Fantasy Baseball Risers And Fallers – The Albert Pujols Edition

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the Angels had a pretty busy day. They signed C.J. Wilson to their rotation, and some guy named Albert to play first. So the Angels are looking like a pretty interesting team for next year. Should be interesting to see who loses playing time, as the Angels have 8 guys fighting for 5 spots. But that’s a post for another day. In the meantime, let’s focus on the highlights of the past few days:

Albert Pujols – The only negative here is that he’s declined in 3 straight years. A 1.101 OPS, MVP calibre season, followed by a 1.011 OPS in 2010 and a 906 OPS this year. Pujols got off to a rough start, but he rebounded in the second half hitting 319-375-584.

He’s still the best player in baseball, but the likely top fantasy pick of 2012 does carry some risk. Many thought he was pressing early on to prove he deserved a $200+ million deal, and it’s possible he does the same with the pressure of a new contract. I don’t expect him to suffer through Carl Crawford Syndrome, but he might get off too a slower start. It doesn’t help that he’s joining the AL for the first time, although he’s historically crushed AL pitching. In fairness, he’s crushed pretty much everything that’s been thrown in his direction.

Angel Stadium is considered a pitcher’s park, but unlike in St. Louis it favours right handed power hitters. So it’s possible we could see a rise in Pujols’ power numbers. Isn’t that a scary thought? Having a legitimate #9 hitter means more RBI opportunities for Prince Albert, so he could be in for a big fantasy season. We all know how much the Angels like to run, so we might see double digit steals from Pujols.

It’s always possible his elbow causes him problems, or that Ron Washington decides that Albert Pujols needs to be intentionally walked every at bat. But it’s looking like a another monster season for El Hombre, and the Angels might just steal the division from the most dominant team in the AL over the past two years.

Fantasy prediction: 309 BA, 41 HR, 124 RBI, 12 SB, 102 runs.

C.J. Wilson – Those Rangers/Angels games are going to be heated, as former Texas ace C.J. Wilson switched sides after being offered $77.5 over 5 years. In Wilson’s second season as a starter, he went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA, striking out nearly a batter an inning and dropping the walks down to 3BB/9. Pretty impressive for a guy who spent most of his career as a reliever. He won’t be asked to lead the Angels rotation, but that doesn’t mean he won’t produce #1 or #2 numbers for your fantasy team.

Moving away from Arlington will help Wilson, as many home runs hit in Texas will be routine fly balls forWilson. Primarily a groundball pitcher, Wilson will see a slight drop off in his infield defence. It’s no fault of Aybar or Kendrick though – Kinsler and Andrus were arguably the best middle infield in the game last season. Still, it’s unlikely that Wilson will see a big drop off in any of his stats.

Fantasy prediction: 15 wins, 3.25 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 195 K’s.

Fransisco Rodriguez – He sure burned everybody, didn’t he? Expected to be a top closer available in free agency, Rodriguez decided to accept the arbitration offer from the Brewers. He loses any fantasy value he had in regular leagues as he’s no longer an option for saves. Really, his only value is if your league uses holds.

Kelly Johnson – Like Rodriguez, Johnson unexpectedly accepted arbitration. However, this might be the best case scenario for both the Blue Jays & Johnson. Toronto is very hitter friendly, and Johnson has already shown he can put up some decent numbers there. He won’t be challenged for a position, as the Jays really don’t have anybody else capable of playing second. So he’s a lock for playing time, and playing in a park that’s good to hit in. It’s a perfect situation for Kelly Johnson.

Fantasy Prediction: 275 BA, 20 HR, 67 RBI, 74 runs, 2 SB

Huston Street- His value couldn’t be higher. As a flyball pitcher, Street struggled and gave up a ton of homers inColorado. By moving to Petco, the Padres will ensure that doesn’t happen nearly as often. With Bell and Adams no longer in the Padres bullpen, Street is guaranteed to close, and has nobody to challenge him for the role. He should return to being a dominant closer, giving you strikeouts, saves, and low ERA/WHIP.

Fantasy Prediction: 3.30 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 60 strikeouts, 33 saves, 3 wins

 


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