How long will Albert Pujols look lost at the plate? (USAT)
We held a mid-season draft Monday, and I ended up taking Albert Pujols with the 19th pick. Judging by Yahoo’s updated rest of season rankings, I guess this could be considered something of a reach. I’m not necessarily going to argue against that, but it’s remarkable someone who was a unanimous top-three pick last year and was generally considered a top-10 pick this year is now a borderline top-25 pick after six more weeks of disappointment. Pujols’ first 10 seasons in the league were unprecedented, and he’s still just 33 years old (assuming his listed age is correct), but with a .234/.315/.393 line over 145 at-bats, it’s easy to see why he keeps falling down fantasy draft boards (or in most cases this time of year, it’s his sinking trade value). Picking arbitrary end points is cheating, but Pujols did hit .303 with 29 homers, 87 RBI, 66 runs scored and eight steals over 396 at-bats from May-September last season, a span in which he was the sixth most valuable fantasy player. I have no clue why Pujols batted .246 with just one home run over the other two months of the season (211 at-bats), and the ice cold start and finish to the year are equally as meaningful as the hot stretch in between, but at least there’s recent evidence Pujols is still capable of being an elite hitter.
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Obviously, Pujols’ start to 2013 has been highly discouraging and continues a disturbing trend, as his batting average and on-base percentage have decreased in each of the past five seasons (his SLG has dropped in each of the past four, highlighted by an anemic .393 this season). It’s clear Pujols is past his prime, but just how steep will his decline be in 2013? His current 21:18 K:BB rate is hardly abhorrent, and his 18.8 LD% is right in line with his career mark of 19.0% (although it may be worth noting his 1.31 GB/FB rate is a career high). Maybe this is simply a health issue, and Pujols is playing through injuries more serious than we realize, but that doesn’t exactly answer the question of whether or not he should currently be considered a top-20 fantasy player. Since I was willing to take him 19th, I’m of the belief he’ll bounce back (his current BABIP is .236), and hitting in between Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo (I could not have been more wrong about him so far) and Josh Hamilton (assuming the current version doesn't last forever) is certainly a nice spot to be, but I’m also willing to acknowledge a return to form is no sure thing at this point. The draft was a nice exercise to see the change in values over the first six weeks of the year. Before the season, it would have been a bit unexpected to see Chris Davis go just four picks after Pujols, that’s for sure.
This first pitch is one of the worst you’ll ever see, although still not as bad as this classic one by the Cincinnati mayor.
That’s just Manny Being Manny.
Read More »from Mostly MLB Notes: Albert Pujols’ decline, Carlos Santana’s emergence and examining David Price