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Fantasy Baseball First Base Profiles: Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols — a long time favorite of mine — is coming off his worst season in more than a decade. Actually, it’s the worst of his career. The first time he ever failed to hit 30 homers, drive in 99 runs,  hit at least .285, or score 85 runs — and he wasn’t even close.

Not so long ago people considered him the most bankable fantasy first baseman available.  However his last 3 seasons provide us with nothing more than question marks about Big Al going forward. Take a look:

Season

AB

H

R

HR

RBI

BB

K

SB

AVG

2011

579

173

105

37

99

61

58

9

.299

2012

607

173

85

30

105

52

76

8

.285

2013

391

101

49

17

64

40

55

1

.258

The 2011 and 2012  seasons were strong, but showed us that Pujols was on a slow decline — which is to be expected given his age. In 2013, his season was a season marred by injury and generally horrific production.  So what exactly can we take away from this? and, what exactly should we expect from Albert Pujols?

My concerns:

Clearly Pujols is not the machine he once was. We have seen a dip in his near automatic production, and he has suffered his fair share of injuries in the past few seasons. Pujols is also getting up in age — 34 by the start of next season, and that has to be part of the breakdown of his body.

He didn’t eclipse 500 at-bats for the first time in his major league career last season and that was the cause of the dramatic drop in stats.  Clearly if he does not get at bats, his production will not reach anywhere close to what we would expect from Pujols.

 

My silver linings:

Pujols plays in the American League now. That’s great for him, as it will allow him to DH. He did a lot this season, playing 34 of his 99 games at DH. Continuing to do that will help save his older legs.  He also does have a little help around him in this lineup, especially if Josh Hamilton gets it together once again.

Pujols and the Angels would be best served getting Mike Trout into the 3 hole, and have 4-5-6 of Pujols, Hamilton and Mark Trumbo. If this happens, then Pujols could be posed for a very nice bounce back.

 

My head says:

Pujols is an aging star who should be treated as such.  Curb your expectations of him, and draft accordingly.  Albert Pujols is no longer a first round lock, nor is he a big money auction guy to a certain extent.  You have to understand what you are going to get, and I would simply estimate somewhere along the lines of:

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

535

85

30

100

1

.301

These numbers are not from our projections generator or anything, just a simple/reasonable expectations I might carry into the auction for Pujols.  As long as you are not drafting or paying for the old stats, you should be fine with Albert as your 1B. Play it safe with Pujols.

 

My gut says:

This is Albert, FREAKING, Pujols.  He has been so good for so long, he might just have one more spectacular season left in him.  If there is any hitter worth over paying for, it is Pujols.  He also could be a nice steal in drafts where everyone else is playing it safe, as I just said they should do.

Look at it this way.  If you take him in the second round you may have reached a bit but if it pays off, then you look like a genius.

 

My final thoughts:

Typically you can take comfort when drafting a Hall of Fame caliber player, because what makes them a Hall of Fame caliber guy is the fact that they do it year in and year out.

Look at Mariano Rivera this season.  He was coming off a terrible knee injury, and was able to pick up right where he left off.  This is what the all time greats do, and Albert Pujols is one of the all time greats.  Now of course I am not suggesting that Albert Pujols will rake in 105-40-115-10-.325 like he used to.

I am merely saying that I do not think he will take another step down from his 2012 numbers, and hopefully he can land a little bit closer to 2011.

Tags: Albert Pujols First Base Los Angeles Angels

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