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Welcome back to Hitter Profiles for the 2024 fantasy baseball season.  Last week we covered the NL West and this week we head over to the AL East.  In a division full of teams that all have postseason hopes, there are bound to be a bevy of fantasy assets for the pickings.  2024 welcomes Juan Soto and Corbin Burnes to the division which certainly will boost their values.  We also have exciting young talent on teams like the Orioles and Rays that are trying to stake a claim after years of watching the Yankees and Red Sox draw the spotlight.  This year, there is an argument that any team could win the division and we may have over half the division in the playoffs.  Excitement awaits us as we dive into the AL East.  So without further ado let’s walk through the boom and bust candidates in this competitive division!

Important Notes: All views focus on 5×5 rotisserie formats with NFBC ADP and Yahoo position eligibility.

Boom

Adley Rutchman – Orioles (ADP 49)

Adley Rutschman’s emergence continues in 2024 providing immense offensive potential, particularly within the catcher position. While the pool of catcher talent deepens again this year and two-catcher leagues become more manageable, Rutschman’s potential sets him apart with the potential of a remarkable 30-home run, 100-RBI, 100-run, .300 average season. Comparing him to similarly drafted players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, Rutschman should be the easy choice (sorry Toronto). With the added advantage of positional scarcity, Rutschman’s stock should continue to rise and the price will remain worth investing.

Brandon LoweRays (ADP 263)

Brandon Lowe’s fantasy outlook is intriguing yet tempered by his history of injury concerns, having averaged just 87 games over the past two seasons. However, reports this offseason suggest he’s finally healthy, potentially unlocking the impressive power we have longed for.  With the potential for 30-40 homers over a full season, Lowe remains a tantalizing breakout candidate. What sets this year apart is his draft price, typically around round 22, making him a low-risk, high-reward middle infield candidate or bench piece. The injury concerns are factored into his price, leaving plenty of room for profit if he stays healthy and realizes his potential.  Lowe represents a value pick with considerable upside for managers willing to take a calculated risk.

Justin TurnerBlue Jays (ADP 252)

Justin Turner’s consistent production over the last three seasons makes him a valuable asset, yet he often flies under the radar. Averaging 21 homers, 86 RBIs, and a .278 average during that span is more than folks often realize.  He even provides multi-position eligibility depending on your league settings at first, second, and third base. Despite entering his age-39 season, Turner’s recent $13 million investment from the Blue Jays highlights his importance in their lineup, solidifying his fantasy value. Sure there are signs of slight decline, such as a dip in hard-hit rate and xBA, however, Turner’s current average draft position around 250 suggests he’s often drafted as a bench piece. He has the potential to exceed expectations, he has in the past, and provide significant draft returns throughout the season. With his track record and role in a strong lineup, Turner represents a valuable late-round pick with the potential to make a meaningful impact when he is merely being treated as a replacement-level player.

Bust

Cedric MullinsOrioles (ADP 143)

Cedric Mullins’ recent performance and trends should raise concerns for fantasy owners. Starting August 1 last season, he struggled to the finish line hitting just .190 with a wRC+ of 55. At the end of the season, he was often relegated to the bottom third of the lineup and losing at-bats against left-handed pitchers.  Mullins seems to be trending in the wrong direction, with his team potentially moving past him. Moreover, his draft price as the 33rd outfielder off the board still reflects his breakout 2021 season, despite his decline.  Looking at how he is trending from the metrics, Mullins appears to be deviating from what he is good at, attempting to adopt a power-hitting style that doesn’t suit him. Notably, his fly ball rate has increased from 35% in 2020 to 49% in 2023, with a corresponding uptick in his pull percentage. We should approach Mullins with caution, considering his recent struggles and departure from his successful formula there is not much beyond downside at the current price.

Bo BichetteBlue Jays (ADP 38)

Bo Bichette has been viewed as an early round talent for the last few years and that view should be a changin’.  Moving off the board at the end of the third or early fourth round, there are much more intriguing options.  First off, the speed has declined dramatically as the league has gone the other way.  In 2021, Bo stole 25 bases, and in 2023 that figure dropped all the way to five while being caught an additional three times.  While his batting average and xBA both support a strong contribution, his power metrics are dipping with a launch angle roughly half of the league average in 2023.  Bo is still a great player but the applies more to the real-world game than a translation to fantasy stats.  I would be much more intrigued by players such as Randy Arozarena, Royce Lewis, or even Mike Trout coming off the board one to three rounds later than continuing to hope for growth with Bo.

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