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 ten days have been: Zach McKinstry, Julio Rodriguez, George Springer, Yordan Alvarez, and Josh Jung. Keep in mind the stats detailed below are through the 28th. 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
Fantasy Baseball Lineup Takeaways
New York Yankees
Talking to some family that are Yankees fans and the common opinion is that this lineup is not scary like we are used to seeing. Yes, Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo have been excellent this year. Beyond that though, the team lacks intimidation. Gleyber Torres is now batting leadoff and has also been playing well recently. He is in the midst of a seven-game hit streak and is batting .308 since May 14. Batting leadoff gives him even more value and he should be a strong contributor for the 2023 season.
Things fall off quickly after the top three hitters. DJ LeMahieu is now batting cleanup despite being pedestrian this year. LeMahieu is a fine roster batting behind Rizzo and Judge in deep leagues, but there is not much upside here. Willie Calhoun is continuing to get regular playing time despite hitting just .230 on the year. Isaiah Kiner Falefa has taken over the left field job from Oswaldo Cabrera. Cabrera was not getting the job done at the plate and should not be viewed as more than a bench bat. IKF lacks any real upside and should not be picked up even with a starting role.
Late News: Harrison Bader left Monday’s game. If he is forced to miss significant time, Oswaldo Cabrera could start seeing more playing time until Giancarlo Stanton is ready to return.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox lineup has remained fairly consistent over the past 10 days. Enmanuel Valdez and Triston Casas continue sitting against lefties in favor of Rob Refsnyder and Pablo Reyes. Checking in on Casas, he continues to post high strikeout rates with disappointing slash lines. That being said, since the start of May he has a 17.8%-barrel rate with an average exit velocity of over 91 mph. His chase rate continues to be better than the league average and I believe he should start seeing his strikeout rate come down. He continues to be one of my favorite buy-low targets.
Connor Wong is getting the majority of starts at catcher batting toward the bottom of Boston’s lineup. Wong is quietly posting strong power metrics and is up to five home runs already. His plate discipline is poor and will likely prevent him from holding down the everyday role long-term. He is worth a look in deep two-catcher leagues.
Tampa Bay Rays
Yandy Diaz was dealing with a minor injury but has since returned to the lineup. He continues to bat leadoff and have a fantastic season. The top two hitters in the Rays lineup rival any other one-two punch in the league. The most impressive part of Wander Franco’s season has been the speed as he is up to 18 SB already. Franco could steal 40 bases this year.
Although he continues to sit against lefties, Josh Lowe is moving up in the lineup more regularly against righties. He continues to be awesome for both real-life and fantasy purposes this year. Do not expect the Rays to move Lowe out of his current platoon situation though as they are a team that lives and dies by analytics. Manuel Margot is on the weak side of the platoon with Lowe and is not worth rostering based on his current playing time situation.
Jose Siri needs to be owned. His chase rate is incredibly high and his contact skills are below average, so there are reasons to be concerned. That being said, he is hitting for tons of power with amazing quality of contact and has just a .259 BABIP on the year. He is batting toward the bottom of the lineup which is not an issue with a loaded Tampa lineup.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have shifted their lineup around quite a bit since the last time we talked about them. Starting with injuries, Danny Jansen landed on the IL which should solidify Alejandro Kirk as the everyday catcher for the time being. This season has been a massive disappointment for Kirk owners, but this injury allows him some additional time to right the ship. There is a chance Dalton Varsho could see an occasional spot start at catcher while Jansen is out. Speaking of Varsho, he is moving down in the lineup batting seventh most games. He is batting just .152/.188/.303 since May 10th. He is not in serious danger of losing his lineup spot thanks to the lack of options on Toronto’s bench, but this drop in the lineup is a negative for his fantasy value.
Surprisingly enough, the person moving up in the lineup is Brandon Belt. He is still sitting against lefties, but his production has been excellent as of late. Since May 4th, Belt is batting .368/.500/.526 and has been especially valuable in OBP leagues. Over that period, Belt has seen massive gains in his quality of contact metrics while demonstrating much better plate discipline. His slash line comes with a .588 BABIP which is unsustainable, but there is reason to believe he has been unlucky in the power department. Batting fourth provides an instant boost to his fantasy value.
Also, the top of the Blue Jays’ lineup has been red-hot. Both George Springer and Bo Bichette are swinging the bat extremely well and are top fantasy options for the remainder of 2023.
Orioles fans can begin to let out a sigh of relief over Gunnar Henderson. He has been batting either fifth or seventh in the lineup while finally showing signs of life. Since May 13th, Henderson is batting .286/.333/.548. This is encouraging, but the concerning part all along has been his strikeout rate. This remains over 30% during his hot stretch and the contact skills are not showing improvements. This success keeps his everyday role secure, but now might be the ideal time to sell high in redraft leagues.
The other player finally coming to life offensively for Baltimore is Adam Frazier. Frazier has been inconsistent throughout his Major League career, but when at his best he is known for hitting high averages. The surprising part of this hot streak is a .250 ISO since May 13th. His barrel rate is still low and I do not expect this power outburst to continue. He is moving up in the lineup recently thanks to his strong performance.
Ramon Urias is back from the IL, but is no longer in a starting role. The team appears content to utilize Urias in a bench role for the time being despite the struggles of Jorge Mateo. Ryan O’Hearn and James McCann are receiving the majority of DH at-bats. Neither is playing very well and the team could look to get Urias or top prospect Jordan Westburg into the lineup.
Late News: Cedric Mullins left the game on Monday with an apparent lower-body injury. If he is forced to miss significant time the team would love to turn to Colton Cowser, but he is on the Minor League IL. Ryan McKenna could be the most likely to see his playing time increase.
With Jose Altuve anchoring the top of Houston’s lineup there have not been any real changes. Despite lacking a consistent role, Corey Julks continues to play most days. He has been swinging the bat well but his success comes with a 30% strikeout rate and a .400 BABIP since May 10th. This success is unsustainable, and he is not worth rostering. Most of his playing time is coming in place of either Jake Meyers or Chas McCormick. McCormick has really struggled since returning from the IL. You have to wonder if he is still a little banged up and he could see his playing time decrease if he does not pick things up.
Jose Abreu hit his first home run of the year this past week. If somebody thinks this signifies something significant, sell high now. Abreu is still not barreling the ball at all or hitting it hard. He is not worth rostering in anything shallower than 14-team leagues at this point.
Los Angeles Angels
The team appears to have committed to giving Mickey Moniak consistent at-bats. He is in the lineup leading off every day against right-handed pitchers. His lineup time is primarily in place of Taylor Ward who has really struggled this year. Moniak is hitting for plenty of power, but you really should be proceeding with caution. He has a strikeout rate north of 35% and a BABIP near .500. His plate discipline is some of the worst in baseball and this level of success will not continue. He is likely to bat close .220 with decent pop. He is a sell-high player at this point. Now that Ward is not playing consistently, he is not worth rostering. He has been one of the bigger disappointments this season.
Hunter Renfroe has cooled off, but his metrics are still strong. He is still barreling the ball and hitting it extremely hard. He should be seeing the home runs come back and be fine the rest of the year.
Jared Walsh is finally back from the IL and playing against right-handed pitchers. After a breakout 2021 season, Walsh appeared to be a rising star. Injuries ruined his 2022 season, but he is finally back. The early returns have not been encouraging, but there are some reasons for optimism. He is hitting the ball in the air more while hitting maintaining high exit velocities. The whiff rate is extremely high, but this is a guy who posted a 126 wRC+ two seasons ago. I am not adding Walsh, but he is somebody I am keeping an eye on. Luis Rengifo is on the short side of the platoon with Walsh.
Matt Thaiss is also now platooning with Chad Wallach. Thaiss has been useful for the past few weeks, but the team might be growing frustrated with his high strikeout rates. With inconsistent playing time, you can drop Thaiss.
The team placed Ezequiel Duran on the IL opening up regular playing time for Josh Smith. Smith is batting in the back half of the lineup and has seen his stats improve over the past few couple weeks. The biggest driver of his success has been a .364 BABIP despite a line drive rate under 20%. With regular playing time he is a fine deep league add for consistent at-bats.
Although he continues to bat ninth, Leody Taveras is dominating opposing pitchers. He has a seven-game hitting streak and is batting .392/.449/.532 since taking over the everyday job. He continues to run low barrel rates and his .460 BABIP is not sustainable. That being said, he has a strong hit tool with plus speed and should be rostered in most 12+ team leagues.
Josh Jung has really caught fire recently. He is now batting fifth for Texas. Since May 10th, he has an average exit velocity of 97 mph. That is an incredible number and most importantly, Jung is striking out less during that period. Jung’s value is on the rise and he should continue to post power numbers this season. With Jung moving up in the lineup, Jonah Heim has slid down to sixth. After his hot start, Heim has not hit a home run since May 3rd. His barrel rate has dipped over that period, but the rest of his numbers look strong. Now might be a buy-low opportunity.
Seth Brown is back from the IL. His return has pushed Jesus Aguilar out of a regular lineup spot and resulted in Jordan Diaz being optioned back to the Minor Leagues. Brown is batting either third or fourth for Oakland and is worth adding if he was cut in your league. He has plenty of power while also being a sneaky source of speed. Jesus Aguilar has since been DFAd by Oakland.
Although he continues to struggle, Ramon Laureano has maintained an everyday lineup spot. Below-average whiff and chase rates are the biggest reasons for his struggles. He is hitting the ball hard, but cannot make enough contact to bring his average up. He could start seeing his playing time decrease in favor of JJ Bleday. Bleday is primarily only playing against righties batting fifth or sixth. A lot of Bleday’s metrics are encouraging except for his barrel rate. If Bleday can start hitting more barrels, he could see his production take off.
The biggest change is the benching of Kolten Wong. Wong has been disappointing all year and the Mariners have finally moved on. Jose Caballero is getting consistent playing time at the bottom of the lineup in his place. Wong still eats into his playing time, but Caballero is the starter for now. He has looked good at the plate and is stealing plenty of bases to be fantasy relevant. Dylan Moore continues to rehab and near a return to Seattle. His return could eat into Caballero’s playing time.
Are we finally seeing the JP Crawford breakout? Since moving into the leadoff role on May 10th, Crawford is batting .277/.338/.415 with two home runs. The only thing holding Crawford back from being an elite fantasy asset is a low barrel rate. That being said, his exit velocities remain well above his career averages while he continues to hit tons of line drives. Batting leadoff provides plenty of fantasy value and Crawford needs to be rostered in more leagues. He is a strong player to target.
May 1st forward, Jarred Kelenic is striking out 34.3% of the time. Since May 15th, Kelenic is striking out 36.5% of the time. Since May 20th, Kelenic is striking out 44.1% of the time. He continues to bat cleanup and the overall stat line looks relatively stable, but the strikeout rate is incredibly concerning. Kelenic is going to need to start making more contact if he wants to keep his average as high as it is. Now might be a good time to sell high in redraft leagues.
Zach McKinstry continues to bat leadoff while providing plenty of speed lately. McKinstry has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 starts while stealing five bases over that time. He is walking more than he is striking out on the season and has a slash of .295/.409/.451 on the season. Honestly, I did not see this coming but every metric in his profile signals that this breakout is legit. McKinstry needs to be rostered in all 12+ team leagues.
Another surprising breakout is happening with Akil Baddoo. He is batting sixth against right-handed starters while taking a seat against lefties. Since May 6th, Baddoo is batting .309/.415/.545 with more strikeouts than walks over that time. Most encouragingly, his barrel rate is up helping to fuel his success. He is being more aggressive on pitches in the strike zone and should continue to see consistent lineup time.
Spencer Torkelson’s season did not get off to the start many had hoped for. He received plenty of criticism for it and was dropped in a lot of leagues. However, I do not think he is getting enough attention for the success and improvements he is making in May. Since the start of May, he is batting .264/.362/.418 with a 123 wRC+. His barrel rate is 11.6% and his average exit velocity is 92.2 mph. He is hitting plenty of fly balls with a pull rate over 46%. Despite this, his HR/FB% is just 6.3%. He is showing all of the metrics we would want to see from a 23-year-old and should be rostered in most leagues. Batting fourth in the lineup should provide him plenty of RBI chances and I expect his strong May to continue.
The Royals have moved Nick Pratto into the leadoff role and are giving him the chance to play every day even against lefties. I am not sure how long Kansas City will stick with this approach as Pratto is batting just .189 since May 15th. His .289 season-long average comes with a .448 BABIP and he continues to strike out more than 30% of the time. He only holds value in OBP leagues and is not worth rostering elsewhere. MJ Melendez has moved down to fifth with Pratto moving up. After a slow start, Melendez’s season has not gotten any better. He continues to strike out way too much while having a third-percentile whiff rate.
Drew Waters made his season debut this week and has stepped right into the everyday center field job. He is batting ninth most games and was batting .327 in Triple-A during his rehab assignment. The biggest flaw with Waters has always been a high strikeout rate. He has plenty of power to his profile but will need to keep the strikeouts in check in order to have success. He should not be picked up now although he is worth keeping an eye on.
Chicago White Sox
For what feels like the first time all season, the White Sox lineup is mostly healthy. Eloy Jimenez is back and should slot back into the middle of the lineup. The team sounded intent on giving him plenty of reps in the outfield in order to keep Jake Burger’s bat in the lineup at DH most games. This essentially boils down to the team choosing Burger over Sheets although the two should be expected to platoon moving forward. Clint Frazier has been seeing regular playing time although he now appears to be without a lineup spot moving forward. The former top prospect was not swinging the bat well enough to warrant picking him up.
For the time being, Romy Gonzalez appears to have a strong grip on the starting second base job. He is batting ninth in the lineup. So far, he has just a 44 wRC+ while striking out over 35% of the time. I do not expect him to continue getting regular playing time and he is not worth picking up.
Don’t look now, but the Twins are getting healthy. The team welcomed back both Max Kepler and Royce Lewis from the IL this week. As a result, Kyle Farmer and Willi Castro have lost their spot in the everyday lineup. In their returns, Lewis hit fifth and Kepler hit sixth. At this point, we know what Kepler is. He is worth rostering in deeper formats. Lewis however should be picked up everywhere. He has the power and speed to be an instant fantasy star and should continue batting toward the middle of Minnesota’s lineup.
Willi Castro could continue to see regular playing time in a platoon/utility role. Castro has quietly been very solid for Minnesota with four home runs and eight stolen bases in just 41 games. Since May 15th, he has a .326/.354/.565 slash although that comes with a .429 BABIP. I do not expect his success to continue, and he should see his playing time start to come down.
With Jorge Polanco on the IL, Eduoard Julien is playing every day and batting second. He is up to four home runs in just 16 Major League games already although is strikeout rate is a major concern. He should be rostered in 14+ team leagues and 12+ team leagues in OBP leagues.
There have not been any real changes to the Guardians’ lineup recently. Gabriel Arias continues to get regular playing time batting fifth or sixth. Arias has quietly been playing better as of late batting .205/.295/.436 since May 10th. Although that slash still leaves plenty to be desired, he has cut his strikeout rate from 45.1% before that to 22.7% since. A .222 BABIP is also a reason he is not seeing as much success. He is hitting the ball hard with a 10.3%-barrel rate. Arias is worth a look in deeper formats.