Even without Wells, Jays have top power duo

Even without Wells, Jays have top power duo

Even without Wells, Jays have top power duo
Baseball watchers have been so busy dissecting last week's big Blue Jays-Angels trade that a most interesting sidebar has gone largely unnoticed.

The separation of Vernon Wells (31 home runs) from Jose Bautista (54) in the Toronto lineup broke up the Major Leagues' top one-two power punch of 2010, perhaps the finishing touch on an offseason market that has witnessed an uncommon number of home runs on the move.

When Vladimir Guerrero lands somewhere, as long as it's outside of Arlington, he will become the ninth player of last season's top 30 home run hitters to switch teams. The traffic has considerably shaken up the ranks of the game's leading power packs, but the most amazing consequence could be this:

Even after that breakup, Toronto will enter the 2011 season with the game's highest-ranking tater tandem, based on 2010 production, when you plug Aaron Hill (26) next to Bautista. Their combined 80 home runs edge the 77 of new White Sox teammates Paul Konerko (39) and Adam Dunn (38).

The Blue Jays led the Majors in homers by a large margin, their team total of 257 dwarfing runner-up Boston by 46. (When the 2005 Rangers hit 260 -- the second highest team total ever -- they had 31 more than the Yankees.)

Even with their firepower last season, the Jays finished a distant fourth in the American League East largely because, other than long balls, they were short on offense. They ranked ninth in the Majors -- and fourth in their own division -- with 755 runs, done in by an on-base percentage of .312.

Despite being baseball's signature play, home runs have not necessarily been a signifier for championship teams. In the past 26 years, only one team won the World Series after topping the Majors in homers: the 2009 Yankees.

Packing the top 1-2 punch has been an even less reliable sign of team success: The team with that distinction has captured precisely one of the past 44 World Series, the 2008 Phillies with Ryan Howard (48 homers) and Pat Burrell (33).

Going in, however, the lineups singled out herewith would never consider power a liability, obviously. Reflecting all the offseason movement, half of the coming season's top 10 power combos are new pairings. Very likely unprecedented, but at the very least quite remarkable.

80 (Blue Jays: Bautista 54, Hill 26)
Whether Bautista can come close to posting such a number -- he'd never before clocked more than 16, but may simply have come into his own at the age of 29 -- will be one of the most intriguing aspects of this season. The only other player with a comparable recent jump, Baltimore's Brady Anderson, hit 50 in 1996 after a prior high of 21 but never again surpassed 24.

77 (White Sox: Konerko 39, Dunn 38)
The most unexpected pairing, as the two free agents were signed within a week of each other. Dunn will defer at first base to Konerko to become the primary DH, a role in which the career National Leaguer has dabbled successfully (five homers in 59 at-bats).

70 (Cardinals: Albert Pujols 42, Matt Holliday 28)
Perhaps the overall most dangerous twosome, as they combined to produce 361 runs (runs scored plus RBIs minus homers); runners-up on this list were the two Yankees, with 357.

63 (Yankees: Mark Teixeira 33, Alex Rodriguez 30)
Tex and A-Rod are starting their third seasons at opposite corners of the New York infield, which makes them virtually an island in this sea of change. Rodriguez has persevered through injuries (he's missed 87 games the past three seasons) to reach 30-plus homers for 13 straight years.

63 (Red Sox: David Ortiz 32, Gonzalez 31)
Gonzalez shares with Dunn and Mark Reynolds the challenge of taking his big bat across league lines with more success than did the last 30-homer man to go to the AL from the NL. Mike Jacobs hit 32 homers for the Marlins in 2008, then 19 the next season for the Royals.

63 (Brewers: Prince Fielder 32, Corey Hart 31)
The most tenured one-two punch, as Fielder and Hart approach their sixth season as mainstays in Milwaukee's lineup. Fielder has gone 30-plus each of the past four seasons but it was a first for Hart.

62 (Reds: Joey Votto 37, Jay Bruce 25)
Possibly the twosome with the brightest future. Votto, 26, and Bruce, 23, match Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki as the youngest pair on this list, and both recently signed multiyear contract extensions that should keep them together at least through 2013. Interesting to note that this is the sixth tandem of the top seven to include a first baseman.

61 (Rockies: Gonzalez 34, Tulowitzki 27)
The Reds' challengers for long-term supremacy. Tulowitzki, 25, and CarGo, 24, own even longer contracts that mutually run through 2017. Tulo's typical late-season surges make this the go-to combo in the second half -- he hit 15 of his homers last season in September, and more than half of his career long balls (49 of 92) have come after July.

60 (Rangers: Josh Hamilton 32, Adrian Beltre 28)
Beltre invites as much curiosity as does Bautista. The last time he hit so many homers (48, for the 2004 Dodgers), he responded to the reward of a five-year contract with Seattle by averaging 21 over its span. The difference is that time he transferred to a new league and an expansive park (Seattle's Safeco Field) but now is more mature and established in the AL.

59 (Orioles: Mark Reynolds 32, Luke Scott 27)
Third base has always been a power position, and no third baseman hit more home runs last season than did Reynolds.

Tom Singer is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow @Tom_Singer on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.