We could see the best trio of all time in 2024

December 11th, 2023

Great things often come in threes.

Be it Little Pigs, Blind Mice, Tenors, Musketeers, Stooges or Wise Men, our culture contains a ton of terrific trios. Where would Huey and Dewey be without Louie? Where would Snap and Crackle be without Pop? Where would Ear and Nose be without Throat?

To the list of Greatest Trios of All-Time, we humbly submit a new baseball entry. The Dodgers, you might have heard, have agreed to terms with Shohei Ohtani, who joins Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman to give the perennial National League West champs a trio of MVPs (MV3?) atop the lineup.

When Juan Soto joined the Yankees, we salivated over him locking arms with Aaron Judge. But duos are so last week. Let’s take it a step further and rank the best trios in MLB today.

This is not just the best trio currently but potentially one of the best all time. Three Hall of Fame-caliber players. Three MVPs. Three multi-time Silver Sluggers. Three guys who ranked first (Ohtani, 184), sixth (Betts, 163) and eighth (Freeman, 161) in OPS+ (where 100 is league average) among those with at least 150 plate appearances last season.

If they were to all finish with at least a 160 mark (60% better than league average) again in 2024, the Dodgers would become the fourth team in the modern era with three such players (min. 400 plate appearances), joining the 1929 Yankees (Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Babe Ruth), 1963 Giants (Orlando Cepeda, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey) and 2000 Giants (Barry Bonds, Ellis Burks, Jeff Kent).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 2024 Dodgers will be the fifth team to begin a season with three players who each finished in the top three in MVP voting in the previous season (either league), joining the 1942 Dodgers (Dolph Camilli, Pete Reiser, Whit Wyatt), 1960 White Sox (Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio, Early Wynn), 1967 Orioles (Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell) and 2004 Yankees (Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Gary Sheffield).

This was the only trio of teammates to finish in the top 10 in MLB in extra-base hits last season, combining for 236. (Freeman, Betts and Ohtani combined for 248, in case you were wondering, but obviously weren’t teammates yet.) Acuña’s historic 41-homer, 73-steal season took some attention away from Olson setting a new Braves record with 54 homers and Riley turning in his third straight season with more than 30 homers, 30 doubles, 90 RBIs and 300 total bases.

With three other guys who had 50+ extra-base hits (Marcell Ozuna, Ozzie Albies and Michael Harris II) in 2023, the Braves still might have claim to the title of Best Lineup in Baseball, even after the Ohtani news. But we’ll save that subject for another day.

The Dodgers might not have been so hot for Ohtani had they not forked over Alvarez in a 2016 trade for reliever Josh Fields. Instead, he’s at the forefront of an annually awesome Astros lineup.

Injuries have impacted his counting stats, but Alvarez is on the very short list of most feared hitters in baseball. Among those with at least 1,000 plate appearances over the last two seasons, his 179 OPS+ ranks second in MLB, while Altuve’s 157 mark ranks fifth (he’s aging like a fine wine, folks) and Tucker’s 136 is tied for 14th. (This doesn’t even mention Alex Bregman, whose 127 mark in that span ranks 24th.)

Judge’s 1.075 OPS over the past two seasons is tops among qualified hitters, while Soto’s .893 mark ranks 11th. As Soto enters his age-25 season(!), there is reason to believe he can take his offensive numbers to yet another level batting in front of Judge.

The question is who to list alongside that dynamic duo. With any luck, Giancarlo Stanton will stay healthy enough to bash baseballs regularly again. You could also list Anthony Rizzo here in place of Torres, who has been considered an offseason trade candidate. But over the course of the past two seasons, Torres (.266/.330/.452 slash line) has actually been the Yankees’ most productive hitter not named Judge, and he’s only 27, so he rounds out this particular trio, which of course ranks this high predominantly because Soto and Judge are just that good.

The Rangers landed Seager and Semien with a combined $500 million commitment two winters ago, and García with what has turned out to be an especially wily waiver pickup. The result was the franchise’s first World Series title, with Seager and Semien finishing second and third, respectively, to Ohtani in the AL MVP voting, and Seager and García both going bonkers in October.

Seager’s numbers skyrocketed in the first season with shift restrictions, Semien is the modern version of an Iron Man (753 plate appearances in 2023), and García’s regular-season OPS+ marks have gone from 100 to 112 to 123 over the course of his first full three seasons.

With Harper’s season delayed by his recovery from Tommy John surgery and Turner taking some time to settle into his new digs in Philly, we only got a taste of the Fightins’ firepower in 2023. But from Aug. 1 through the end of the regular season, Harper ranked fourth in MLB in OPS (1.067), Turner ranked eighth (1.000) and Schwarber ranked 14th (.949).

Remember that in Harper’s last season prior to the elbow injury, he had 35 homers and 42 doubles. Schwarber has had north of 45 homers each of the past two years. And even with his slow start to 2023, Turner finished with his second straight season of more than 30 doubles, 20 homers and 25 steals.

The Padres’ “Big Four” has been discounted by 25% with the trade of Soto, but this trio still potentially stands among the best in the game. This takes some conjecture because, with Machado bothered by a right elbow injury that required offseason surgery, Tatis coming back from a long absence due to injury and a PED suspension, and Bogaerts having an uneven first season in San Diego, the 2023 season was hardly the best representation of this group’s capability. But it’s a testament to their talent that all three of these guys are in Steamer’s top 50 Weighted Runs Created Plus projections for '24.

Now that Díaz, the reigning AL batting champ (.330), is getting the ball in the air and Paredes came out of nowhere to get down-ballot MVP support in 2023, the Rays lineup has a lot different sheen than it did a year ago, even with Wander Franco on administrative leave. Díaz finished sixth in the MVP voting after posting a 158 OPS+, while Paredes slashed .250/.352/.488, and Arozarena had 23 homers and 22 steals in his first All-Star season. The question, as always with the Rays, is whether this group will stay together. Arozarena has had his name in offseason trade rumors.

The arrow is pointed upward for the NL champs in what is now known as the Corbin Carroll Era. The unanimous Rookie of the Year is one of the most exciting players in the sport after becoming the first rookie ever with 25 homers and 50 steals (as well as a league-leading 10 triples). After dealing with injuries and a power outage in the period from 2020-22, Marte re-emerged as a true star player in 2023, slashing .276/.358/.485 and then notching a hit in 16 of the D-backs’ 17 postseason games. Walker has accumulated at least 25 doubles and north of 30 homers each of the past two seasons. This group also seemingly has more support now with the addition of Eugenio Suárez.

In a time of heightened prospect awareness, Henderson and Rutschman had the difficult task of living up to the hype. But they’ve done it. Rutschman had a 128 OPS+ in his first full season, and Henderson had a 125 mark despite an early season settling-in period. Rutschman will play 2024 at age 26, and Henderson at 24. By year’s end, we might be talking about the star trio they have formed with MLB Pipeline’s current No. 1 overall prospect, Jackson Holliday. For now, Santander is a fine stand-in, having slashed .249/.322/.464 with a total of 61 homers and 65 doubles over the past two seasons. But he has been mentioned in trade rumors, given the O’s overcrowded position-player pool.

Honorable mentions

Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor & Brandon Nimmo (Mets)
Each of the three has a combined 2022-23 OPS+ at least 20% better than league average, so they merit a strong argument for inclusion.

Rafael Devers, Triston Casas & Masataka Yoshida (Red Sox)
If what we saw from Casas in 2023 is for real and Yoshida builds off lessons learned in an uneven-but-intriguing move to the States, the Red Sox will belong in the conversation.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette & George Springer (Blue Jays)
We know what Vlad is capable of; we just haven’t seen it with consistency. And Springer had a rough 2023. The Blue Jays obviously tried to upgrade their lineup significantly with Ohtani, but you don’t have to squint too hard to see this trio in the mix if things go right.

Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado & Willson Contreras (Cardinals)
Same here. Goldschmidt and Arenado are both capable of bouncing back to an MVP-caliber level, though age is not necessarily on their side.