Examining Lineups: AL Edition

I find the season’s first few weeks tough to analyze since no stats besides velocity are even close to being significant. Instead, I will look through the first week’s lineups for hitters whose value may be changing depending on preseason expectations.

Angels

  • Mike Scioscia has a lineup and he’s sticking to it unless Shohei Ohtani is the DH.
  • Of note, Zack Cozart’s leading off and Kole Calhoun is batting 5th.
  • The only question will be Kinsler slot once he comes off the DL. Albert Pujols should be the one dropping out of the cleanup spot but I bet it’s Cozart because, you know, veteran presence.

Astros

  • Basically, it’s the same lineup the World Champions used last season.
  • Evan Gattis has DH’ed in all by one game so far. The extra plate appearances will boost his value since he’s catcher qualified.
  • Derek Fisher has batted 9th and played left field in four straight games. We’ll see if he or Marwin Gonzalez ride-the-pine when Yulieski Gurriel returns from the DL with both hitting similarly (Fisher = .671 OPS, Gonzalez = .702 OPS).

Athletics

  • Besides five different hitters batting 2nd, the lineup has been set.
  • Probably the biggest surprises are Matt Olson batting 5th and Matt Chapman batting 7th. Both have moved up in the batting order for a couple games but overall, they’ve been buried a bit.

Blue Jays

  • Devon Travis has led off in five games but it might not continue with his .095 OBP and 0-for-1 on stolen base attempts. I’d not be surprised to see Keven Piller (.346 OBP) move to the top spot.
  • Curtis Granderson and Steve Pearce are in a platoon with Randal Grichuk starting every day. Granderson is hitting decently (.959 OPS) so he probably startable if the Jays are projected to face one or no lefties for the upcoming week.

Indians

Mariners

Orioles

  • Besides Chris Davis leading off, the Orioles have had a steady lineup.

Rangers

Rays

  • This lineup is a mess with platoons happening all over except its seems set in stone that Kevin Kiermaier will bat second and play center field.
  • Matt Duffy looks to be the normal third baseman and is hitting leadoff against lefties.
  • Denard Span is leading off against righties and sits against lefties.
  • Adeiny Hechavarria is normally playing short and Wilson Ramos is the regular catcher. The rest of the lineup is a complete cluster….

Red Sox

  • Nothing unexpected. J.D. Martinez has played both designated hitter and in the outfield while Hanley Ramirez is entrenched at first base.

Royals

  • A horrible lineup which is heading south with injuries to Salvador Perez and Lucas Duda.
  • Jon Jay is a sneaky value pick,  especially in an on-base league. He’s leading off. He gets on base. And Ned Yost loves him some stolen bases. While Jay hasn’t stolen many bases recently that fact won’t deter Ned. So far in four games, Jay has attempted two swipes and has been caught once.

Tigers

  • Leonys Martin is the leadoff hitter. I know the Tigers are in desperate need of talented players but they should look elsewhere than a hitter with a .300 career OBP. While it’s too early to draw any conclusions, Martin may be trying to air out hits as seen by his GB% being the 7th lowest in the league. He can’t utilize his speed if he’s putting every batted ball in the air.

Twins

  • Byron Buxton hitting 7th and 8th will hurt his chances for plate appearances, Steals, Runs, and RBIs. Just about his entire value. He’s not helping himself move up by posting a .211 OBP this season so far. He might become a poor man’s Billy Hamilton (ducks).
  • Without Buxton leading off, Dozier is doing great at the top of the lineup. His owners may have expected him to have an even mix of Runs and RBIs so they may need to trade him later to balance out their team.
  • With the suspension of Jorge Polanco, Eduardo Escobar has been hitting 5th or 6th in the lineup.

White Sox

  • My podcast partner, Rob Silver, point out the sad nature of the White Sox lineup. And he was right. Find starters going against this lineup.

Yankees

  • Murder’s Row is set with Sanchez bouncing back and forth from the 4th and 5th spot. The big change was Didi Gregorius moving up the 4th/5th spot with Aaron Hicks on the disabled list. Gregorius has done great but it will be interesting if he stays up when Hicks and Bird return.
  • The early season injuries and service time manipulation have the lineup’s bottom looking bland at best.

We hoped you liked reading Examining Lineups: AL Edition by Jeff Zimmerman!

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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Buhners Rocket Arm
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Buhners Rocket Arm

What sort of shakeup do you see for the Cleveland lineup when Brantley returns tomorrow? In 2017 Brantley batted 3rd, Ramirez 4th, and EE 5th until he got hurt. Kipnis has picked up in 2018 where he left off in 2017 – overall pretty terrible. So I wonder if Kipnis gets bumped to the back end of the lineup and Brantley bats 2nd.

I’m surprised by how low Brantley’s ownership% is. I stashed him in both my leagues because he should continue to produce when healthy with that fantastic supporting cast around him and should be owned and started in all but the most shallow formats. I think people forget he’s still 30.