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AL Lineup Analysis 08/14

Stay up to date with the latest trends throughout the American League! You can check out the National League lineup article from this week here! The five hottest hitters in the AL have been Aaron Judge, Luis Arraez, Jorge Mateo, Steven Kwan, and Mitch Haniger. 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

The Yankees lost Matt Carpenter to injury this week. As a result, Miguel Andujar has been in the lineup most nights. Andujar should continue to rotate into the lineup to give some of the regular starters days off while Stanton is injured. Speaking of Stanton, he remains without a firm timetable for a return. The Yankees are likely exercising caution with him since they have a substantial division lead. Anthony Rizzo was dealing with a back injury but returned to the lineup on Thursday. He should be fine moving forward. Gleyber Torres has been struggling since the All-Star Break, but I expect him to be okay for the rest of the season. This is likely just a slump.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox have been a mess lately. Recently acquired Tommy Pham has taken over the leadoff spot in the lineup. Pham has three home runs since joining the Red Sox and could use the Green Monster to his advantage. I like his fantasy outlook for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, J.D. Martinez has moved back to fifth in the lineup. He has been ice cold since the start of July batting just .193/.242/.307. All of his underlying metrics and quality of contact numbers look very similar to how they looked early in the season. The only notable difference is the 2.8HR/FB% he has posted over this stretch. This is well below his 19.2% career average. I am buying J.D. Martinez right now and expect his production to bounce back!

On the injury front, Kike Hernandez has continued rehabbing. The Red Sox expect him back at some point next week. He could take over second base from Edwin Arroyo when he returns. Trevor Story remains without a firm timetable to return and if they keep losing, the Red Sox could be in no rush to bring him back.

Toronto Blue Jays

George Springer is on the IL but could be back when first eligible on August 15. With Springer out of the lineup, Raimel Tapia has seen his playing time tick back up again. Tapia is clearly the fourth outfielder behind Gurriel, Hernandez, and Springer when all are healthy. The Blue Jays did sign Jackie Bradley Jr. to a deal. He is no more than a defensive replacement and should not take at-bats away from anybody. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. seems to be the preferred option in the leadoff spot with Springer out. Whit Merrifield has been batting in the second half of the lineup. He is batting .286 since joining Toronto and is looking more like the player he has been in years past.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Isaac Paredes hype has officially worn off. He has been on the bench more consistently against right-handed pitching and has been struggling. Since July 8, he is batting .157/.253/.241. He is a clear drop candidate if you are still rostering him. His playing time will only become scarcer as the Rays get healthy. Both Harold Ramirez and Wander Franco have been participating in baseball activities. Ramirez will be starting a rehab in AAA this week. Franco is also starting a rehab assignment but is a little bit farther behind. David Peralta has been batting toward the top of the lineup and is hitting .303 since joining the Rays. His average is being inflated by a .370 BABIP and I do not expect Peralta to keep hitting this well. Regardless hitting at the top of the lineup could increase his run production.

Baltimore Orioles

Tyler Vavra has taken over a spot in the middle of Baltimore’s lineup. Since joining the team, he is batting .370 and is now batting fifth. I am skeptical of Vavra continuing this level of production as he currently has a .417 BABIP. I am not making Vavra a priority in my leagues. His move up in the lineup has resulted in Hays and Urias sliding down.

The Orioles continue to play Rougned Odor every day. The longer the Orioles hang around in the playoff hunt, the more and more confident I am becoming in Gunnar Henderson being promoted. Henderson is batting .288/.400/.516 in AAA and would be an instant upgrade to Odor in the lineup. Jorge Mateo could shift to 2B and allow Henderson to play SS. I would stash Henderson now if you have room, or at least make sure you have enough FAAB if you have to wait for his promotion to add him.

AL West

Houston Astros

I have been surprised by the Astros’ lineup decisions after the Trade Deadline. They acquired both Trey Mancini and Christian Velazquez, but neither has been in the lineup on a regular basis. Both players appear to be stuck in backup roles. Mancini has been excellent in his limited playing time and Vazquez is an offensive upgrade to Maldonado. I am not entirely sure why the Astros are doing this, but I do not expect it to continue for the rest of the season. Mancini should be in the lineup on a regular basis. Michael Brantley is now out for the season and Mancini should get consistent playing time. Aledmys Diaz has been too hot to take out of the lineup, but he can play a variety of positions and the Astros should prioritize getting both players at-bats.

Jeremy Pena has really been struggling since his hot start to the season. Since the All-Star Break, Pena ranks 20th in runs and 24th in RBIs amongst 27 qualified shortstops. He has added just two home runs and zero stolen bases over that period. Pena has been a little bit unlucky but should be dropped in shallower leagues at this point. He is a better real-life player than fantasy asset and it might be time for fantasy managers to move on.

Los Angeles Angels

After hitting two home runs for the Angels, Mickey Moniak is on the IL with a broken finger. This is the second time this season Moniak has had an injury like this and his return for 2022 is questionable. This does open the door for Jo Adell to be in the lineup every day. Adell has not shown any real signs of improvement in terms of his plate discipline recently. He continues to strike out at an alarming rate and I am not confident in him producing at any point this season.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers lineup has not seen many changes this week. Bubba Thompson has been in the lineup more frequently batting at the bottom of the lineup. He has shown flashes of power in the minors but has consistently run high strikeout rates. I am concerned about his ability to make contact and am not adding him anywhere. Meanwhile, Josh Smith has seen his playing time decrease. He has been struggling and Ezequiel Duran has been seeing most of the starts at 3B. Smith is not worth rostering in redraft leagues.

Seattle Mariners

For the first time all season, we have been able to see what the Mariners’ lineup looks like at full strength. Mitch Haniger and Julio Rodriguez are both healthy now. Rodriguez has taken back the leadoff spot in the lineup while Haniger is batting third. With both players back and Winker healthy, there is no room in the lineup for Kyle Lewis and Jarred Kelenic. Both players have been optioned to AAA. Lewis was a little bit surprising, but he never was able to find his timing in the big leagues. Maybe he will be able to re-find his timing in AAA. I am less optimistic in Kelenic who has continued to look lost in the majors. I think he might need a trade to ever regain his value.

The Mariners also reinstated Dylan Moore and recently acquired Curt Casali from the IL. Dylan Moore should continue to be a bench bat that should not eat into anybody’s playing time significantly. Cal Raleigh should continue to see most of the starts at catcher, but Casali could start to eat into his playing time. I am watching this to see how it plays out.

Oakland A’s

There is not much to note in terms of fantasy relevance for Oakland. Seth Brown, Ramon Laureano, and Sean Murphy continue to play well enough to warrant being rostered in 12+ team leagues. Vimael Machin, Skye Bolt, and Jonah Bride continue to be in the lineup most days. None are worth rostering at this point.

AL Central

Kansas City Royals

The Royals lineup is pretty set in stone at this point. Melendez, Witt, Perez, Pasquantino, Dozier, and Pratto are the first six. Michael Massey is still getting consistent playing time in the back half of the lineup. Vinnie Pasquantino has been on a tear at the plate recently. He has been mashing home runs and demonstrating the same power he did in the minors. Pasquantino has excellent plate discipline and a chance to be a fantasy star. I am all in on the “Italian nightmare” for this season and beyond in fantasy. Nick Pratto continues to profile as a solid power-hitting first baseman, but the strikeouts remain a concern. He is striking out over 30% of the time and he will need to make some adjustments in order to be fantasy relevant consistently.

Detroit Tigers

The end is unfortunately near for Tigers’ great Miguel Cabrera. He has been on the bench more frequently recently as his career winds down and the Tigers try to get a look at some younger players. Victor Reyes has been in the lineup about half the time, but when he is he is batting second. He does not have any fantasy value. Harold Castro is another player that has been in the lineup with regularity. He is even batting in the middle of the lineup but has not demonstrated any power. His batting average is being carried by a .367 BABIP and should not be added in any leagues.

Akil Baddoo is getting another chance to play. He is batting at the bottom of the lineup almost every day. However, he is still struggling and batting just .194 with zero home runs since the break. Austin Meadows started a rehab assignment last week. He will likely need at least a full week to get back up to speed. When he returns, I expect him to take the lineup spot away from Baddoo.

Chicago White Sox

Just as Chicago finally got healthy, Tim Anderson landed on the IL. He is expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks. With Anderson out of the lineup, Leury Garcia and Josh Harrison figure to get more playing time with Garcia shifting to SS. A.J. Pollock appears to be the leading candidate to bat leadoff in Anderson’s absence. He is still a name to keep an eye on. He has a history of producing in the past and if he is batting leadoff, could score a lot of runs. Andrew Vaughn has been batting fifth which provides him the chance to hit in Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, and Jose Abreu batting in front of him. Speaking of Luis Robert, he left the game early on Friday after appearing to injure his wrist. The situation is worth monitoring.

Yoan Moncada is still struggling and is droppable in my opinion. He was showing signs of life a couple of weeks ago but is back to looking lost. Hopefully he can rediscover his swing in the off-season. On the other hand, Yasmani Grandal is showing signs of improvement. Since the All-Star Break, he is batting .263/.3232/.351. The power is still missing from his profile, but the average is up. He looks to be getting a little bit more comfortable and could be worth a flier if you need catching help. He has a history of performing well and could be about to put it all together.

Minnesota Twins

Max Kepler was reinstated from the IL this week. He has been batting lower in the lineup against lefties while batting cleanup against righties. He has had a rough week and is likely still shaking off the rust from his injury. I expect Kepler to be a fine fantasy asset the rest of the way. Byron Buxton continues to get regular maintenance days as the Twins try to keep him healthy for the rest of the season.

Nick Gordon has been receiving regular playing time. He has even been moving up toward the middle of the lineup against righties. Gordon has demonstrated an interesting blend of power and speed while catching the eye of many fantasy analysts. The strikeout rate is still concerning, but he should have limited competition for playing time. Trevor Larnach is still expected to return at some point in September, but he should not impact the playing time of Gordon.

Cleveland Guardians

The Guardians are making a push for the playoffs. While this is extremely exciting for their fans, it does come with fantasy implications. Every win counts and the Guardians are rightfully more interested in putting out the lineup they believe gives them the best chance to win rather than letting their intriguing young players get consistent playing time. Nolan Jones has seen his playing time decrease as he remains in a platoon with Owen Miller. Tyler Freeman and Will Benson are also struggling to get regular playing time. Unfortunately, this caps the fantasy value any of these players can have and likely means they should not be rostered. Steven Kwan has been incredible since the All-Star Break and perhaps most importantly has five stolen bases over that time. If Kwan is willing to run on a regular basis, his fantasy value skyrockets.

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