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Last Ride: Lineup Analysis 09/30

This season has been a blast! I have had so much fun bringing you interesting lineup news and notes from around the league each week. Unfortunately, this is the last week of lineup analysis for 2022, but hopefully, my articles have helped you win your fantasy leagues! The five hottest hitters in the MLB over the past week have been Bryan De La Cruz, J.D. Davis, Jose Altuve, Conner Capel, and Triston Casas. Check out the rest of the article for news and notes from teams around the league!

NL East

Miami Marlins

The Marlins continue to let their young players get a chance to prove themselves. Jordan Groshans and Lewin Diaz are just two of the players that have been in the lineup on a consistent basis. Groshans has only hit one home run since being called up and has not demonstrated any sort of real big-league power. I am not adding him in keeper leagues. Diaz is the opposite. He has real power, but an inconsistent approach at the plate will likely cause him to struggle. Both players have been batting at the bottom of the lineup.

One player that could be worth adding is Bryan De La Cruz. De La Cruz has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball recently. He is now getting a chance to play every day and batting in the middle of Miami’s lineup. Since September 13, he is batting .438/.442/.896 with five home runs. The concerns with DLC are obvious. During this hot stretch, he is walking under two percent of the time while carrying a .457 BABIP. However, the power is legit. He has a 12.1% barrel rate on the season and a 25% rate over this hot stretch. He hits the ball consistently hard and has improved his launch angle over the month of September. I believe he has shown the Marlins enough to earn an everyday lineup spot in 2023 and is worth adding to your roster!

Atlanta Braves

Ronald Acuna Jr. was dealing with an injury earlier this week but has returned to the Braves lineup. With Atlanta chasing the Mets for the NL East division, Acuna should continue to play through any nagging injuries. Speaking of injuries, Orlando Arcia is back from the IL. Surprisingly, he is playing and getting consistent time in the lineup. This has come at the expense of Vaughn Grissom. Grissom has been on the bench for three games in the past week and has lost his starting job as Atlanta’s everyday second baseman. After his hot start, Grissom has cooled off at the plate. Atlanta does not have time to deal with slumps and Grissom should not be rostered in redraft leagues still going. I still am high on Grissom’s dynasty value, but a lot is contingent on whether Atlanta re-signs Dansby Swanson.

New York Mets

The Mets have been facing a lot of lefties over the past week. This has resulted in Daniel Vogelbach being on the bench with more regularity and Mark Vientos entering the lineup more. In a small sample size, Vientos is carrying a strikeout rate over 30% while batting just .143 in his call-up. This is important for those paying attention to his 2023 value. Brett Baty should be healthy by the start of next season and is the front runner to be the Mets’ starting third baseman. I expect Vientos to start next season in AAA which will hurt his fantasy value. Buck Showalter did not rule out Starling Marte returning this weekend against Atlanta. However, he did say that Marte’s fracture is healing slowly. I expect the Mets to be careful with him.

Thomas Nido has been handling a lot of the primary catching duties. James McCann has been dreadful this season when healthy and has lost his spot in the lineup. Nido is not the long-term solution at catcher for New York and the benching of McCann was an indicator of the team calling on Francisco Alvarez which has just happened. Alvarez has played well in AAA and is their top prospect.

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are one of the latest teams to clinch a playoff spot. They are essentially locked into the third-division winner spot and have little to play for over the past week. I expect a lot of their regulars to receive additional time off. One person that has seen his time in the lineup increase recently is Dylan Carlson. Carlson’s benching back in August came as a surprise, but he has been seeing more consistent playing time lately. Alec Burleson has been the odd man out of the St. Louis outfield recently.

Although he has not been in the lineup every day, Juan Yepez has been swinging the bat well since his recall. He is batting .318/.348/.500 across 23 plate appearances. I think there is a strong chance Yepez will be the everyday DH for the Cardinals in 2023. Those who are rostering Albert Pujols will likely see a decrease in lineup time over the final week. He is no spring chicken and with nothing to play for he could get additional time off.

Chicago Cubs

Both Nico Hoerner and Seiya Suzuki have returned to the Cubs lineup. Suzuki was out on the paternity/restricted list while Hoerner was battling an injury. Not only have these two players returned, but so has Willson Contreras. Contreras’ return will likely take away Yan Gomes’ consistent lineup time. One interesting player that is getting a chance is Esteban Quiroz. Quiroz is a journeyman that is finally getting his first shot in the big leagues. Through his first ten games, Quiroz is batting .345, but this should be taken with a grain of salt. He has never been able to hit for a consistent average in the minors and is currently running a .435 BABIP. He has little fantasy value moving forward and is not a player that should be on your fantasy team.

NL West

San Diego Padres

One of the big trade deadline acquisitions for the Padres is starting to lose playing time. Josh Bell has found himself out of the lineup more often over the past week. Since joining the Padres, he is batting .185/.302/.272 with just a 74 wRC+. The Padres tried to exercise patience with Bell, but he has not shown any improvements. Bell should not be rostered anywhere at this point. Wil Myers has been the one to see his playing time increase lately. Since September 13, he is batting .333/.371/.515. Myers should continue to see his name in the lineup card if he keeps playing well.

Trent Grisham has officially been relegated to a bench role. He has seen his playing time decrease over the past month, but he is no longer receiving starts on any consistent basis. Jose Azocar has been playing every day and batting at the bottom of the lineup. Azocar is still without a home run on the season and has been caught on the base paths more than he has been successful. He is not worth rostering and holds little fantasy value.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have been sticking to a fairly strict platoon with several players lately. Gavin Lux, Joey Gallo, and Cody Bellinger have all been on the bench against lefties. Bellinger has been seeing the most playing time of the three, but the other two have been out of the lineup four times in the past week. Without consistent playing time, none are worth rostering. Chris Taylor has been the one playing more frequently although he has also been struggling at the plate. Even with consistent lineup time, Taylor is batting just .196 since September 13 and should not be rostered. Trayce Thompson and Miguel Vargas are the other two players who have seen more time, especially against lefties.

Colorado Rockies

A couple of interesting names have entered the Rockies lineup over the past week. First off, top prospect Ezequiel Tovar is up and playing every day. He has been batting toward the bottom of the lineup so far. Tovar has a great hit tool and above-average speed. I am a little skeptical of the power of Tovar, but he should hold solid fantasy value even if that does not continue to develop. Tovar should be added in all keeper leagues that he is available in. Jose Iglesias is back from the IL, but Tovar should continue playing every day whether it be at SS or 2B. The Rockies are focused on the future and Tovar is an important part of that.

The other player that I believe is flying completely under the radar is Sean Bouchard. Bouchard was having an excellent season in AAA before being called up and has looked good so far for Colorado. Bouchard has a chance to be a 20-HR, 10-steal player with a double-digit walk rate. He is not the flashiest pickup but could be a great option for your fantasy team next year. Through his first 68 plate appearances, he has a walk rate above 25%. This further emphasizes his plate discipline skills.

AL East

New York Yankees

The Yankees are another team that clinched their division this week. They have been playing well and Judge is now up to 61 home runs. In addition to this Aaron Boone said that he expects D.J. LeMahieu to return to the lineup on Friday. LeMahieu figures to slide back into the lineup on an everyday basis. Oswaldo Cabrera continues to look more and more comfortable at the plate. Since September 10, he is batting .316/.409/.614. I still have concerns about his long-term fantasy value. Over that period, he has a .389 BABIP with just an 85.1 average exit velocity. The encouraging part of Cabrera’s profile has been his improving plate discipline. He is chasing less and has been reducing his swinging strike rate. Cabrera should continue to be a part of the Yankees’ everyday lineup even with LeMahieu back.

Tampa Bay Rays

Yandy Diaz has been dealing with a shoulder injury this week. He has missed eight games in a row, but surprisingly has still not been placed on the IL. With Diaz out of the lineup, Isaac Paredes has been seeing his playing time increase. Paredes is quietly up to 20 home runs on the season and has been walking more than he has been striking out since September 9. Paredes could be a solid long-term fantasy asset, especially in OBP leagues. After playing consistently and batting leadoff, Jonathan Aranda has been out of the lineup three times in the past week. The Rays are always hard to project playing time with as they consistently ride the hot hand. Aranda is the better player compared to Taylor Wells and should regain his everyday spot in the lineup.

Toronto Blue Jays

After struggling to find a spot in the lineup after being acquired, Whit Merrifield has been in the lineup every day this past week. Merrifield has been one of the best hitters in baseball recently and has earned his lineup spot. He has continued to bat toward the bottom of the lineup but could find himself moving up if his success continues. Merrifield’s hot stretch has cost Cavan Biggio playing time. Santiago Espinal would likely also be losing playing time but was placed on the IL with a strained oblique. Obliques tend to linger and could keep Espinal out for an extended period.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. remains without a timetable for a return. He has yet to resume baseball activities and could remain out through the rest of the regular season. Raimel Tapia should continue to see consistent time in the lineup with Gurriel sidelined. Tapia does not hold much fantasy value even with regular lineup time.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles placed Ramon Urias on the IL this week. With Urias out, Rougned Odor has found his way back into the lineup. Odor had previously lost his starting spot when Gunnar Henderson was called up. Speaking about Gunnar Henderson he has been struggling, but I am not concerned at all. He is posting excellent walk rates and quality of contact metrics. The issue has been an unlucky BABIP that sits at just .183 since September 18. He will be fine and should be a fantasy star for years to come. Both Austin Hays and Kyle Stowers have been regulars in the Orioles lineup over the past week. Stowers continues to be an intriguing stash in keeper leagues.

AL West

Seattle Mariners

Julio Rodriguez is on the IL but the Mariners expect him to return when first eligible on Monday. With Rodriguez out, Kelenic has been receiving everyday lineup time. This is yet another shot for the former top prospect to prove himself. He has looked better in this stint, only striking out 16% of the time while batting .273 through his first six games. He has been batting in the back half of the lineup but could lose his lineup spot when Rodriguez returns. However, Jesse Winker is dealing with an injury that could keep Kelenic in the lineup. Kelenic should be rostered everywhere purely based on his potential.

Eugenio Suarez is healthy again for Seattle. Since returning he has returned to batting in the middle of the lineup. In addition, Dylan Moore has been taking time away from Carlos Santana and a variety of other players. As the Mariners deal with injuries, Moore is the favored utility man and can play all over. He does not have a lot of fantasy upside but can help you in stolen bases. He has 19 in just 98 games this season.

Oakland Athletics

One of the most underrated prospects in my opinion is Jordan Diaz. Diaz has had an excellent minor league season between AA and AAA and has now made it all the way to the bigs. Diaz has demonstrated an excellent hit tool throughout the minors and has started to develop more game power as he has moved through the system. I think that Diaz has a chance to hit close to .300 with around 20 home runs. He should open as the everyday 3B for Oakland in 2023 and is one of my favorite late-season stashes. Through his first nine games, he is batting .370. The concerns have been his high tendencies to hit ground balls. He will need a swing change to unlock his full potential.

Another interesting name that could help your fantasy teams is Conner Capel. Capel was claimed off waivers from St. Louis and has been playing every day in Oakland. Capel has a solid blend of power and speed that can be useful in fantasy. So far, he has looked strong for Oakland batting .333 with three home runs through his first 16 games. He has good quality of contact numbers and could be worth stashing to your fantasy team.

Los Angeles Angels

I have been beating the Logan O’Hoppe drum long before he was on any top prospect lists. He profiles to be a well above average offensive catcher that can hit for both power and average while demonstrating excellent plate discipline. After acquiring O’Hoppe from Philadelphia at the trade deadline, the Angels have decided it was time to promote the top catcher. He should be the Opening Day catcher for Los Angeles in 2023 and has instant fantasy value. I am all in on O’Hoppe and you should add him to your roster now!

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