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Fantasy Baseball Lineup Analysis: Target this Phillie Slugger

Back at it with National League lineups. There is plenty to catch up on from the last ten days of baseball. The five hottest hitters in the National League over that time period have been: Jack Suwinski, Willson Contreras, Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger, and Connor Joe Disclaimer this article is written the day before publishing. Some of the statistics might change from games the night prior to reading this. I will do my best to update any important news or notes that come through at the last second. Keep reading to stay up to date on the latest trends from all 15 National League teams.

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

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies are starting to pick things up at the plate. At the center of that surge have been outfielders Nick Castellanos and Brandon Marsh. Castellanos looks more and more like the hitter we saw with Cincinnati in 2021. He is showing more patience at the plate and hit his first two home runs of the season in a game last Saturday. The average (fueled by a BABIP north of .400) is unlikely to stay above .300, but a bounce-back season to .270 with 20 home runs is a realistic expectation. Marsh meanwhile continues to look dominant at the plate. His new swing and improved plate discipline metrics appear to be carrying him to a breakout season. If there is still any chance to get in on Brandon Marsh, do it now.

Bryson Stott has taken over everyday leadoff duties. He is making great contact although I worry, he could move back down in the lineup once Harper returns. The Phillies will likely want to keep Turner and Schwarber at the top of the order making Stott the odd man out.

Hopefully, you have been paying attention to this section and taken note of my praise for Edmundo Sosa. He is playing every day at third base with Darick Hall on the IL. Sosa’s production has been impressive thanks to an increased barrel rate and the ability to get more launch on the ball. The strikeouts will be a concern, but he profiles to be a sneaky source of pop and speed in deep leagues. He should continue to bat toward the bottom of the lineup.

Atlanta Braves

The top half of the Braves lineup has not seen any changes. Sean Murphy continues to bat cleanup and be one of the most productive catchers in baseball. Since seeing his playing time increase with Travis d’Arnaud on the IL, he has hit five home runs with a batting average above .270. Murphy is in for a massive season and has a real chance to finish as the top catcher in fantasy.

Vaughn Grissom is playing every day in place of Orlando Arcia and primarily batting sixth or seventh. He has looked solid at the plate, but he has yet to hit a home run or steal a base. For him to remain a useful fantasy asset he will need to start contributing to at least one category. Positive signs for him would be improving his average launch angle and hitting the ball harder. These are things to monitor closely.

There are two platoons in the rest of the lineup. The first is between Eddie Rosario and Marcell Ozuna. The other is between Sam Hilliard and Eli White. Hilliard has been the only one contributing offensively although his stat line comes with a .600 BABIP and 42% strikeout rate. All four of these players are likely to lose their spot in the lineup once Michael Harris and Travis d’Arnaud return from injury.

Washington Nationals

If you read last week’s article, Stone Garrett’s playing time was mentioned as something to monitor closely. Over the past 10 days, he has started to receive more playing time and looks strong at the plate. The batting average will not remain as high as it is, but he hits the ball hard with a history of producing power at the Minor League level. He has been batting seventh for Washington when he plays and is a name to continue monitoring. His promotion to the lineup has taken time away from Alex Call who is not worth rostering at this point.

On days Call is out of the lineup, Lane Thomas has moved back into the leadoff spot. The two stolen bases early on are an encouraging sign for his fantasy relevance but he fits the exact definition of a replacement-level player. To try and spark the offense, the Nationals have moved Keibert Ruiz up to second in the order. After a fast start, Ruiz has cooled off and is no longer showing any signs of a breakout. He needs to hit for more power to become fantasy relevant.

Speaking of showing no signs of a breakout, both young middle infielders Luis Garcia and CJ Abrams are still struggling. Garcia shows flashes of pop but hits the ball on the ground too frequently to be fantasy relevant. Abrams just does not hit the ball hard enough while running an extremely high chase rate. Both players are batting in the back half of the lineup and should not be owned in shallow leagues.

Miami Marlins

Bryan De La Cruz has become a mainstay in the middle of Miami’s lineup. After a slow opening week, De La Cruz has taken off at the plate. He has two home runs and a steal while maintaining a batting average over .300. I am not fully buying into a breakout here. His whiff and chase rates are still well below league average and his groundball rate is too high to ever be a threat for 25 home runs. The playing time is nice and should continue, but I am not prioritizing him on the waiver wire.

Garrett Hampson is an interesting name that has started seeing more playing time. He is batting toward the bottom of the lineup as a utility infielder. The raw speed has been evident already with two stolen bases in just 28 plate appearances. The issue with Hampson continues to be weak contact. Even if there is not much offensive upside, he is worth keeping an eye on based on his ability to steal bases. Jean Segura has seen a small reduction in his playing time after a slow start. You should be moving on from Segura if you are still rostering him.

New York Mets

Since the last NL Lineup article, the Mets finally made the move to Brett Baty. Baty is not playing against lefties but is batting seventh or eighth against righties. He has cooled off some since the promotion but is still hitting the ball hard with strong plate discipline. The launch angle is the most important thing to watch. If he can hit enough fly balls, the home runs will start coming in bunches. With Baty in the lineup, Eduardo Escobar has moved to the short side of the platoon.

Another Mets’ prospect Francisco Alvarez is not receiving regular playing time. The Mets’ use of Alvarez has been puzzling since the promotion from Triple-A. Alvarez however has not given the Mets any reason to put him in the lineup more with subpar results and a high strikeout rate.

Also, Pete Alonso continues to mash home runs. He is up to ten already and I would not be surprised to see him eclipse 50 this season. He seems to just keep getting better and better. One final note is Brandon Nimmo is up to three steals already. He has always had great baseball instincts and could be a big benefactor from the new rules. Double-digit steals are well within reach for him.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs

NL Lineup Analysis Article 1: Cody Bellinger is showing no improvements

NL Lineup Analysis Article 2: Cody Bellinger looks like he could be making steady improvements

This NL Lineup Analysis Article: Cody Bellinger is fully back.

Bellinger is moving around the middle of the Cubs’ lineup while absolutely mashing the ball. He is up to five home runs with three stolen bases on the season. His plate discipline looks much improved and is showing signs of returning to MVP form.

Seiya Suzuki’s return to the middle of the lineup has pushed Trey Mancini down to eighth. Not only has Mancini moved down, but he is also finding himself on the bench more often. Mancini has looked like a shell of himself at the plate. Nick Madrigal is seeing his playing time increase but is not who you should be targeting in fantasy. The name to remember is Matt Mervis who is dominating Triple-A. He could take over for Mancini or Hosmer if they continue to struggle.

Patrick Wisdom is splitting time between third base and right field batting sixth. He has already hit nine home runs this year. We have always known Wisdom has massive power, but the same concerns remain. He struggles to make consistent contact and runs a high strikeout rate. Ride the hot streak of his power while Wisdom continues to see consistent time in the lineup.

St. Louis Cardinals

You have to wonder if Brendan Donovan is starting to lose his grip on an everyday job. Donovan missed a couple of games with a minor injury but has been struggling at the plate recently. Since April 5, Donovan is batting just .234/.321/.298. Nolan Gorman has been primarily used as a designated hitter but could shift to second base to allow another outfielder to enter the lineup. Donovan still figures to get fairly consistent playing time thanks to his versatility, but the early season breakout seems like a thing of the past.

The potential of Donovan shifting to the bench would help alleviate the outfield congestion. Alec Burleson, Jordan Walker, and Lars Nootbaar appear to have the edge for playing time so far. Walker is batting toward the bottom of the lineup with Burleson batting second. Since returning from injury, Nootbaar has been flipping between leadoff and seventh. The walk rate for Nootbaar has been incredible, but a negative launch angle is a little bit of a concern. This is something to monitor.

Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neill are the two odd men out right now. Although they are not technically starters, both are seeing a decent amount of playing time. Strikeouts remain a concern but now might be a good time to buy low on O’Neill. He has an impressive blend of power and speed with excellent quality of contact metrics. I am less intrigued by Carlson who profiles best as a fourth outfielder. Both are eating into the playing time of Jordan Walker who has been on the bench three of the past six games. His playing time is a major concern.

Milwaukee Brewers

The only real lineup change came with the unfortunate injury to Garrett Mitchell. Mitchell was impressive early on and now finds his season in jeopardy due to a shoulder injury. Luke Voit got the first crack at additional playing time but has continued to struggle. Instead, Blake Perkins has begun to draw starts at the bottom of the lineup. Perkins has journeyed throughout the Minor Leagues and now gets his first chance in the majors. He is not worth adding.

Owen Miller also started to see additional playing time and quietly has three stolen bases already. The speed is fun, but I do not anticipate Miller seeing consistent playing time. Brice Turang drew the last start for the Brewers against a lefty. He might be working his way out of the platoon he was in early this season.

Cincinnati Reds

Thanks to his hot start at the plate, Spencer Steer has moved up to third in the Reds’ lineup. Steer is hitting for both power and average while adding in a stolen base. With Steer moving up, Jason Vosler and Wil Myers are both moving down. After three home runs in his first five games, Vosler has gone dead silent at the plate. He is likely to lose his playing time with Joey Votto’s impending return.

Nick Senzel continues to play most games batting toward the bottom of the lineup. While that is encouraging, the results have not looked any better than in the past. He is struggling to make hard contact and seems unlikely to develop any sort of power. He should not be rostered in any format. Jose Barrero is starting to show small improvements this year. He is chasing less, making more contact, and hitting the ball a little bit harder. The issue is that his numbers have gone from terrible to just below average. He still does not profile to be a fantasy asset.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Impressively enough, the Pirates have continued winning. They are off to their best start in a long time, and many are wondering how long this will last. Connor Joe has been at the center of the team’s recent success. He is batting either third or fifth in the lineup and is batting over .350 with two home runs. Joe got off to a fast start last year before falling off during the second half. Early on, his barrel rate is up with excellent chase and whiff rates. His BABIP is bound to regress, but there is a lot to like in Joe’s profile.

Another popular pickup right now is Jack Suwinski. He is moving up toward the middle of the lineup and playing every day. Suwinski’s strikeout rate is still concerning as is his whiff rate, but the chase rate is way down and he is doing damage on the pitches he makes contact on. My concern revolves around pitchers exploiting his inability to make consistent contact on anything other than a fastball. The power is nice for points leagues, but besides that, I am not adding him.

Ke’Bryan Hayes has quietly been swinging a hot bat recently. I tagged him as a player that I was buying low on (traded David Peterson for him in an Ottoneu league) and the early returns have been fantastic. His pull rate is up a significant amount since April 11th making me optimistic about his power outlook. He is also batting leadoff which will help his counting stats.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have a gaping hole at shortstop. With Miguel Rojas landing on the IL, the team has been forced to turn to a combination of Luke Williams and Chris Taylor at shortstop. Oh, don’t forget Mookie Betts is also getting some time there. Betts continues to play all over the diamond which could give him additional versatility in fantasy. Although he has four home runs, Chris Taylor is still striking out over 40% of the time. I am not adding him at this point.

On days when Mookie Betts plays the infield, Jason Heyward gets additional playing time. He is batting fifth in most games. Heyward has a low batting average, but much of that can be attributed to a .143 BABIP. If his playing time increases, he could be a deep-league flier.

James Outman is no longer in a platoon and continues to dominate at the plate. He is hitting for power and average while adding in two stolen bases. Outman has all the looks of being a significant fantasy asset for 2023 and beyond. He has five category upside and could wind up being one of the biggest steals of the draft season.

Will Smith continues to progress from the concussion that landed him on the IL. He remains without a firm timetable to return but is not expected to be sidelined for too much longer. Austin Barnes continues to receive the majority of playing time behind the dish with Smith out.

San Diego Padres

Fernando Tatis Jr. has returned. He has reclaimed the leadoff spot in San Diego’s lineup and figures to be an elite fantasy asset for the remainder of the season. His return has pushed Rougned Odor back into a bench role. The other impact is Trent Grisham moving down to the back half of the lineup. Batting eighth instead of leadoff is a slight downgrade for Grisham’s counting stats.

The season is still young, but the Xander Bogaerts bust takes might have been premature. Bogaerts has been excellent for San Diego with five home runs and a batting average well above .300. The concerning parts are a ground ball rate above 50% with mediocre exit velocity and barrel rates. He has reduced his whiff and chase rates early on this season making me slightly more convinced he will be just fine in San Diego. Batting behind Tatis, Machado, and Soto will provide him with plenty of RBI opportunities.

With Luis Campusano landing on the IL, Austin Nola’s playing time gets a boost. He is struggling and is not somebody that has a ton of upside however catcher is thin. If you’re in a two-catcher league where you roster Will Smith AND Logan O’Hoppe (could be anybody but is definitely me in two different leagues) Nola can at least provide you with at-bats.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Jake McCarthy has officially moved into a bench role with Arizona. This is exactly what I was afraid of before and he is not worth rostering at this point. With McCarthy on the bench, Pavin Smith is getting the chance to start more often. Smith is swinging the bat extremely well early on this year, but I am not rushing to pick him up. He does most of his damage with the home run but also runs high ground ball rates. Those two contradict each other making me skeptical that his success continues.

After starting the year batting in the back half of the lineup, Corbin Carroll has moved up to third. Carroll is a fantasy stud with four home runs and eight stolen bases already. A high chase rate is really the only downside to an impressive overall profile. He is going to be very good for a very long time.

Alek Thomas is one name I am keeping my eye on. He is playing every day batting seventh or eighth. The overall results are not there but his barrel rate is up, average exit velocity is up, launch angle is up, and his chase rate is down. These are all the signs of a breakout, but Thomas has just a .200 BABIP so far. Now might be a perfect time to buy low on an intriguing young player.

San Francisco Giants

Joc Pederson is back off the IL and figures to slot into the middle of the lineup. The big move has been J.D. Davis. He is getting everyday playing time primarily batting third or fourth. He has taken over the third base duties from David Villar. We have been calling for Davis to get regular playing time for the past year and the early returns have been encouraging. Four home runs and a batting average over .300. The strikeouts remain an issue but the quality of contact more than makes up for this issue. Buy into JD Davis now and see how long it can last.

Mike Yastrzemski is batting fifth most nights and has been hitting for good power early on. The batting average is up compared to previous seasons which might partially be due to the shift ban. He profiles as a solid back-end outfield option for fantasy teams. Mitch Haniger is back from the IL and should bat in the middle of the lineup most nights.

Now, time to break down the platoons:

  • Blake Sabol is on the strong side of a platoon with Joey Bart. Bart is slightly more attractive from a skill set standpoint, but neither is worth rostering with their current playing time situation.
  • Austin Slater is back and should play against all lefties for a variety of players. Michael Conforto, Joc Pederson, and Mike Yastrzemski all see their playing time decrease against lefties. None of them always are sitting, but Slater is always playing. He is not worth rostering.
  • Wilmer Flores is listed as a platoon, but he plays against some righties. He primarily comes in for LaMonte Wade Jr. against lefties. Wade has been disappointing early on, but the quality of contact metrics are strong and he should start seeing his luck improve.

Colorado Rockies

Yet again, we are in a situation where we are monitoring Kris Bryant’s health. He reportedly tweaked his back in the game on Saturday before being pulled from the game. Back issues have been a major issue for Bryant recently, so this is extremely concerning. Randal Grichuk is working his way back from an injury and could replace Bryant in the lineup if he is forced to miss significant time. The team also promoted Brenton Doyle from Triple-A. He is not worth adding.

The Rockies have shifted Ryan McMahon back to third base with Alan Trejo working his way into the lineup. Trejo is playing almost every day and batting eighth. Trejo is getting a chance to start over despite running a 40 wRC+. Coco Montes and Nolan Jones are players to keep an eye on in Triple-A.

Charlie Blackmon is back in the leadoff spot. The power will never be what it once was, but he can be a solid contributor in deep OBP leagues. Jurickson Profar is now batting second instead of first and could continue to move further down the lineup if he does not pick things up at the plate. If you picked up Profar with the idea of him having a strong season fueled by Coors Field, you should be moving on.

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