With 2014 fantasy baseball drafts about to kick off everywhere, it is time to delve into the players that are well known, household names but won’t produce nearly what they possibly could command from those that don’t do their homework and draft them way too early. This season no one is higher on the beware list than the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim first baseman and designated hitter Albert Pujols.
Easily his worst Major League Baseball season of his career to this point, Pujols hit a paltry 17 home runs while knocking in 64 RBI, scoring 49 runs and hitting easily his worst of his career, a .258 batting average and .437 slugging percentage in 2013. In fact, all of those were career low’s by far.
What makes matters worse, Pujols, who will be 34 this season, has seen his batting average and power decline in each of the last five seasons. Admittedly, the once superstar first baseman, who is turning more and more into a player best suited as a full-time designated hitter, suffered through a left foot injury for the better part of 2013. But that doesn’t explain his declining numbers across the board for the last several years. In fact, what it really does is just buy him a good excuse for last years lackluster performance, allowing him one last season to prove that he isn’t a complete bust, much like his teammate Josh Hamilton.
Pujols joined the league in 2001 as a wet-behind-the-ear 21-year-old, but he dried off rather quickly, starting his career with a .329 batting average, 37 home runs, 130 RBI season, the first of ten seasons in which he reached triple-digits for RBI. Thirteen seasons later, while having put up stellar numbers throughout his career, he is becoming more of a statistical list player that is adding to his career totals rather than someone who still stands out above everyone else.
Just a few short seasons ago you could expect Pujols’ name to be found in the top-3 for fantasy baseball players drafted. In 2014 FFLockerRoom has him ranked just inside the top-40, #37 overall. Paul Goldschmidt, Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Davis, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder and Freddie Freeman are all rated ahead of him while we have the veteran just ahead of fellow veterans Adrian Gonzalez and Victor Martinez.
Based on our very own Jonathan Stulberg’s Value Based Rankings (VBR), Pujols chimes in with a score of 27.983973 which is nearly 12 points behind fantasy baseball leader and teammate Mike Trout who comes in with a 39.218264. Or in other words, you better do your homework and not be the chump that grabs Pujols in the second round expecting a turn-around season.
Now I don’t want to be a Negative Nancy. Pujols has smacked 492 home runs in his career and is just two RBI short of 1,500. Sporting a career .321 batting average, very few players outside of perhaps the Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera should even be mentioned in the same breath.
If you are in a deeper, 12-team league, Pujols is someone that you may want to wait for to see if he will fall to you several rounds in. Using FFLockerRoom’s VBR system, along with taking into account the positions that the hitters and pitchers qualify for, you will be able to make an educated, informed decision that will undoubtedly give you a heads up on your competition. What won’t give you that heads up? Pujols being drafted early. We have warned ya.