Lineup Lowdown: American League

Lineup Lowdown: American League

This article is part of our Lineup Lowdown series.

The goal with Lineup Lowdown is simple: we're looking for trends which could help identify players who might be undervalued or overvalued. Who is playing more/less? Who is moving up/down? We'll be doing a deep dive into one league each week as we navigate the lineup landscape.

Baltimore Orioles

Heston Kjerstad has looked good at the plate since being recalled in late June, slashing .367/.441/.733 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 10 games. The playing time has also been better – although still not ideal – with the rookie making nine starts in 14 contests. He has started eight of 10 versus righties and made one start against a southpaw during that span. Since Kjerstad was promoted, Colton Cowser has made just one fewer start, but he's been on the bench for three straight against righties. Cedric Mullins has started 11 games and Austin Hays has been in the lineup just five times.

Jorge Mateo has been out of the lineup for each of the last three games and has started four of the last nine contests. Ramon Urias has made five starts over those nine games, playing third base while Jordan Westburg shifts over to second base.

Boston Red Sox

David Hamilton's playing time had been slipping with six starts over the last 11 contests, with Enmanuel Valdez starting the same number of games over that span. However, Valdez was sent down Tuesday, clearing the way for Hamilton to be in the lineup

The goal with Lineup Lowdown is simple: we're looking for trends which could help identify players who might be undervalued or overvalued. Who is playing more/less? Who is moving up/down? We'll be doing a deep dive into one league each week as we navigate the lineup landscape.

Baltimore Orioles

Heston Kjerstad has looked good at the plate since being recalled in late June, slashing .367/.441/.733 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 10 games. The playing time has also been better – although still not ideal – with the rookie making nine starts in 14 contests. He has started eight of 10 versus righties and made one start against a southpaw during that span. Since Kjerstad was promoted, Colton Cowser has made just one fewer start, but he's been on the bench for three straight against righties. Cedric Mullins has started 11 games and Austin Hays has been in the lineup just five times.

Jorge Mateo has been out of the lineup for each of the last three games and has started four of the last nine contests. Ramon Urias has made five starts over those nine games, playing third base while Jordan Westburg shifts over to second base.

Boston Red Sox

David Hamilton's playing time had been slipping with six starts over the last 11 contests, with Enmanuel Valdez starting the same number of games over that span. However, Valdez was sent down Tuesday, clearing the way for Hamilton to be in the lineup regularly versus righties. Hamilton has occupied a prime spot in the batting order when he's been in there, hitting second in each of his last seven starts.

Wilyer Abreu has been down in the No. 7 spot in the Red Sox's lineup for the last two games, which is the lowest he's batted since early May. The overwhelming majority of his starts since then have come from either the second or third spot in the order. Abreu went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in Sunday's contest and has just a .468 OPS and 17:1 K:BB in 39 plate appearances since coming off the injured list last month.

New York Yankees

– Since Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) went down, nine of Aaron Judge's 14 starts have come from the designated hitter slot, and he's also made one start in right field during that span on a day Juan Soto was used at DH. It's created more opportunities for Trent Grisham, who has started all nine contests versus righties and also one against a lefty since Stanton's injury. With more reps has come more production, with Grisham sporting an .806 OPS during the stretch along with his usual stellar defense (although he did have one well-publicized flub in center field).

– The Yankees have moved away from Anthony Volpe as their leadoff hitter, pushing him down to the 5-7 range over their last five games. Ascending to the top of the batting order has been rookie Ben Rice, who responded with a three-homer, seven-RBI game and also a game with a solo shot since the move. The Yanks have not yet faced a lefty since the lineup switch, so it's not clear who will hit leadoff in those instances. The left-handed-hitting Rice has been on the bench each of the last four times his team has gone up against a southpaw.

Tampa Bay Rays

Brandon Lowe has been seeing more and more time in the Rays' DH slot, with six of his last 10 starts coming there. It's allowed the team to keep Jose Caballero active, with six of his last 11 starts coming at second base. Caballero's playing time overall has still been cut since Taylor Walls returned, as Tampa Bay prefers Walls at shortstop, but the former has started five of the last six games and 10 of the last 13 tilts.

Jose Siri has followed a stretch that saw him post a .986 OPS with six homers with one where he went 1-for-23 with nine strikeouts. It's nothing new, of course, as he's one of the streakiest bats in the game. The Rays are still leaning on him heavily in center field, giving him 23 starts there across the last 26 games. He has been on the bench two times in the last four tilts versus righties, so it's possible there's a downturn in playing time if the slump continues.

Toronto Blue Jays

– The suddenly red-hot George Springer has returned to the leadoff spot for the Blue Jays, hitting there in each of his last four starts heading into action Tuesday, which is following a six-plus week stint during which he batted anywhere from fourth to seventh. Springer has collected a 1.419 OPS with five home runs and 16 RBI over his last 12 contests. Bo Bichette had taken a brief turn at leadoff prior to Springer recapturing that gig, but Bichette has since batted fourth twice, second once and fifth once.

Davis Schneider's playing time has trended downward. The 25-year-old has been in the lineup just six times across the last 12 contests going into Tuesday and just three times over the past nine games against right-handed pitching. Schneider has collected just a .495 OPS since June 1, dropping his mark for the year to a season-low .700. While Schneider's reps have hemorrhaged, Spencer Horwitz has settled in as an everyday guy, mostly at second base, and Kevin Kiermaier has also been a regular again with Daulton Varsho shifting back to left field most days.

Chicago White Sox

Eloy Jimenez aggravated his hamstring injury in his first game back from the IL, and while he avoided a return trip to the IL, Jimenez has been out of the lineup four times in the last 13 contests. It appears to be a proactive rest situation, although Jimenez hasn't done himself any favors with just a .613 OPS, zero home runs and two RBI in 14 games since his return to the active roster.

– Jimenez receiving extra days of rest has allowed both Gavin Sheets and Tommy Pham to remain in the lineup most days. Sheets has started 10 of 16 games (five in right field, three at DH, two at first base) since Jimenez was activated and Pham has been in the lineup for all but two contests (11 in right field, two in center field, one in left field) during that stretch. One of the games Pham sat out was due to a dental issue.

Cleveland Guardians

Angel Martinez has made six straight starts after rejoining the big club last week, and he occupied the No. 2 spot in the batting order for each of those contests. The Guardians have faced three lefties and three righties over that stretch, so the handedness of the opposing pitcher doesn't appear to matter for the switch-hitting utility player's playing time. He's performed, too, reaching base a whopping 13 times (eight walks) in his last five games.

– If Martinez does keep earning more reps, it figures to mostly come at the expense of Tyler Freeman and/or Daniel Schneemann. Freeman has been impacted the most, with just three starts in the last six contests. Jhonkensy Noel has also seen action in right field with six starts there in the last 10 games. Things will be further complicated when Will Brennan (ribs) returns.

Detroit Tigers

Parker Meadows' brief return to the big leagues had gone well, as he went 4-for-11 with one home run, a walk and a stolen base in three games. Unfortunately, Meadows strained his hamstring in the third contest and landed on the 10-day injured list. Matt Vierling had been seeing the bulk of the action in center field before Meadows was recalled and should return to that spot most days.

– The Tigers don't seem terribly interested in giving the 24-year-old Justyn-Henry Malloy reps in the field. He's started three games in left field but 22 at DH, including all five of his starts this month. It puts a lot of pressure on Malloy's bat, but that has perked up lately, with the youngster reaching base 10 times while popping a couple home runs and stealing one base over his last six tilts.

Kansas City Royals

Maikel Garcia was moved down to the eight spot in the Royals' lineup for Sunday's game. It's just the third time in 88 starts that he hasn't batted leadoff, but all three of them have come since June 22. Naturally, Garcia homered and reached base three times in the contest. A move from the top of the batting order for Garcia was probably overdue, though, considering his lowly .283 on-base percentage. We'll see if it sticks. Adam Frazier hit leadoff Sunday, but that was his first start in three games after returning from the IL.

– As far as Garcia's position goes, he's been back to playing third base in his last two starts after being the regular second baseman for the past couple weeks. Michael Massey had been limited to DH duties as he returned from a back injury, but he's feeling well enough now to handle the keystone defensively. It's going to result in less playing time for Nick Loftin – who had been the everyday guy at the hot corner – and more for Freddy Fermin, who can catch while Salvador Perez is the DH and also be the DH himself on occasion.

Minnesota Twins

Royce Lewis is, unfortunately, hurt again, having landed on the 10-day injured list with a Grade 2 right adductor strain. He is expected to be on the shelf until at least late July or so, which means the Twins needed to find a fill-in at third base. They chose top prospect Brooks Lee, who started six straight before sitting Tuesday (five at third, one at DH) and already piled up 11 hits, including a long ball. Lewis will certainly get his job back once he's ready, but if Lee performs he could be used as a regular between second base, third base, shortstop and DH.

– The scorching-hot Jose Miranda is an everyday player at this point, it's just a matter each day of what position he'll play (or if he'll be the DH). Miranda has started 11 of the previous 12 contests, with five of them coming at DH, five of them at third base and one at first base. The hot corner now won't be an option most days with Lee settling in there, so Miranda could just go back-and-forth between first base and DH.

Houston Astros

– It's been a peaks and valleys season for Jeremy Pena. He was great in April (.818 OPS), not so great in May (.690 OPS) and terrible in June (.550 OPS). The shortstop began to right the ship late in June, though, and has carried that over into July with a .947 OPS with a couple home runs. As such, he's been entrusted with the No. 2 spot in the Astros' lineup for the last two games. Now, it could be purely the result of Jose Altuve (hand) and Yordan Alvarez (knee) each missing a game because they were banged up (he was back to hitting fifth Tuesday), but it's worth tracking to see if Pena can continue to enhance his status.

– Speaking of peaks and valleys, that's been Joey Loperfido's playing time since he was recalled in late June. He started each of the first six games for the Astros after being promoted, but then was on the bench for four of the next five contests, and just one of those was against a left-hander. The left-handed-swinging Lopefido has since been included in the batting order for three of the last five tilts. The production (.599 OPS, 13:1 K:BB) during this stint in the big leagues for Loperfido hasn't been good, and he'll probably need to get hot in order to play consistently, particularly since it doesn't appear the team views him as a real option at first base.

Los Angeles Angels

Anthony Rendon returned to action Monday after missing more than 11 weeks with a torn hamstring. He was thrown right back into the fire at third base and in the leadoff spot, which is the role he played prior to getting hurt. Rendon had actually been heating up at the dish before getting injured, although he's offered virtually nil in the way of extra-base pop with three doubles and no homers on the season.

– Also resurfacing with the Angels has been Keston Hiura, who was called up this past Friday and inserted into the lineup for four of the first five games. He even batted second in that second contest and then cleanup in the third. Hiura, of course, is a former top prospect who quickly flamed out, and this is his first stint in the majors since 2022. The odds are much higher that Hiura is designated for assignment in a few weeks than he becomes a productive major leaguer, but he is still just 27 and has mashed at the Triple-A level each of the last two seasons.

Oakland Athletics

– The Athletics briefly gave Armando Alvarez a look at third base after Abraham Toro (hamstring) went down, but they've since turned to Brett Harris for seven straight contests at the hot corner, sticking him in the No. 8 spot in the batting order each time. Harris has found some footing offensively over the span with a .776 OPS, three doubles and five RBI. He still looks uninteresting for fantasy purposes, though, and Toro should be back before long.

– I have higher hopes for Lawrence Butler, who has manned right field for each of the last seven games versus right-handed pitching and in 14 of 16 tilts since being recalled. The 23-year-old has socked a couple homers already this month and sports an .890 OPS with two long balls and a stolen base in his last seven contests. The bad news is he's struck out at a 31.4 percent clip this season, he doesn't play against southpaws and he's stuck in the bottom third of a bad lineup. There's some potential with Butler, however, and a 91.5-mph average exit velocity is encouraging.

Seattle Mariners

– It's been a disappointing season for those rostering Mitch Garver (raises hand), but perhaps the tide is beginning to turn a bit. Garver has slugged seven home runs while sporting an .852 OPS across his last 25 contests, plating 19 runs along the way. He's also hitting just .207 with a 31-percent strikeout rate over that stretch, so it hasn't been all puppy dogs and ice cream. Garver has been elevated to the two hole in the Mariners' lineup for four of the last five tilts, so more counting stats potential is there if that sticks.

– On the flip side of the coin, Jorge Polanco has suddenly found himself out of the Mariners' lineup for three of the last five games, and in the two he started he was down in the No. 7 spot. The veteran switch-hitter has shown no signs of turning his season around. In fact, things have gotten worse since he returned from a hamstring injury last month, as he's gone 5-for-31 with a 16:0 K:BB. Dylan Moore has manned second base in two of the three contests Polanco sat, with Ryan Bliss getting the other start at the keystone.

Texas Rangers

– The red-hot Wyatt Langford displaced Adolis Garcia as the Rangers' cleanup man for each of the last two contests heading into action Tuesday. Langford was sporting a .224/.295/.293 batting line with just one home run (and it was an inside-the-park variety) and one stolen base when he went on the IL with a strained hamstring in early May. In 36 games since then, he's slashing .316/.377/.519 with four long balls, 28 RBI and six steals. If you condense it down to his last 80 plate appearances, he's at .366/.438/.662 with four homers.

Travis Jankowski entered Tuesday having started the last two games and four of the last six contests, occupying the DH slot twice and right field the other two times while Garcia was used at DH. To say the 33-year-old is miscast as a DH would be an understatement, and his .521 OPS in 2024 is even worse than his career mark of .631. Ideally, the Rangers would have Josh Jung (wrist) back at third base and Josh Smith at DH, and that should happen eventually, but Jung is in a holding pattern as he battles soreness in his surgically repaired wrist.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan Boyer
Ryan has been writing about fantasy baseball since 2005 for Fanball, Rotoworld, Baseball Prospectus and RotoWire.
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