May 02, 2012
It's time to fix the frame on this Albert Pujols story. The "homerless drought" narrative doesn't really capture the issue.
The problem isn't that he's not hitting homers — the problem is that he's not hitting, period.
Pujols, as fantasy owners know more than anyone, just had a nightmarish April. He slashed an awful .217/.265/.304, scored just eight runs, drove in a mere four. For some reason (probably coincidence) he's been particularly terrible on the road (.180/.196/.200), which is one reason why the Angels are 3-9 out of a suitcase.
We're talking about a first-ballot Hall of Fame lock here, someone who simply doesn't have bad months. The previous OPS nadir for Pujols came last May (.752). If you want to consider partial months, there was a .715 OPS back in June of 2006. Pujols has never logged less than 147 games since hitting the majors in 2001. His average fantasy season stacks up this way: .328-117-40-120-8. He's been the ultimate set-it-and-forget-it player in our make-believe world.
There are plenty of theories to the Pujols slump, of course. Maybe he's hiding an injury. Maybe the adjustment to a new team and league is messing him up. Maybe the pressure of the contract is getting to him. Maybe he's really 59 years old, maybe his Faustian Pact finally expired.
A lot of general baseball observers seem to think it's just small-sample variance with Pujols; he'll come out of it eventually, go back to being an offensive overlord. But that's easy to say when you don't have a roto investment parked on Pujols.
In the comments below, I'd like to know how you are handling the Pujols story. If you own him, how concerned are you? What's the weakest one-for-one offer you'd accept for Pujols? If you don't own Pujols, are you willing to buy in? What's the best player you'd be willing to dish for Pujols, one-for-one? (Don't bother with patchwork offers; we all understand the hole in that logic.)
Say you were entering a fresh draft starting right now. Where would you slot Pujols? Top 5? Top 10? Top 20? Top 40? Are you dead set against drafting him?
I'll have full corner Shuffle Up prices released on Thursday, but today is your day. We're just looking for clues at the scene of the crime. Let's get through this together.