Results tagged ‘ Albert Pujols ’

Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Baseball 2012 Recap: First Basemen

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw and Analyst Alex Burwasser recap the top five first basemen this fantasy season as well as the top three busts.

TOP FIVE PERFORMERS

5. Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels

In an offseason move that shocked many, Albert Pujols decided to leave St. Louis, his home for a decade where he won two championships, for the bright lights of Los Angeles in Anaheim. To the delight of jilted Cardinals fans, Pujols got off to a rough start for the Angels, even hearing some cat calls in his home park, but he more than made up for it over his final 105 games where he hit .319 with 26 home runs and 86 RBI. You can make a case that he may not be as dominant a hitter as he once was but he still put up his typical 30-HR, 100-RBI season, which always has fantasy value.

4. Billy Butler, 1B, Royals

Billy Butler has always been a very productive hitter throughout his career for the Royals but has consistently flown under the radar because he plays in relative obscurity in Kansas City. However, this year he was the subject of a national controversy when Robinson Cano decided not to pick him for the Home Run Derby in front of his home fans at Kauffman Stadium. Butler took the high road and did the talking with his bat the rest of the year when he finished with 29 home runs and 106 RBI, both career highs, all while hitting above .300 at .313.

3. Prince Fielder, 1B, Tigers

Much like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder moved from the top of the NL Central to the opposite league in the offseason. Fielder signed a massive nine-year contract which left many worrying about the long-term injury risk of signing a man of his size, but his performance in the first year of that deal quieted all the critics when he blasted 30 home runs and knocked in 108 RBI leading the Tigers to their second consecutive AL Central crown. Though Prince has had more powerful years, he hit over .300 for the first time in his career, checking in at a very impressive .313 on the season.

2. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/3B, Jays

Encarnacion had been a solid player for Toronto since acquiring him from the Reds in 2009, putting up seasons of 20 home runs and a little more than 50 RBI on average in 2010 and 2011. This season, however, he completely obliterated those numbers with 42 home runs and 110 RBI, more in each category than the previous two years combined. In addition, Encarnacion also improved in other categories, setting career highs in stolen bases (13) and walks (84). What makes this rapid improvement all the more impressive is that he did it without Jose Bautista in the lineup who missed about half the year injured. Next year could be very intriguing for the Jays with those two bats healthy and producing in the middle of that lineup.

1. Miguel Cabrera, 1B/3B, Tigers

There really is not much else you can say about the year Miguel Cabrera had for the American League champion Tigers. He was the first Triple Crown winner since 1967 (led the AL in batting average, home runs and RBI) and he did it before the age of 30! In fact, Miguel Cabrera leads all active major leaguers under the age of 30 in hits (1802), home runs (321), and RBI (1123). We are not sure Cabrera is on his way to his second championship ring this year, but it sure looks like he will be on his way to Cooperstown one day.

TOP THREE BUSTS

3. Mark Teixiera, 1B, Yankees

Every year in his career besides his rookie campaign in 2003, Mark Teixiera has had at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI, but not in 2012 when he hit only 24 home runs and knocked in only 84 RBI. Even more alarming for Teixiera is that he has seen his normally stellar batting average drop season after season. A perennial .280, and some years .300, hitter has not reached those numbers since 2009 when he hit .292. The last three seasons he has not hit above .256 including this year when he hit .251 and had a dreadful on-base percentage of .332. For the Yankees, he provides a lot of value with his defense at first base, but for fantasy owners, his value seems to be slipping fast.

2. Gaby Sanchez, 1B, Pirates

At the beginning of the year, many picked the Marlins and their revamped team with the acquisitions of Jose Reyes and Heath Bell among others to possibly win the NL East. Gaby Sanchez was one of the players set to contribute in the middle of that lineup, but much like the entire team, he was a gigantic disappointment. After the first 55 games of the season while hitting just above the Mendoza line at .202, Sanchez was sent down to the minors and subsequently traded to Pittsburgh. Though he fared better for the Pirates than for the Marlins, he still finished the year with a .217 average and only seven home runs, a huge dropoff from back-to-back 19 home run seasons in 2010 and 2011.

1. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals

During Spring Training, there was a lot of buzz around the Royals that they may be the team on the rise given their farm system and dearth of young talent. One of the centerpieces of this renewed hope was Eric Hosmer, and after his rookie campaign in 2011, it was easy to believe given that he hit .293 with 19 HR and 78 RBI in only 128 games. Much like his team, Hosmer severely underperformed his expectations this year hitting .232 in his first full season in the majors with less home runs (14) and less RBI (60). You would hope that this is just your classic sophomore slump for the third overall pick in the 2008 draft and 2013 is a year he can replicate or even outperform his 2011 numbers.

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

Ballpark Figures: Top Five Fantasy Baseball Players Over the Past Two Weeks

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down the five baseball players who have been making a huge fantasy impact over the past two weeks.

 

5) Alex Rios, OF, White Sox

Rios struggled with the White Sox in 2011, batting just .227. However, he has bounced back this season with a .316 AVG, 18 HR and 67 RBI. In the past two weeks alone, he hit .353 with 14 runs, five home runs, 15 RBI and one stolen base. He is a five-tool talent and his hot streak could continue, especially considering that he plays at hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field. Be aware, however, that Rios is known for his inconsistency.

 

4) Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals

Like Rios, LaRoche has struggled with inconsistency. Last year was a disaster for him, as he only played in 43 games and had just a .172 average. He is known for getting hot in the second half of the season and he is living up to that right now. In the past two weeks, LaRoche has a .429 average, 10 runs, seven home runs and 14 RBI.

 

3) Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers

Gomez is a solid outfielder defensively but is not known for his offense. He hasn’t been able to play every day in the past but he’s been given a chance in Milwaukee and is putting up huge numbers. Over the last two weeks, Gomez is batting .348 with 14 runs, four home runs, 10 RBI and six stolen bases. At 26 years old, he could get a chance to play full time next season.

 

2) Drew Stubbs, OF, Reds

Stubbs is known to be unpredictable at the plate. He steals a lot of bases and has some power but he kills your batting average. His currently has a .239 season average, but in the last two weeks, he has a .362 average with 17 runs, four homers, 11 RBI and five steals. Stubbs is a streaky hitter, so ride out this hot streak while you can.

 

1) Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels

Pujols had a slow start to the season but he’s been on fire recently, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Angels. Over the past two weeks, he has a .365 average, 11 runs, seven home runs, 19 RBI and two stolen bases.

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

Ballpark Figures All-Star Interviews: Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, and Mark Trumbo

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses the best teams in baseball right now and checks in with some of their top players at the All-Star Game.

Coming into the season it seemed like everyone was high on the Angels and Tigers, two of the more active teams in the off-season.  It turns out that the Yankees are the best in baseball and the Nationals are not far behind.

The All-Star break provided a chance to check in with some of the top players from contending teams, and one player we got to chat with was Ian Kinsler, the 42nd-best fantasy player accoring to Bloomberg Sports with 65 runs, 10 home runs and 15 steals. He was one of eight All-Stars from the Rangers, a franchise that has made it to back-to-back World Series.

“It was a good first half,” Kinsler said. “I think as a team we played well. We went through a lot more ups and downs than we wanted to but we played well and we’re in first place right now. And we have eight guys here at the All-Star Game, so we’re happy.”

Another team expected to contend for the title is the Detroit Tigers. Prince Fielder was the major off-season acquisition, but this is Miguel Cabrera’s team. Cabrera is enjoying an MVP-caliber season and right now ranks as the seventh-best fantasy player. He made it clear that the start to the second half will be big.

“We feel okay, you know. We want to feel more comfortable at the end of the season, like win the division, get into first place,” Cabrera said. “I think we’re in good position. I think we’re feeling good right now. We want to start good in the second half, start to be more aggressive and win more games.”

Finally, the Angels are putting some heat on the Tigers. Jered Weaver has pitched like an ace and Albert Pujols has turned things around. While everyone is talking about the superstar rookie Mike Trout, it’s the second-year star Mark Trumbo who ranks as the top surprise. He’s batting .305 with 26 home runs and 65 RBI.

“It’s been really special,” Trumbo said. “The first month of the season is probably forgettable. We were out there competing, just the results weren’t coming in. Sometimes that happens. But since then we’ve been rolling pretty well. People are playing to their capabilities and we’ve had a lot more wins to show for it.”

The Tigers, Angels and Rangers were supposed to be the teams competing for an AL pennant this season and so far they have. If the season ended today, all three would advance to the postseason thanks to the multiple Wild Card spots.  However, there is still a lot of baseball to play and several surprise teams are still out there, including the A’s, White Sox and Indians.  A big move at the trade deadline or even a key promotion could make the difference.

For more insight, visit BloombergSports.com. 

Ballpark Figures: Hall of Fame Predictions Part One

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss players who they think will definitely be inducted into the Hall of Fame and players who are debatable.

 

Definites

Based on his statistics, Manny Ramirez should be a Hall of Famer. He has 2574 hits, 1831 RBI and 555 home runs in his career. He is a 12-time All-Star and has two World Series rings (’04, ’07) and nine Silver Slugger awards. However, his use of PEDs has tarnished his statistics and will keep him out of the Hall of Fame.

 

Though Albert Pujols is struggling a bit this season with the Angels, he has already cemented a spot in the Hall of Fame. He has 2,142 hits, 456 home runs and a .325 batting average in his career. He is a three-time MVP (’05, ’08, ’09) and a nine-time All-Star and has won two World Series (’06, ’11), six Silver Slugger awards and two Gold Glove awards.

 

Like Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki‘s numbers are down this season, but he deserves induction into the Hall of Fame based on his past performances. He has 2,504 hits, 432 stolen bases and a .323 average in his career. The 10-time All-Star also won MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in 2001 and has earned 10 Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers.

 

Derek Jeter is another player who is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. The 12-time All-Star has 3,177 career hits, 344 stolen bases and a .313 career average, as well as five Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers. Above all, he is a big-time winner with five World Series rings.

 

Chipper Jones, set to retire at the end of this year after 19 seasons, is certainly Hall of Fame-bound. He has 2,650 hits, 459 home runs and a .304 average in his career, in addition to an MVP award (’99), seven All-Star selections and two Silver Sluggers.

 

Alex Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star and three-time MVP, is another player whose Hall of Fame candidacy is in question due to PEDs. However, it can be argued that after the steroid era ended, A-Rod still put up good enough numbers to warrant induction. He has 2,841 career hits and 640 home runs, and is 76 RBI away from 2000 for his career. He has one World Series ring (’09), 10 Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves.

 

Jim Thome is headed for the Hall of Fame with his 608 career HR. The five-time All-Star has had 12 seasons of 30+ HR and 100+ RBI but he is not just a home-run hitter. He has 1,710 walks, ranking 10th all-time.

 

Mariano Rivera is another player already in the Hall of Fame. He is the all-time saves leader with 608 and has a 2.21 career ERA, good for 13th all-time. He is the greatest closer of all time and one of the most clutch performers in sports. Despite being 42 years old, Rivera was as good as ever before his season was cut short by a torn ACL.

 

Questionable

Jamie Moyer sits at 269 wins as he is currently pitching in AAA and trying to make another comeback, this time with the Baltimore Orioles. If he returns shortly and assuming he pitches every fifth day, he could potentially start 19 games and could pick up the six wins he needs to reach 275 for his career. If the 49-year-old can somehow keep pitching into his fifties, he could have a shot at 300 wins and the Hall of Fame.

 

Johnny Damon‘s easiest path to the Hall of Fame is to get another 254 hits to reach 3,000 for his career. If he gets just 54 more hits and 17 more home runs, he would join Rickey Henderson, Barry Bonds and Craig Biggio as the only players to have 2,800 hits, 250 home runs and 400 stolen bases. At the moment, he is one of five players to have 230 home runs, 400 stolen bases and 2,700 hits.

 

Scott Rolen is one of three third basemen to hit above .280 and hit 300 or more home runs, and one of four third basemen to have 8,000 or more plate appearances and an OPS of .850 or better. At 37 years old, if Rolen can collect 77 hits the rest of this season and average 100 hits over the next four years or 133 hits over the next 3 years, he would reach 2,500 hits. In addition to his defense, position and more than 300 HR, he would have a very strong candidacy.

 

Todd Helton‘s chances to make it into the Hall of Fame may be hurt by playing at Coors Field. However, if the 38-year-old can hit 46 more home runs over the next five years, he’d reach 400 home runs and have a strong case with 2,500 hits and 400+ home runs, a feat only 25 Major Leaguers have accomplished. He has hit 227 home runs at home and just 138 home runs on the road, so he may need to do more than most for people to believe in his Coors-tainted candidacy.

 

Vladimir Guerrero needs just 51 home runs to reach 500 for his career. Among players with at least 8,000 career plate appearances since 1950, his average of .318 ranks sixth behind Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, Ichiro Suzuki and Todd Helton. he is one of only seven players in history with at least 350 home runs, a batting average of at least .310 and at least 2,500 career hits. Among the six others, only Manny Ramirez is not already in the Hall of Fame.

 

If Lance Berkman stays healthy and plays into his early 40s, he has a shot at reaching 500 home runs. If he can hit nine home runs the rest of this season, he’ll have 132 to go, which would mean four full seasons at his career pace of 33 per 162 games.

 

Tim Hudson has one of the 10 lowest ERAs of any pitcher with at least 2,000 innings pitched since 1990 and is tied for the fourth-most wins among active pitchers with 185. He also has the lowest home-run rate of any pitcher with at least 2,000 innings pitched since 1950.

 

 

For more baseball insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

Fantasy Baseball Strategy 2012 Edition

 

BY ROB SHAW

Twitter: @RobShawSports

 

Every season a different strategy has to be utilized in fantasy baseball drafts in order to appropriately take into account positional depth and player rankings.  In general, a unique strategy can be utilized on a round-by-round basis.  Here’s a breakdown of Bloomberg Sports recommended Fantasy Baseball Strategy 2012 Edition:

 

In the early rounds, the focus is finding the best available player while also taking into account the disparity between the best player and the next best option at each position.  For example, there is a plateau in excellence for starting pitchers as Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw can all be claimed as the best of the bunch.  On the other hand, Troy Tulowitzki stands alone amongst fellow shortstops. 

 

If your fantasy league includes slugging percentage and on base percentage as statistical categories, there is no competition for Jose Bautista in the outfield while there are several stars at first base including Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Joey Votto.  The best strategy is to pick up the best talent at a position where there is a large enough disparity that when the next player is drafted from that position there is a decisive advantage in your favor. 

 

In the early middle rounds, it’s not a bad idea to scoop up a fine hurler who has the potential to rank amongst the best.  Players such as Jered Weaver, CC Sabathia, and Danny Haren as well as Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg make sense in these rounds.  These hurlers have the ability to dominate and enjoy a Cy Young caliber season thanks to their enormous upside. 

 

Having two high potential and consistent hurlers is more valuable than having just one dominant ace.  Therefore, by drafting where there is greater disparity in the early rounds with a focus on position players, then nabbing a couple of pitchers with sky high potential fantasy managers can enjoy the best of both worlds. 

 

In the later middle rounds you can draft a closer and many of them.  Closers are often overrated in fantasy leagues since they only contribute 70 innings, which means saves are all that matters.  Second-tier closers still get the job done and players such as Joe Nathan could end up as bargains.  In fact, rather than selecting a Jonathan Papelbon in the sixth or seventh round, you can grab a Gio Gonzalez or a Drew Stubbs, someone who will have a much greater impact on your fantasy team. 

 

Then five rounds later go ahead and draft three closers in a row: Sergio Santos, Jason Motte, and Frank Francisco.  Plus, usually about 10 closers become available on the waiver wire each season.  In fact, all three of the pitchers just mentioned did not start the season as closers for their respective teams last season. 

 

Finally, in the later rounds, it’s not a bad idea to focus on young talents with great potential as well as players with multiple position eligibility.  This allows you to pick up some big time prospects while also enjoying depth.  Consider top prospects such as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.  There is no telling if the precocious sluggers will develop into stars as soon as this season. 

 

On the other hand, drafting veteran players such as Ryan Raburn and Daniel Murphy is also a key strategy in the later rounds since they cover multiple positions, providing depth to your fantasy teams.  This way if a player on your team gets injured, a single bench player can fill multiple holes. 

 

For more fantasy insight turn to BloombergSports.com.

Bloomberg Sports Top-Five 2012 MLB Home Run Projections

 

BY ROB SHAW

Twitter: @RobShawSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses the top five players that Bloomberg Sports projects to lead the Majors in home runs this season.

On that short list includes recent Tigers acquisition Price Fielder, who will still have plenty of support in his lineup, this time with perennial MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera providing the big bat.  BloombergSports.com projects 35 home runs and 111 RBI from the newly acquired slugger. 

Next, we see young slugger Mike Stanton approaching the 40-home run club with the Miami Marlins. He will also have the benefit of Jose Reyes leading off. In total, expect 39 round-trippers and 112 RBI from the 22-year-old slugger. 

Bloomberg Sports projects a bounce back from Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds. The free-swinging Orioles third baseman is projected to offer a low average but plenty of power.  The only threat to his output is the possibility of spending time on the pine if his batting average creeps below the Mendoza line. 

Second on the list is Blue Jays star right-fielder Jose Bautista. One of the elite hitters over the last two seasons, Bautista should regress in batting average, but the power is real and 41 home runs and 115 RBI is a realistic total in the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. 

Finally, even with a move to Anaheim, Albert Pujols should be just fine as we project him to lead the Majors in home runs. In fact, Pujols is expected to improve on last year’s average and 41 home runs and 124 RBI explain why he’s usually considered the best player in baseball. 

For more fantasy insight visit BloombergSports.com.

Aces on the Move: CJ Wilson, Heath Bell, and Joe Nathan

 

BY ROB SHAW

Twitter: @RobShawSports

 

CJ Wilson may have been the top arm on the market this off-season, but the pressure is certainly not as intense on the hurler as it is on Albert Pujols.  The reason is very simple, while Pujols is the best hitter in the world Wilson isn’t even the best arm on the Angels.

 

Wilson’s struggles in the postseason may have left a bad taste in the mouth of Rangers fans, but the hurler is actually in a much better situation now that he flees the hitter-friendly Ballpark at Arlington.  Putting the 2011 playoffs aside, the year as whole brough great improvement for Wilson.  His strikeouts went up while his walks went down.

 

Another factor for Wilson this season will be his run support.  Typically leaving the Rangers, who are loaded with sluggers, will result in a decline of run support.  However, that is not the case since Pujols will also join the Angels who already have some former first basemen who know something about providing big bats.

 

The Angels will be fun to watch for many reasons, and after falling to Pujols and the Cardinals in the postseason last season, Wilson should enjoy the shot at winning with Pujols as his teammate manning first base.

 

It made perfect sense for the Miami Marlins to sign Heath Bell.  The veteran hurler has three straight seasons with 40-plus saves and while the Marlins have had some success in their bullpen in recent years, it has not been as dominant as what the Padres enjoyed.  There is just one problem with bringing in Bell and expecting everything to run smoothly.  There are signs that the 34-year-old may be losing his effectiveness.

 

A late bloomer with the Mets, Bell broke out in San Diego, where he had the benefit of little media attention and one of the most favorable ballparks for pitchers.  In fact his 2.88 ERA on the road last season was not as dominant as the 2.15 ERA he posted at PETCO Park.

 

Bell also regressed as a strikeout hurler.  His 11 K/9 dropped to 7 K/9, as his whiff rate fell by 9%.  This is not just a matter of Bell losing velocity, in fact, the main issue has been a loss of effectiveness in his curveball.  In 2010, the opposition hit just .141 against that pitch, and last season it spiked two-fold to .282.  The out-pitch is not recording as many outs.

 

Bell should enjoy plenty of save opportunities since the Marlins did improve their starting rotation and offense, but there should be less heralded hurlers in fantasy leagues who can end up posting better numbers this season.

 

At first glance, last year was a disaster for long-time Twins closer Joe Nathan.  His ERA doubled, his strikeouts declined, and his saves were cut drastically.  Of course, Nathan was also returning to the mound after missing all of the 2010 with a major arm injury.

 

On that note, Nathan’s statistics should be measured differently.  Rather than focus on the full season, we should pay greater attention to the end of the season when he finally shed all of his rust.  From June 25th on, Nathan was his usual dominant self.  His WHIP was a dominant 0.90 from that point forward, which suggests that even in his late 30s, Nathan still possesses the ability to dominate.

 

Nathan now joins the Texas Rangers, and while he will throw the ball in a much more hitter-friendly ballpark, he joins a better club that will likely result in more save opportunities.  The ERA may take a slight uptick, but overall he will enjoy more saves and have more value assuming he can stay healthy.  It also allows some of the younger hurlers to take on larger roles in the starting rotation.

Watch the Throne: Albert Pujols vs. Joey Votto in 2011

By Tommy Rancel //

For years, Albert Pujols has reigned over the first base position in fantasy baseball. Sure, there are plenty of productive players at the position, but the order on most draft boards usually goes something like Albert Pujols…and no one else until several spots later. After posting a slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) of .312/.414/.596 with 42 home runs and 118 RBI last year, Pujols is showing no signs of slowing down.

But a new challenger arrived in 2010. Playing the same position and battling for the same division title, Joey Votto exploded last season, hitting .324/.424/.600 with 37 home runs and 113 RBI. He took home the National League MVP – edging out the second-place Pujols in the process. Votto’s performance was so impressive that the Reds just signed him to a three-year, $38 million contract, despite him being years away from free agency.

The showdown for supremacy at the position will be a battle for years to come. Though it seems like he’s been around forever, Pujols will be just 31 this season. Votto, 27, will be entering his fourth major league season and likely hitting the prime years of his career. 

So who’s the better choice headed into 2011?

If you’re lucky enough to be faced with the dilemma of choosing between the two, there is no wrong answer. Both players will give your team a ridiculous amount of production in power, run production, and runs scored. They’ll each swipe a few bases and have proven to be durable, even with Pujols’ recent injury scares. There are a few non-traditional categories that might tip the scale just a bit toward one side, though.

As mentioned, both hitters’ slash lines, home runs, RBI, and runs scored were pretty close to a push last year. This will likely be the case going forward, but while we know Pujols can sustain these gaudy numbers on an annual basis, Votto will be looking to repeat his MVP performance for the first time. In addition to the questions about duplicating his numbers from a season ago, Votto also had a bit more luck in 2010 than Pujols did.

First, Votto’s batting average on balls in play (BABIP) last year of .361 was well above the league average of around .300, as well as Pujols’ BABIP of .297. The good news is Votto’s line drive rate of 20% supports at least some of that spike. On the other hand, the fact that he held such a high BABIP with a high percentage of groundballs (45%) – without the speed of Carl Crawford - is a concern. His average could hover around the .300 mark going forward, but probably not as close to .330 as it was in 2010.

Also helping Votto in 2010 was a ridiculous home run-to-flyball rate (HR/FB). Though he hit a relatively low number of flyballs (under 35%), a full quarter of them found their way over the fence. This type of outcome is not impossible, but only four players (including Votto) had a HR/FB rate over 20% in the NL, and he was the only player with a rate above 22%. Playing in one of the most home run-friendly ballparks works in his favor, but Pujols’ 18.3% HR/FB is a number that is much more likely to be repeated.

Choosing between Votto and Pujols is like picking between a Mercedes Benz or a BMW as your mode of transportation. Each is a luxury item and each is almost guaranteed to produce at a high level. However, even though Votto is poised to make a run at the throne, Pujols is a safer bet to keep the crown.

Long live the king!

The Dreaded Turn: What to Do After Albert Pujols

By Eno Sarris

You’ve got the first pick of your 2010 draft and you’re bouncing off walls. Albert Pujols
will be yours, finally. You’ve seen the big man crush poor pitching
for years and imagined what you could do with that kind of firepower.
Nothing will stand in your way now.

Right?

Then the doubt starts creeping in. In a 12-team mixed league, you have to wait a whole 23 picks
before you get to go again! All those great borderline first-round
talents won’t be yours and you’ll be forced to pick someone who’s
almost a third-rounder as your second-best player. What will you
do at The Turn? We’ll attack this from a couple angles
so that you’ll be prepared when the time comes. We’ll assume you’re in
a 12-team mixed league, the most popular of leagues.

TheTurnGrab.jpgLet’s take a look at what B-Rank says. Here’s a screen shot of the projections right around the dreaded turn. Click the image for a full-size look.

The first thing that jumps out at you is that you may not want to take B-Rank’s #24 at the end of your second round. Of course, a team with both Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez would hit a lot of home runs, but who would play the other positions on the diamond? Why fill up your utility slot that early?

The first piece of advice is, of course, that you have a nice list of second-round talent to try and catch as they fall. Troy Tulowitzki and Mark Reynolds could drop to you given some concerns about the repeatability of their 2009 seasons. Having a steady performer like Pujols in your back pocket allows you to catch those more borderline second-rounders if they fall too far. Even if Reynolds bats a mere .245 instead of Bloomberg’s projected .255, and Pujols ‘merely’ repeats last year’s seven-year low in batting average (.327) the pair of players would average close to .285 and you’d be fine in that category going forward. (While enjoying their projected 75 home runs and 30 stolen bases.)

Now on to your second pick. There is no consensus #25. Zack Greinke, B-Rank’s suggestion, is a fine choice as he could be the best pitcher in baseball next year. But say you don’t want to pick a pitcher that early, what’s there for you?

JustinUptonGrab.jpgConsider Justin Upton, the proud owner of a new six-year $50+ million contract. Take a look at his OPS over the year last year, from Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Draft Kit. He stumbled early, but he was excellent all year and did not hit any sort of rookie wall. Add to this the fact that he cut his strikeout rate to an acceptable level (for a power hitter). After whiffing at a 34% rate his rookie year, he got that rate down to 26% by making more contact in the strike zone (80% last year, after 74% the year before). He also boosted his isolated power (ISO) from .213 to .232 while stroking those 26 home runs. The combination of Pujols and Upton would give you immense power with almost 30 combined steals to boot.

Again though, unless Tulowitzki falls into your lap, you’ve done nothing about the scarcer positions on the infield. Taking a look at average draft positions from MockDraftCentral.com, we can identify some other candidates for The Turn. A couple interesting names emerge – Justin Upton is there (25.19 ADP), and so is Jimmy Rollins.

For more information on possible second- and third-round picks, and more, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.

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