If you can believe it, sub-.500 teams comprised the majors’ five lowest-scoring offenses in 2019. With the offseason a couple months old and with most of the top free agents off the board, those teams have all had time to improve at the plate. But have they? Let’s take a look…
Detroit Tigers (582 runs, 77 wRC+)
- Among Tigers regulars, only outfielder Nicholas Castellanos (whom they traded to the Cubs in July) and fellow outfielder Victor Reyes posted league average or better numbers last season. But the non-contending club has at least made an effort to upgrade its offense this winter. The Tigers have signed first baseman C.J. Cron and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who were members of the division-rival Twins last year, as well as ex-Yankees catcher Austin Romine. None of those players will strike fear in the hearts of the opposition, but they’re respectable contributors who should be vast improvements over the hitters the Tigers ran out in those spots in 2019.
Miami Marlins (615 runs, 79 wRC+)
- Like the Tigers, the Marlins have made a legitimate effort to get better this offseason. They’ve remade a good portion of their infield, where first baseman Jesus Aguilar and Jonathan Villar (who could play a super-utility role in 2020) are now aboard. Miami has also grabbed outfielder Corey Dickerson, who was the most productive offensive player of the trio last season. And former Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who was highly valuable in 2018 before concussions helped stall his career in 2019, is in the mix as a backup to Jorge Alfaro. The Marlins should still be a sub-.500 club in the upcoming season, but at least they’ve put in some work to step up on offense.
San Francisco Giants (678 runs, 83 wRC+)
- Aside from letting go of center fielder Kevin Pillar and deciding not to re-sign catcher Stephen Vogt or third baseman Pablo Sandoval, this has been a quiet offensive offseason for the Giants. Their projected lineup for 2020 includes nothing but familiar faces from last year. So, unless the likes of Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford channel their younger selves next season, it could be another lean showing for the Giants.
San Diego Padres (682 runs, 88 wRC+)
- As far as spending on hitters goes, the Padres were one of the active teams in the game during the previous two offseasons. They added first baseman Eric Hosmer on an eight-year, $144MM guarantee two winters ago and third baseman Manny Machado on a 10-year, $300MM pact less than a year back. Neither decision has worked out all that well for the team thus far, and now it has taken a more modest approach. But that’s not to say the Padres have been silent. They picked up high-OBP outfielder Tommy Pham from the Rays, young OFer Trent Grisham from the Brewers and second baseman Jurickson Profar from the Athletics in separate trades. Pham’s the lone member of the trio who inspires much confidence at the plate, but the Padres are banking on all three to help them break a long playoff drought in 2020. And if the team has its druthers, it’ll find a taker via trade for outfielder Wil Myers, but his albatross contract (three years, $60MM) could prevent that from happening.
Kansas City Royals (691 runs, 84 wRC+)
- The Royals, who lost 207 games from 2018-19, have done little to nothing at the plate this offseason. Third baseman Maikel Franco, who failed to live up to the hype in Philadelphia, joined KC on an affordable contract. There hasn’t been much otherwise, though, and the Royals continue to await left fielder Alex Gordon’s decision on whether to retire. Even if Gordon sticks around, he hasn’t been a legit threat at the plate since 2015. Maybe catcher Sal Perez will provide an impact bat after sitting out all of 2019 because of Tommy John surgery?