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Fantasy Baseball Lineup Analysis: AL 06/29

For the third (yes 3!) week in a row, American League lineup analysis is back. This article will help you stay up to date on the ever-changing lineups from the American League with notes on injuries, playing time changes, hot streaks, and more. The five hottest hitters in the AL over the past two weeks have been Cedric Mullins, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Gunnar Henderson, Byron Buxton, and Aaron Judge. 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

  • Giancarlo Stanton is on the IL
    • Stanton had remained healthy for most of the first half but the injury bug finally caught up to him with a hamstring strain
    • With Stanton set to miss extended time, Trent Grisham is most likely to see additional playing time against righties
    • So far, Grisham has been batting at the bottom of the lineup and shifting to the bench when lefties are on the mound in favor of JD Davis
  • Ben Rice continues to get regular playing time
    • The acquisition of JD Davis is likely to eat into some of Rice’s at-bats against lefties, but he is the primary option at first base with Anthony Rizzo out
    • Rice has been batting all over the back half of the lineup since being recalled
    • His numbers have not been anything special yet but he is posting a strong walk rate and a high line drive rate
    • Most of his fantasy value is found in OBP leagues at this point
  • DJ LeMahieu and Oswaldo Cabrera are splitting time
    • The Yankees are searching for answers at third base and have continued flipping between these two
    • LeMahieu has notably been out of the lineup against the last two righties the Yankees have faced signaling he could move into a short-side platoon role
    • Neither player holds much fantasy upside

Boston Red Sox

  • Connor Wong was on the paternity list this week
    • Wong missed three straight games in the middle of the week but returned to Boston’s lineup on Friday
    • He continues to bat fifth in the lineup with an excellent batting average this year
    • Wong’s BABIP is still unsustainably high pointing to potential struggles ahead for the breakout catcher
  • Jarren Duran continues to be one of the most productive players in fantasy baseball
    • Batting leadoff for Boston provides Duran plenty of run-scoring opportunities especially when you consider how often Duran gets on base
    • Since June 12, Duran is batting right around .400 with two homers and five stolen bases
    • His batting average is likely to come down but that should be offset by some positive power regression. Duran is an elite fantasy asset for 2024

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Brandon Lowe just cannot stay healthy
    • As predicted here, Lowe was starting to break offensively for Tampa but has been dealing with another injury
    • He missed four straight games with a fractured toe and was absent from the lineup on Friday due to a lefty being on the mound
    • Lowe is a streaky player and it remains to be seen if this toe injury will bother him at the dish
  • Richie Palacios is taking playing time away from Jonny DeLuca
    • Palacios has been playing a lot of DH and second base (with Lowe out) and appears to have the upper hand in playing time moving forward
    • DeLuca owns a wRC+ below 60 on the season and is a candidate to wind up back in Triple-A soon
    • Palacios has been making a lot of contact as of late but does not offer much in terms of fantasy upside

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Bo Bichette has returned from the IL
    • It was not an extended absence for Bichette who returned to Toronto’s lineup on Tuesday
    • Since returning, Bichette has been batting leadoff for the Jays who continue to search for a spark
    • Addison Barger seems most likely to lose his playing time with Bichette returning. He could move into a platoon with IKF if the Jays want to continue getting him regular at-bats
  • Daulton Varsho has returned to the lineup
    • Varsho missed four straight games with a back injury but returned to the lineup on Friday and hit seventh against a lefty
    • Varsho continues to be a reliable albeit unspectacular fantasy asset. He provides decent speed and power but not much of an average
    • His return to the lineup will impact the playing time of Davis Schneider and Kevin Kiermaier
  • Vladdy might be back
    • Guerrero has been scorching hot at the plate recently with four home runs since June 21
    • Many people assumed it was only a matter of time before Guerrero would take off at the plate and he is rewarding those fantasy managers who were patient with him
    • A low launch angle makes it hard for Guerrero to produce as many home runs as his raw power suggests, but he is still one of the game’s premier first basemen
  • Late news: George Springer left Friday’s game with a hand injury
    • X-Rays on his hand were negative making the team hopeful this will not require an IL stint
    • If Springer is forced to miss extended time, Addison Barger and Davis Schneider will see more playing time

Baltimore Orioles

  • Heston Kjerstad is back with the Major League team
    • Kjerstad has started against two of three righties since being recalled from Triple-A batting fifth most games
    • His playing time is likely to come from a variety of players including Colton Cowser who has notably been on the bench against two righties this past week
    • Kjerstad is worth adding in leagues with daily moves
  • Jorge Mateo is retaking his starting spot
    • The Orioles continue to flip between Mateo and Ramon Urias preferring to ride the hot hand
    • Mateo offers more upside for fantasy managers thanks to his elite speed although he is not going to contribute much elsewhere
    • Neither player is particularly exciting for fantasy purposes but Mateo is the one getting most of the starts lately
  • Cedric Mullins has continued to swing it well at the plate this week
    • Mullins added another two homers this week and has continued his torrid stretch from the eighth spot in the lineup
    • His strong performances could help get him some at-bats back against lefties although I am skeptical his success is sustainable
    • Mullins continues to post lackluster quality of contact metrics and is relying heavily on a high BABIP. Now could be a good time to sell high on name value and recent performances
  • Adley Rutschman is dealing with a hand injury
    • After catching a piece of a foul ball, Rutschman was forced to leave the game on Thursday
    • X-Rays came back negative, but Rutschman was still absent from the lineup on Friday. This does not profile to be a long-term issue
    • James McCann will handle the primary catching duties with Rutschman out

AL West

Houston Astros

  • Joey Loperfido is playing every day since being recalled from Triple-A
    • Loperfido has been batting eighth or ninth in the lineup most games and playing left field
    • The sample size is small, but since his most recent recall, Loperfido is chasing way less and making more contact
    • These are both major keys to helping Loperfido maintain fantasy relevancy. He is worth a flier in 14+ team leagues
  • Mauricio Dubon has taken over at first base
    • A bit surprised Loperfido is not at first with Dubon in the outfield, but this is how the Astros are rolling right now
    • Dubon has taken over for Jon Singleton and has been batting sixth or seventh in the lineup
    • As mentioned previously, Dubon is a strong source of batting average if you need a boost in that category. He is not going to contribute much elsewhere
  • Jake Meyers is batting fifth in the lineup
    • Meyers has cooled off at the plate the past few weeks but is still an intriguing fantasy asset
    • Batting in the middle of the lineup should provide plenty of RBI opportunities and he continues to hit the ball incredibly hard
    • His strikeout rate has spiked lately but not much has changed in his plate discipline profile. He is worth rostering in some 12 team leagues and all 14+ team leagues

Los Angeles Angels

  • Miguel Sano is back from the IL
    • In all honestly, I forgot the Angels had Sano. I also forgot he was a third baseman considering he had not played there since 2021
    • However, that is where the Angels are playing him right now and they are batting him fourth in the lineup
    • Sano has obvious power, but he did not show any signs of producing a lower strikeout rate prior to his injury and is not worth adding in fantasy
    • He, Brandon Drury, and Willie Calhoun are likely to split two lineup spots between the three of them moving forward
  • Mickey Moniak is not playing badly in extended chances
    • Moniak has been getting regular playing time batting seventh or eighth in the Angels’ lineup
    • Quietly, Moniak has been producing at the plate slashing .269/.367/.500 since June 8
    • The strikeouts are down, the walks are up, and he is barreling the ball up more. In deep dynasty leagues, he is worth adding as a flier considering his prospect pedigree
  • Brandon Drury is dealing with an illness
    • Mentioned as part of the playing time battle earlier, Drury has been out of the Angels’ lineup since June 18 battling an illness
    • The Angels have not given any indication that they plan to place him on the IL and he should return to the lineup in the coming days

Texas Rangers

  • Ezequiel Duran was optioned to Triple-A
    • Duran put together a strong breakout season last year and was a popular sleeper pick this season
    • Unfortunately, Duran struggled to capitalize on his opportunities this season and was slashing just .211/.219/.296 since the start of June
    • With Duran heading to the Minor Leagues Travis Jankowski and Derek Hill are most likely to see additional playing time
  • Josh Jung experienced a setback in his recovery
    • The initial expectation was that Jung would be activated from the IL this previous Tuesday
    • Unfortunately, Jung experienced soreness in his wrist and stopped swinging for a few days
    • He is still expected to return to the lineup early next week and could serve as the primary DH taking the previously opened playing time away from Jankowski and Hill
  • Wyatt Langford has moved up to fifth in the lineup
    • A small change to Texas’ lineup is Langford sliding up a spot with Nathaniel Lowe moving down to sixth
    • This small shift does not change much in terms of fantasy value but it does speak to the team’s confidence in their young outfielder
    • Langford hit his first home run since May 14 this past week and has been barreling the ball up a bit more but is still dealing with launch angle issues

Oakland Athletics

  • Daz Cameron drew two straight starts in the leadoff spot
    • A name from the past is back in the Major Leagues with Oakland and could be seeing his playing time increase
    • Cameron was batting over .300 in Triple-A before his recall although it is difficult to envision him suddenly turning into a star
    • He has plus speed and power but will need to keep his strikeout rate down to maintain a regular lineup spot
    • Max Schuemann has been batting toward the bottom of the lineup lately
  • Armando Alvarez was recalled from Triple-A
    • Alvarez has been a bit of a journeyman the past few seasons bouncing around organizations
    • The strange thing is that he has put up strong numbers in Triple-A for multiple organizations and now gets his chance at the Major League level
    • He has drawn starts at second and third base so far and profiles to serve as a utility bat for Oakland without consistent playing time
    • He is not worth adding but could take time away from Tyler Nevin at third base
  • Tyler Soderstrom has cooled off but there is a bright side
    • Soderstrom’s numbers have been dropping over the past week or two, but he is striking out significantly less
    • Strikeouts have been the biggest issue for Soderstrom early in his Major League career but he is striking out less than 15% of the time since June 19
    • Soderstrom’s contact rate is increasing and he is still crushing the ball despite a low BABIP
    • He is a strong buy option for fantasy managers

Seattle Mariners

  • Jorge Polanco is officially back from the IL
    • Polanco has returned to the lineup and has profiles to bat fifth or sixth most games
    • Polanco’s first season in Seattle has been dreadful so far and he is not worth rostering in shallow leagues until he breaks out of his slump
    • With Polanco back in, Dylan Moore has seen his playing time dwindle
    • Josh Rojas has kept his starting spot but has moved down to the bottom of the lineup
  • Mitch Haniger has lost his starting lineup spot
    • Haniger has been on the bench for much of the last week in favor of Dominic Canzone, Mitch Garver, and Luke Raley
    • His struggles from last season have carried over into this year as his wRC+ sits below 80
    • Hainger also has not hit a home run since May 15. He is not worth rostering in any league format

AL Central

Detroit Tigers

  • Carson Kelly is getting more at-bats
    • With Jake Rogers struggling, Carson Kelly is getting more run as the primary catcher
    • Kelly has two homers since June 15, but has never shown much upside offensively
    • The two players are likely to continue splitting time moving forward making neither one an attractive fantasy option
  • Colt Keith is now batting second in the lineup
    • Moving up in the lineup is always a nice thing for fantasy managers as now Keith gets a chance to score more runs and get more at-bats
    • Keith’s move up in the lineup comes in conjunction with his offensive performances ticking up
    • Since June 12, Keith is slashing .320/.346/.500. There is nothing special in Keith’s quality of contact that suggests this outburst is sustainable, but it is still nice to see

Kansas City Royals

  • Nelson Velasquez was optioned to Triple-A
    • After exploding during the second half last season, expectations for Velasquez were high entering 2024
    • Unfortunately, things never got going for him at the plate and the Royals have sent him back to Triple-A to figure things out
    • Velasquez already was not playing regularly, but this move should provide extra security for MJ Melendez’s lineup spot
  • Michael Massey is back from the IL
    • Massey returned to the Royals’ lineup on Monday and has been batting fifth but has only started two of four games
    • Since returning, Massey has been serving as the team’s DH while Maikel Garcia shifts over to second base
    • Nick Loftin is getting everyday playing time at third base with this alignment although he has struggled in his playing time this season
    • Adam Frazier is also on the IL with a sprained thumb

Chicago White Sox

  • Eloy Jimenez returned to the lineup on Sunday
    • Jimenez was activated off of the IL and then instantly experienced an injury scare
    • Luckily, Jimenez returned to the lineup the following night and has been playing regularly at DH batting fourth in the lineup
    • Injuries are likely to always be a large part of the story with Jimenez who holds significant fantasy upside when healthy
    • With Jimenez returning to the lineup, Gavin Sheets has seen his playing time decrease, and Oscar Colas was optioned back to Triple-A
  • Andrew Benintendi is batting second in the lineup
    • Benintendi had been sliding down the order for most of the season but has jumped back up into the two-hole recently
    • He continues to sit on the bench against lefties but has been playing a bit better since returning from the IL
    • Since returning, he is slashing .226/.324/.452 which is really only valuable in deep OBP leagues. He is not a player worth picking back up
  • Korey Lee leads all catchers with 100+ PA in swinging strike rate
    • Not really a lineup note but just a stat that seemed kind of relevant when doing some research
    • Lee continues to serve as the White Sox everyday catcher batting in the bottom third of the lineup
    • Credit to the team for giving him an extended leash to figure things out, but he could easily lose his starting spot to Edgar Quero who is dominating in the Minor Leagues this season

Minnesota Twins

  • Jose Miranda is playing every day and moving up in the lineup against lefties
    • Miranda has taken over as the primary third baseman for Minnesota batting eighth against righties and fourth against lefties
    • He has been on fire at the plate for really the entire month of June slashing .333/.395/.587 since the 1st
    • He is hitting the ball hard and walking more lately which is everything you want to see from his profile. He is a must-add if he is still available
  • Is Byron Buxton back?
    • Buxton has hit three home runs this week and looks healthy for the first time in a while
    • The month of June has been excellent for Buxton owners who have seen the home runs come back as well as his barrel rate and EVs
    • His contact rate is also way up and his strikeout rate is down during this hot stretch. He could move up in the lineup if he continues to play well
  • Carlos Santana is up to fifth in the lineup
    • Santana has been on fire lately with more walks than strikeouts since June 11
    • He is batting over .400 during that time frame with three home runs
    • This level of productivity is clearly unsustainable, but Santana is still proving that he can be a valuable fantasy asset in his age 38 season
    • He is especially valuable in points leagues

Cleveland Guardians

  • Jhonkensy Noel was promoted for his Major League debut
    • Noel was in the lineup for the first time on Wednesday and went yard in his first at-bat
    • He has massive power although strikeouts have been a concern for much of his professional career
    • It remains to be seen how much playing time Noel will actually receive. The team could move David Fry to catcher more if they want to get Noel’s bat in the lineup
    • For now he is only worth rostering in 15+ team leagues
  • Daniel Schneemann is moving up in the lineup
    • The Guardians swiss army knife continues to play a variety of positions getting his name on the lineup card regularly
    • His numbers have come back down recently after his incredible start as he is batting under .200 since June 19
    • All of his underlying numbers have remained solid and this is still a player I am buying so long as he continues getting everyday playing time
  • Steven Kwan is bringing his batting average closer to .400
    • Kwan’s remarkable season has continued and he is batting .397 since June 6
    • The more surprising part is that Kwan has three home runs since June 19
    • Whether or not this power outburst is sustainable is debatable. Kwan has not barreled up a baseball since April 27 which makes it unlikely he continues to hit long balls
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