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Fantasy Baseball Lineup Analysis: AL 05/18

American League lineup analysis is back again this week. The news and notes have not slowed down as there is plenty for fantasy baseball managers to catch up on from the past week. This article provides all the relevant lineup information you need in one place. The five hottest hitters in the AL over the past week have been Jarren Duran, Aaron Judge, Rafael Devers, Jake Meyers, and Joey Loperfido. Keep reading for the latest news and notes from all 15 teams.

Please note that this article was written the day before publication. I will do my best to update the article with any relevant information from the previous night’s games.

Fantasy Baseball Lineup Takeaways

AL East

New York Yankees

  • Oswaldo Cabrera is losing playing time
    • Cabrera’s hot start was always bound to come down, but the interesting part is that he has actually been playing well as of late
    • He is batting right around .300 since the start of May and should continue to find his way into the lineup as the season moves along
    • Jon Berti is the one seeing more playing time although he is not worth rostering
    • Worth noting is Oswald Peraza is continuing to rehab in the Minor Leagues. Peraza was the favorite to open as the everyday third baseman prior to his injury
  • Anthony Volpe has gotten hot again
    • Volpe continues to bat leadoff in the Yankees’ lineup
    • He has three homers and two stolen bases since May 7 and continues to make much more contact than he did last season
    • The batted ball data is underwhelming, but playing in Yankee Stadium should sustain his current production
    • I am still buying Volpe in most settings

Boston Red Sox

  • Connor Wong is batting third when playing
    • Wong is not in the lineup every day but he is the team’s primary catcher and batting in the middle of the order
    • He continues to hit for an excellent average although he is due for some regression in his BABIP
    • Wong is a fine option in two-catcher formats but should not be relied on heavily by fantasy managers
  • Vaughn Grissom is off to a slow start
    • Grissom’s season was delayed due to injury but he has failed to make an impact since returning
    • He has yet to hit a homer or steal a base while his average exit velocity sits below 85 mph
    • Since showing flashes with the Braves in 2022, Grissom has been underwhelming offensively and is not worth holding onto

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Jonathan Aranda is back from the IL
    • Aranda has rejoined the team for the first time all season and has been inserted right into the cleanup spot of the lineup
    • In a few different Major League stints, Aranda has failed to live up to the production he has posted in the Minor Leagues. The team appears willing to give him an extended chance this season, but this could be his last opportunity
    • With Aranda getting regular playing time against righties, Amed Rosario has seen his playing time decrease
    • Rosario is likely a short-side platoon option at this point and is not worth rostering
  • The team is rolling with Richie Palacios over Jonny DeLuca
    • This is likely another platoon situation as Palacios, the lefty, is going to see the majority of starts
    • Palacios has been playing a lot of second base lately and has three stolen bases since the start of May
    • The rest of his offensive numbers have been poor lately and the team could start giving DeLuca more playing time and move Aranda to second base
    • Another wrinkle is the impending return of Brandon Lowe who is rehabbing with Triple-A this week
    • Once Lowe returns, both DeLuca and Palacios could be on the outside looking in
  • Josh Lowe has been excellent since returning
    • Batting second in the lineup, Lowe already has two home runs and profiles to be an excellent option for fantasy baseball managers
    • The sample size is small, but he is showing considerable improvements to his chase and whiff rate from last season which could take his game to the next level
    • If he can limit the strikeouts, he has a chance to be a five-category contributor and should earn more playing time against lefties

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Many on the team have been battling sickness
    • The bug started with Kevin Kiermaier and George Springer and made its way to Justin Turner last Sunday
    • Springer and Kiermaier have already returned to the lineup and this is not expected to cause any long-term issues
    • Ernie Clement has seen the most additional playing time with this bug
  • Bo Bichette has started to figure things out
    • Bichette has three multi-hit games since May 10 which is a welcomed sight for fantasy managers
    • Some positive regression was always due for Bichette who has been one of the premier shortstops the past several seasons
    • However, under the hood, there is still plenty to be concerned about (poor launch angle, decreasing barrel rate, and an over-aggressive approach). This could be redraft manager’s chance to sell Bichette for a solid return
  • Vladdy is also red hot
    • Guerrero was another player who got off to a slow start but is heating up in a big way
    • He still has just one home run since the start of May but is hitting for excellent average
    • If Guerrero ever starts getting the ball in the air more, he is going to hit 40 home runs. Fantasy managers should remember that Vladdy is still just 25

Baltimore Orioles

  • The team sent Heston Kjerstad back to Triple-A
    • Kjerstad was not getting enough playing time to justify keeping him on the Major League roster
    • The team instead opted to promote Kyle Stowers to fill that bench role and give Kjerstad regular at-bats in Triple-A
    • Kjerstad is likely reliant on an injury or trade to ever see regular playing time
  • Jordan Westburg moved up in the lineup against a lefty
    • Westburg has been phenomenal for Baltimore this season and is now getting a chance to bat at the top of the order sometimes
    • He has seven home runs, five stolen bases, and an average exit velocity of over 92 mph
    • His line drive rate makes it realistic for him to continue running high BABIPs. He is one of the most underrated dynasty assets in baseball and a great building block for fantasy teams
  • Go buy Colton Cowser during this slump
    • The Orioles are still making it a point to get Cowser into the lineup every day despite his recent struggles
    • Cowser continues to hit the ball extremely hard with strong pull rates. His BABIP sits down below .220 since the start of May
    • His luck is going to improve and he is much cheaper now than he will be once it does

AL West

Houston Astros

  • Jake Meyers is getting more playing time again
    • After opening the season as the team’s starting center fielder, Meyers found himself on the bench more often lately
    • He is still not in the lineup every day but is getting the bulk of playing time
    • Meyers is hitting the ball harder than ever and pulling it more this season. There is untapped fantasy potential here that makes him worth keeping an eye on
    • Mauricio Dubon has seen his playing time decrease lately and is not worth rostering
  • Joey Loperfido got his first Major League home run on Thursday
    • Loperfido has been a solid producer offensively since being promoted and batting at the bottom of Houston’s lineup
    • The concern is that his BABIP is going to see some serious regression and he is still striking out a ton
    • He is a sell-high option for me in dynasty leagues
  • Jeremy Pena is a sell-high for me
    • Pena is batting fifth in most games for the Astros and has been one of their best hitters so far this season
    • The issues is an incredibly high BABIP with no noticeable differences in his profile
    • Once the BABIP comes down, his 37.5% chase rate will become more costly. Fantasy managers should be selling high while they can

Los Angeles Angels

  • Luis Rengifo is back from the IL
    • Rengifo was on the IL with an illness and should not have any problem getting back into things for the Angels
    • His return to the lineup likely will take playing time away from both Luis Guillorme and Kyren Paris. Rengifo should be added in all leagues he was dropped
    • Paris has far more upside for fantasy managers but has failed to limit the strikeouts throughout his professional career. He is not worth stashing or holding onto at this point
  • Kevin Pillar is getting regular playing time
    • Leave it to the Angels to get Pillar into the lineup over Mickey Moniak or other young players
    • Pillar is batting fifth most games and surprisingly has three home runs since joining the Angels
    • Pillar has not shown this kind of production since 2019 and there is nothing in his profile that suggests this is sustainable. He is not worth adding anywhere
  • Willie Calhoun is quietly a valuable asset
    • The glaring issue is that he has yet to barrel up a ball, but his hit tool looks fantastic
    • He is running high line drive rates with excellent contact skills
    • The raw exit velocities are there if he can ever figure out how to get the barrel to the ball. He is worth an add in deep/dynasty leagues to see if this sticks

Texas Rangers

  • Evan Carter has been dealing with a back injury
    • The injury kept Carter out of the lineup Saturday-Wednesday as he received cortisone shots to get him healthy
    • Carter’s 2024 season has been a bit of a struggle and perhaps his back injury is the explanation. He has not hit a home run since April 27 indicating this could be a larger issue
    • If Carter is forced to miss any more extended time, Ezequiel Duran is most likely to see additional playing time
  • Marcus Semien is running less this season
    • Semien has attempted just one stolen base so far this year which is something for fantasy managers to keep in mind
    • At 33 years old, Semien wants to ensure he stays healthy for a full season which might mean running less. He attempted 33 steals in 2022, 17 last season, and is continuing to trend in the wrong direction
    • He is still an excellent fantasy asset, but managers should not count on more than 10 steals this season

Oakland Athletics

  • Zack Gelof is back from the IL
    • Gelof returned on Tuesday and has been batting fifth in Oakland’s lineup
    • Prior to his injury, Gelof had not shown any significant ability to lower his alarming strikeout rate and is batting under .200 on the season
    • He continues to be a player I am not optimistic about his long-term outlook
  • Tyler Soderstrom is getting regular playing time
    • Soderstrom is in the lineup most nights batting fourth or fifth for Oakland
    • He has been swinging the bat well since his promotion with the most optimistic sign being a much-improved launch angle. He is likely to always run high strikeout rates, but elevating the ball will help him produce more game power and home runs
    • With Soderstrom playing more, Tyler Nevin has seen his playing time decrease
  • Brett Harris has sat against two righties in the past week
    • After his Major League career got off to a fast start, things have been a struggle lately
    • Harris is losing playing time to JD Davis and could find himself back in Triple-A
    • Part of the issue is certainly luck as his BABIP sits below .100 but who knows how patient the Athletics will be

Seattle Mariners

  • Jorge Polanco is dealing with a hamstring injury
    • He has not yet been placed on the IL, but that remains a realistic option
    • Polanco has struggled in his first season with Seattle batting under .200 on the season. The only real difference is a slight drop in his barrel rate but besides that, Polanco seems like the same player he was with Minnesota
    • If Polanco is forced to miss extended time, Luis Urias is the most likely to see his playing time increase
  • Luke Raley is stepping up with more playing time
    • The team has handed Raley the strong side of a platoon and his bat is finally coming to life
    • Raley has three home runs since May 5 and is batting well over .300 during that time. He is batting fifth or sixth in the lineup most games
    • Raley has significant thump in his bat (19 homers last season) but a high strikeout rate is likely to lead to plenty of cold streaks during which he could lose playing time
  • Mitch Garver has been dealing with back spasms
    • Garver has missed a few games with the back injury and this is something that could continue to linger
    • He has five home runs this year but is also batting below .200. He does not need to be rostered at this point
    • If Garver is forced to miss extended time, recently activated Dominic Canzone could see the biggest boost in playing time
    • Canzone returned to the lineup on Wednesday and hit seventh

AL Central

Detroit Tigers

  • Gio Urshela is back from the IL
    • Urshela has been batting fifth or sixth in the lineup since returning and playing third base
    • He is not a player fantasy managers should be picking up
    • With Urshela back, Matt Vierling has been shifted into more of a fourth-outfielder role
  • Kerry Carpenter could be breaking out of his platoon
    • Carpenter drew a start against a lefty on Wednesday which could be significant for his fantasy value moving forward
    • Although he is not going to contribute any stolen bases, Carpenter has proven to be a reliable four-category contributor when in the lineup
    • Carpenter runs excellent barrel rates and if the Tigers start giving him playing time against lefties, he should be rostered in 100% of leagues
  • Spencer Torkelson hit his first two home runs of the season this past week
    • Fantasy managers were beginning to panic, but hopefully, these two long balls ease some of the tension
    • The concerns remain though as his barrel rate has stayed significantly lower than it was during last season
    • He is still an okay drop in shallow formats

Kansas City Royals

  • Bobby Witt Jr feels like a forgotten superstar
    • Maybe because he plays in KC, but Witt does not get the attention he deserves
    • He is batting .293 on the season with the highest exit velocity and barrel rate of his career
    • He is up to 15 stolen bases although his HR/FB rate is much lower than it ever has been
    • Witt should start seeing his luck drastically improve in the home run department and is a strong buy anywhere you can get even a slight discount

Chicago White Sox

  • Korey Lee is performing well as the primary catcher
    • Lee is up to four home runs and a batting average of over .300
    • He is maintaining a strong barrel rate providing him with 20 home run potential. Fantasy managers should expect an average closer to .250 though once his BABIP starts to come down
    • He is a strong option in deeper two-catcher formats
  • Gavin Sheets is moving down in the lineup
    • Sheets continues to play regularly but has not hit a home run since April 17 and is batting under .150 since the start of May
    • He owns a career 93 wRC+ which is primarily carried by strong walk rates. He is not somebody fantasy managers should keep on their radars
    • With Sheets moving down in the lineup, Paul DeJong has been batting fourth most games
  • Bryan Ramos is dealing with a quad injury
    • The team has yet to place him on the IL although that remains a possibility
    • With Ramos out of the lineup, Zach Remillard is most likely to see his playing time increase against lefties with Braden Shewmake potentially filling in against righties
    • Neither player is worth rostering

Minnesota Twins

  • Willi Castro is moving up in the lineup
    • Castro has been playing well since stepping into a starting role with Byron Buxton on the IL
    • Although not an elite fantasy asset, he is up to six stolen bases on the season and this move up in the lineup should allow him more RBI opportunities
    • Alex Kirilloff has slid down in the lineup as a result of his recent slump
  • Trevor Larnach is at risk of losing his playing time
    • Larnach’s 2024 season got off to a fast start once he was promoted, but things have been a struggle as of late
    • Since the start of May, Larnach is slashing .211/.250/.289 while striking out 30% of the time
    • The Twins could opt to give Manuel Margot or Austin Martin more playing time although neither one of them has been particularly effective at the plate this season

Cleveland Guardians

  • Tyler Freeman has been batting leadoff for the Guardians most of the week
    • With Steven Kwan out, Freeman has been the one to move up in the lineup
    • Freeman has plus speed but outside of that there is not a whole lot else to like from a fantasy perspective
    • He should see his run totals increase but is still only a viable option in very deep leagues
  • Kyle Manzardo is struggling early on
    • Manzardo’s Major League career has not gotten off to the start many hoped for as he is yet to hit a homer and is striking out far too often
    • He should see his walk rate come up since his chase rate is right around the league-average
    • He is a hold/buy low option in keeper/dynasty leagues. There is a chance he winds up back in Triple-A this season if he does not break out of his slump
  • Brayan Rocchio could start to lose playing time
    • Rocchio has struggled to start the season batting under .220 with zero home runs
    • His seven stolen bases are the only value he provides from a fantasy perspective
    • Gabriel Arias could start to see more playing time. Down the line, Angel Martinez could return and factor into the playing time conversation
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