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AL Fantasy Baseball Lineup Takeaways: Young Players Worth Adding?

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 including some possible impacts of the looming trade deadline. The five hottest hitters in the American League over the past ten days have been: Mitch Garver, Jose Altuve, Julio Rodriguez, Zack Gelof, and Bobby Witt Jr. Keep in mind the stats detailed below are through August 18. 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

AL East

New York Yankees

  • Anthony Volpe is quietly playing much better again
    • Volpe has three home runs with a 127 wRC+ since the start of August
    • He is batting eighth in the lineup right now, but I expect he will move up next season
    • In his rookie season, he has 16 home runs and 20 stolen bases while showing flashes of brilliance. I am still very in on Volpe for keeper/dynasty leagues and think this is a great opportunity to buy-low
  • Isiah Kiner-Falefa is getting regular playing time at third base now
    • IKF is batting all over the lineup anywhere from leadoff to seventh depending on who else plays
    • The Yankees like his defense, but he is struggling offensively with just a .241 average and one home run since August 1
    • He is not somebody worth picking up even with regular playing time
  • Jake Bauers is seeing his playing time take a hit
    • Bauers was playing first base but is now getting reps in left field
    • He has been in the lineup less frequently lately with Billy McKinney getting more playing time
    • Neither player is worth rostering. The real player to roster in this situation is Everson Pereira who could get promoted from Triple-A and profiles to be the Yankees’ left fielder of the future

Boston Red Sox

  • Trevor Story is batting third or fourth since coming back from the IL
    • Story is striking out over 30% of the time and is yet to hit a home run since returning
    • However, he already has three stolen bases and is barreling the ball up at a high rate
    • He is likely just working on getting his timing back and profiles to be a useful fantasy asset
    • Luis Urias has seen his playing time decrease the most since Story’s return
  • Jarren Duran is moving down in the lineup
    • Duran is batting seventh against righties and is still not getting any starts against lefties
    • He is batting under .200 since the start of August but that comes with a .214 BABIP despite a line drive rate of over 25%
    • If anybody drops Duran, pick him up as this bad luck should turn around soon
    • Alex Verdugo is getting more opportunities to bat leadoff for Boston with Duran moving down
  • Pablo Reyes is playing every day
    • Reyes is batting in the back half of Boston’s lineup with an average well over .300 since the start of August
    • He does not have a ton of raw power or impactful speed which makes him a difficult player to target in fantasy
    • If you are in need of regular at-bats, he could be worth adding

Tampa Bay Rays

  • The Wander Franco situation remains unresolved
    • With Franco on the restricted list, Osleivis Basabe has stepped in as the starting shortstop
    • Basabe is batting in the back half of the lineup and had 16 stolen bases in Triple-A before his promotion
    • There is not much power in his profile and the hit tool is questionable. I am not adding Basabe and expect Taylor Walls to reclaim the starting job once he returns from injury
  • Curtis Mead is not playing enough to be fantasy relevant
    • This is the issue with stashing Rays’ prospects is that they are unlikely to get regular at-bats even once promoted
    • In the Rays’ defense, Mead has not performed well in his limited sample size with a wRC+ below 70 since his promotion
    • He is not worth rostering in redraft leagues
  • Isaac Paredes remains an underrated dynasty and keeper league asset
    • Still just 24 years old, Paredes is up to 23 home runs on the year with a 140 wRC+
    • He is up to fourth in the lineup with Franco out
  • Brandon Lowe is back in another slump
    • Fantasy managers always are stuck riding the highs and pushing through the lows with Lowe as he is striking out over 35% of the time with an average below .200 since August 8
    • Lowe is not a drop candidate but is somebody that you need to have a replacement on your bench for
    • He is now batting second for the Rays with Franco out

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Bo Bichette is back with the team
    • What originally looked like it could be a season-ending injury, turned out to be a relatively short stay on the IL
    • Santiago Espinal and Paul DeJong have been filling in at short for Bichette while he is out
    • DeJong has been terrible since coming to Toronto and should not still be rostered
    • Espinal provided empty batting average last season but is not even contributing in that category anymore. He is not worth rostering either
  • Cavan Biggio has worked his way into a regular role
    • With Kevin Kiermaier out, the team has shifted Whit Merrifield to the outfield and inserted Biggio into the lineup
    • Biggio has been playing extremely well, but is really only worth picking up in OBP leagues
    • He walks over 10% and has sneaky pop (11.2%-barrel rate) which makes him an intriguing deep-league flier
    • Davis Schneider has moved back into a bench role and is no longer worth rostering after the fast start to his Major League career
  • Matt Chapman has been battling a finger injury
    • With Chapman out, Espinal has been sliding over to third base
    • Chapman returned to the lineup on Friday and should be fine moving forward

Baltimore Orioles

  • Cedric Mullins is back from the IL
    • Mullins has primarily been batting sixth or seventh since returning and still does not look right at the plate
    • He was struggling after returning from the IL originally and might still be playing through some injuries
    • He remains a valuable fantasy asset thanks to his speed although fantasy managers should adjust their expectations for the remainder of the season
  • Jordan Westburg continues to be a buy-low candidate
    • Westburg is playing most nights batting in the back half of the lineup
    • Since the start of August, he has an average exit velocity of well over 90 mph and a barrel rate of 7.1%
    • His strikeout rate has also come down and although the stats do not jump off the page he appears to be on the verge of a power breakout
  • Colton Cowser was optioned to Triple-A
    • With Mullins back, there was really no room for Cowser to play consistently at the Major League level
    • Although the results were disappointing, fantasy managers should not give up on him too quickly in keeper/dynasty leagues. This is an extremely talented player who will be back in the Major Leagues soon
    • Anthony Santander was removed from the game on Friday with an injury. If he is forced to miss extended time, Cowser is the most likely candidate to be called back up to replace him

AL West

Houston Astros

  • Jose Abreu was placed on the IL
    • Outside of one strong month, this season has been a major disappointment for Abreu overall
    • With him landing on the IL, Jon Singleton has been getting everyday playing time batting sixth in the lineup most nights
    • In a small sample, Singleton has two home runs with a walk rate of over 20% since joining Houston and strong quality of contact metrics
    • He is not a must-roster but is an intriguing profile in 15+ team leagues
  • Yainer Diaz is still playing, but his lineup time is inconsistent
    • Despite playing in just 77 games, Diaz has 16 home runs and would be on pace for 35 over 600 plate appearances
    • He is a strong add for keeper leagues where he is still available. He is likely to take over the primary catcher role next season
    • One other factor that could negatively impact his playing time is the return of Michael Brantley who continues to rehab and appears likely to play this season
  • Chas McCormick cannot stop hitting
    • He is now up to 17 home runs on the year despite having under 320 plate appearances
    • His BABIP is completely unsustainable, but at this point, fantasy managers need to ride out his high because he is not slowing down at all

Los Angeles Angels

  • The Angels have continued their recent pattern of promoting prospects quickly by calling up recent first-round pick Nolan Schanuel
    • Schanuel was viewed as the most advanced college hitter in this draft and the Angels are wasting no time getting him to the Major Leagues
    • The most concerning issue is a high groundball tendency he has shown early on in his professional career
    • He is likely to sit against lefties but could provide strong on-base numbers if you are in an OBP league
    • CJ Cron was placed on the IL in a corresponding move
  • Luis Rengifo is batting fifth or sixth in the lineup in most games
    • Rengifo has been slumping at the plate recently with a wRC+ below 80 since the start of August
    • Zach Neto is still at least a couple of weeks away from returning to action, but there is not much of a reason to roster Rengifo at this point
  • Logan O’Hoppe was activated from the IL
    • O’Hoppe was off to a fast start to the season before his extended stay on the IL
    • He is an excellent add in keeper leagues although it remains to be seen how his playing time will shake out
    • Matt Thaiss will see his playing time decrease as a result of O’Hoppe’s return

Texas Rangers

  • JP Martinez is up from Triple-A and getting fairly consistent playing time
    • Martinez is batting toward the bottom of the lineup
    • He had 12 home runs and 33 stolen bases in Triple-A with an average of over .312
    • So far, he is hitting for a solid average but has yet to steal a base or hit a home run. His average is being carried by an unsustainable BABIP and he is not somebody I am high on for the rest of the season
    • Ezequiel Duran is most likely to see his playing time decrease with Martinez in the mix
  • Jonah Heim is back from the IL
    • Since returning, Heim has sat twice against lefties despite batting .324 against them on the season
    • It remains to be seen if this is just a coincidence or if Heim is moving into a platoon. Regardless, he should be a strong option at catcher for fantasy managers for the rest of the season
    • Even with Heim back, Mitch Garver has held onto his starting role
    • Garver has been excellent lately batting near .400 since the start of August with three home runs. He is a reliable source of power even if his average comes down
    • He should be rostered wherever he is available

Oakland Athletics

  • Zack Gelof cannot be stopped
    • I wrote some about Gelof here, but he is now up to eight home runs and seven stolen bases
    • Even if his current production rates are unsustainable, Gelof is proving to be a valuable fantasy asset that should be rostered in most formats
  • Jordan Diaz is one of my favorite keeper/dynasty league buys
    • Diaz is getting regular playing time at third base batting fifth in Oakland’s lineup
    • Since July 20, Diaz has an average exit velocity of over 92 mph with a barrel rate of over 11%
    • His plate discipline and contact skills continue to improve and he appears on the verge of a breakout
  • JJ Bleday is on the IL
    • Bleday was batting in the middle of the lineup and has been replaced by Tony Kemp who is off the paternity list
    • Bleday is not worth holding on to
  • Lawrence Butler is also up from Triple-A
    • Butler is playing center field and batting seventh or eighth for Oakland
    • He has massive power with intriguing speed
    • The biggest thing to watch is his strikeout rate. If he can make enough contact (so far so good), he will be a valuable fantasy asset

Seattle Mariners

  • JP Crawford is on the IL with a concussion
    • Reports are he could be activated as early as Sunday which is certainly encouraging for a player who was having a phenomenal second half
    • Jose Caballero has been filling in for Crawford batting seventh or eighth
    • Caballero is a player that you can stream for stolen bases when you know he is going to play but does not contribute much in any other category
  • Josh Rojas and Dylan Moore are platooning
    • Rojas has been a disappointing fantasy asset all season and Moore is on the short side of the platoon
    • Neither player holds much fantasy value
  • Julio Rodriguez is reminding everybody why he was a first-round pick
    • Since the start of August, he is batting well over .300 with three home runs and six stolen bases
    • Since August 4, he is batting over .400
    • He is a sensational talent and an elite fantasy asset for years to come

AL Central

Detroit Tigers

  • Javier Baez is on the bereavement list
    • With Baez out, a plethora of players are filling in
    • Zack Short, Nick Maton, and recently recalled Isan Diaz are all seeing a little bit more time in the lineup
    • None of those players are worth rostering
  • Spencer Torkelson looks like a former first-overall draft pick
    • He is now up to 21 home runs on the season including six since August 9
    • Torkelson has been hitting for solid power for much of the season and should see his average increase as his BABIP sees some positive regression
    • He profiles as a fantastic first-base option for years to come

Kansas City Royals

  • Nelson Velasquez is up and playing every day
    • Velasquez is batting all over the lineup since joining Kansas City
    • He has already hit four home runs and has a barrel rate of over 20% on the season
    • The power is massive, but the issue will be making enough contact to be reliable
    • He is worth adding as a flier if you need help in the outfield
  • Michael Massey might be putting it all together
    • A popular preseason breakout pick, Massey struggled for much of the year before really turning things around lately
    • Massey has six home runs since July 21 and is striking out under 15% of the time during that span
    • If Massey has really cured his strikeout issue, he could be a huge fantasy asset moving forward. He should be added if you need help at second base
  • MJ Melendez has been excellent lately
    • Since July 26, Melendez is batting well over .300 with a lowered strikeout rate and five home runs
    • He is hitting the ball even harder than he was before and needs to be rostered where is available
    • A catcher playing every day in the outfield is extremely useful and Melendez could be a significant fantasy asset down the stretch

Chicago White Sox

  • Lenyn Sosa is back from Triple-A
    • He figures to draw the majority of starts at second base for the remainder of the season as the White Sox want to look at what they have
    • Sosa was up to 17 home runs in Triple-A although he has struggled to find success at the Major League level
    • He is not somebody I am adding although he is worth keeping an eye on
    • Elvis Andrus is most likely to see his playing time take a hit
  • Oscar Colas is really struggling offensively
    • His season-long wRC+ now sits below 50 and he is striking out over 30% of the time since his most recent promotion
    • Colas is not worth rostering at this point and is likely to see his playing time decrease if his struggles continue

Minnesota Twins

  • Royce Lewis is back from the IL and playing third base
    • Lewis has hit second, third, and fourth in three games since returning and is an impactful fantasy asset as long as he stays healthy
    • His .343 season-long batting average is bound to regress, but he still has excellent power and speed
    • His return takes playing time away from Willi Castro who landed on the IL as Lewis was activated
  • Ryan Jeffers is getting the majority of starts at catcher
    • Jeffers is having a very strong season that nobody has seemed to notice slashing .280/.382/.480 with nine home runs despite inconsistent playing time
    • His strikeout rate is a red flag, but the power is exceptional for a catcher and he is worth a look in two catcher leagues
    • Jeffers was a scratch from the game on Friday night. His health is worth monitoring
  • Jorge Polanco appears to be finding his swing
    • Polanco has hit two home runs recently and is seeing his walk rate increase
    • He has slid down to fifth in the lineup with Lewis returning although this could provide more RBI opportunities
  • Matt Wallner left the game on Friday after being hit by a pitch on the hand
    • Reports are that X-Rays were negative which is excellent news
    • If Wallner is forced to miss time, Joey Gallo will likely shift to the outfield and Donovan Solano will receive more playing time

Cleveland Guardians

  • Ramon Laureno has joined the team and is playing every day
    • Laureano is batting in the middle of Cleveland’s lineup and is taking playing time away from Will Brennan
    • He has enough raw power and speed to contribute for fantasy purposes but has really struggled this season
    • I am not adding him anywhere
  • Oscar Gonzalez appears to have maintained his lineup spot
    • Gonzalez continues to play regularly batting fourth or fifth in the lineup
    • He is batting over .300 since rejoining Cleveland but has yet to hit a home run and is running an unsustainably high BABIP
    • He is not somebody worth targeting
  • Andres Gimenez has sat back-to-back games against lefties
    • The second one was the first game of a double-header which is the likely cause, but this situation is still worth keeping an eye on
    • Gimenez has been better against lefties this season, so this trend should not be expected to continue
    • Tyler Freeman would be the most likely candidate to platoon with Gimenez
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