Dunn was used for this calculation.