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AL Lineup Analysis 06/18

Just in time for your FAAB bids, here is my lineup on 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 Rafael Devers, Ryan Mountcastle, Xander Bogaerts, Mike Trout, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.. Please note that this article was written early Saturday afternoon. I will do my best to try and add any updates or breaking news that occurs Saturday night. Check out the latest on all 15 American League teams below!

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American League Lineup Analysis

AL East

New York Yankees

There have not been any recent changes to the Yankees lineup. Matt Carpenter continues to rotate in as a bench bat to give off days to regular players. The Yankees have been playing excellent baseball as of late as most of their hitters have been extremely hot at the plate. Anthony Rizzo already has six stolen bases, which ties his most in a season since 2017. Rizzo providing stolen bases is a great bonus for fantasy managers who drafted him.

Boston Red Sox

With Kike Hernandez on the IL, Jarren Duran is back up and leading off. He has posted a .318 average since being called up, but I am a bit skeptical of this continuing. He has posted a .500 BABIP with a 32% strikeout rate. His chase rate and barrel percentages have improved from his major league stint last season, but his whiff rate has gotten worse. Duran deserves a chance in the big leagues over several players in the Red Sox’s lineup, but I am not sure how much fantasy value he holds for the 2022 season.

Toronto Blue Jays

Alejandro Kirk continues to move up the Blue Jays lineup. He has been primarily batting fourth over the past week. Since the start of June, Kirk is batting .354 with three home runs. He is one of the best catching options in fantasy and he is showing no signs of slowing down. Speaking of Blue Jays catchers, Gabriel Moreno is not playing every day despite being in the major leagues. Moreno is playing about half of the games for Toronto. He has been batting eighth when in the lineup and is batting .421 since his call-up. As I stated last week, he has an incredible ability to make contact and should hit for a high average right away. I am a bit skeptical of the power and that is worth monitoring closely.

Raimel Tapia and Cavan Biggio have been playing almost every day for the Blue Jays. Biggio continues to hold value in OBP leagues as he holds a .393 OBP since June 1. Matt Chapman has been battling a wrist injury this week. He missed the first couple of games and then returned to the lineup for two games before missing another game with the injury. He was back in the lineup on Saturday, but this injury is worth monitoring to see if the injury lingers.

Tampa Bay Rays

Brandon Lowe started swinging a bat this week, however, he suffered a setback in the process. He experienced soreness while swinging and was shut down until next week. Back injuries tend to linger and potentially zap a player’s power from their profile. I am concerned about Lowe in 2022 and he might be back later than expected. Mike Zunino remains without a firm timetable for a return. The Rays have not ruled out thoracic outlet syndrome which could keep him out for a while. Francisco Mejia continues to play every day with Zunino on the IL. Kevin Kiermaier has missed a couple of games over the past week with an Achilles injury. He returned to the lineup on Saturday and should be fine moving forward.

The young group of Taylor Walls, Vidal Brujan, and Isaac Paredes continue to play consistently. However, none of them are producing at a level worth of fantasy relevance. Manuel Margot is playing and batting in the upper half of the lineup for the Rays. He continues to produce a solid average, but I have significantly cooled off on Margot. He has been battling knee injuries and has completely stopped attempting steals. Margot has not attempted a steal since May 9 and without stolen bases, he has limited fantasy value. Margot will not hit many home runs, or contribute many RBIs, and if he is not stealing bases there might be better options available.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles were in Toronto this week and Anthony Santander is not vaccinated. This is worth keeping in mind whenever Baltimore travels to Toronto this season. Kyle Stowers joined the major league team while Santander was unable to play, but returned to AAA once Santander returned. Trey Mancini was battling a hand injury that caused him to miss multiple games over the past week. He returned to the lineup on Friday and should be fine moving forward.

Adley Rutschman is starting to show why many referred to him as a generational prospect. Since June 10, Rutschman is batting .345/.406/.621 with as many walks as strikeouts. Everything about Rutschman’s profile looks like a star in the making and he will be an elite fantasy option for years to come. With Kirk, Smith, Melendez, and Rutschman the catcher position is suddenly showing some long-term fantasy depth for the first time in a while.

AL West

Houston Astros

Jeremy Peña landed on the IL this week. Since he went on the IL, Aledmys Díaz has been filling in most games at shortstop. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about players with high line drive rates and low BABIPs. Díaz was somebody that I did not expand on because of his lack of consistent playing time. Díaz is playing now with Peña injured and he could be worth a short-term look in deeper leagues.

Los Angeles Angels

Taylor Ward returned from the IL this week. Hopefully, he can stay healthy for the foreseeable future. I have seen a lot of people trading Ward while he was hurt which I cannot get on board with. I think that Ward is going to be an elite fantasy option this season and his success has been backed up by my xwRC+ model. If anybody is still willing to trade Ward away, I would be buying high on his early start.

Anthony Rendon will be undergoing wrist surgery and is likely out for the rest of the season. This is the second season in a row Rendon will undergo season-ending surgery and it is clear he is past his prime. Rendon holds very little if any fantasy value in dynasty and keeper leagues and is not worth rostering. Under a new manager, Luis Rengifo continues to play while Andrew Velazquez has seen his playing time take a hit. Neither player should be rostered in fantasy leagues. Brandon Marsh is another player that I am okay dropping except for in deep dynasty leagues. Although he has shown some pop recently, he has a 46% strikeout rate since the start of June.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers have seen a youth movement recently. Ezequiel Duran is up and batting seventh. Duran has two home runs and two steals and should be viewed as a waiver-wire pick-up in most leagues. Leody Tavares is also now with the Rangers. The Rangers made it clear that once Tavares was called up he would be in the lineup every day. This has been true so far with him batting toward the bottom of the lineup every game. Tavares does not possess game-breaking speed or power and I do not think he is worth adding in fantasy leagues yet.

Adolis Garcia has been batting third for the Rangers. He is batting .297 with four home runs and five stolen bases since the start of June. Garcia is a streaky hitter, and it is worth riding the hot streak while he is going. The five stolen bases since the start of June are most encouraging. Nathaniel Lowe has also continued to perform well since the start of June. He has been batting sixth in the Rangers’ lineup.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners have started to show signs of desperation. They are changing their lineup again, moving Cal Raleigh up, Julio Rodriguez to leadoff, with Jesse Winker and Adam Frazier moving down. The Mariners even called up Justin Upton from AAA. They have made it clear that he is going to play most days now that he is up, but I do not think he holds much fantasy value. Dylan Moore has been playing more frequently and has a 147 wRC+ since the start of June. He has value in OBP leagues as he has been hitting for a solid average with a high walk percentage. He has never shown much power to make him worth adding in other leagues.

Oakland A’s

Christian Bethancourt has been batting in the middle of the lineup for Oakland. Bethancourt played last season in Japan before signing with Oakland this offseason. Since the start of June, Bethancourt is batting .310/.310/.690. The lack of walks with a 33.3% strikeout rate is concerning, but the power seems legit. He has a barrel rate of 15.8% and an average exit velocity of 91.8mph. Bethancourt has elite power and is playing every day. Bethancourt should be added in all fantasy formats. Sean Murphy is still playing every day but has moved down in the lineup against right-handed pitchers. I expect one of if not both Oakland catchers to be traded at some point.

AL Central

Kansas City Royals

The Royals have not had any significant changes to their lineup. Vinny Pasquantino has cooled off since the start of June. He is batting just .176 in the month. Meanwhile, Carlos Santana has been hitting .344 over that same period. I am becoming less confident that Pasquantino will be called up any time soon. Santana has seemed to solidify himself as the everyday first baseman in Kansas City.

Detroit Tigers

Riley Greene is in the MLB! The top prospect made his debut for the Tigers on Saturday and batted sixth in the lineup. He should see every day playing time and it will not surprise me if he finds himself moving up in the order. Greene needs to be picked up everywhere he is still available. Victor Reyes was previously batting leadoff and playing CF, but he will likely move into more of a bench role. Willi Castro is still seeing consistent playing time in the Tigers’ lineup. Since the start of June, he is batting just .224 and I would expect him to see his playing time take a hit. Robbie Grossman has been batting lower in the lineup recently. Any value he holds is from batting at the top of the order and this would remove that.

Chicago White Sox

A.J. Pollock has been leading recently for Chicago. He has looked much better at the plate, batting .395 since June 7. If Pollock can keep this up, he is worth adding in all formats. Last season Pollock hit .297 with 21 home runs and can be a valuable contributor. Tim Anderson could rejoin the team as soon as Monday. I expect him to reclaim the leadoff spot and Pollock to move back down in the lineup. Eloy Jimenez is still without a firm timetable to return to the White Sox lineup.

Minnesota Twins

Jorge Polanco is now on the IL with a back injury. Jose Miranda should continue to see everyday playing time with Polanco out. Miranda is batting .304 since the start of June and is exhibiting a lot of the traits that caused me to be so high on him going into the season. He should be added in all formats and continue to find himself in the lineup.

Cleveland Guardians

Oscar Gonzalez continues to hit and has found himself moving up to fourth in the Guardians’ lineup. He is batting .342 on the season, but that comes with a .409 BABIP. Gonzalez has elite raw power and tantalizing traits, but I am skeptical of his success continuing this year. He is chasing over 41% of the time with a ground ball rate just under 60%. I continue to believe that Gonzalez is one swing change away from elite power and is an excellent add in dynasty leagues.

Myles Straw is still batting leadoff most days but could find himself moving down or spending more time on the bench. Since May 22, he is batting just .135 and has struggled to produce all season. From a fantasy perspective, the good is that he has 40 runs scored and 11 stolen bases. The bad part is he is batting just .206 with zero home runs and just seven runs batted in. He is a strict two-category contributor who will not help anywhere else.

Jose Ramirez was absent from the Guardians’ lineup on Saturday with a thumb injury. This should not be a long-term issue, but it is still worth monitoring.

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