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AL Lineup Analysis 05/08

Following up on my weekly article on National League lineups, here is the report on American League lineups. The American League has seen the promotion of several top prospects including M.J. Melendez, Jose Miranda, Jarren Duran, and Royce Lewis. The top five hitters in the American League over the past week have been Luis Robert, Jose Altuve, Manuel Margot, Edward Olivares, and Bo Bichette. Please keep in mind I am writing this article on Saturday morning. As always, I will try to get any late updates into the article before it publishes.

MLB Lineup Analysis

AL East

New York Yankees

I have written a lot about Joey Gallo over the past few weeks. On Tuesday, I wrote an article on my xwRC+ model and Gallo ranked 9th in all of baseball for that. He saw the bench the first couple of games this week but homered in his return to the lineup. Aaron Boone was likely just providing Gallo with a couple of days to reset and refocus. Gallo is an excellent buy low candidate for fantasy.

Aaron Judge has caught fire over the past week. He has three home runs over the past four games. Oppositely, Anthony Rizzo has struggled this week. Rizzo is going to be streaky, but this is not something that you should worry about. Rizzo will provide plenty of fantasy value hitting with the short porch at Yankee Stadium.

Boston Red Sox

Initially, I had written this paragraph about Jarren Duran getting called up. He was sent back to Triple-A on Saturday. I am not sure the logic behind this as it is clear Boston needs immediate help in the outfield. Duran started and hit a triple in his only at-bat this season. I expect him to be back up soon, but I would not prioritize him with a FAAB bid.

Bobby Dalbec and Franchy Cordero have been splitting time since Cordero’s promotion. Neither one has much fantasy value. Both players have struggled, and the Red Sox might turn to another prospect in Triston Casas before long.

Toronto Blue Jays

As soon as I wrote a paragraph last week talking about my concerns for Bo Bichette, he has been great over the past week. He is hitting .450 over the past week with a .571 BABIP. I am still skeptical of Bichette being a top 10 fantasy player in 2022, but he should still be an elite middle infield option. Alejandro Kirk has played in four games while Zack Collins has only played in two over the past week. Kirk is the far better option and has hit .286/.333/.571 over the past week. If Kirk’s fantasy manager got impatient and dropped him he is a great add. He has the bat to be a C1 the rest of the season.

Tampa Bay Rays

I previewed the Rays sending down Josh Lowe in last week’s article, and that is exactly what they did. With Lowe off the roster, Manuel Margot has seen an increase in his playing time. Margot has been excellent over the past week, hitting .455 and adding in a steal. He could be worth a look if you are desperate for outfield help. Brett Phillips is the fourth outfielder but is still seeing relatively consistent playing time. Taylor Walls has played every game this week but has looked lost at the plate. He has hit just .120 and has struck out 34.6% of the time. Walls’ time in the starting lineup is likely going to end when Ji-Man Choi returns from the injured list. Isaac Paredes was also called up and he could start seeing his name on the lineup card more frequently with Walls struggling.

Francisco Mejia returned from a lengthy stay on the COVID list on Thursday. Unfortunately for him, Mike Zunino has just started to heat up at the plate. If Zunino is swinging the bat well, he will likely get the majority of the starts hurting any value Mejia would have.

Baltimore Orioles

Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini seem to have found their swings over the past week. I wrote about Mancini being an excellent buy low candidate on Tuesday and think this is the start of a monster stretch for him. Go get him before it is too late. Cedric Mullins’ numbers are falling more in line with how they were last year. He has hit .364 over the past week with two home runs. Anthony Santander has also continued his strong start to the season. He has completely changed his approach at the plate and could be a big asset to fantasy teams. My only concern is Santander has never played in more than 110 games. I am concerned with his ability to stay healthy over a full season.

AL West

Houston Astros

The Astros have not had any notable changes to their lineup over the past week. They are healthy and playing well. Kyle Tucker has remained hot at the plate hitting .375. Jose Altuve returned to the lineup on Monday and has hit two home runs since. This should help calm any concerns fantasy managers had about Altuve reverting back to his 2020 season. If you can buy low on Altuve, I would consider doing so. Jeremy Pena continues to look strong at the plate, but I am still a little bit concerned about future regression. Since April 27, Pena is walking just 2.9% of the time with a strikeout rate over 28%. Pena is a very good player, but I am not ranking him as a top 10 SS for the rest of the season just yet.

Los Angeles Angels

Jo Adell was sent back to Triple-A this week. Although the upside is there for Adell, it is hard to argue with the production that Taylor Ward and Brandon Marsh have provided. Adell just simply was not good enough to stick around and will go back to the minors to get consistent at-bats. Brandon Marsh batted in the upper third of the lineup twice over the past week. If any of the regular starters get a day off, he is most likely to move up.

Jared Walsh has shown signs of life at the plate over the past week. He hit his first two home runs since April 15 on back-to-back days and hopefully is finding his rhythm. His underlying statistics look almost identical to last year, so fantasy managers should not panic with him. This week is hopefully a sign of things to come all season for Walsh.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers are still running out two different lineups depending on which pitcher they are facing. The Rangers have also only played two games since last Sunday due to multiple off days and rain. One thing to note is Nathaniel Lowe hit leadoff against a righty this week. Brad Miller and Marcus Semien have both struggled to start the season while Lowe has been great. This could be a sign of things to come and would give Lowe a chance to score more runs. Lowe is due for regression with his average, but moving to the top of the lineup could help offset that.

Seattle Mariners

Jarred Kelenic was on the bench both Thursday and Friday. He managed to hit a pinch-hit home run on Friday, but still, the writing appears to be on the wall. Although he might have saved himself from a demotion with the home run, Kelenic is worth dropping in redraft leagues. His only value is still in keeper and dynasty formats. Abraham Toro has been in the lineup each game this week and Dylan Moore has seen time in the outfield with Kelenic out. Toro has struggled as much as Kelenic and Dylan Moore has no real fantasy value at this point. While Kelenic has struggled and is on the verge of a demotion, Julio Rodriguez has turned it on at the plate. Since April 22, Rodriguez is hitting .314/.375/.431. Rodriguez is a star in the making.

Oakland Athletics

Nothing too notable for the Athletics this week. Jed Lowrie has batted third three times this week and second once. He has not performed well, and it will not surprise me if he finds himself on the bench more often. Sheldon Neuse was a popular name in FAAB this week, but he has hit just .250 and has struck out over 40% of the time this week. Neuse has never stolen more than 12 bases in the minors and that was back in 2017. The three stolen bases he has already posted is likely an unsustainable pace. Neuse will probably hit around .250 and provide maybe five more stolen bases all season.

AL Central

Kansas City Royals

Edward Olivares is hitting leadoff for the Royals. He has been the one to receive everyday at-bats since Mondesi went down with his season-ending injury. Olivares has always had off-the-chart tools, he has just never seemed to put it all together. So far this year he is hitting .364 and has two steals. He stole 35 bases in 2019 in AA and could be a big contributor in that category again this season. Olivares is not going to keep hitting for this high of an average, but if you need help with steals, he is somebody to look at.

The Royals also sent Carlos Santana to the IL and recalled M.J. Melendez. I raved about Melendez all offseason and I am thrilled the Royals are finally giving him a chance. The playing time might be inconsistent at times, but he has the talent to be an instant C1 in many leagues. His value is highest in keeper and dynasty leagues although he might also be worth a look in redraft leagues. If Melendez hits, Santana could find himself on the bench more often when he returns from the IL. Also, Bobby Witt Jr.’s 11-game hitting streak came to an end on Thursday. During that streak, he hit .341 and struck out just 15.9% of the time. Witt looks like he will be a fantasy star in the near future.

Detroit Tigers

Akil Baddoo has started three times over the past week. He has looked better but still holds little fantasy value. Once Riley Greene makes his way back, Baddoo will find himself on the bench. Spencer Torkelson has been struggling, going just one for his last 25. As a result, he has found himself moving lower down in the lineup. Fantasy managers should be patient with him. All rookies go through rough patches and Torkelson should break out of this slump soon.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox officially placed Andrew Vaughn on the IL on Thursday. They waited almost a week to do this, so hopefully he will not be out longer than the minimum. Adam Engel and Gavin Sheets are playing every day with Vaughn sidelined. A.J. Pollock looks lost in Chicago. His contact rates and plate discipline are way down, and he does not look like the same player as last year. I am not sure if he is battling some sort of injury, but I would be moving on from Pollock if I own him.

Another one of the players I wrote about in my buy or sell article was Yasmani Grandal. He is an excellent buy-low candidate, and this week has only helped his case. He has hit just .167 this year and fantasy managers must be frustrated with his production. All his metrics look the same as last year and even this week he has not struck out while walking 29.4% of the time. If you can acquire Grandal for cheap I would before he breaks out of this slump.

Minnesota Twins

Jose Miranda was called up from AAA on Monday and has started every game since. He is first in line for additional playing time after Miguel Sano went down with a torn meniscus. Unlike Melendez, Miranda has very little opposition in his path to consistent playing time and should contribute instantly. Miranda hit .344 with 30 home runs across two levels in 2021 and should be picked up in every league he is available in. He would be my FAAB priority this week.

On Thursday, Carlos Correa left the game with an injured finger. As a result, the Twins have called up former number one overall pick Royce Lewis. Lewis struggled in 2019 and missed last year with a torn ACL. He has been dominating AAA with a .310 average, three home runs, and eight stolen bases. I have always been skeptical of the true talent level for Lewis, but the stolen base upside alone is a huge boost in most formats. I am not rushing to pick him up on the chance Correa avoids an IL stint. Alex Kirilloff is still rehabbing in AAA. The Twins have not provided a timeline for when he will be called back up, but I would assume he will be back with the team in the next week.

Cleveland Guardians

Steven Kwan returned to the lineup this week. He has batted second and hit his first career home run this week. I do not expect the power to continue, but he should provide solid average and runs throughout the season. Josh Naylor has started every game this week and looks to be cemented into the middle of Cleveland’s lineup. He has been excellent over the past week hitting .417/.462/.500. Naylor is off to a great start and could be in the midst of a breakout year. He could be worth a claim if you need help at first base or the outfield.

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