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: Aaron Judge, Riley Greene, Cal Raleigh, Adolis Garcia, and Isaac Paredes. Keep in mind the stats detailed below are through the 18th. 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.
Apologies, it is a busy week/weekend for me. Only hitting on 10 of the 15 most important teams in this article. Will be back with all 15 next time! To add to this, FanGraphs was unfortunately down last night putting a limit on which stats I was able to find. Still useful information below!
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New York Yankees
So, I was not originally going to write about the Yankees this week. Then, they completely switched up the lineup on Friday night. Jake Bauers moved into the leadoff spot despite batting below .200. He is crushing the ball with high walk rates but is whiffing nearly 35% of the time. If Bauers is going to bat leadoff for the Yankees, he could hold some value if you are desperate for home runs. Bauers batting leadoff moves Anthony Volpe out of the leadoff spot. Volpe might never be a star in 2023, but he will continue to hold plenty of value thanks to his elite base-stealing ability.
Oswaldo Cabrera continues to play every day thanks to the plethora of injuries currently facing the Yankees. Cabrera’s greatest strength is positional versatility which unfortunately does not mean a whole lot in fantasy. He is not worth rostering.
Boston Red Sox
I cannot say that I saw Pablo Reyes getting consistent playing time, but that appears to be what is happening. Reyes has been rotating between second base and shortstop since being acquired from Oakland. He was drafted back in 2012 and has never had much Major League success. I am not adding Reyes based on a few games with a .533 BABIP.
Jarren Duran is officially platoon-proof. Although he moves down in the lineup against left-handed starters, it is still nice to see him getting consistent playing time regardless of who is on the mound. His .361 average continues to be carried by a ridiculously high BABIP, but regardless, he has the looks of a great fantasy asset moving forward. The average will come down, but the speed and power are legit. While Duran is platoon-proof, Triston Casas and Enmanuel Valdez are both finding themselves on the bench against lefties. Casas is finally seeing his BABIP start to come up and is batting .316/.409/.684 since May 10th. The buy-low opportunity might be closing, and I do not expect him to continue losing at-bats to Rob Refsnyder.
Tampa Bay Rays
One injury worth keeping an eye on is Yandy Diaz. He injured his groin earlier this week and is yet to return to game action. The Rays do not seem concerned and have expressed that they expect him back in the lineup this weekend. In his absence, Taylor Walls and Luke Raley have seen their playing time increase. Walls continues to post impressive numbers with seven home runs and nine stolen bases already despite lacking a full-time role. His 20.6 HR/FB% is still unsustainable considering his career rate of 8.5%. His biggest competition for playing time Isaac Paredes has been red hot at the plate. Since May 7, Paredes is batting .394/.474/.667 with two home runs despite not hitting a single barrel over that time frame. Paredes is batting fifth in the lineup and is likely always going to be a player who runs extremely hot and extremely cold.
Jose Siri has seemed to retake the everyday center field job and is batting toward the bottom of the lineup. Siri was generating some early-season hype before landing on the IL and has hit four home runs since May 12. An alarmingly high strikeout rate will likely always keep his average low, but this power breakout seems legit. Siri is a dark horse candidate to go 20/20 this year.
One player who has seen their playing time start to trend in the wrong direction over the past week is Harold Ramirez. I do not entirely understand this one as Ramirez is still batting .323 since May 7. I still expect Ramirez to draw the majority of starts at DH moving forward.
Interestingly, with Diaz out of the lineup, Josh Lowe got a chance to hit leadoff. If Lowe is going to move higher in the lineup, this will only increase his fantasy value.
Joey Ortiz is back with the Orioles for his second Major League stint of 2023. He has played games at third base, shortstop, and second base and could continue to see more playing time, especially against lefties. Ortiz was off to a strong start in Triple-A but will need to keep his ground ball rate in check if he wants to find success at the Major League level. I am not adding him at this point, but I am keeping him on my watch list. Ortiz’s at-bats are likely to come at the expense of Adam Frazier who remains on the strong side of the platoon for now.
With Ramon Urias on the IL, Terrin Vavra has been the surprising player to step into more playing time. Vavra has been batting seventh or eighth and playing right field for Baltimore. Vavra has never hit for much power in the Minor Leagues and finds most of his value through his strong plate discipline. He only warrants consideration in very deep OBP leagues. Two Minor League to continue keeping an eye on are Colton Cowser and Jordan Westburg who continue to dominate Triple-A pitching.
Jose Altuve has returned to the lineup for the first time all season. He slots right back into his leadoff role with the team. With Altuve returning, Mauricio Dubon has been moved out of the starting lineup. Dubon was previously batting over .300 and batting leadoff for the team. He has the versatility to play outfield as well as other positions around the infield, but there might not be room for him. If you were rostering him in deep leagues, now is the time to move on.
The reason there might not be enough room is the consistent playing time being given to both Jake Meyers and Chas McCormick. Meyers performed well while McCormick was on the IL and is being given a chance to prove he deserves to stay in the starting lineup. He has replaced Corey Julks on the lineup card and is batting toward the bottom of the lineup. McCormick has been batting just ahead of him most nights and could be a reliable source of stolen bases this year.
I have been pretty vocal about this, but now might be the time to cut ties with Jose Abreu in shallower leagues. Abreu is continuing to show no signs of life at the plate with low pull percentages, high chase rates, and a below-average barrel rate. He is not hitting for power, has no speed, and the average seems to have disappeared. I am moving on and you might want to also.
Los Angeles Angels
Mickey Moniak is an interesting name to keep your eye on. The former first-overall pick was showing signs of life at the plate last year before losing the rest of the year to a season-ending injury. He was crushing Triple-A pitching early this year with a 95th-percentile exit velocity of 108.5 mph. Moniak is getting fairly consistent playing time so far rotating in at all three outfield positions. Not only is Moniak playing, but he is batting leadoff and has two home runs already. Taylor Ward is continuing to struggle and Moniak replacing Ward in the everyday lineup is a realistic possibility. Keep your eye on this and add Moniak now in case this breakout is real.
I mentioned Matt Thaiss as a potential add in two catcher leagues and it seems that the Angels have noticed his strong play. He is moving up in the lineup batting fifth multiple times and even playing first base some nights to keep his bat in the lineup. There continue to be serious concerns over his whiff rates, but the quality of contact is very strong.
Corey Seager is back in the second spot in the Rangers’ lineup. Many were wondering whose place he would take in the Rangers’ lineup and early on the answer is still unclear. Ezequiel Duran moved out of the lineup in the first game, but Josh Smith was taken out in the second game. Duran has been too good at the plate recently to keep out of the lineup. I expect Smith to be on the bench more frequently moving forward. I won’t sugarcoat it, Duran’s plate discipline and contact skills are terrible, but he hits the ball hard with 93rd-percentile sprint speed. As long as he is hot, he holds fantasy value.
Leody Taveras appears to be safe in the lineup for now. He is playing well and showing much-improved plate discipline this year. His quality of contact is not great and he is unlikely to hit for much power if he does not increase his launch angle, but he is fast and can be a boost to your average.
Also, Adolis Garcia is really good. He is one of the “my guys” I am feeling really good about early on, and he should continue to be a fantasy star for the remainder of 2023.
Chicago White Sox
It seems like all Jake Burger does is hit home runs. Burger missed time on the IL but came back to homer in three consecutive games. There is no way that the White Sox are going to take him out of the lineup and he needs to be rostered for now. His whiff and chase rates are both incredibly high which likely points to eventual regression, but the power is legit.
Speaking of returns from the IL, Yoan Moncada is back and healthy. He is batting cleanup for the White Sox. Moncada was off to a fast start early this year before his injury, but I was not fully buying the breakout. An increased ground ball rate and plate discipline issues point to a player that was getting lucky early. He is worth rostering in deep leagues but is not a must roster even now that he is healthy.
The Twins always seem to be dealing with injuries. The latest player to land on the IL is Nick Gordon. Gordon was finally getting a chance to play every day this year, but that has come to an abrupt end. In addition to Gordon landing on the IL, Joey Gallo and Jorge Polanco are both dealing with injuries. Gallo’s does not seem serious, but Polanco’s is a little more worrisome. Polanco is continually injured and hamstring injuries are always a concern. This is worth keeping an eye on.
With these players injured more playing time has opened up for guys like Donovan Solano, Trevor Larnach, and Harold Castro. This has also helped cement Alex Kirilloff into the lineup on a regular basis. Kirilloff is a former top prospect with tons of pedigree. Injuries have derailed his early career, but he is worth picking up if still available. Wrist injuries led to high ground ball rates and inconsistent performance, but so far his launch angle is up and the exit velocities are strong. Kirilloff holds even more value in OBP leagues where his excellent plate discipline helps add more to his profile.
Mike Zunino might be losing his grip on the starting catcher job. Not that many were rostering Zunino anyway, but Cam Gallegher has started each of the last two games at catcher for Cleveland. While Gallegher does not hold any value, this could be significant for Bo Naylor who is still in Triple-A. Naylor is not off to the best start this year but could have fantasy relevance if the Guardians decide to promote him.
Jose Ramirez was on the paternity list earlier this week allowing the team to promote prospect Brayan Rocchio. Even with Ramirez returning, Rocchio was not optioned back to Triple-A. The team may be considering giving him more Major League playing time. His most likely path to this is in place of Amed Rosario who has been red hot recently. Gabriel Arias has also been seeing more playing time in the outfield over Will Brennan. Arias is showing improved quality of contact, but it is difficult to imagine him ever having much Major League success with a strikeout rate over 40%. He is not worth adding at this point.
Josh Naylor has also been killing it at the plate. If somebody dropped him early on, make sure he is picked up.