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AL Lineup Analysis 08/07

The home stretch of fantasy baseball season is upon us! You can check out the National League lineup article from this week here! The five hottest hitters in the AL have been Brandon Lowe, Aaron Judge, Seth Brown, Nick Gordon, and Eloy Jimenez. The article below dives into the news and notes from all 15 American League teams! Please note this article was written Saturday afternoon. I will try my best to update it with any news that breaks later in the day!

AL East

New York Yankees

Joey Gallo is officially no longer a member of the Yankees. Gallo is now on the Dodger’s solidifying Benintendi as a mainstay in the lineup. Giancarlo Stanton is now participating in baseball activities and should begin a rehab assignment sometime next week. Matt Carpenter is most likely to see his playing time decrease when Stanton comes back. Carpenter has found himself batting in the middle of the lineup against right-handed pitchers with Stanton out.

Aaron Hicks is hitless in his last 28 plate appearances. He continues to find himself in the lineup most nights, but this could change when Harrison Bader returns. The Yankees gave up a lot to acquire Bader and see him as a big defensive upgrade in CF. This could shift Judge back to RF and force Hicks to the bench. The Yankees do not expect Bader to return for at least a couple of weeks, but his value could see a boost batting in the New York lineup.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox were one of the more interesting teams at the Trade Deadline. They traded away starting catcher Christian Vazquez. Kevin Plawecki will likely see most of the starts at catcher now. He is batting just .183 on the season and does not hold any fantasy value. Despite trading away Vazquez, the Red Sox traded for Tommy Pham and Eric Hosmer. Pham has been batting second in the lineup since arriving in Boston. With Pham now here, the Red Sox opted to DFA Jackie Bradley Jr. This is good news for Jarren Duran as he still maintains a lineup spot with this acquisition. Enrique Hernandez is still not close to returning, so Duran and Pham should both remain in the lineup together for the foreseeable future.

The biggest impact of Eric Hosmer’s arrival will be on Franchy Cordero. Although Cordero’s underlying contact statistics looked solid, he has continued struggling this year and was optioned to AAA. Hosmer will take over the everyday 1B role in Boston. Rafael Devers is now back from the IL. This will likely push Bobby Dalbec out of the lineup and back into a bench role. Trevor Story remains without a firm timetable to return with a hairline fracture in his wrist.

Toronto Blue Jays

In one of the more surprising moves, Whit Merrifield is now a member of the Blue Jays. Now, I know you all are thinking that Merrifield is unvaccinated. However, he came out on Thursday and said that he has received the vaccine and will be eligible to play next Friday in Toronto when the team returns home. George Springer is currently dealing with elbow injuries which are limiting his ability to play the field. If he is forced to continue DHing, Merrifield will likely be in the lineup playing CF. Merrifield was struggling early in the season but has been batting .277 since June 15.  If Springer is the DH, Danny Jansen could be squeezed out of a lineup spot for the time being.

Meanwhile, Santiago Espinal has really struggled since the start of July batting just .238/.289/.274. When Springer is healthy, Merrifield figures to be the starting 2B and force Espinal to the bench. Espinal will likely find himself on the short side of platoons since he is batting .330 against lefties this year. If he is only playing against lefties, he is not worth rostering. The trade also hurts Cavan Biggio as he is forced farther down on the bench.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays made a few under-the-radar moves to add to their depleted lineup. The first was acquiring David Peralta from Arizona. He has been batting fifth or sixth in the lineup since being acquired. His fantasy value increases with the move to Tampa but should still only be in fantasy lineups when facing a righty. He has large splits throughout his career, but especially this season. The Rays also took a flier on Jose Siri. I will be honest; I am not sure what this move really does for the Rays or for fantasy managers. Siri was playing well in AAA but has struggled this season in the majors. The Rays seem intent on playing him every day, so he is somebody to keep an eye on, but not somebody I am picking up.

Since returning on July 16, Brandon Lowe is batting .339/.383/.571 with a 17.8%-barrel rate and an average exit velocity over 91mph. Lowe has been incredible and is one of the elite fantasy options at 2B for the rest of 2022. Over that same period, Randy Arozarena is batting .321/.377/.482. I am more skeptical of Arozarena’s success than Lowe’s, but Randy consistently outperforms his expected stats, and fantasy managers just need to continue riding out the hot streak.

Baltimore Orioles

Long-time Oriole Trey Mancini is now a member of the Astros. With Mancini gone, Adley Rutschman has moved up to second in the lineup. Not enough can be said about how fast Rutschman has transitioned and adjusted to major league pitching. He is already showing why many scouts referred to him as a generational talent. Meanwhile, Terrin Vavra has taken over the hole in the lineup left by Mancini’s departure. Vavra has never demonstrated much power in the minor leagues but was batting .324 while walking over 13% of the time in AAA this season. If you are desperate for batting average help, he can help, but I do not think he is worth prioritizing.

Austin Hays has been dealing with a sore left side. The Orioles do not seem concerned about this being a long-term issue, but he could find himself out of the lineup a little bit more over the next few days. Hays has been batting fifth in the lineup recently.

AL West

Houston Astros

Even with the acquisition of Trey Mancini, Aledmys Diaz continues to be in the lineup every day. Since the break, Diaz is batting .326/.383/.605 and proving that he deserves to be in the lineup. He has posted strong quality of contact metrics and is walking more than he is striking out. Diaz should be added where he is available and should provide positional versatility to your fantasy team.

Many people were excited when Mancini was traded to Houston because of his expected home run totals. He has already hit three home runs in Houston and looks to be feeling very comfortable there. Kyle Tucker was scratched with an illness on Thursday and was out of the lineup on Friday. This is not something you should worry about long-term.

Los Angeles Angels

By way of trade, Brandon Marsh is out, and Mickey Moniak is in. Moniak is the former number one overall pick by Philadelphia and should be in the lineup almost every day. Moniak has shown flashes of development most notably in Spring Training this year. In deeper leagues, he is worth adding on the chance he puts it all together. David Fletcher has been batting leadoff most games for the Angels. Although the rest of the lineup is rough, hitting ahead of Ohtani and Ward should provide decent run-scoring opportunities.

Taylor Ward has been struggling recently, so let’s do a quick deep dive. Since he returned from both a neck and hamstring injury, Ward is batting just .222/.302/.321. His quality of contact metrics has remained about the same, but his HR/FB% has been cut in half and the BABIP is .286 compared to his .332 season-long number. This seems like a combination of Ward’s luck evening out and the potential that he is still dealing with some lingering effects of his injuries. I expect Ward to be fine for the rest of 2022, but far from the star he was early in the season.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers have not had many notable changes to their lineup over the past week. The only change has been Kole Calhoun being placed on the IL. After being one of the most popular adds before the All-Star Break, Leody Tavares has come back down to earth. He is batting .265/.333/.284 since the break despite posting a .394 BABIP. Tavares is a fine player in dynasty leagues, but I do not think he will help much in 2022.

Seattle Mariners

Big news out of Seattle is the impending return of Mitch Haniger. Haniger has been on the IL with an ankle injury but is expected back within the next week. In addition to Haniger’s return, Seattle is also expecting Julio Rodriguez to return in the next week. This will put their outfield at full strength. Jarred Kelenic has just one hit since being recalled and will likely be sent back to AAA when Haniger and Rodriguez return. Kelenic continues to look overmatched at the big-league level.

Ty France has been dealing with a wrist injury. He missed the first four games this week with it, but returned to the lineup on Friday. The Mariners are going to have to decide on who loses playing time when Haniger and Rodriguez return. Kyle Lewis is one candidate as he is batting just .157 through his first 57 plate appearances this year. Carlos Santana is another option. He is batting just .183 on the season against right-handed pitching and could see himself move into a platoon with Lewis or Adam Frazier. Frazier is batting just .233 against lefties although he has been red hot at the plate recently.

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Oakland A’s

There is not much going on in Oakland that is fantasy relevant. Ramon Laureano has hit three home runs since the break but is also batting .182 over that stretch. Seth Brown has been one of the hotter hitters in baseball over the past week. He has four home runs since July 29th while walking over 20% of the time. Brown has been making extremely loud contact lately while barreling the ball at a high rate. He could be worth adding to ride out this hot streak.

AL Central

Kansas City Royals

With Whit Merrifield now in Toronto, the Royals have had to adjust their lineup. M.J. Melendez has moved into the leadoff spot. I love Melendez’s potential in dynasty and keeper leagues and think he is going to be an elite catching option for years to come. Combining him with Salvador Perez is a lethal catching duo for Kansas City. Perez has five home runs since returning from the IL and looks to have found the power swing that made him the best fantasy catcher in baseball last season. Merrifield’s replacement in the lineup appears to be Michael Massey. Massey was batting .312 and slugging .532 in the minor leagues this year. To add to that he also had 13 stolen bases. I am a little bit skeptical of him keeping up those numbers in the big leagues, but is worth adding in deeper leagues if you need middle infield help.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers traded away Robbie Grossman at the deadline. He had been struggling and this will give some younger players a chance to receive more consistent playing time. Austin Meadows is still far from a return as he has only ramped up to batting practice. I think there is a chance we do not see him for the rest of 2022. Harold Castro is getting a chance to play every day but is not worth adding. Jeimer Candelario has been moving back up in the lineup after struggling for much of the season. He could be worth adding in deeper leagues for the rest of 2022.

Chicago White Sox

For what is the first time all season, the White Sox are finally completely healthy. Luis Robert returned from the IL early this week and has slid into the second spot in Chicago’s lineup. Josh Harrison continues to see most of the starts at 2B. He is not worth adding anywhere. Andrew Vaughn has moved back in the lineup to fifth with Jimenez and Robert both healthy now.

Nobody has ever questioned the talent of Eloy Jimenez; it has just been his inability to stay healthy. Jimenez finally looks healthy and comfortable at the plate and has been dominating since the All-Star Break. He has settled into the third spot in the lineup and is batting .422/.438/.733 over his last 13 games. The most impressive statistic is the 27.5%-barrel rate over that period. Jimenez has the looks of being a league winner across the second half.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins now have a case for being the most injured lineup in baseball. Miguel Sano briefly returned but is back on the 60-Day IL. In addition, Alex Kirilloff is dealing with wrist issues again. He is back on the IL and I am okay dropping him. This is the same wrist issue that has been plaguing Kirilloff for the past year and a half. Max Kepler’s injury is not as serious. He could be back this weekend or early next week. Kepler could be a nice add if somebody dropped him when he got injured.

With the injuries, Jose Miranda and Nick Gordon have been batting in the middle of the lineup. Miranda is a player I was high on early in the season and somebody that has really come into his own. Since the beginning of June, he is batting .318/.374/.522 and looks to be an elite option for the rest of the season. Nick Gordon had previously generated a lot of buzz on fantasy baseball Twitter prior to his breakout. My concern with Gordon was always about playing time and now that he has gotten it he continues to produce. Gordon is a solid add in fantasy leagues.

Cleveland Guardians

With Oscar Gonzalez back from the IL and Nolan Jones playing well, the Guardians decided to option Franmil Reyes to AAA. Reyes was an elite source of power last year, but the wheels fell off in 2022. Maybe Reyes can recapture his swing that led to 30 home runs last year, but he is not worth rostering now. Nolan Jones seems to be on the strong side of a platoon sitting against most lefties. The Guardians have a lot of young players they want to give a look so both Jones and Gonzalez might struggle to get consistent playing time.

The Guardians also promoted Tyler Freeman. Freeman can play all over the infield and is a contact first prospect that does not offer a whole lot else. I do not think that Freeman is somebody worth adding at this point. While with the team, he should see consistent playing time at the bottom of the lineup.

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