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Originally published Friday, March 28, 2014 at 6:00 PM

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Ranking baseball’s No. 3 hitters

A look at each team’s projected No. 3 hitter

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From Cabrera to Castro, these 30 players make or break their lineups. Expect some surprises this season but by and large these are some of the game’s best hitters.

Rankings by Seattle Times staff

RankPlayer, team Comment
1.1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Best hitter in the game, 1.078 OPS led all major leaguers in 2013
2.1B Chris Davis, Baltimore 53 homers, 138 RBI, 1.004 OPS last season, and he just turned 28
3.1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona 26-year-old had ridiculous numbers last year, and he even steals bases
4.OF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Numbers are there every year, only question is ability to stay healthy
5.1B Joey Votto, Cincinnati Power numbers have dipped but 2010 MVP is always at top in OBP
6.OF Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Back-to-back 30/30 seasons before last year’s drug suspension
7.2B Robinson Cano, SeattlePut up consistently great numbers with Yankees, and plays every day
8.OF Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh 20/20 seasons are automatic with young, talented Pirates star
9.1B Prince Fielder, Texas Consistent, durable, still only 29, and move to Texas should help
10.OF Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Young slugger (he’s just 24) might hit 50 homers if he stays healthy
11.1B Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto 78 homers, 214 RBI past two years, with more walks that strikeouts
12.1B Freddie Freeman, Atlanta 24-year-old getting better every year, last season went .319-23-109
13.OF Bryce Harper, Washington 20 HR in 118 games as a 20-year-old. Seems like 40 HR coming soon
14.1B Joe Mauer, Minnesota Only one year of more than 13 HR but full-time move to 1B might help
15.OF Matt Holliday, St. Louis Consistently a 25 HR, 90-100 RBI guy with Cards, but he’s 34 now
16.3B Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay More than 30 HR three of past five years; struck out 162 times in 2013
17.1B Albert Pujols, Angels We’re expecting a bounce-back season, but not ALL the way back
18.OF Carlos Beltran, Yankees 42 more HR put him in 400/300 club with Mays, A-Rod, Dawson, Bonds
19.3B David Wright, Mets Career .301 hitter in 10 years with Mets; power numbers declining
20.2B Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Numbers up in ’13, and he’s stolen 30 bases each of past two years
21.SS Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers .345 again is unlikely, but did hit 20 HR in just more than half-season
22 .2B Dustin Pedroia, Boston Solid, unspectacular leader; hit just nine home runs last season
23.1B Brandon Belt, San Francisco Hit .289 with 17 HR last season, more power wouldn’t be a surprise
24.1B Anthony Rizzo, Cubs Didn’t hit much last year but many see more power coming
25.1B Jose Abreu, White Sox Sox signed Cuban for 6 years, $68 million, so they have high hopes
26.1B Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Rallied from sophomore slump but doesn’t hit with typical 1B power
27.3B Chase Headley, San Diego Followed his breakout 2012 season with a rotten 2013 (.250-13-50)
28 .2B Chase Utley, Philadelphia Utley, 35, hasn’t hit 30 homers since 2009 and has been injured often
29.SS Jed Lowrie, Oakland Numbers aren’t bad for a shortstop; but they are for a No. 3 hitter
30.C Jason Castro, Houston 2008 first-round pick hit 18 home runs in first full season a year ago

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