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The Home Stretch: Notes on AL Lineups

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: Adam Duvall, Julio Rodriguez, Anthony Santander, Luis Rengifo, and Max Kepler. 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 has looked like the generational talent many hoped for when he signed
    • Dominguez was promoted on September 1 and all he did was take Justin Verlander deep for his first Major League home run
    • He is batting third in the lineup and is already up to four home runs
    • The sample size is small, but his quality of contact has been tremendous and the only sign of caution is a high swing rate. He should be rostered in all 12+ team leagues
  • Austin Wells was also promoted from Triple-A at the beginning of September
    • Wells has been batting sixth or seventh in the lineup and getting the majority of starts at catcher
    • He has not gotten off to the same kind of start as Dominguez although there is tons of potential in his bat
    • The average is unlikely to be particularly good but if you are looking for power at catcher, Wells has plenty of it
    • Ben Rortvedt and Kyle Higashioka have both seen their playing time decrease as a result of Wells’ promotion
  • Oswald Peraza has put together a nice week from the bottom of the Yankees’ lineup
    • The Yankees are giving Peraza a chance to end 2023 and he has two three-hit performances since the start of September
    • He does not have a home run this year and is 0/2 on the base paths since his most recent promotion
    • Despite strong Triple-A numbers, there does not seem to be a lot of upside here which is why I am not targeting him on my fantasy teams

Boston Red Sox

  • Ceddanne Rafaela has remained with the Red Sox despite limited room for playing time
    • Rafaela has seen starts in both the outfield and at shortstop since being promoted but is not drawing enough starts to warrant fantasy attention
    • Another prospect, Wilyer Abreu has been in a similar situation since returning from the Paternity List
    • Abreu has been starting some over the past week due to Alex Verdugo being a bit banged up but is not worth rostering at this point
  • Enmanuel Valdez is back up from Triple-A
    • Valdez is getting a majority of the playing time at second base and batting eighth in the lineup
    • On the season, Valdez’s barrel rate sits above ten percent. There is sneaky pop and speed to his profile and he might be worth taking a look at if you are desperate for help at second base
  • Triston Casas continues to move up in the lineup
    • Casas is now up to fourth and continues to look like one of the best first basemen in baseball
    • He is now up to 14 home runs since the All-Star Break with an average well above .300
    • He is doing it all at the plate and profiles as an elite four-category contributor for years to come as long as Boston lets him start facing more left-handed starters

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Taylor Walls is back from the IL
    • Walls has returned to the back half of the lineup and has taken over the primary shortstop responsibilities with Wander Franco out
    • There is not much offense in Walls’ profile as his wRC+ since the start of July is over 25% below the league average
    • His return to the lineup moves Osleivis Basabe into a bench role. He is not worth rostering if you had picked him up before
  • Josh Lowe continues to bat in the middle of the lineup
    • Lowe has been batting between third and fifth while putting together a strong stretch of performances lately
    • He is drawing close to a 20/30 season and has managed to keep his strikeout rate at a reasonable number lately
  • Jose Siri has been out of the lineup twice against righties in the past week
    • Siri had been playing nearly every day in center field recently but appears to be losing playing time to Harold Ramirez
    • Luke Raley has been drawing more starts in center as the team appears to favor the offensive combination of Raley and Ramirez over Siri’s defense
    • Siri is batting well under .200 since August 24 and is a fine drop at this point
  • Isaac Paredes left the game on Saturday with a wrist injury
    • It remains to be seen how serious this injury is
    • If Paredes is forced to miss extended time, the team could promote Curtis Mead from Triple-A to replace him in the lineup

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Danny Jansen is on the IL again and will miss the remainder of the regular season
    • With Jansen out, the primary catcher role moves to Alejandro Kirk
    • Kirk has been a major disappointment for much of the season but has looked much better at the plate recently
    • His average since August 25 sits well above .300 with as many walks as strikeouts
    • The home runs have still not come (zero since July 29), but he is hitting the ball hard with much-improved launch angles. He should see some big-time positive regression in the home run totals down the stretch run
  • Davis Schneider has been batting second or fourth in the lineup since taking over for the injured Matt Chapman
    • Schneider continues to be excellent since his promotion batting for both average and power with multi-positional eligibility
    • Although both the BABIP and current home run rate are unsustainable, he still has plenty of encouraging factors in his profile
    • The barrel and walk rates are incredible and he should be rostered even if he is due for some serious regression
  • Ernie Clement is playing well as the everyday shortstop in place of Bo Bichette
    • Clement is batting toward the bottom of Toronto’s lineup and his success has been a pretty big surprise
    • The BABIP is unrealistically high and he does not hit the ball very hard to generate enough relevant power
    • I would leave Clement on the waiver wire despite his hot start

Baltimore Orioles

  • Cedric Mullins is losing playing time against lefties
    • Mullins is batting just .232 against lefties this season and has been out of the lineup against all three left-handed starters in the past week
    • Despite the poor performance and injuries, Mullins is still on pace for 15 home runs and 20 steals. He just is not a locked-in starter like many had hoped entering the season
    • Aaron Hicks is getting more playing time against lefties batting in the back half of the lineup
  • Austin Hays continues to put up impressive numbers at the plate
    • Hays, who moves up in the lineup against lefties, is pulling his average up closer to .300 lately
    • He is not going to blow you away with his production in other categories, but he is a reliable source of average and not a drain to any other area
    • He has an ISO over .250 since August 18 and is an underrated fantasy asset, especially in points league formats

AL West

Houston Astros

  • Michael Brantley is back from the IL and factoring into the playing time situation
    • Brantley is playing against most righties batting in the back half of the lineup
    • He already has two home runs and is playing well showing the same contact skills he has throughout his career
    • The playing time limits his fantasy upside but he is worth a look in deep leagues with daily lineups
  • Mauricio Dubon has been playing every day this past week
    • Dubon has primarily been playing center field rotating in for Chas McCormick and Brantley
    • He has been playing well even showing off some pop with a two home run game on September 4
    • The power is not something that is likely to continue and I am not entirely sure why McCormick is seeing more time on the bench as he continues to swing it extremely well at the plate
    • This is something to keep an eye on
  • Yainer Diaz is losing playing time
    • With the outfield getting incredibly crowded, the team has been using Yordan Alvarez almost exclusively as the DH
    • Diaz is not as good defensively as Martin Maldonado and is unlikely to get consistent at-bats without an injury
    • He is a great hold/target in keeper leagues but might not be the best player to roster for the fantasy playoffs

Los Angeles Angels

  • Shohei Ohtani has been dealing with an oblique injury
    • The injuries keep piling up for Ohtani and the Angels although this is not expected to keep Ohtani sidelined for long
    • If he is forced to miss extended time, I would expect Trey Cabbage to see the largest playing time increase
  • Kyren Paris is up from the Minor Leagues
    • Paris has some of the best raw tools in the game but has struggled to limit the strikeouts and put up consistent numbers in his professional career
    • He is batting at the bottom of the Angels’ lineup as the starting shortstop
    • He already has three stolen bases showing off his fantasy upside. He is not my favorite target but has the upside to take a shot on if you are desperate
  • Luis Rengifo left the game on Thursday with a strained bicep
    • Rengifo has been one of the few bright spots for the Angels during the second half and was batting in the middle of the lineup most nights
    • Rengifo has been primarily playing the outfield recently making it likely either Cabbage or potentially even Brett Phillips could see additional playing time
    • No replacement is worth picking up

Texas Rangers

  • Adolis Garcia is now on the IL
    • An unfortunate injury right as the fantasy playoffs have gotten underway, but you might not have to look far for a replacement
    • Top prospect Evan Carter is being promoted and should step into an everyday role with Garcia out
    • Carter has posted very strong numbers in the Minor Leagues this season and features excellent speed and enough raw power to be a strong fantasy asset
    • If you lost Garcia, I would look to replace him with Carter
  • Robbie Grossman is back in a starting role
    • Grossman has taken over left field and has been batting sixth or seventh in the lineup
    • The move to Grossman does not make a ton of sense as he has not been doing anything at the plate to earn more playing time. He is not worth adding
    • Travis Jankowski has lost his starting spot as a result of this move
    • Grossman figures to share playing time moving forward as opposed to earning an extended leash as the starter
  • Josh Smith is getting run as the team’s third baseman
    • With Josh Jung still on the IL, the team has moved Ezequiel Duran out of a starting role
    • The offensive results with Smith have been worse than they have been recently with Duran and I do not expect this move to last
    • Neither player is worth rostering in the current platoon situation

Oakland Athletics

  • Jordan Diaz is moving up in the lineup with consistent playing time
    • The Athletics cannot figure out if they want to give Diaz a chance or not, but seems he has secured a starting job for now
    • Although the slash line has looked strong recently, Diaz is striking out at an alarming rate while pounding the ball into the ground too frequently
    • His early season improvements have regressed back to his career norms and I am not looking to add him
  • Esteury Ruiz is also back in the lineup on a regular basis
    • The only real reason that Ruiz is seeing his playing time increase is that Lawrence Butler was on the Bereavement list
    • With nothing to play for, Ruiz and his potential should earn more playing time in Oakland although it remains to be seen if that is the case
    • He is only worth rostering if you are desperate for speed and if he maintains his starting job
  • Zack Gelof’s numbers have come back down to earth
    • After his incredible start, Gelof’s unsustainable success has caught back up to him
    • He is batting right around .200 since August 26 and has not hit a home run since August 24
    • He is not a must-roster player in shallow leagues

Seattle Mariners

  • Dominic Canzone is moving up in the lineup
    • Canzone is batting fifth most games and has quietly been swinging the bat very well lately
    • His high fly ball rate will likely prevent him from ever posting high batting averages, but there is plenty of power and he should see some positive regression on his BABIP
    • He is worth a look in deeper leagues if you need outfield help
    • Ty France is moving down in the lineup lately allowing Canzone to move up
  • JP Crawford has continued his excellent season
    • Amongst underrated fantasy assets, Crawford might rank at the top of the list
    • Since returning from the IL on August 21, Crawford has crushed five home runs while walking over 15% of the time
    • He has a 134 wRC+ on the season and is providing great counting stats from the leadoff spot in the lineup
    • He should be rostered everywhere he is still available, but especially points and OBP leagues

AL Central

Detroit Tigers

  • Javier Baez is losing playing time
    • The Tigers are paying Baez a lot of money, but good for them  for benching him and giving some other young players a shot
    • Zack Short is getting a chance to play shortstop more often and batting at the bottom of the lineup
    • Short and Baez are still splitting time making neither one worth rostering
  • Riley Greene is on the IL
    • With Greene out, Parker Meadows has continued to be the everyday center fielder
    • Meadows is hitting the ball hard but is seeing his strikeout rate creep up near 30%
    • He is only worth rostering in AL-only leagues

Kansas City Royals

  • Nick Loftin is getting consistent playing time since being called up from Triple-A
    • Loftin is playing all over the infield batting toward the bottom of the lineup
    • He has shown exceptional on-base skills in the Minor Leagues and is wasting no time doing the same at the Major League level
    • If he can limit the ground balls, he could be a strong fantasy asset and is worth a look, especially in OBP leagues
  • Nelson Velasquez continues to crush home runs
    • Velasquez has hit four since the start of September and is slugging over .600 on the season
    • The strikeout rate is alarming and will likely always lead to hot and cold streaks, but Velasquez could be a major power boost to your fantasy lineups down the stretch
  • Freddy Fermin was placed on the IL with a finger injury
    • Fermin had gone ice cold at the plate and with Loftin playing well, Fermin was already starting to lose playing time
    • There is no reason to hold Fermin through this injury
    • Nick Pratto is back from the IL and will step back into an everyday role with Fermin out and Perez shifting back to catcher
    • Pratto hit ninth in his return to the lineup on Saturday

Chicago White Sox

  • Yoan Moncada is quietly having a strong second half
    • Nobody wants to pay much attention to the White Sox right now, but Moncada has hit safely in 12/13 games batting over .400 during that span
    • He has hit two home runs in the past week and is showing signs of returning to the player we saw back in 2019
    • If you need third base help, Moncada might still be available and could be a huge boost down the stretch
    • Late news: Moncada appears to have injured his knee during the game on Saturday. This situation is worth monitoring as he could be forced to miss extended time
  • Speaking of going unnoticed, Andrew Vaughn is also red-hot at the plate
    • Vaughn has always been viewed as having tons of potential and might be putting it all together
    • Since August 20, his average sits above .300 and his ISO sits above .200
    • He might never post the most prolific home run totals or stats, but he is a strong asset especially in point leagues

Minnesota Twins

  • Willi Castro is back from the IL
    • Castro has been playing the outfield since returning batting toward the bottom of the lineup
    • Until writing this, I honestly had no idea Castro was up to 30 stolen bases this season
    • He is not contributing much in any other category but if you are desperate for speed, he appears to have an everyday role upon returning
    • Michael Taylor landing on the IL is what opened up this additional playing time
  • Royce Lewis looks unstoppable at the plate
    • Lewis is batting third in the lineup and is showing why he is a former first-overall draft pick
    • Despite playing in less than 50 games this year, he is up to 11 home runs on the year
    • He should be an elite fantasy asset for years to come
  • Eduoard Julien is struggling to limit the strikeouts recently
    • Julien is striking out about 40% of the time since August 19 with an average barely above .200
    • His on-base percentage remains strong, but that is about all he is contributing lately
    • He could start to lose playing time or move down in the lineup if his struggles continue
  • Alex Kirilloff is back from the IL
    • Kirlloff appears to be platooning with Donovan Solano since returning
    • He hit sixth in his return to the lineup on Friday and is worth picking up in leagues where he is available

Cleveland Guardians

  • Josh Naylor is back from the IL
    • Naylor is batting third in the lineup rotating between first base and designated hitter
    • He was having a tremendous season before his injury and could be a big boost to fantasy teams down the stretch
    • Oscar Gonzalez was sent back to Triple-A in a corresponding move
  • Gabriel Arias has been playing well with regular playing time
    • Arias is hitting for average and decent power although his BABIP is unsustainable and there are major red flags in his plate discipline
    • There is plenty of potential in his bat (as evidenced by his phenomenal quality of contact lately), I just am not ready to buy in yet
    • He could be a nice sleeper pick heading into 2024
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