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Final Ride: AL Lineup Breakdown 09/20

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 10 days have been: Rafael Devers, Robbie Grossman, Gunnar Henderson, Tim Anderson, and Royce Lewis Keep in mind the stats detailed below are through August 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

Fantasy Baseball Lineup Takeaways

AL East

New York Yankees

  • Jasson Dominguez underwent surgery for a torn UCL
    • A disappointing end to the season for a player that was showing flashes of becoming a superstar
    • The Yankees are hopeful Dominguez will be ready early in 2024 and should have a spot in the lineup upon returning
    • With Dominguez out, the team called up Estevan Florial from Triple-A and are giving him regular playing time batting all over the lineup
    • Florial put up impressive home run and stolen base numbers in Triple-A before his promotion and is worth a look if you are looking for a late season boost in your outfield
  • Oswaldo Cabrera is getting more playing time over Everson Pereira
    • Pereira has gotten off to a slow start in his Major League career and has been striking out nearly 40% of the time
    • Cabrera is a solid utility defender for a Major League club, but lacks any real offensive upside that would warrant attention in fantasy leagues
    • Both players are batting at the bottom of the lineup when playing and neither one is worth rostering in redraft leagues
    • Pereira is also dealing with an injury which could limit his playing time
  • Oswald Peraza is finally coming to life
    • It is amazing what regular playing time can do for a player as Peraza is finally showing off the kind of performances we saw from him in the Minor Leagues
    • He has hit safely in 11/12 games including nine straight
    • Unfortunately for Peraza there still is not much power and most of his success comes with a very high BABIP. If he is not going to be stealing bases, there is not a lot of fantasy relevance here

Boston Red Sox

  • Ceddanne Rafaela is getting a chance to play consistently
    • Rafaela is playing over Wilyer Abreu against lefties and over Adam Duvall against righties. He even is rotating in occasionally at shortstop in place of Trevor Story
    • He is primarily batting leadoff in Boston’s lineup and has put up very strong numbers in a small Major League sample size
    • The two biggest issues causing me concern are a high strikeout rate and a high ground ball rate. Both are going to be issues and I am not buying this fast start
  • Triston Casas is on the IL
    • Casas’ excellent second-half has come to an abrupt end with the Red Sox out of playoff contention
    • Justin Turner appears to be getting most of the starts at first base right now with a rotating cast of players taking over DH responsibilities
    • The team also promoted Bobby Dalbec from Triple-A and appear willing to give him at-bats at least against lefties
    • Dalbec hit 33 home runs in Triple-A this season and is at least a streamer consideration
  • Luis Urias is getting a chance to prove himself again
    • Urias has been batting eighth or ninth in the lineup and playing second base
    • He has continued to struggle since coming over to Boston and is not somebody that is worth rostering at this point

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Manuel Margot is back from the IL
    • As Jose Siri lands on the IL, Margot comes back to replace him in the Rays’ lineup
    • Margot is batting in the back half of the lineup and will need to show a willingness to run if he is going to be fantasy relevant
    • He is not somebody that I am targeting down the stretch
  • Curtis Mead is back from Triple-A
    • Despite his prospect pedigree, the Rays continue to be unable to get Mead into the lineup on a consistent basis
    • He is likely to only get consistent at-bats against left-handed pitchers and is not relevant in fantasy leagues at this point
    • If a spot in the lineup were to open up, he would have to compete with Jonathan Aranda for playing time. Right now, it appears Aranda has the edge
  • Luke Raley has been a bit banged up over the past week with a mysterious injury
    • Raley collided with a staff member and has been absent from the lineup since Saturday
    • This injury is not expected to keep him sidelined for long, but Jonathan Aranda appears most likely to take his lineup spot if it does
  • Josh Lowe has not hit a home run since August 29
    • Despite the power-outage, many of the underlying metrics have actually been improving for Lowe lately
    • He is chasing less, whiffing less, and striking out less. The only issue recently has been a low barrel rate
    • I am confident in Lowe’s abilities moving forward and believe the power will come back

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Matt Chapman is back from the IL
    • Chapman has been inserted right back into the starting lineup batting sixth or seventh most games
    • Outside of the first month, Chapman has been abysmal at the plate and a drain to fantasy teams. He is hitless since returning from the IL
    • His return to the lineup is nice for the Blue Jays and his glove holds real life value, but he is not somebody you should be putting back into your fantasy lineup
  • Brandon Belt is on the IL
    • As Belt heads to the IL with back spasms, Cavan Biggio has been the one to see his playing time increase the most
    • Biggio has quietly been a very solid player for Toronto since the start of September and holds fantasy value in OBP Leagues
    • Since September 1, Biggio is walking 20% of the time and comes with sneaky pop in his bat. He also holds plenty of positional versatility which is always a nice boost
  • Davis Schneider has overtaken Whit Merrifield for playing time
    • With Chapman back, there is only so much room in the lineup and Schneider has been too good to move to the bench
    • Schneider has cooled off considerably (which was to be expected) and is hitless in his last 17 plate appearances. The power is legit, but he could struggle considerably moving forward as regression kicks in
    • Merrifield has been seeing most of his playing time in the outfield recently in place of Daulton Varsho. I expect Merrifield to work his way back into the mix in the infield as Schneider continues to come back to earth

Baltimore Orioles

  • Ryan Mountcastle has been battling a shoulder injury
    • This injury has kept Mountcastle out of the lineup since Wednesday although the team has yet to indicate a trip to the IL is possible
    • Aaron Hicks has seen the largest boost in playing time since the injury as Anthony Santander has been the primary DH
    • Hicks is not worth rostering although the situation is worth keeping an eye on
  • Heston Kjerstad is up from Triple-A
    • As has seemed to be the case for most of this season, the team has not been insistent on playing him despite his prospect pedigree
    • Kjerstad has excellent power and one of the most consistent swing paths in all of baseball
    • However, if Baltimore is unwilling to play him consistently, the he is not worth rostering in redraft leagues. His playing time is worth monitoring closely
  • Jordan Westburg is getting more consistent playing time at third base
    • He still is losing some playing time to Ramon Urias, but Baltimore appears to trust him enough to give him the majority of starts
    • He has primarily been batting in the bottom third of the lineup
    • Westburg is batting over .300 since the start of September while showing improvements to his barrel rate. I continue to be high on Westburg’s long-term outlook

AL West

Houston Astros

  • Jose Abreu is moving back up in the lineup
    • Abreu has been batting fourth or fifth over the past week
    • He has five home runs since returning from the IL on August 23 although the average leaves plenty to be desired
    • His average is poor, but most of that stems from an incredibly unlucky BABIP. The power is showing up in a big way and he is somebody that is worth adding if you need help at first base
  • Chas McCormick might be slowing down
    • McCormick is still batting over .300 since the start of September, but his power slowed down from his unsustainable pace
    • He is still finding himself in the lineup on a regular basis and stealing bases at a high clip despite his average and power slump

Los Angeles Angels

  • Zach Neto is back from the IL
    • Neto has returned to the lineup and has been batting second most games
    • He has looked a bit rusty since returning, but was posting strong underlying metrics prior to landing on the IL
    • I am not interested in Neto for redraft leagues but if you are in any keeper leagues, he could be a solid pick up looking toward 2024
  • Shohei Ohtani will not return in 2023
    • The debacle that is the Angels has continued as it was announced this week we will not see Ohtani until 2024 whcih will most likely be for another team
    • With another lineup spot now opened up, Jared Walsh is back up from Triple-A
    • Walsh was once a rising star in the league before injuries and struggles sent him back to the Minor Leagues this year
    • He is likely to platoon and is not worth adding
  • Brett Phillips has three home runs since returning to the Major Leagues on September 6
    • Phillips has never been known for his power, but he is crushing home runs and batting over .300 since that date
    • He is getting regular playing time batting in the bottom third of the lineup
    • There is nothing in his profile that suggests this power outburst is legit and he is striking out a ton over this period
    • I do not expect this success to continue and the combination of Kyren Paris and Jordyn Adams could start to eat into Phillips’ playing time

Texas Rangers

  • Josh Jung is back from the IL
    • Jung comes back to help the Rangers push for the playoffs and hit fifth in the lineup upon returning
    • If Jung was dropped anywhere, he should be picked up and has excellent power
    • With Jung returning, Josh Smith has lost his playing time
  • Robbie Grossman has been incredible since regaining a starting role
    • Grossman is up to sixth in the lineup thanks to his strong play
    • He is batting over .300 with two home runs since the start of September
    • Adolis Garcia is back and it will be interesting to see if him or Evan Carter wind up moving to the bench
  • Speaking of Carter, he is playing well since his promotion
    • Although he is striking out over 30% of the time, he is walking over 20%
    • He has one home run and two stolen bases already proving he is capable of being fantasy relevant
    • If he maintains a starting lineup spot, he should be added where available

Oakland Athletics

  • Tyler Soderstrom has been getting more starts over the past week
    • Soderstrom has struggled in his first season in the Major Leagues with the biggest issue being a high strikeout rate
    • The other primary issue for fantasy managers he has only played ten games at catcher in the Major Leagues. The team appears to prefer Shea Langeliers as the catcher of their future
    • Brent Rooker has been losing playing time as a result of Soderstrom entering the lineup
  • Tony Kemp is back in the leadoff spot on a regular basis
    • After spending some time batting in the back half of the lineup, Kemp has moved back up recently
    • He is batting under .150 since September 4, so there is really no reason to roster him or for the Athletics to be playing him
    • If somebody were to see more playing time, it would likely be Esteury Ruiz

Seattle Mariners

  • Jarred Kelenic is back from the IL
    • Since returning to the lineup, Kelenic has been batting sixth or seventh most games
    • The biggest thing to monitor with Kelenic is always his strikeout rate. He has shown flashes of brilliance, but has also been unrosterable at times
    • With Kelenic back, Dominic Canzone has lost his starting lineup spot
  • Mike Ford is getting most of the playing time at DH
    • Ford is still sitting against lefties, but appears to have the edge over players like Canzone, Sam Haggerty, and Dylan Moore
    • Ford has 16 home runs in just 78 games played, but contributes very little to other fantasy categories
    • He is not worth rostering outside of AL-only leagues

AL Central

Detroit Tigers

  • Matt Vierling has moved up to the leadoff spot in the lineup
    • Vierling has switched from primarily playing third base to spending most games in the outfield
    • Since the start of September, his average is over .300 and his wRC+ is above 150
    • If you are looking for a boost to your outfield in deep leagues, Vierling is locked into playing time and could be worth a look
  • Jake Rogers has been moving up in the lineup lately
    • Rogers has been an underrated fantasy asset for most of the second half and has continued to swing it well lately
    • He has four home runs since the start of September and has been seeing time batting fourth or fifth lately
    • If you need help at catcher, you can probably still pick him up
  • Akil Baddoo has seen his playing time decrease
    • With Vierling moving to the outfield, Baddoo has been taken out of the lineup in favor of Tyler Nevin
    • Nevin has been playing well over the past week, but has not shown anything to make me think this level of success is sustainable
    • Neither player is worth rostering in fantasy leagues

Kansas City Royals

  • Freddy Fermin will miss the remainder of the 2023 season
    • At times, Fermin showed flashes of being a legitimate fantasy option at catcher and is a name to remember for 2024
    • In addition to Fermin landing on the IL, Salvador Perez is also on the IL with a concussion
    • With both catchers out, the team called up Logan Porter who appears likely to get most of the playing time at catcher. He is batting toward the bottom of the lineup since being promoted
    • Although his Minor League numbers have never jumped off the page, he has posted some strong underlying metrics in Triple-A this season which could make him an intriguing asset in AL-only leagues
  • Nelson Velasquez has taken over the primary DH duties
    • With Perez and Fermin out, that creates two open lineup spots and Velasquez is the primary beneficiary
    • Velasquez has 14 home runs in just 44 games with the Royals although he is also batting under .240
    • If you are looking for power and consistent at-bats, Velasquez is your guy. However, you should not expect much contribution to your batting average or stolen base totals
  • Michael Massey is swinging it well again
    • He has hit three home runs since September 12 and has pu tup very strong numbers since the start of September
    • Massey’s quality of contact continues to be conflicting. He has very poor exit velocity numbers, but very strong barrel rates
    • If you are looking for a power boost at second base, Massey could be your guy

Chicago White Sox

  • Elvis Andrus is getting consistent playing time toward the bottom of the lineup
    • Andrus has taken the second base job away from Lenyn Sosa who has been unable to put anything together at the Major League level
    • He is batting over .350 since September 5 although he is not hitting for any power or providing stolen bases
    • His success comes with an unsustainably high BABIP that is likely to come down and he is not somebody worth rostering
  • Oscar Colas was sent back to Triple-A
    • Although Colas struggled at the Major League level this year, the move is still surprising being that Chicago is out of contention
    • Gavin Sheets has taken over the everyday role in the outfield batting seventh most games
    • Sheets is still struggling at the plate and is not worth rostering even with consistent playing time

Minnesota Twins

  • Carlos Correa is still dealing with Plantar Fasciitis issues
    • Correa was forced to miss the game on Tuesday after being scratched from the lineup on Monday
    • It remains to be seen if this injury is going to keep Correa sidelined for an extended period of time
    • If he is forced to miss time, Kyle Farmer is likely to see his playing time increase
  • Michael Taylor is back from the IL
    • Taylor returned to the bottom of the lineup on Monday, but it remains to be seen how often he is going to play
    • The team likes Willi Castro a lot in the outfield as well and the two players could split time
    • Castro has plenty of speed, but outside of that neither player has much fantasy upside
  • Royce Lewis has been awesome lately
    • Lewis was great before getting injured earlier this season and looks great once again
    • He is hitting grand slams left and right while being an elite fantasy asset
    • Since returning on August 15, Lewis has 11 home runs, five home runs, and a .294 batting average
    • Lewis was removed from the game on Tuesday with hamstring tightness. This situation is worth monitoring to see if Lewis is going to miss extended time

Cleveland Guardians

  • Josh Naylor has been really good since coming off of the IL
    • Naylor is batting well over .300 while managing to improve both his strikeout and and walk rates
    • The home runs have not started coming again (mostly due to a high ground ball rate), but he looks excellent everywhere else
    • He is likely to be an underrated fantasy asset once again in 2024
  • Bo Naylor is striking out a lot less since the start of September
    • Naylor’s biggest issue in his Major League career has been a high strikeout rate
    • Since September 1, Naylor has more walks than strikeouts with an average over .300
    • Despite batting toward the bottom of the lineup, he looks like a strong fantasy asset in leagues where 16+ catchers are rostered
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