The month of April is fantastic because not only do we get baseball back into our lives, but we also get the overreactions that come with it. A player on one of our fantasy teams gets benched in Week One and all hell breaks loose. In reality most of these teams are still figuring out their lineups, and the NL teams specifically are trying to rotate the DH spot to game it as a means to staying healthy for a full season.
While this is all true, some players who are deserving of play-time from the jump get undercut, and that is where issues may lie. Teams are reluctant to consistently start certain players until they “see” the talent, and that does nothing but harm the development of youth at times.
Regardless, the lineup decisions thus far can be somewhat telling. Here is what we know a week into the 2022 season!
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Mets’ Log Jam
The New York Mess … I mean Mets are off to a good start to their season on the backs of their starting pitchers who have a cumulative ERA of 1.29 through seven games. Their 5-2 record has them 1st in the NL East.
The offense has been fine but unspectacular as they rotate through the fringe bats who can be impactful if played more consistently.
Offseason additions Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha have played in all but one game. They are essentially everyday players while Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, and Brandon Nimmo * are * everyday players.
Cano, Smith, and Davis are all talented in their own right, but the frustrating usage makes them tough to roster in fantasy until a trade comes about. They are bats to watch on the wire at best.
Yankees’ Rotational Off-Days
The other New York team has a similar problem to the Mets with a different solution. Rather than solidifying a place in the lineup for most of their plethora of bats, they rotate off-days and get playing time to everybody in a rather savvy way.
DJ LeMahieu, Josh Donaldson, Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Aaron Hicks, and Joey Gallo are all core “everyday” players, but their occasional day off will benefit their short-term and long-term health. The Yankees have enough hitting depth to supplant the “open” roster spot for each game while not heavily impacting overall production.
Thus far, the off-days have looked like this:
- Aaron Hicks – 2
- DJ LeMahieu – 1
- Giancarlo Stanton – 1
- Joey Gallo – 1
- Gleyber Torres – 1
Judge and Rizzo have yet to take a seat, but they are both going to have their fair share as the season goes on. Judge’s health problems kept him out of the lineup for nearly three full years, while Rizzo is turning 33 this season and likely not done with his back issues.
This one is nonsensical as Vaughn is a former third-overall pick who is playing up-to-snuff to start the season. Had AJ Pollock stayed healthy, this would be a non-issue given the roster log-jam – but given his absence, Vaughn should be playing every single day.
Vaughn started playing the outfield last season and is capable as a first baseman. He will be moved around the field and hit regardless of where he’s positioned because he is just that talented. Hitting behind Eloy Jimenez and Yasmani Grandal in the lineup can only help as they will continue to be tough outs all season.
Kyle Tucker Hitting in the Bottom-Half of a Healthy Lineup
Astros’ manager Dusty Baker is testing every Kyle Tucker manager’s patience. Wednesday was the first time Tucker hit in the top-four and that was only due to Yordan Alvarez’s absence. Baker is allergic to batting two lefties next to one another, leaving Tucker as the odd-man-out of the top half and slotting into the sixth spot.
Baker has been vocal about testing different bats at leadoff, yet 2B Jose Altuve continues to bat there while OF Michael Brantley hits behind him. There are at least two hitters in front of Tucker that are objectively worse (Brantley / Gurriel) – but due to their veteran status, they hold precedent until the bottom falls out.
One way we could see Tucker shoot up the order is if Baker decides to bat him leadoff given his excellent ability to get on base. Altuve is not hitting too well to start 2022, so maybe this change could come sooner than later?
Steven Kwan aka Kwan Soto aka Kwan King aka King Kwan is taking the league by storm. Whether it be a walk, single, or even a lineout, the Kwan does something with the baseball. His start to the season has been so impressive that he did not swing and miss all season until Wednesday, nearly a full week into the season. The rookie outfielder was hitting from the bottom-third of the order to start, but quickly moved up to second and bumped Amed Rosario down to fifth behind Franmil Reyes (not the worst demotion).
Kwan in the two-hole presents a myriad of opportunities. Whether it be batting in speedy slap-hitter Myles Straw, or getting scored in by the talented bats of Jose Ramirez or Franmil behind him. Kwan will also have plenty of opportunities to steal bases as the two-hitter. He has attempted one thus far and has been caught – but given his Minor League track record, we should expect a handful more attempts over the coming months.
The Guardians do not have around to take the two-hole or playing time away from Kwan, which is great because destiny this season is fully in his hands. He will have every opportunity to succeed, and the early returns are quite favorable.
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