|The Curious Case of Albert Pujols|
|AL or Nothing|
|Written by Ryan Carey|
|Thursday, 03 May 2012 06:06|
Sometimes in fantasy you make the right choices through careful examination of stats and data and other times you just get a little lucky. In three of my drafts this year, I drafted from the number three slot, landing Matt Kemp twice and Miguel Cabrera once. All three of those teams are in first place today, helped by the production I am getting from my first round pick in all three cases. Guess who went first in all three drafts? Yes, it was Albert Pujols, who now has gone 25 games without a home run to start the year. Pujols’ owners have to be worried, as this is easily the worst stretch he has ever encountered in his career.
How bad has it been? To put it in perspective, consider that this April was the first time in his illustrious career that he has had a homerless month in the big leagues. He is hitting .208, scored 9 runs and has driven in a measly 5 runs so far this season. Before this year, he had never finished a month that he was healthy with less than double digits in RBIs and Runs. Yes, he’s been a tad unlucky (.241 BAIBP), but the truth is he hasn’t looked like himself at the plate since making his much ballyhooed debut with the Los Angeles Angels.
So what’s wrong with Pujols and when can you expect him to turn this around? The truth is I have no better answers than anyone else, but I do believe we have enough of a sample size to at least be genuinely concerned if not overly alarmed. Two key stats that jump out to me are his 5.6 BB% and 13 K%. He is striking out too much and not drawing walks like the Albert of old and hasn’t seemed either aggressive or comfortable at the plate thus far. If he isn't able to flip those two numbers around to how they have always been, then this could truly be a different year than those who drafted the three time MVP were counting on.
I am not sure I see things getting that much better in the near future. His head is definitely not in the right place. Earlier this week, he seemed genuinely annoyed when he heard that hitting coach Billy Hatcher had relayed some of his comments about his (and the team’s) struggles to reporters. He’s starting to show that he’s feeling the pressure of that monster contract he signed and the fact that the team is in last place. Still, like most in the industry, I’ll offer up another round of “Be Patient”, and remind you to stay strong and wait it out until he starts hitting again. Easy for the guy with Kemp and Miggy to say, I know, but in this case it’s likely the only choice you have.
Around the League
The Angels called up prized prospect Mike Trout to try and inject some life into the offense and help take some of the attention off their struggling superstar at the same time. I like Trout’s chances of success this year more than I do his N.L. counterpart Bryce Harper.
Buck Showalter got his 1000th victory as a major league manager the other night as his surprising Baltimore Orioles beat the New York Yankees, 7-1. Chris Davis homered in that game, giving him 5 on the year to go along with surprising .316 batting average. He looks like he’s finally going to get that 500-600 AB season we’ve been dreaming about since he debuted back in 2008.
I mentioned Edwin Encarnacion last week, and then he went out and hit 5 more homers in six games. He now has 9 on the year, and any hopes you had of prying him from someone else’s roster are gone. Jose Bautista’s owners are wondering if he’s been stealing their slumping star’s bats.
Luke Hochevar did his best to ruin a lot of teams ERA’s and WHIP’s on Tuesday, getting torched by the Detroit Tigers for 12 hits, three walks and nine earned runs. It doesn’t get any easier with the Yankees heading in this weekend.
I really don’t want to talk about Delmon Young, because I just want to pretend that Jim Leyland’s going to get his head back on straight. Hopefully you benched him where you could in anticipation of a suspension stemming from last week’s incident in New York. If Leyland can’t do it, then Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder need to remind him that hitting behind the two of them is a pretty sweet gig.
Mike Carp was finally activated from the D.L and should be back in the starting lineup sometime this weekend. He was another of my pre-season guys who I have patiently been waiting for. He will see time at DH and in the OF, but could also steal AB’s from Justin Smoak at 1B if he can reestablish the power stroke he showed late last year.
Felipe Paulino will make his return this weekend as well against the Yankees on Saturday. While I wouldn’t start him in his first game back, I might take a shot on him in leagues that I needed some help with K’s in.
Doug Fister tossed four scoreless inning in a rehab start on Wednesday. He looks on track to make it back for a two-start week starting Monday.
Now that he’s hurt again, I remembered why I didn’t keep Evan Longoria on my Roto 500 team this year.
More Minor Leagues
Don’t look now, but Matt LaPorta continues to tear the cover off the ball down on the farm, hitting his seventh and eight home runs last week. With Casey Kotchman struggling, I just can’t see them ignoring LaPorta for too much longer.
Will Middlebrooks has gotten a promotion and will fill in for Kevin Youkilis, who was placed on the D.L. (retroactive to 4/29). He made an impression in his first game with a couple of knocks and a stolen base.
Waiver Wire Watchlist
It's that time of year where slow starts and injuries force some owners to give up on guys that could be worth taking a shot on depending on your own roster makeup. It's always true in the NFBC, where there are no D.L.slots. Don't forget to go back and check who everyone else in your league cut each and every week. It never ceases to amaze me how people always note who got picked up, but don't always take note of who just got cut. In competative leagues last weeks cuts are this weeks pickups.
What slumping stars are giving you headaches? Have any questions about your teams? Feel free to share them in the comments section below or on the Forums.
Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanpcarey