There have been two times in my life I’ve land a very highly regarded fantasy player only to end up being totally bummed out. The first was in 2009 with LaDainian Tomlinson, the second was this year with Albert Pujols. I’ve chronically been stuck with bad draft position in all sports, and remember being stoked to finally get the first pick and land Tomlinson in 2009. Too bad he finished with under a thousand all-purpose yards and just 12 TD’s. A far cry from the 32 touchdowns and over 2.000 all purpose yards from the 2006 season that were dancing in my head when I picked him. The season was the beginning of the end for Tomlinson. After the 2009 season he headed off to the New York Jets, and was out of the league by 2011. Now I’m well aware that NFL running backs have the shortest shelf life of any position in pro sports, and that it’s not at all uncommon for a player’s career to go down hill in a hurry. That’s why I didn’t pick Adrian Peterson this past season. Clearly I’m a genius. (Right now I’m planning to finally land Peterson around 2015, the same year I plan to finally get Kobe, assuming he’s still around).
So on to this years baseball fantasy draft. I knew Pujols had struggled in his first season in the American league last year, but struggling for Pujols means barely getting 100 RBI’s, so I decided it was worth the risk. Pujols would have a season of American league play under his belt, and the Angels line up was full of protection for the slugger, after bringing over Josh Hamilton (baseball’s most addictive personality) from the Rangers. (On a side note, for anyone who’s thinking I’m a complete idiot for these picks right now, I’ve been using auction drafts on ESPN for the past couple years, and my first selection was Miguel Cabrera, so I do have some idea what I’m doing. I’ve also been ranked in the top 500 for the past several years on ESPN’s Uber Challenge, but I digress). Unfortunately for me, despite having a seemingly loaded line up, Pujols and the Angels have struggled again so far this year. The Angles currently sit in fourth place in the American league west with a record of 17-27 (saved from last place only by the addition of the lowly Houston Astros to the American league). And while it is still fairly early to pass judgment, Pujols hasn’t done much to help the Angels position. Currently Pujols has the lowest batting average (.241) and OPS (.732) of his career and his WAR (0.5) is also well below his career average. Pujols batting average has been in a steady decline, he hasn’t hit over .300 since 2010 (although he hit .299 in 2011 which should probably count). Pujols has also seen his strikeouts to walks ratio moving in the wrong direction. Traditionally a low strikeout player, (as opposed to Hamilton) last season was the first since his rookie year that Pujols totalled more strikeouts than walks for a season, and he’s on pace to do so again this year. Most experts feel confident Pujols will get to 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s this season, like he has every other year in his major league career (except for 2011 when he hit only 99 RBI’s), so all is not lost (hopefully). But if NFL running backs have the shortest shelf life of any athlete, baseball players generally have the longest, with many players continuing to excel well into their 30’s. (Of course if you believe baseball has really cracked down on PED usage, than that could help account for some players struggles, especially later in their careers when known users continued to excel in the past).
For right now all I can do is watch and wait, and hope that Albert Pujols just needs some more time to adjust to American league pitching and doesn’t end up being LaDanian Tomlinson redux for my fantasy aspirations. (Unless of course someone would like to take him off my hands, ideally for some solid pitching).
Thoughts/Questions/Comments, you can contact me on Twitter – @NoOneGoesToClev or Email – SHMcG223@gmail.com