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AL Lineup Analysis 05/22

Just in time for your FAAB bids, here is my breakdown of the latest news and trends for AL lineups. You can check out my most recent article for the National League here! Over the past week, the top five hitters from the American League have been Trevor Story, J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Taylor Ward, and Jed Lowrie. As you can see the Red Sox lineup has gotten hot at the plate. Each week brings a new set of storylines to pay attention to and you can check out the news from all 15 AL teams below!

MLB Lineup Breakdowns

AL East

New York Yankees

The Yankees lineup has continued to remain consistent. This team has not experienced any new injuries over the past week either. After looking more comfortable at the plate, Joey Gallo has gone cold at the plate again. He is also the odd man out when lefties are on the mound. He sat back-to-back games with lefties on the mound this week. I am continuing to hold Gallo where I own him as his underlying metrics are similar to his past numbers. On the other hand, Josh Donaldson has gotten red hot at the plate. Since May 1, Donaldson is batting .315/.403/.537. If he is able to stay healthy, I could see him being a top-five third baseman the rest of the way.

Boston Red Sox

Franchy Cordero continues to steal more playing time away from Bobby Dalbec. Although the counting stats have not looked great, Cordero quietly looks like a very solid player. He has a chase rate well below league average and has dropped his whiff percentage down to 30%. Cordero is also barreling up the ball at a high rate and posting a very good sweet spot percentage. He is worth keeping an eye on.

After a brief stint lower in the lineup, Kike Hernandez is back to batting leadoff. He has looked slightly better lately, but still far from the breakout player I envisioned. On Thursday night, Trevor Story blasted three home runs. This could be the start of something big for Story who has struggled early on in Boston. Maybe he has gotten more comfortable and is about to break out. The spin on balls is very different in Colorado, so the first month or so might have just been an adjustment period.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays welcomed back Danny Jansen this past week. He was off to an unbelievable start before getting injured. I do not think this will cause Kirk to play much less. Kirk figures to still get the majority of his at-bats at DH as long as both players are swinging a hot bat. I think that Kirk still has more fantasy value and the higher upside. In a small sample size, Jansen is making contact at a 96.7% rate in the zone. I do not see this continuing as most of his other stats look similar to past seasons. Kirk is the better season-long asset to fantasy teams. Not that he had much of any value before, but the return of Jansen officially marks the end of Collins getting any significant playing time.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was removed from the game on Wednesday with hamstring tightness but returned to the lineup on Saturday. His injury is nothing to be concerned about.

Tampa Bay Rays

Manuel Margot and Brandon Lowe both landed on the IL this week. Lowe is an obvious keep, but I would encourage fantasy managers to stick out the Margot injury as well. He was amid a breakout and could be valuable down the stretch in fantasy. If you have an extra bench spot, he is worth adding if he was cut. He said that he hopes to return Wednesday.

Vidal Brujan has been getting a chance to play every day with Lowe on the IL. He has still looked lost against big-league pitching. I am encouraged that his profile looks closer to his pre-2021 tendencies. He is not trying to sell out for power and in fact has just a .125 BABIP on the year. This is a player that people believed had 20/40 upside. I do not think the power will ever be there, but he is still a player that can steal 20 bases if he gets consistent playing time.

With the injuries, Brett Phillips is getting a chance to play more. Over the past week he is batting .357/.375/.857. Phillips has the upside and power to be a very good player, but he has posted a 44.8% whiff rate this year. He strikes out too often to ever be reliable in fantasy and is not worth adding.

Baltimore Orioles

The biggest news in perhaps all of baseball is that Adley Rutschman was promoted on Saturday. The former number one overall pick and highly touted prospect made his debut and got his first MLB hit; a triple of all things. The sky is the limit for Rutschman who scouts have referred to as a generational talent. If available, he is worth adding in all formats. His upside is a top-five fantasy catcher.

Austin Hays returned from the injured list this week. He was playing well before the injury although his profile looks very similar to last year. His biggest improvement has been in his contact rate. Hays already made contact in the zone at a well above-average rate, but he has improved that number to 92.5% so far in 2022. This is worth monitoring to see if this continues.

AL West

Houston Astros

Jeremy Pena returned to the lineup on Tuesday after his injury scare. He has done nothing but continue to hit and has an excellent chance to win Rookie of the Year. Jose Siri continues to swing a hot bat, hitting .333/.407/.542 over his last 27 plate appearances. However, Chas McCormick still appears to have the upper hand in terms of playing time. McCormick has started five of the past seven games, while Siri has only started four. If this switches, Siri could have some fantasy value, but at this point, it is just worth monitoring.

Also, Alex Bregman has struggled so far this year. However, he has posted just a .241 BABIP and an 8.6 HR/FB%. Both rates are career lows and should improve over the course of the year. He could be an interesting buy-low candidate in fantasy.

Los Angeles Angels

There have not been any big changes made to the Angels lineup. Trout, Ward, Ohtani, and Marsh all continue to look like elite hitters. All four players are extremely fun to watch. Anthony Rendon could be re-emerging as the fifth elite hitter in that lineup. He has hit .414 over the past week although most of that is due to a .478 BABIP.

Texas Rangers

Well hopefully if you read my article last week, you did not take my advice on picking up Nick Solak. He was optioned to Triple-A this past week as the Rangers ran out of patience with him. Meanwhile, Eli White is batting leadoff. Marcus Semien has continued to struggle and the Rangers are looking for a new spark at the top of the lineup. I would avoid adding White as he is batting just .207 with a strikeout rate of 34.3% on the season. I do not think he sticks as the leadoff hitter. The only reason to consider him is if you need stolen bases. White has eight on the year so far, but he has to keep his starting job in order for them to keep coming.

Mitch Garver returned from the IL on Friday. This likely pushes Jonah Heim back into more of a platoon role with Garver. I am not sure either bat has much fantasy relevance if they split time. Nathaniel Lowe sat both games this past week against a lefty. After starting hot, Lowe has struggled and could be losing his grip on a full-time job.

Seattle Mariners

Kyle Lewis is due back Monday for Seattle. After the Kelenic demotion, Lewis has a clear path to an everyday spot in the Mariners lineup. He has looked excellent in his rehab stint at Triple-A, and should be picked up in every league that he is available in.

Like I said last week, if you added J.P. Crawford after his hot start now is the time to cut him. Since the start of May, he is batting .207/.277/.293 and should be moving back down in the lineup soon. Abraham Toro has more fantasy value than Crawford does for the rest of the season. Toro has been playing all over the diamond and has hit safely in five of his last six games.

Oakland Athletics

Nothing too notable has gone on in Oakland over the past week. Luis Barrera is a name to keep an eye on. Barrera is batting .474 over his past seven games and has only struck out five percent of the time. Barrera has always hit for a solid average in the minors and has continued to do so this year in the majors. He might steal a few bases, but he likely will not hit for much power. In deep leagues, if you are desperate for OF help Barrera is a name to consider.

AL Central

Kansas City Royals

Salvador Perez and Michael Taylor both landed on the IL this week. The most significant news is Perez. Hopefully this is nothing major and will allow him to reset after a rough start to 2022. In the meantime, this opens the door to consistent playing time for M.J. Melendez. I know all the hype over Rutschman and think that he is the better long-term player, but I would not be surprised if Melendez has a better 2022. He is batting .286 with two home runs so far and could solidify himself in the Royals lineup with Perez out. Kyle Isbel figures to gain most of the playing time in CF with Taylor and Olivares on the IL.

Bobby Witt Jr. has been batting third more frequently for the Royals. He is batting .258 with three home runs over his past nine games. Witt has really started to come into his own at the plate. He provides power and speed while hitting for a solid average and is easily a top 10 fantasy SS the rest of the way. Carlos Santana is batting just .043 since returning from the IL. Mike Matheny came out and publicly said that the team is paying Santana to be their starting first baseman, but this can only last for so long. Santana looks finished at the plate, and the Royals have two top prospects in Pratto and Pasquatino in AAA. If you want to roster one of them I think Pasquatino will be the better fantasy player for the Royals and will get the first chance.

Detroit Tigers

Willi Castro has been batting second for Detroit. With Austin Meadows on the IL, the Tigers have turned to Castro to pick up the slack. As I discussed last week, he does not have any real long-term fantasy value. He has already slowed down at the plate batting just .261 over the past week. I think that fantasy mangers have to bench Javier Baez until he starts to heat up. He is a total drain to your fantasy team at this point batting just .148/.179/.185 over the past week. He is only batting .205 in total this season and has yet to attempt a stolen base. Regardless of his name value he needs to be on the bench until further notice.

Spencer Torkelson has looked good at the plate over the past week. He has been hitting toward the bottom. This year will likely be a series of adjustments for Torkelson, but in dynasty and keeper leagues he still has incredible value. Riley Greene will likely begin baseball activities soon and is likely about a month away from returning. When he returns, he should be called up almost instantly to play CF for the Tigers. Derek Hill does not look like he is the answer in CF for the Tigers.

Chicago White Sox

Yoan Moncada has batted second more consistently than Andrew Vaughn has since returning. Vaughn has also struggled since his return, batting just .227 with a strikeout rate over 30%. Vaughn is likely just shaking off some rust and should have an excellent 2022 season. Leury Garcia is still playing every day despite his struggles at the plate. Garcia is batting just .198 on the season.

Minnesota Twins

Carlos Correa returned from his brief IL stint this week. In a surprising move, the Twins optioned Royce Lewis back to Triple-A. He looked great in his brief call-up and should be back soon. Jose Miranda remains with the big league club, but has looked lost at the plate. Miranda has sat two of the last three games for the Twins. If he does not pick it up soon, he could find himself switching places with Lewis in AAA. Miranda still has long-term value in dynasty and keeper leagues, but I would be moving on if you picked him up in a redraft league.

There were a few headlines early in the week regarding Byron Buxton’s injury management. The Twins are trying to keep Buxton healthy for the full season and fantasy managers should expect one to two days off a week for Buxton to help with this. Buxton’s production when he is active is more than enough to make up for any missed games. Another outfielder for the Twins Max Kepler has continued his strong 2022 this week. I have talked about Kepler multiple times this season and think he is a very underrated fantasy asset in 2022. He has the 10th best OF wRC+ in the AL and is hardly talked about.

Cleveland Guardians

Jose Ramirez left the game on Thursday but was in the lineup Friday and hit a home run. There is no reason to worry about him. Josh Naylor returned from the COVID list on Friday but was not in the lineup. After the rainout Saturday, he will likely return to the starting nine on Sunday. Before landing on the COVID list, Naylor was one of the most sought-after waiver-wire adds. If he is available due to his COVID issues, he could be worth an add. After being red hot for a couple of weeks, Andres Gimenez has cooled off at the plate. He is batting just .211 over the past week and does not hold much fantasy value moving forward.

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