By Tommy Rancel //
When Albert Pujols left the field clutching his left wrist this weekend, millions of fantasy owners across the world felt his pain. Despite the “down” season, the three-time National League MVP was hitting .279 with 17 home runs and 45 RBI thus far. The 17 home runs were third best in the NL while the 45 RBI were good enough for a top-10 ranking. In the month of June, Pujols began to turn it on with a .317 batting average to go along with eight home runs and a slugging percentage of .778!
Pujols owners scrambling to the waiver wire know they will not find anything close to the machine – even in season where he has not been at his best. Nevertheless, the search for lost production must begin somewhere. With that in mind, here are a few names to keep in mind…
Casey Kotchman – Because of his market (Tampa Bay) and the fact that he has yet to qualify for the batting leaderboards, Kotchman’s 2011 has largely flown under the radar. After an abysmal 2010 in Seattle, the local product is hitting .345 with an OPS of .878 through 57 games. Kotchman will not provide you with much power (three home runs), and some question how long he can continue to hit for a high average; however, as a temporary solution, his long-term output does not matter. It also helps that he is available in most mixed leagues and will not require a trade.
Mark Trumbo – The addition of Russell Branyan has cut into Trumbo’s playing time, but not to the point where you shouldn’t consider him as the Angels’ primary first baseman. He is available in nearly half the standard mixed leagues, and unlike Kotchman, he is a source of power in Pujols’ absence. His batting average and on-base percentage are lackluster, but he has hit 25 extra-base hits including 12 home runs. Depending on your team’s needs, Kotchman (average and on-base percentage) and Trumbo (power) are quick fixes for cheap in most standard mixed leagues.
Anthony Rizzo – In NL-Only leagues and those with 18-plus teams, the options are less fruitful. Meanwhile, a young slugger like Anthony Rizzo could be available with plenty of upside. San Diego’s first baseman of the future registered three hits in his first three games; however, logged just one hit over the past week. While his bat has gone cold, the rookie has shown a fantastic eye at the plate which should keep his slumps relatively short. A beast in the minor leagues, his power may take a dip in Petco park, but the upside and availability in deep leagues makes him a target nonetheless.
For more on Albert Pujols and potential options check out Bloomberg Sports Free-Agent Finder and Trade Analyzer