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NL Lineup Analysis 05/06

Friday means it is time to take a look at the latest news and trends around the National League! Each week this article helps keep you up to date on what you need to know before putting in your FAAB bids on Sunday night. Across the last week the five hottest hitters in the National League have been Rowdy Tellez, Yadiel Hernández, Jesus Aguilar, Tommy Pham, and Kyle Schwarber. Check out the rest of the article below for details on all 15 teams!

MLB Lineup Analysis

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies have started switching up their lineup. Schwarber hit leadoff against both righties. Bohm is hitting second against righties and leadoff against lefties. Rhys Hoskins has moved down to sixth against righties and fourth against lefties. While fantasy managers might initially believe this to be bad news for Hoskins, let’s look at his career stats:

  • Batting Second:.221 career average
  • Hitting Fifth: .300 career average
  • Batting Sixth: .308 career average

Throughout his career, Hoskins has been more comfortable hitting lower in the lineup. There is no reason to be worried about his fantasy value or slow start to the season. This move really speaks volumes about Alec Bohm. He has cemented himself as the Phillies’ everyday third baseman and his fantasy value grows even larger with this move up the lineup.

New York Mets

As I talked about last week, the Mets had to make a big decision to get their roster down to 26 players. This decision ended up being to DFA Robinson Canó. This should open more playing time for both Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis. Smith figures to be on the strong side of that platoon with Davis. Both are players fantasy managers should keep an eye on. Each has been fantasy relevant in the past and could reclaim that status if given consistent at-bats.

Starling Marte has found himself hitting in the bottom third of the lineup lately. He has struggled to hit the ball hard and get on base with any sort of consistency. Marte is going to provide stolen bases for your team, but I wonder about his value in other categories. He will be scoring fewer runs if this move down in the lineup is permanent. Marte moving down means McNeil has been moved up. This helps his value, but I am still skeptical of the early power numbers.

Atlanta Braves

Travis Demeritte is being given the first chance to take over the everyday role while Eddie Rosario is out. He has started all but one game (which he missed with injury) and is hitting .303/.368/.545 so far. The slash line is strong, but I am concerned about his ability to make contact. Right now, Demeritte has posted a whiff rate of 35.9%. His contact rates in the zone are way below league average which makes me think this level of production is unsustainable. I would expect the strikeouts to increase and the walks and average to decrease. He is still somebody that might be a boost to your team if you need OF help, but I would not rely on him to be an above-average option.

Ronald Acuna Jr. is batting leadoff now that he is back. This moves Ozzie Albies down to fifth in the lineup. The only change in fantasy value will likely be less runs and more RBIs for Albies. He still ranks as one of the top options at 2B.

Washington Nationals

A battle I have been watching since the beginning seems to be over. Yadiel Hernández seems to have secured the third outfield job away from Lane Thomas. Hernández is making much more contact than he has at any point in his career. However, Hernández has posted a .458 BABIP up to his point which is sure to come down. Even with Hernández being hot I would not be using a lot of FAAB to pick up a 34-year-old outfielder.

Alcides Escobar has picked it up at the plate recently with multiple hits in three games over the past week. However, Escobar is still hitting just .194 while Luis Garcia is absolutely dominating AAA. Garcia has already hit five home runs and is hitting .344. Garcia is the better option both short-term and long term for the Nationals and it is only a matter of time before they promote him. I would be targeting Garcia in deeper leagues as somebody who could help your team once he is promoted.

Miami Marlins

Joey Wendle and Jazz Chisholm both missed a couple of games over the past week. They have since returned to the lineup. The Marlins also saw multiple bats that they are relying on come to life over the past week. Jorge Soler and Jesus Aguilar have shown signs of life. Fantasy managers are thrilled to get some production out of Soler after the slow start. Although he hit just .182 he has hit two home runs which is why fantasy managers drafted him. During the offseason, Soler is somebody that I talked about having true breakout potential. I do not see that anymore as he has reverted to his old swing tendencies, but the power is undeniable. Soler should continue to hit home runs for Miami.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs

Alfonso Rivas is the hot name in Chicago right now. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Rivas has been batting leadoff against righties and producing. Rivas has hit for solid average at every level in the minors although he has never hit more than nine home runs in a season. Rivas’ ability to make contact has been impressive. He has an in-zone contact percentage of 94.7%. His whiff and chase percentages are both better than league average which should lead to fewer strikeouts in the future. Fantasy managers should not expect Rivas to continue hitting for such a high average. He profiles to have below-average power and currently has a .471 BABIP. Rivas is likely not worth picking up in any leagues.

Seiya Suzuki has come back to earth this week enduring an 0/20 stretch. This is the first slump of Suzuki’s major league career. He has been so good and so talented. Suzuki should break out of this slump soon and continue his excellent rookie year.

Milwaukee Brewers

Luis Urías returning to the lineup is the only notable change. He figures to play third base every day. Keston Hiura is still only playing against lefties while Rowdy Tellez has seen an increase in his at-bats playing against both lefties and righties. Tellez has continued his strong start with another great week, hitting four home runs and batting .444. Tellez needs to be rostered in more leagues as he is a serious threat to hit .270 with 30 HRs.

Andrew McCutchen continues to struggle at the plate. He has hit .217 over the past week and the Brewers are going to have to start considering moving him down in the lineup. Tyrone Taylor will be the first in line to get a chance to steal some at-bats if McCutchen continues struggling. Although Taylor has not performed well up to this point, his at-bats have been inconsistent and the Brewers might look to give him a chance to earn more.

St. Louis Cardinals

The biggest news out of St. Louis is the call-up of Juan Yepez. I wrote about Yepez a couple of times this offseason when I thought he would win the DH job before Albert Pujols. Yepez has a chance to be an excellent hitter. His first start came in RF against a lefty. I am curious if Dylan Carlson moves into a platoon with Yepez. Carlson has been horrible to start the year and he might be losing his grip on an everyday role. Yepez could play for Carlson against lefties and then shift to DH against righties. Corey Dickerson has done nothing to deserve at-bats this year. Yepez could quickly gain outfield eligibility and be an instant boost to your fantasy team. He is somebody I am picking up in deeper leagues and somebody to monitor in smaller ones.

Cincinnati Reds

Jonathan India has returned to the Injured List. Unfortunately, this will likely be a longer stay as he seems to have come off the IL too quickly last time. Tyler Stephenson returned from his concussion on Tuesday. He should slot right back into the middle of the Reds lineup. With Aristides Aquino being DFA’d, Tyler Naquin is now playing every day. He still cannot hit lefties and has struggled over the past week even against right-handed pitchers. He does not hold much value in any format.

I have been consistent in urging fantasy managers to give Tommy Pham some time to get going and he finally has. Over the past week, Pham is hitting .444/.524/.778 and has been the Reds’ best hitter. Pham is probably the only fantasy-relevant player in Cincinnati. Joey Votto is still rostered in 89% of Fantrax leagues. That number needs to be lower. If you are holding onto Votto hoping for a glimpse of the past, I would look at other options. Rowdy Tellez, Trey Mancini, and Garrett Cooper are all better options that are more widely available than Votto.

Pittsburgh Pirates

In a surprising twist, Josh VanMeter has started all four games for Pittsburgh so far this week. He has not performed well, going just 2/18 at the plate. Michael Chavis and Diego Castillo have both only started twice this week. For some reason, the Pirates are favoring VanMeter which diminishes any deep league value either other player had.

Ben Gamel has been hot at the plate and has moved up to the leadoff spot for a couple of games. Even if Gamel continues to hit at the top of the order, the lineup behind him is not strong enough for this to be fantasy relevant. Oneil Cruz has continued to struggle in AAA. He has gone hitless over his past 16 at-bats and is giving no reason for the Pirates to call him up. He is droppable in redraft leagues at this point.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Jordan Luplow has suddenly entered the equation. He has been hitting second for Arizona as they continue to keep Ketel Marte toward the bottom of the lineup on most nights. Even hitting second and playing most days, Luplow has very little fantasy value. Christian Walker has struggled some but has been hitting fourth. On Tuesday, I published an article with my xwRC+ model. Christian Walker would have been the fourth buy-low player I discussed. He has been unlucky this year. He is hitting the ball and showing solid plate discipline. In deeper leagues, he is worth a flier as he continues to hit in the middle of the lineup. He has also already hit six home runs.

Nick Ahmed was hot when he returned from the IL, but he has cooled off over the past week. Since last Friday, he is hitting .200 and striking out over 46% of the time. He has no value in fantasy. Ketel Marte should find himself hitting toward the top of the lineup again soon. He has started to heat up a little bit over the past week and is the most talented hitter in that lineup.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Not much has changed in the Dodgers’ lineup over the past week. Everything is fairly consistent except for Will Smith moving up from sixth to fourth. Max Muncy and Justin Turner both have struggled and are starting to slide down in the lineup. Muncy concerns me for this year because of the injury he had in the offseason. I wonder if that is still bothering him and something that he is struggling to overcome. I fear that the writing is on the wall for Justin Turner. Many advocated for Turner being a steal due to his track record of elite fantasy production. However, this year he looks unable to hit the fastball and all his contact rates have decreased. This might be the end for Turner and getting out now might not be a bad idea.

Chris Taylor has a .444 BABIP. He is striking out more, whiffing way more, but somehow seeing better results than ever. I would be selling high on Taylor as his BABIP rate and strikeout tendencies this season are cause for concern.

San Diego Padres

Ha-Seong Kim has taken over as the everyday SS for San Diego. He has played every game this week and is just the better player over Abrams at this point. The Padres continue to carry Abrams on their roster despite him starting just twice over the past week. With inconsistent at-bats, Abrams has no value in redraft leagues.

With the Padres facing all righties and Wil Myers on the IL, Matt Beaty has gotten an opportunity to play more. He has not been productive and is not worth adding. Trent Grisham has shown some improvements at the plate recently. Over the past week, he has an average exit velocity of over 90mph compared to his 84.7mph average over the first month. Grisham needs to show he can consistently hit the ball harder than he has if he is going to be fantasy relevant.

Colorado Rockies

There have not been any notable changes to the Rockies lineup. With Kris Bryant on the IL, Randal Grichuk has settled into the third spot in their lineup. Grichuk has been a solid fantasy player who should see home runs start piling up. Ryan McMahon has not had the best start to 2022, but he is an excellent buy low candidate. At this point, McMahon would set career highs in exit velocity, sweet spot percentage, barrel percentage, whiff rate, and chase rate. All of this while pulling the ball more which should result in more home runs. McMahon has slashed just .247/.351/.420 and fantasy managers might be frustrated with the lack of production. Over the past week, he has a 132 wRC+ and could be on the verge of a breakout. Buy McMahon now!

San Francisco Giants

The Giants have started to get some of their injured/sick players back this week. Both Joc Pederson and Mike Yastrzemski returned to the lineup on Wednesday. Brandon Belt and Steven Duggar remain injured. Darin Ruf has continued to hit either second or third despite his slow start. He has been a little bit better over the past week, but still not very good. I think he will start losing playing time when LaMonte Wade Jr. comes back which should be any day now. Gabe Kapler loves to use platoons and a Wade/Ruf platoon makes too much sense. Wade is a good target in deeper leagues.

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