Mining the Lineups & News (5/7/21)

American League

Angels

• With Pujols being optioned, Jared Walsh can just play first and an outfield spot opens up. Watch the playing time of Taylor Ward and Juan Lagares over the weekend for this open spot.

José Iglesias (.630 OPS) has moved up to hitting fifth over the last three games.

Griffin Canning keeps tinkering with his windup.

While Canning presented first-round level production during his days as a Bruin, longtime UCLA head coach John Savage pointed out that Canning would likely alternate between going over his head as he began his windup. Canning has done just that in his short pro career and into his time in the big leagues — once again making the switch to go over his head before his last start.

“I started doing it just because I felt staticky out of my windup,” Canning said of the recent switch. “So it added some rhythm. Now I guess I was a little bit stubborn in not switching back like I probably should have earlier. But that’s who I am. I think that that’s my windup, and that’s who I should be.”

David Fletcher likes to take the first pitch and pitchers have noticed.

Because he’s one of the most selective swingers, Fletcher has taken as many called strikes as anyone. As a result, he’s been attacked in the zone more than anyone in the game for years, with a notable jump so far in 2021.

This season, he’s hitting .237/.237/.250 after falling behind 0 and 1. He has been better for his career going .289/.305/.367 after the first strike.

Astros

• Consistent with the only changes being Aledmys Díaz giving a player a day off.

Jose Altuve has led off for 10 straight games.

Athletics

Sean Murphy (.275/.383/.525 over the last two weeks) has hit third or fourth for seven of the last eight games. One of those games was as the DH.

• The team continues to start Elvis Andrus and his .143/.193/.171 triple-slash line at shortstop.

Jed Lowrie (.761 OPS) has settled into the 6th spot.

Blue Jays

• All is set except one end-of-the-lineup spot that changes through a varied cast of characters.

• Since coming off the IL, Teoscar Hernández is hitting .296/.387/.407 and batting fourth.

Indians

• The Amed Rosario to center field experiment is on hold. He’s in a shortstop platoon facing lefties while Andrés Giménez faces righties.

Jordan Luplow might be back to only facing lefties (.868 OPS) even though his .776 OPS vs righties is fine.

Cesar Hernandez has led off for nine of ten games and is hitting .222/.333/.389 over that time frame.

Yu Chang (vs LHP, .369 OPS) and Jake Bauers (vs RHP, .548 OPS) combine to create a horrible first base platoon.

Mariners

• It is a horrible lineup with José Marmolejos’s .624 OPS (min 20 PA) banking fourth on the team behind Ty France, Kyle Seager, and Mitch Haniger.

• I’m not sure how much longer the team can start Evan White (.141/.202/.205).

• If only the Mariners had any decent minor league prospects to fill in for these scrubs.

Orioles

• Since Austin Hays (batting second) has returned, the lineup has been consistent.

Rio Ruiz (.576 OPS), Pat Valaika (.669 OPS), and Ramón Urías (.527 OPS) splitting are having a pillow fight to see how “wins” the second base job.

Pedro Severino has climbed up the lineup to batting fourth to sixth.

Rangers

Willie Calhoun is leading off against right-handed starters but hitting at the bottom of the lineup or on the bench against lefties. I’m not sure why since he has a .853 OPS against lefties and a .901 OPS against righties.

Joey Gallo (.761 OPS) is now batting fifth swapping with Nate Lowe (.821 OPS) who is now hitting third.

Charlie Culberson (.803 OPS) is starting all games at third with Brock Holt hurt.

David Dahl (vs RHP, .544 OPS) and Eli White (vs LHP, .364 OPS) remain in a platoon.

• The Rangers expect infielder Andy Ibáñez to stay in the majors.

Woodward has mentioned before that if Ibáñez got to the Majors, it’d be hard to send him down. If he hits anywhere near his .300/.375/.497 slash line from Triple-A in 2019, he’ll no doubt be a valuable asset for the big league club.

Rays

• Just a nightmare to figure out. They haven’t had one repeat lineup all season.

• The hitters who started in eight of the last ten games are Randy Arozarena (.743 OPS), Austin Meadows (.775 OPS), Brandon Lowe (.663 OPS), Willy Adames (.542 OPS), Yandy Díaz (.711 OPS), Kevin Kiermaier (.604 OPS), and Joey Wendle (.823 OPS). For now, the rest aren’t rosterable.

Red Sox

• It has been steady all season, but there might be a new leadoff with Enrique Hernández possibly heading to the IL.

Franchy Cordero and Bobby Dalbec have only started four of the last six games.

Garrett Richards has been smoothing out his delivery.

So Richards got to work with pitching coach Dave Bush on tightening up his delivery and timing with his cross-body throwing motion.

“It’s more of a mindset to be honest,” Richards said. “I’m still stepping in the same place as I was before, still doing some similar things as I was before. But for whatever reason, it keeps me more upright and through the target. I have everything coming towards the plate instead of working left initially, then working back right, and trying to find it down the slope at the very end. We just cleaned up a couple things and made my delivery super simple where I can repeat it.

He has been better since the adjustment with 17 strikeouts and one walk in 12 innings. Over his first four starts, it was 12 strikeouts and 13 walks in 16 innings.

Royals

• Steady with the only change being Andrew Benintendi hitting second over the last four games after hitting .409/.469/.659 over the past two weeks.

Ryan O’Hearn (.727 OPS) has been the DH in five of the last seven games.

Tigers

• It’s at least consistent.

Akil Baddoo is hitting .192/.231/.493 and his .724 OPS is good for third-best on the team.

JaCoby Jones (.480 OPS) has started in five straight.

Twins

• The lineup started to settle in and then Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff headed to the IL.

• With Arraez out, Max Kepler (.621 OPS) has led off against righties.

Josh Donaldson (.769 OPS) has started 16 of 17 games at third base.

• With the ‘A’ lineup, Miguel Sanó (.525 OPS) hits eighth.

Miguel Sanó is still needing to do work against high-velocity pitches.

With Sanó nearly recovered from the mild right hamstring strain that has sidelined him since April 21, he’s eligible to come off the IL any day, and manager Rocco Baldelli said on Sunday that he expects the slugger to be activated “sometime in the middle of the week.”

But the Twins have been as focused on getting Sanó’s timing right as they have been on his health following a 5-for-45 start to the season, with 20 strikeouts, before he went on the shelf. The work with the velocity machine is an important part of that.

He has a 13% SwStr% against four-seamers this year.

Randy Dobnak is in the minors to be stretched out as a starter.

The Twins optioned Dobnak to Triple-A St. Paul on Monday in an effort to get him stretched out to a starter’s workload and into a more consistent rhythm after they struggled to give him consistent outings in the first month of the season. Reliever Brandon Waddell was recalled.

That inconsistency in his usage might have played into his 8.16 ERA through seven appearances.

“Just with the way the first month played out, we haven’t been able to keep him in that spot,” Baldelli said. “I mean, there’s only so much you can do during a Major League season to make sure a guy gets his work in, especially out of the bullpen.”

White Sox

• With Luis Robert out, Nick Madrigal (.315/.361/.404) has been hitting second.

Leury García (.457 OPS) has started eight of the last nine games.

• Retreads Jake Lamb (.500 OPS) and Billy Hamilton (.345 OPS) continue to get starts.

Andrew Vaughn (.666 OPS) has started six of the last seven games in left field.

Yankees

• Has settled down with everyone having a slot.

Kyle Higashioka has started six of the last nine games at catcher. He is only hitting .125/.222/.292 over the last week.

Mike Ford (.483 OPS) has started four of the last five at first with Voit still out and LeMehieu moving to second.

Aaron Hicks has started ten straight in center field while hitting .257/.341/.400 over that time frame.

National League

Braves

• A steady lineup with William Conteras (1.200 OPS) and Cristian Pache (.432 OPS) slotting into the seventh and eighth spot with d’Arnaud and Heredia on the IL.

Austin Riley (.788 OPS) has jumped from the seventh to the fifth spot.

William Contreras will get full-time at-bats at whatever level he plays.

But because the Braves view Contreras as a top prospect and future starting catcher, they didn’t want him riding the bench four out of every five days in the majors this season, so they made Jackson the backup to d’Arnaud on the initial roster.

Brewers

Lorenzo Cain has started twice in four games since returning from the IL.

Daniel Vogelbach (.603 OPS) has hit second or third in the last three games.

• Almost no one is hitting. Jackie Bradley Jr. has moved up a couple of spots but has a .574 OPS on the season and .539 OPS over the past two weeks.

Cardinals

• Steady as they come especially as compared to other teams.

Tyler O’Neill (.789 OPS) has settled into the sixth spot with Harrison Bader (.825 OPS) in the seventh spot.

Cubs

• Complete madness with players hurt (Happ and Hoerner) and the Tuesday doubleheader.

Matt Duffy (.308/.429/.365) has started 10 of the last 15 games.

David Bote (.547 OPS) has started three straight with Nico Hoerner on the IL.

Diamondbacks

• With Christian Walker and Tim Locastro off the IL, playing time is becoming scarce. The biggest issue is in the outfield with Pavin Smith, David Peralta, Daulton Varsho, Josh Rojas, and Locastro fighting for playing time.

• I wonder how long the team can start Nick Ahmed (.429 OPS) every day at short.

• Josh Rojas started the season swinging at everything.

“I had full confidence coming into the season, especially after the spring I had,” Rojas said. “I got too big. I was swinging at everything that they were throwing to me, and I was trying to do too much with it.”

“That’s how you work yourself out of a lineup, when you don’t hit and you don’t produce and you don’t put together good at-bats,” Rojas said. “It’s exactly what I was doing.”

While out of the lineup, Rojas sought to simplify his approach, working alongside the D-backs’ hitting coaches and utilizing the video room to see the error of his ways.

• The team is not looking to have Daulton Varsho catch … at least for a while.

The D-backs are working to ease Daulton Varsho back to catching duties. He was called up from the alternate training site when outfielder Kole Calhoun was placed on the 10-day IL.

“I told him while he was up here, it’s just still getting familiar with the big league environment,” Lovullo said. “Let’s just focus on a couple things in the outfield and not necessarily worry about jumping into a full-time or a part-time catching role, so I just try to simplify it for him as much as possible.”

Dodgers

Gavin Lux (vs RHP) and Sheldon Neuse (vs LHP) are in a second base platoon.

• The same players are in every day, but the bottom half of the lineup gets mixed up quite a bit.

Giants

Mike Tauchman (.792 OPS with the Giants) has started seven straight and led off for three of them.

• With La Stella and Solano out, Wilmer Flores (.635 OPS) has started five straight.

• With Mike Yastrzemski out, Tauchman has been the only regular outfielder with Mauricio Dubón (.543 OPS), Alex Dickerson (.627), Steven Duggar (.798), Austin Slater (.616), and Jason Vosler (.481) getting starts.

• In previous seasons, Buster Posey didn’t have time to train since he was using his spare time rehabbing.

He was catching bullpens before the six-month mark. He started on Opening Day seven months after the surgery. By the time the conservative recovery estimate arrived, he’d already played in a month’s worth of games. He spent so much time and energy in rehab and recovery, there was no chance he could train for something more ambitious than merely getting back on the field and grinding it out.

That’s what Posey was able to do heading into the spring of 2020, when he appeared rejuvenated in his exhibition at-bats.

I’ve read about this link before where too much rehab leads to a drop in production. It’s so tough to track, but it could give fantasy managers an edge by finding out about these dinged-up players.

Marlins

Corey Dickerson sits against lefty-starter with his platoon partner varying.

Isan Díaz (.667 OPS) has been stealing playing time from Jon Berti (.628 OPS, 1 for 3 in SB) with Jazz Chisholm Jr. out.

Adam Duvall (668 OPS, is now batting cleanup.

Brian Anderson (.619 OPS) has returned from the IL (oblique) and is hitting fifth.

Mets

Francisco Lindor is lost at the plate and it has gotten worse as the season has gone on. He had a .668 OPS over the first 13 games and a .343 OPS over the last 12. And he’s still hitting first or second.

• With J.D. Davis out, Jonathan Villar (.659 OPS, 0 SB) has started five straight games at third base.

• With Brandon Nimmo out, Kevin Pillar (.719 OPS) has started five straight in center field.

Jeff McNeill has hit .306/.432/.417 over the past two weeks and with the Nimmo injury, he now leading off.

Nationals

Josh Harrison (.329/.417/.466) is hitting second or third every day.

Josh Bell (vs RHP) and Ryan Zimmerman (vs LHP) are in a platoon at first base.

Yadiel Hernandez has started eight of 10 while hitting .300/.370/.400 with a homer and two steals.

• It’ll be interesting to see how the outfield situation shakes out once Juan Soto returns. Victor Robles (.630 OPS) is just 1 for 4 on stolen base attempts while Kyle Schwarber (.598 OPS) is also not hitting.

Padres

• All the regulars have been healthy for a while, but that means someone has to sit. Here are the games started since Grisham’s return on April 20th (14 games).

Phillies

• As a group, the center fielders are hitting .125/.202/.202 on the season. Odúbel Herrera has added to the misery by batting .133/.161/.133 so far.

Nick Maton (.707 OPS) has started 17 straight games with Jean Segura out.

Brad Miller (.805) has started four straight with Bryce Harper out.

• Since Andrew McCutchen took a two-game break, he’s hitting .290/.353/.645 with three home runs.

• Nick Maton may try his hand in center field.

He had to swap gloves with the team’s interpreter, Diego Ettedgui, because Maton is learning to play center field in the afternoons and his infield glove won’t do.

For the next 10 minutes, Maton tracked balls. Odúbel Herrera hit one against the green wall and Maton played it cleanly. Herrera then hit a line drive right at Maton. He stuttered, moved two steps inward, and snared it. The entire time, Phillies outfield coach Paco Figueroa studied Maton’s footwork. They chatted after each practice ball hit to center. Batting practice ended and the two continued to work in center on specific footwork drills.

Pirates

Phillip Evans has started only two of the last four games with a .378 OPS over the past two weeks.

Ka’ai Tom (.504 OPS with Pittsburgh) has started five of six games since joining the team.

Kevin Newman and his .480 OPS are entrenched at the bottom of the lineup.

Reds

• Today we’ll find out how the Reds deal with Votto’s absence. My guess is that Nick Senzel moves to second base with musical chairs happening with Moustakas ending up at first base.

Tyler Naquin has cooled off. He hit .262/.354/.714 with six homers in his first 12 games. In the last 13, he’s hitting just .257/.372/.286 with just one extra-base hit.

Tucker Barnhart (.924 OPS) and Tyler Stephenson (.839 OPS) are about splitting catching duties 50/50.

José De León will work out of the bullpen in the minors.

De León will be used as a reliever at Louisville, rather than a starter.

“We feel like there’s the most opportunity to help us,” Bell said. “Unless something happens, he’ll be there for at least 10 days, and the plan is to go there and stay a reliever, come back to help us on shorter outings.”

Rockies

• The lineup is settling in with Raimel Tapia, Garrett Hampson, Trevor Story, and Ryan McMahon in the top for spots.

• Over the last four games, Matt Adams has started two at first base with C.J. Cron (.889 OPS) starting the other two.

• After being a regular for two weeks, Yonathan Daza (.469 OPS over the last two weeks) has sat the last three games.





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 four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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rustydudemember
1 year ago

If you never watched a stitch of baseball or monitored any stats, you would know offense is way way down just by reading this piece. Guys with OPS’s in the 300’s and 400’s with regular jobs. Guys hitting cleanup with OPS’s in the 600’s.

Lanidrac
1 year ago
Reply to  rustydude

It’s still pretty early, so guys with good track records but off to bad starts are still mostly expected to rebound at this point.

shakeappealmember
1 year ago
Reply to  Lanidrac

There’s the ball to consider. I think we’ll see severely depressed offense all year. And more no-hitters.

cartermember
1 year ago
Reply to  rustydude

well if you never watched a stitch of baseball or monitored any stats you probably wouldn’t know what ops is:)