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Fantasy Baseball Lineup Analysis: AL 04/30

Time to catch up on all the latest news on American League lineups. Just as with the National League, there is plenty to dive into. The five hottest hitters in the American League over the past 10 days have been Brent Rooker, Brandon Drury, Adolis Garcia, Masataka. Yoshida, and Jarren Duran. Keep in mind the stats detailed below are through May 28. I will try to include any last-minute updates that come through from yesterday’s action. Keep reading for notes on all 15 American League lineups.

More great fantasy baseball advice and analysis: Waiver Wire & FAAB Recommendations | Daily MLB Injury Report | MLB DFS Picks | Line-up Analysis | Dynasty Rankings and Strategy | MLB Bullpen Updates | MLB Player Props | Prospect Rankings & Analysis | Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers

AL East

New York Yankees

Anthony Volpe’s production at the plate has been much improved since his move to the top of the lineup. His quality of contact metrics leave room for improvement, but it is difficult to complain about his eight stolen bases. Volpe might not be the next Juan Soto but he profiles to be a solid fantasy asset hitting atop the Yankees’ lineup. DJ LeMahieu is batting fourth for the Yankees now and already has three home runs this year. LeMahieu looks fully healthy this season and is hitting the ball harder than ever. Stolen bases might be a thing of the past but there is a 15-20 home run upside here.

Six players are rotating between three spots in the back half of the lineup. Willie Calhoun (what year is it??) is getting semi-regular playing time against righties. He has not looked very good and should not be expected to continue seeing regular playing time. The two most notable players are Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza. Peraza has been disappointing since his promotion, but he is demonstrating strong plate discipline and has just a .176 BABIP. Cabrera meanwhile does not have much upside but offers more current value thanks to four stolen bases. With Franchy Cordero being optioned to Triple-A, Peraza should see his playing time increase.

Boston Red Sox

The only real change in the Red Sox lineup is consistent playing time for Jarren Duran. He is still sitting against lefties but is batting seventh against righties. He is off to a torrid start at the plate with a home run, two steals, and a great batting average. The issue continues to be an alarmingly high strikeout rate and an inflated BABIP carrying his average. Despite a high strike rate, his chase rate is significantly lower this year and his whiff rate is improving. There appear to be significant quality of contact improvements across the board making Duran an intriguing add.

Christian Arroyo and Reese McGuire have been a little banged up over the past 10 days. This has opened the door to more playing time for Enmanuel Valdez and Connor Wong. Valdez is an intriguing prospect but has struggled defensively likely limiting his stay in the Major Leagues. Wong is not worth adding even in two catcher leagues.

Masataka Yoshida got off to a slow start leading to some concerns, but he has been red hot over the past 10 days. He has three home runs and is seeing his batting average creep up. The only issue continues to be an extremely high ground ball rate. Now might be a good time to sell high on Yoshida in redraft leagues as he will not continue to hit home runs at this rate with a negative average launch angle.

Toronto Blue Jays

There might be some panic setting in about Daulton Varsho. He continues to bat in the middle of the Blue Jays’ lineup but is struggling offensively. Varsho’s average exit velocity is down, but the rest of his metrics appear similar to past seasons. He was likely due for some regression, but he should begin to see some better results. He also continues to run with four stolen bases already.

The catcher battle in Toronto continues to be a situation to monitor. Both Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk are in the lineup on most nights rotating between catcher and DH. Jansen has been heating up at the plate recently and is a strong defender which should help him keep his spot in the lineup. His .188 BABIP only figures to improve, and he is an intriguing buy-low candidate. Kirk is walking a lot but is struggling in every other category. His BABIP should also improve, but I am more concerned about his playing time moving forward.

Whit Merrifield has been red hot at the plate recently. With a low barrel rate and poor exit velocity numbers, do not expect any power to come from him. However, he looks to be a strong source of speed and average. I remain skeptical though as he is running a high BABIP and has an xBA of .259.

Tampa Bay Rays

Did Harold Ramirez and Yandy Diaz go to the same hitting instructor during the off-season? Both players continue to hit for surprising power thanks to increased launch angles. Diaz continues to bat leadoff for Tampa and is combining his excellent contact skills with power making him an extremely valuable fantasy asset. He left the game on Friday with a shoulder injury and this situation is something to monitor. Harold Ramirez is seeing increased playing time batting fifth most nights. He should be added everywhere that he is available as this breakout also seems legit.

Jose Siri is back from the IL and is batting toward the bottom of the lineup. He was a popular add before the injury and combines big-time power and speed. However, a whiff rate north of 45% will continue to hinder his chances of being a reliable fantasy asset.

The Rays continue to find ways to rotate Taylor Walls into the lineup after his fast start at the plate. He is playing either second base or third base most nights primarily batting seventh. You might see three home runs and two stolen bases and think to add Walls. Stay away as his home run rate is completely unsustainable. He makes weak contact and has yet to barrel up a baseball despite hitting three home runs.

Baltimore Orioles

The first of Baltimore’s next wave of prospects has arrived. Joey Ortiz was called up earlier this week after a strong start at Triple-A. Ortiz plays both middle infield positions and figures to see semi-regular playing time. Ortiz broke out in a big way last season and was posting higher exit velocities than ever before this year. He has a plus hit tool and is worth an add in 15+ team leagues. The addition of Ortiz is most likely to cut into a combination of Gunnar Henderson and Adam Frazier’s playing time. Henderson has sat multiple times recently against lefties and continues to struggle at the plate. In shallow leagues, it might be time to move on from Henderson while continuing to be patient in deep leagues. With Jordan Westburg playing well in Triple-A, there is a chance the Orioles send Henderson down to work on making more consistent contact.

Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins continue to flip-flop between the top and bottom of the lineup. Mullins up against righties and Hays up against lefties. Mullins has been awesome so far at the plate and on the basepaths. He is showing a dramatically improved approach at the plate with a chase rate below 20%. This has helped Mullins improve his walk rate which leads to more stolen bases. I was wrong about Mullins entering the year and he appears to be an elite option for 2023.

Another player I was wrong about is Jorge Mateo. After an injury scare last week, Mateo is back and continues to look like a breakout player. His HR/FB% is due for regression and an average launch angle below 5 degrees is a concern, but the 10 stolen bases are hard to argue with. I am not fully buying this breakout, but he has a real chance to steal 50 bases this year.

AL West

Houston Astros

As the Astros work to get healthy, their current lineup has been consistent recently. Mauricio Dubon continues to fill in for Jose Altuve and bat leadoff. Dubon is still batting well over .300 and has added in a couple of steals to go with it. He is not hitting for much power, and I do not anticipate the average staying this high with a ground-ball rate over 50%. I am fading Dubon’s recent success.

Jeremy Pena has moved up to second in the order, shifting Alex Bregman to clean-up, and pushing Jose Abreu down a bit. Abreu has been terrible early on for Houston and continues to see his skills decline. He has a strong track record, and it is early, but I am fine moving on from him in shallow leagues. Pena meanwhile is up to four home runs and six stolen bases. He only stole eleven bases last season and if he is going to keep running at this frequency, he is in for a big fantasy season.

Corey Julks has broken out of his timeshare with David Hensley and is batting seventh. Julks is playing well, but a .388 BABIP and a 31% whiff rate make me skeptical of his success being sustainable. Yordan Alvarez has been a bit banged up allowing the combination of Hensley and Yainer Diaz to see a bit more playing time. The Alvarez injury does not seem too serious and neither of the other two players are worth adding.

Los Angeles Angels

The devastating shoulder injury to Logan O’Hoppe creates an opening at catcher. Matt Thaiss and Chad Wallach appear to be splitting time evenly for right now. Of the two, Thaiss is the one holding fantasy intrigue with solid quality of contact metrics but also a high whiff rate holding him back.

Zach Neto continues to play every day and now might be the perfect time to buy. His stat line is underwhelming with a .244 average and zero home runs, walks, and stolen bases. That being said, he is whiffing only 14.6% of the time with a chase rate of 15.6%. Those numbers are incredible for a rookie. His average exit velocity is close to the league average and he is hitting tons of line drives. Neto should start seeing his luck improve and now is the perfect time to buy after his underwhelming start.

As soon I wrote about Brandon Drury’s dynasty stock trending down, he decides to have an insane week. He is batting fifth or sixth in the lineup while rotating between first and second base. Drury has hit four home runs since April 24th while being one of the hottest hitters in baseball. I am still skeptical as this success came against Oakland and we know how bad their pitchers have been. Still, the results are encouraging nonetheless.

Texas Rangers

Travis Jankowski is batting second for the Rangers. His current success is completely unsustainable, and I am not adding him even if I am desperate for stolen bases. Speaking of players I am not adding, Ezequiel Duran has been seeing more playing time recently. He has put up intriguing Minor League numbers, but his current success is backed up by poor metrics. He is carrying a BABIP near .400 while swinging at just about everything pitchers throw him.

Remember last article when I said Adolis Garcia should start seeing better results? Well, they all came in one game when he hit three home runs. He has looked like his old self recently the only thing missing is steals. His sprint speed is down a significant amount making me wonder if we should be tempering our expectations of him on the basepaths.

Josh Jung appears to have avoided any serious injury after being hit with a pitch on the hand. He continues to hit for solid power, but his plate discipline remains well below league average. Do not expect his average to stay up as high as it is right now.

Seattle Mariners

Jarred Kelenic continues to swing a hot bat and is getting a chance to move up in the lineup against righties. He is now batting third against right-handers while Cal Raleigh moves down in the lineup. Kelenic continues to look like the real deal and is paying off for fantasy managers that were patient with him. Cal Raleigh is still struggling at the plate, but his chase rate and whiff rate are both much improved from last year. He continues to hit the ball hard and I would be interested in exploring a trade for him if I needed catching help. The small move down in the lineup does not change that.

Kolten Wong is now platooning with Jose Caballero. If you were holding onto Wong, now is a safe time to drop him. Caballero is intriguing from a speed perspective, but not much else. He is also stuck on the short side of the platoon and not worth adding.

JP Crawford has been hot at the plate recently. I mentioned him as an intriguing buy-low candidate and have been happy with the results since adding him. He continues to walk a bunch while maintaining high exit velocities. If the barrels start coming, watch out. His success appears to be pushing up the lineup which should result in more fantasy opportunities.

Oakland A’s

The Oakland lineup continues to have lots of movement. Esteury Ruiz who is up to 10 stolen bases is set at the top of the order. Behind him is a rotating cast, but Jordan Diaz is the most notable. His playing time has been inconsistent since being promoted, especially against righties, but he is showing a much-improved launch angle from last season. The concerning part is a high strikeout rate thanks to a swing percentage of over 60%. Diaz will need to be more patient if he wants to have success in the Major Leagues.

Brent Rooker continues to hit third and mash everything thrown to him. He should be added where he is available. Shea Langeliers hits too many fly balls to ever hit for a high average, but he has plenty of power. He is up to six home runs and profiles closely to Cal Raleigh in terms of fantasy upside. Ramon Laureano returned from the IL on Saturday and hit sixth. He is a fine roster in points and deeper leagues with stolen base upside.

AL Central

Kansas City Royals

Michael Massey is continuing to hold onto the second baseman job by a hair. He has moved down to ninth in the lineup and is still yet to walk or hit a home run. Even if the Royals continue to give him chances, you should be moving on.

Looking for an offensive spark, the Royals called up Nick Pratto from Triple-A. The team is likely to give him consistent time in the lineup against righties, but I am not sure if there is any fantasy value here. He has big power but was struggling in Triple-A before his promotion. To find success, he will need to keep the strikeout rate down.

Kyle Isbel and Edward Olivares continue to occupy the two outfield spots around MJ Melendez. They are batting fifth and seventh most nights although neither one is seeing much success. Isbel has had an especially rough go of things at the plate and is not worth rostering anywhere. Olivares at least has strong barrel rates and exit velocity numbers with enough speed to hold some form of fantasy relevance.

Detroit Tigers

Another week and another new leadoff hitter for Detroit. Zach McKinstry has moved up in the lineup against righties. Although I am skeptical of his offensive output, he has attempted five stolen bases in just 18 games. If he is able to maintain this pace with consistent playing time, he will be fantasy relevant. Nick Maton has slid down to fourth in the lineup while continuing to sit against lefties.

Kerry Carpenter was going to be included as a buy-low candidate, but a knee strain has landed him on the IL. At this time, it is unclear how long he will be sidelined. This injury could lead to more playing time for Miguel Cabrera, but the name to remember is Justyn-Henry Malloy. Malloy is dominating in Triple-A and is a prime candidate for a promotion if Carpenter’s knee injury is serious.

Riley Greene continues to bat second for Detroit, but it might be time to move on from him in fantasy. Instead of showing improvements in areas such as plate discipline and launch angle, Greene has gotten worse. He is hitting the ball into the ground more often than ever with increased chase and whiff rates. The 2023 outlook does not look promising for Greene, and I am okay with moving on in shallow leagues.

Chicago White Sox

The first six in Chicago’s lineup are as consistent as any in the league. Benintendi, Vaughn, Robert, Jimenz, Grandal, and Burger are all but locked into their spot in the lineup. Right now, everybody in the lineup is struggling, but I am most concerned about Eloy Jimenez. Jimenez is chasing just about everything and making contact at an extremely low rate. This has been a problem throughout the early parts of his career, and he is not showing any improvement. The raw power will always be there, but if he cannot mature in his approach, the results will always be inconsistent.

Oscar Colas appears to have lost his grip on a starting job. He went from sitting against lefties to sitting against most righties as well. Colas’ issue has been weak contact that is often going into the ground. He is running an extremely high ground ball rate and chasing 40% of pitches. A trip back to Triple-A might be in the cards to help Colas reset. His replacement in the lineup has been a group effort from the bench players. There is nobody taking his place that is worth rostering.

Minnesota Twins

The returns of Jorge Polanco and Joey Gallo have lengthened Minnesota’s lineup. Polanco has slid into the three spot and has not missed a beat since returning. One of my favorite players during draft season, Polanco is driving the ball early and should be a huge boost to fantasy teams. Gallo meanwhile is batting between fifth and seventh while continuing to mash home runs. The average will never be great, but Gallo needs to be on fantasy rosters, especially in points leagues. I mean, the dude’s average exit velocity is nearly 100 mph. That is insane!

Elsewhere in the lineup, Trevor Larnach continues to bat fifth. I am expecting him to start moving down in the lineup as he continues to fade after a fast start to the year. Jose Miranda is batting between fourth and sixth and is finally coming to life. He hit two home runs the other day against the Yankees and might finally be getting back the production we expected to see out of him.

Cleveland Guardians

Josh Naylor has started each of the past two games against lefties. He was another player identified as a buy-low candidate and is batting over .300 since the previous article. He continues to be negatively impacted by a low BABIP and could still be available in your leagues. Grab Naylor now.

Will Brennan and Oscar Gonzalez continue to platoon, limiting the fantasy upside for both players. Many people were predicting a 20/20 type season from Andres Gimenez. While the 20 steals seem realistic, the power has disappeared. After a career-high last year, his barrel rate has dropped back down, and the ground balls have increased. Gimenez appears more likely to settle into the 10-15 home run range. The flip side of Gimenez is Amed Rosario. He is batting second and has increased his exit velocity, barrel rate, and launch angle. He only has one home run and does not profile to ever hit more than 15-20, but he could be due for some positive regression.

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