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Fantasy Baseball Lineup Analysis: AL 06/15

This is the longest I have ever gone in-season without writing an article. Wedding, honeymoon, and a chance to decompress has me ready to grind for these next 3.5 months. For my first article back, I will be breaking down notable news and changes from American League lineups. The five hottest hitters in the AL over the past two weeks have been Aaron Judge, Steven Kwan, Yordan Alvarez, Juan Soto, and Andrew Vaughn. Keep reading for the latest news and notes from all 15 American League 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

  • DJ LeMahieu is batting toward the bottom of the lineup
    • LeMahieu has been getting fairly regular playing time since returning from the IL primarily playing third base
    • With LeMahieu back, Oswaldo Cabrera has moved into more of a bench role. He is not worth holding onto in fantasy formats
    • LeMahieu is looking like the same player as last year with poor exit velocities and launch angles. He could lose his starting spot if his struggles continue
  • Thankfully, Juan Soto avoided a major injury
    • Soto’s injury scare was ruled as inflammation and he quickly returned to the Yankees’ lineup on Monday
    • While Soto was out, Trent Grisham saw his playing time increase although the real candidate to fill in would likely be Jasson Dominguez
    • The Yankees returned Dominguez from his rehab assignment and optioned him to Triple-A likely due to the lack of available playing time currently that would be afforded to him
    • He is worth stashing in leagues where you can eat a bench spot in case one of the current Yankees’ players get injured
  • The Yankees are giving some of their big names extra rest
    • Both Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo have been out of the lineup twice in the past week
    • This is likely an attempt by the team to keep both players healthy as the season moves along, but it’s something for fantasy managers to monitor
    • While Stanton’s lineup spot is safe, Rizzo’s 2024 season has been a bit of a struggle with an 82 wRC+
    • Trent Grisham is finding his way into the lineup more but is not worth adding in any fantasy format

Boston Red Sox

  • Masataka Yoshida is back from the IL
    • Yoshida returned to the lineup on Tuesday and has been batting fifth against right-handed pitchers
    • With Yoshida back, Rob Refsnyder is the most likely to lose playing time
    • Refsnyder is still likely to enter the lineup for Yoshida against left-handed pitching
    • Yoshida’s second season has looked a lot like his first. High contact rates but mediocre quality of contact metrics that cap his fantasy value
  • David Hamilton is moving up in the lineup
    • Hamilton has cemented himself as the team’s primary shortstop for the time being and his recent hot stretch has him batting second in the order
    • Hamilton is now up to four home runs and is slashing .333/.351/.611 since the start of June
    • Although Hamilton is unlikely to see his average stick as high as it is, he has elite speed that should continue providing great stolen base numbers
  • Tyler O’Neill is heating back up
    • O’Neill has continued to battle injuries in 2024, but might finally be healthy again
    • He has three multi-hit games in his last four full games including a home run which is a welcome sight for fantasy managers
    • He is batting third in the lineup for Boston and should be a reliable fantasy option when healthy

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Taylor Walls is back from the IL
    • Walls has been on the IL since the start of the season but is now back in the lineup
    • He is not playing every day but is still serving as the team’s primary shortstop batting toward the bottom of the lineup
    • Walls offers very little upside from a fantasy perspective and is not worth adding
    • His return has pushed Jose Caballero into more of a utility role
  • Harold Ramirez was DFA’d
    • The removal of Ramirez from the roster has opened up more spots in the lineup for other players
    • Richie Palacios is the one seeing the largest bump in playing time playing second base and outfield while Brandon Lowe is serving as the DH
    • Palacios is batting sixth or seventh in the lineup
  • Brandon Lowe could be ready to go on one of his hot streaks
    • Lowe’s playing time has not been the most consistent this season but he is now locked into the second spot in Tampa’s lineup and even starting against lefties
    • His underlying numbers look as strong as ever with a great barrel rate, excellent line drive rate, and even better contact numbers
    • If Lowe is available on your waiver wire, go get him now. He is slashing .256/.310/.436 since the start of June

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Spencer Horwitz is playing every day and batting at the top of the lineup
    • The Blue Jays decided to DFA Cavan Biggio to open up a roster spot for Horwitz and are giving him an extended chance to prove himself
    • Despite primarily playing first base or outfield in the Minor Leagues, Horwitz has surprisingly been playing second base which provides a bit more fantasy intrigue
    • He has excellent contact skills and plate discipline making him an intriguing option in OBP leagues. There is not a ton of power here, but he is still worth a look if you need help at second base
  • Justin Turner is losing playing time
    • Turner has been on the bench against three of the past five right-handed pitchers as the Jays look for an offensive spark
    • Turner’s average is down to .232 and is batting under .180 since May 10
    • At this point, Turner is not worth rostering in any fantasy format
    • The team announced on Friday that Daniel Vogelbach was DFA’d and Addison Barger was promoted from Triple-A. Barger could eat into more of Turner’s playing time
  • Danny Jansen is moving up in the lineup
    • In each of his last two starts, Jansen has been batting second for Toronto
    • Although he still loses some at-bats to Alejandro Kirk, Jansen is the clear primary catcher in Toronto and has enough offensive upside to be owned in all leagues where 12+ catchers are rostered
    • He should see positive regression to both his home run rate and BABIP as the season moves along giving him even more upside

Baltimore Orioles

  • Jorge Mateo is back from the IL
    • While Mateo was out, Connor Norby was finally able to taste the Major Leagues but has since been sent back to Triple-A
    • Mateo is serving as the team’s primary second baseman and batting ninth in the lineup
    • There will always be a level of intrigue for Mateo due to his elite speed but fantasy managers should not expect much production outside of that
  • Cedric Mullins could lose his starting job
    • Mullins is already sitting against lefties, but his struggles offensively have continued
    • His wRC+ on the season sits below 60 and he is batting just .185 since August 11
    • If the team decides to move him out of the lineup, the team could bring Heston Kjerstad back up and give him more playing time

AL West

Houston Astros

  • Kyle Tucker is on the IL with a shin contusion
    • With Tucker out, Mauricio Dubon and Trey Cabbage are both getting everyday playing time
    • Dubon is playing everyday batting sixth or seventh while Cabbage is playing only against righties batting ninth
    • If you need to improve your batting average, Dubon is worth a look but do not expect much in the power department
    • Chas McCormick continues to be the odd man out in terms of playing time on the short side of a platoon
    • Joey Loperfido was also optioned back to Triple-A
  • Jose Abreu has been released
    • Abreu returned to the Astros on May 27 but continued to struggle slashing just .167/.186/.333
    • With Abreu gone, the team will likely continue giving Jon Singleton at-bats at first base with Joey Loperfido likely to rejoin the team soon
  • Yainer Diaz is battling a sore finger
    • Diaz missed three straight games this week but has since returned to the lineup
    • Prior to the injury, Diaz homered in four straight games
    • His high chase rate is likely to lead to some major slumps, but when he is seeing the ball well, there might not be a more valuable catcher in all of fantasy

Los Angeles Angels

  • Mickey Moniak is playing more often again
    • Moniak is getting another chance against right-handed pitching batting seventh in the lineup most games
    • The 2024 season has been a struggle for Moniak. His whiff and chase rates are much better than last year, but still well below average
    • Moniak is not worth rostering and is likely to continue seeing his playing time fluctuate throughout the season
  • Zach Neto is hitting for more power
    • Although many of the recent Angels’ promotions have been disappointing, Neto is showing signs of breaking out
    • He is up to eight home runs on the season including five since May 15
    • His barrel rate over that period sits at 10.6% with an average exit velocity over 91 mph. He is also pulling the ball more which is exactly what you want to see for a potential power surge
    • Neto has been moving up in the lineup recently and that should stick thanks to his strong offensive performances

Texas Rangers

  • Josh Smith is batting fourth in the lineup
    • In a lineup full of high-profile names, Smith batting cleanup is certainly a surprise
    • He currently owns a 134 wRC+ on the season with four home runs and four stolen bases
    • His contact skills are a plus, but a .352 BABIP is likely unsustainable with a barrel rate below four percent
    • I am not buying Smith outside of 15+ team leagues
  • Wyatt Langford has struggled since returning from the IL
    • Langford is still playing every day and batting sixth most games but is batting just .250 with zero home runs since returning
    • His home run total on the season sits at just one and his barrel rate is below the league average
    • Although this season has been disappointing, it is important to remain patient with young hitters. He is still showing off solid skills in his rookie season like a strong chase rate that should make fantasy managers optimistic about his future

Oakland Athletics

  • Miguel Andujar is batting fourth for Oakland
    • At one point, it seemed as though we had seen the last of Andujar at the Major League level, but he is back and batting cleanup for Oakland
    • Andujar has been excellent in a small sample size with two home runs and a batting average over .300
    • His chase rate is still incredibly high with a poor launch angle and mediocre batted ball data. I am not adding Andujar anywhere
  • Zack Gelof is down to eighth in the lineup
    • Gelof was one of the few bright spots for Oakland last season but has come crashing back to earth in 2024
    • His high strikeout rate has finally caught up to him and is the primary reason his batting average sits below .200
    • With five homers and seven steals, the raw power/speed blend is still apparent but it is clear he is not a reliable fantasy asset moving forward
  • Tyler Soderstrom is flexing his power
    • Soderstrom has posted impressive home run numbers throughout his Minor League career and is finally showing it at the Major League level
    • He has three homers since June 10 and is striking out less than 15% of the time since then
    • Soderstrom is worth an add anywhere you need help at first base

Seattle Mariners

  • Tyler Locklear is up from the Minor Leagues
    • Locklear was my top-rated first-base prospect after Manzardo’s promotion and now finds himself in Seattle
    • Locklear combines plus power with an excellent swing path that should lead to plenty of line drives
    • The only concern is his ability to limit the whiffs which has been a problem at times in the Minor Leagues. He is worth an add if you need help at first base
    • Ty France landing on the IL was the corresponding move that led to this
  • Julio Rodriguez has looked much more like Julio Rodriguez lately
    • A slow start to the season had some worried but Rodriguez has turned it on at the plate recently
    • Since May 25, Rodriguez is slashing .314/.368/.457 at the plate
    • More importantly, he has three homers and seven steals during that time
    • He remains an elite fantasy option even if his suspect plate discipline and contact skills can lead to some cold streaks
  • Ryan Bliss is playing every day
    • Bliss was acquired in the Paul Sewald trade last season and is playing regularly at second base. He is batting ninth in the lineup
    • Bliss has posted strong stolen base numbers with decent pop in the Minor Leagues but has struggled to hit for much average since joining Seattle’s organization
    • Strikeouts and poor launch angle distribution are proving to be an issue for Bliss in his small Major League sample size. He could find himself back in Triple-A shortly once Jorge Polanco returns from the IL

AL Central

Detroit Tigers

  • Spencer Torkelson was sent to Triple-A
    • Torkelson likely remains a large part of Detroit’s future plans but the team opted to send him to Triple-A to regain his confidence
    • He has been on fire since his demotion and could find himself back in Detroit very soon
    • With Torkelson gone, the team promoted Justyn-Henry Malloy to the Major Leagues. He has been batting sixth in the lineup most games playing DH and left field
    • Malloy has elite plate discipline and plus power although deep counts get him in trouble with the strikeouts
  • Javier Baez is on the IL
    • With Baez out of the lineup, Zach McKinstry and Ryan Kreidler are splitting time at shortstop
    • Neither player offers much fantasy upside and neither is worth rostering in fantasy leagues
  • Matt Vierling is serving as the team’s leadoff hitter
    • Vierling is putting together a very solid season in Detroit with eight homers on the season, five of which have come since May 26
    • He is contributing in four of five standard categories and should produce plenty of runs at the top of the lineup
    • He is not the flashiest player but is a valuable fantasy asset for managers

Kansas City Royals

  • Hunter Renfroe is sidelined with a fractured toe
    • With Renfroe on the IL, Drew Waters is back up from Triple-A although his lineup time appears to be inconsistent
    • The team is splitting time between Waters, Garrett Hampson, and Darian Blanco
    • None of these players are fantasy-relevant
  • MJ Melendez is losing playing time
    • Melendez is not only sitting against lefties but is now sitting against some righties as well
    • His wRC+ sits down at 51 and the team is growing impatient
    • The batted ball data for Melendez is still strong and he deserves better BABIP luck. However, he is not worth rostering at this point
    • Freddy Fermin has been seeing his playing time increase splitting time at catcher and DH with Salvador Perez

Chicago White Sox

  • Andrew Benintendi  and Tommy Pham are back from the IL
    • The White Sox are slowly starting to get healthy with Benintendi and Luis Robert Jr both back in the everyday lineup
    • With Benintendi and Pham returning, only one lineup spot remains open for Gavin Sheets, Oscar Colas, and Corey Julks
    • Julks has cooled off since his fast start and is batting just .222 since May 28. He could find himself on the short side of a platoon with Colas or Gavin Sheets
  • Lenyn Sosa is serving as the team’s starting third baseman
    • Sosa has stepped into regular playing time since returning from Triple-A and has been batting toward the bottom of the lineup
    • He is batting .316 since returning from the Minor Leagues with two stolen bases
    • Sosa hit 23 home runs between Triple-A and the MLB last season but a poor launch angle makes it unlikely he will hit for that much power at the Major League level
  • For some reason, Nicky Lopez continues to bat at the top of the lineup
    • Lopez is not providing much of any offensive value for the White Sox but he continues to play every day and bat at the top of the order
    • There is a high probability Lopez will move down in the lineup as his struggles continue
    • He is not worth rostering

Minnesota Twins

  • Royce Lewis could finish as the best player in fantasy if he ever stayed healthy
    • After hitting a home run on Opening Day, Lewis has added four more since returning from the IL
    • His plate discipline remains suspect but there is no denying his massive power
    • Due to his injury history, the Twins will likely be cautious about giving Lewis the green light to steal bases which could cap his fantasy ceiling
  • Alex Kirilloff was optioned to Triple-A
    • The 2024 season got off to a fast start, but Kirilloff has been slumping at the plate for a while now
    • The former top prospect is not worth holding outside of some dynasty formats
    • With Kirilloff gone, Trevor Larnach has been serving as the primary DH and batting second in the lineup against right-handed pitchers
    • Larnach is quietly up to six home runs this season and is making much more contact than he ever has before. He is worth adding in leagues with daily lineup moves
  • Austin Martin is back from Triple-A
    • Martin has been shuttled between Triple-A and the Major Leagues a few times this season and is back with the Twins again
    • He started in left field and hit ninth in the lineup upon his return on Thursday
    • Martin may never hit for much power, but he has excellent speed and plus contact skills that make him an option to consider
    • Manuel Margot is likely to split time with Martin in the outfield while also stepping in for Max Kepler against left-handed pitchers

Cleveland Guardians

  • The Guardians are finding ways to get David Fry’s bat into the lineup
    • Fry is batting fifth and playing every day at a variety of positions
    • Primarily, he is playing outfield and catcher while the team moves away from Bo Naylor
    • Fry’s .321 batting average is being fueled by an unsustainable BABIP but the rest of his profile seems legit
    • He should be rostered in all leagues
    • Bo Naylor is a fine drop outside of dynasty formats
  • The DH role is up for grabs
    • While Fry is listed as the DH on roster resource, the battle comes down to Bo Naylor, Gabriel Arias, and Kyle Manzardo
    • Arias is more of a utility man for Cleveland and is not worth adding in any format
    • Manzardo offers the most upside but he has struggled to post the same numbers he was in the Minor Leagues
    • Under the hood, Manzardo should start seeing the home runs come and his walk rate should increase thanks to league-average chase and whiff rates
    • Manzardo is a solid buy-low option in dynasty leagues
  • Tyler Freeman is moving up in the lineup against righties
    • Although Freeman’s offensive production has been mediocre, he continues to play every day and is on pace for 15 homers and 20 stolen bases
    • He should see his BABIP come up as the season moves along making him a solid deep-league option if you need consistent at-bats
    • Andres Gimenez is moving down in the lineup against lefties batting sixth in most games
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