(*) LINEUPS OUTLOOK: Giants still evolving, three lead-off hitters of interest and more

Continuing our weekly series assessing how lineups evolve, it feels like San Francisco deploys a different lineup daily, but there's a recent trend atop the batting order worth looking into. Over the last week, three players have emerged as their team's lead-off hitter, which could provide value moving forward. Plus, two hitting stream options for 12-team formats. 

San Francisco Giants

Despite the ever-changing lineup construction put forth by Gabe Kapler, in recent contests, depending on pitcher handedness, one of two hitters lead-off. LaMonte Wade Jr. bats first facing right-handed pitchers and remains a points league favorite, posting a .514 on-base percentage when leading off versus them. Through nine games, he's scored three runs with a double and a home run. Of more interest, he's drawn nine walks against six strikeouts over 37 plate appearances. One would prefer him scoring more runs, but it's more of a reflection of his team's production, rather than an inability of being on base. 

Small sample size alert, but when the Giants face a left-handed starting pitcher, Thairo Estrada transitions atop the lineup. He's hit lead-off in three of his last four starts. However, when the team faces a right-handed pitcher, he usually hits sixth, which caps his runs and RBI, but he's been more aggressive on the basepaths when facing them. Using 2022 for a larger sample, he stole eight bases, in 11 attempts (72.7 success rate) while recording a .250 batting average with a .671 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). 

Against left-handed pitching last year, he owned a .283 batting average with a .834 on-base plus slugging with one stolen base in two tries. Although his early returns this season do not reflect these results, plan on Estrada running more versus right-handed pitchers, and improving his OPS versus southpaws as the season ensues. 

While many of the lineup spots remain fluid, one should track how the team uses Darin Ruf. Claimed off waivers, he may be a factor in the heart of the batting order against left-handed pitching, and if he starts strong, more at-bats may occur. 

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Lead-off Hitters of Interest

  • Bryson Stott (2B, PHI) - Many overlooked his second half improvements last season, but after an adjustment period in the majors, he posted a .276/.331/.404 slash line with 31 runs, four home runs, 23 RBI and nine stolen bases after the All-Star break. Fast forward into this season, he's hot and hit first in the lineup against right-handed pitching, along with receiving his first start facing a left-handed pitcher on Thursday night in St. Louis. As a lead-off hitter, he's only recorded 11 plate appearances with a run, a double, an RBI, two stolen bases and a .363 batting average. Next week, he matches up with three projected right-handed starters against the White Sox then gets the Rockies at home. Giddy up. 
  • Ji Hwan Bae (OF, PIT) - Those searching for speed can take a shot on Bae. He's batting first against right-handed pitching since Oneil Cruz landed on the injured list. Because he owns a limited sample size in the majors, delving into his career results against right-handed pitchers may yield better results for fantasy purposes. Through 61 plate appearances facing them, he's scored 10 runs with four home runs, 23 RBI and swiped six bases, without being caught. This accompanies a .306 batting average and .886 OPS. Many perceive him as a "one-trick" pony, but there's some latent power here, and exposure atop the lineup boosts his counting categories. Next week, he visits Coors Field and then gets a four-game set at home against the Reds. 
  • Chas McCormick (OF, HOU) - Over the last five games, he's hit first for the Astros, no matter the pitcher handedness, logging 25 plate appearances, scoring five runs with two doubles, a home run and six RBI. In this timeframe, he's slashed .318/.375/.546 and even chipped in with a stolen base. His 162-run pace nor .400 batting average on balls in play will persist, but if he remains at lead-off, his counting numbers receive a boost in this offense. He matches up with Toronto and Atlanta next week. 

Hitting Streamer Options for Week 3

  • Josh H. Smith (3B, TEX) - He will not fully replace Corey Seager in the lineup, but Smith hit second in his team's first game without him. Even though he will play shortstop, he owns dual eligibility at third base and outfield if targeting him this weekend. Better news, Texas will play three games at Kansas City, with a right-handed starter projected in each contest, then head home against a beleaguered A's rotation, setting him up for success if he warms up. 
  • Carlos Santana (PIT) - Warming up over the last couple of contests, Santana gets a trip to Coors, with two left-handed starters slated to start, then a four-game set with the Reds. This may be the recipe for a power surge in Week three. 

If your league has Brett Baty on the waiver wire, this may be the last weekend savvy owners can stash him. 

Until next time, stay safe and be well while digesting all the terrific content at BaseballHQ, keeping you ahead of the competition. 

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