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According to our Fantasy Baseball Player Rater, Albert Pujols is our #3 first baseman (#17 overall) – prior to Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo and Joey Votto, in that order, with others dispersed in between. I’m selling Pujols for any one of these guys, for sure, but I’d also accept Justin Morneau, Brandon Belt, Edwin Encarnacion, perhaps Matt Adams and maybeeee Prince Fielder, contingent on who else can be had.

Here is exactly what you can say to your league-mate(s): “Bro/Brethren, Pujols is back. Plus, look at the .240 BABIP – that is going to shoot up!”

But this post is what I really think. Feel free to comment below with the offers you see for him or request for him, and I’ll offer my feedback, which will often be “do it”, and here is why:

First, let’s look at his discipline/contact related statistics:

Age 31-34 Tm PA K% Ct% SwStr%
2011 Stl 651 8.90% 86.60% 5.70%
2012 LAA 670 11.30% 84.80% 7.00%
2013 LAA 443 12.40% 82.90% 7.60%
2014 LAA 123 8.10% 82.40% 8.10%
Total - – - 8669 9.70% 85.70% 5.90%

Let’s get this straight– His actual K-rate is back to pre-2011 levels, but his peripheral contact and swinging strike rates are continuing to drop-off… Expect his K-rate to be much closer or worse than his career 9.7%.

And here are his zone/contact related stats:

Age 31-34 Tm PA F-Str% Zn% O-Swg% Z-Swg% Sw% O-Ct% Z-Ct%
2011 Stl 651 52.80% 43.50% 31.80% 62.90% 45.30% 78.10% 92.20%
2012 LAA 670 56.10% 43.10% 36.40% 62.60% 47.70% 77.00% 90.70%
2013 LAA 443 51.50% 42.50% 34.30% 65.60% 47.60% 71.20% 91.10%
2014 LAA 123 59.40% 47.10% 29.70% 66.70% 47.10% 57.40% 94.90%
Total - – - 8669 52.20% 47.50% 23.70% 65.00% 43.30% 69.80% 92.00%

Pitchers are getting more aggressive with Pujols throwing more early strikes and more pitches inside of the zone. Pujols is simply connecting with them – swinging more and making more contact with them. I’m not sure why they’re being so aggressive, but I would assume they will catch-on and instead pitch to Raul Ibanez or Josh Hamilton when he returns. I would expect regression here as well.

I’ve said that his bad balls in play-related trends started in 2011. Look where he is now:

Age 31-34 Tm PA IFFB% IFFB HR/FB GB/FB GB% FB% LD% BABIP
2011 Stl 651 10.40% 21 18.30% 1.17 44.70% 38.30% 17.00% 0.28
2012 LAA 670 12.10% 26 14.00% 1.04 41.30% 39.90% 18.80% 0.28
2013 LAA 443 11.10% 16 11.80% 0.91 38.20% 42.00% 19.80% 0.26
2014 LAA 123 15.80% 6 23.70% 1.34 50.00% 37.30% 12.70% 0.24
Total - – - 8669 12.90% 317 18.80% 1.02 41.00% 40.10% 18.90% 0.31

His BABIP might seem low, but he’s also at a gross 50% ground ball rate with an uber-low line drive rate and a pop-up problem (15.80% which  is the 24th worse rate in baseball right now, for those that qualify). The unsustainable HR/FB ratio is what is inflating his value. This ratio is the 7th best in baseball right now (again, for those that qualify). Of these 7, only Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Abreu have a lower fly ball%, but they both have superior line drive and pop-up rates.

Now let’s look at Albert Pujols’ homerun and flyball average distance this year: 86th overall at 283.22 ft. Last year, Pujols was 93rd overall with a 287.37 ft average. In 2012, he was just inside the top 150 at 281.09 ft. For reference, here are the top 7 HR/FB ratios with their average distance and rank:

Rk Name HR/FB Avg. Dist (ft.) Av Di (Rnk)
1 Jose Abreu 33.30% 327.65 1st
2 Justin Upton 28.60% 318.76 6th
3 Giancarlo Stanton 26.70% 322.27 4th
4 Troy Tulowitzki 25.90% 294.77 39th
5 Adrian Gonzalez 25.70% 303.68 19th
6 Nelson Cruz 24.10% 306.73 15th
7 Albert Pujols 23.70% 283.22 86th

Clearly, he’s not on the same level as the top-6 from a distance perspective. Here is how he stacks up to them otherwise:

Rk Name AB Ct% IFFB% GB/FB GB% FB% LD% BABIP HR/FB HR
1 Jose Abreu 115 72.40% 6.70% 1.4 46.60% 34.10% 19.30% 0.269 33.30% 10
2 Justin Upton 96 67.00% 3.60% 0.8 32.80% 43.80% 23.40% 0.411 28.60% 8
3 Giancarlo Stanton 112 70.60% 10.00% 1 41.30% 40.00% 18.70% 0.328 26.70% 8
4 Troy Tulowitzki 92 82.30% 7.40% 1.2 38.80% 33.80% 27.50% 0.37 25.90% 7
5 Adrian Gonzalez 109 77.30% 11.40% 1 39.50% 40.70% 19.80% 0.338 25.70% 9
6 Nelson Cruz 97 74.00% 10.30% 1.2 47.30% 39.20% 13.50% 0.313 24.10% 7
7 Albert Pujols 111 82.40% 15.80% 1.3 50.00% 37.30% 12.70% 0.237 23.70% 9

He’s superior in contact, but the contact just isn’t as quality enough. In fact, there’s another (shift-related) issue. According to Jeff Zimmerman, Pujols is the right-handed hitter that has hit into the most shifts, yet somehow keeps finding holes. There’s a good chance Pujols drops to Brian McCann levels: similar BABIP but batting .225 because of the infield shifts.

It’s for all of these reasons that I proactively reach out to teams for a replacement 1B along with supplemental pieces. If you’re trying to win-now, offer him up for something like Kyle Lohse/Tim Hudson/Garrett Richards/Jesse Chavez + Brian Dozier/Justin Morneau + Francisco Rodriguez or some other closer in 5×5 leagues. You don’t think someone would say yes to this? You don’t think you would win on this deal? They would. You would.

 

While this post is purely rational, Dano will scold every other first baseman in some way until the fantasy baseball world jumps on the Freddie Freeman bandwagon even though he’s a disgruntled Mets fan. You can follow him on Twitter @Rotobanter.

  1. I moustache you something says:
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    wow, that’s a contrarian article for razzball favorite, fat albert!
    interesting info…thanks for the article

  2. Just Make Pitch says:
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    While Pujols might regress, you don’t think Morneau will at all? I think it’s kind of iffy to just apply this kind of analysis to one player and not to the players you say to trade him for. Brandon Belt is striking out 30% of the time os far and is now starting to get benched against left-handed pitching.

    • David says:
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      I agree with @Just Make Pitch: While your critique of Pujols has some data behind it, I doubt that the one month 2014 data is reliable. Likewise, a month’s worth of Coors Field data does not indicate recovery from the head injury for Morneau. At least it doesn’t to me.

      We know that plantar fasciitis was a root cause for Pujol’s performance the last year or few. Sure, he is getting older, but last year seems more like an injury year than a fell off the cliff year. And certainly, based on his ability to make it to first base, we know that Pujol’s foot injury has healed (pun point) to some extent. It’s a nice packet of data, and maybe some of it matters at the one month point, but what I see is a Hall of Famer with improved health returning toward his historical performance levels. By that I mean, returning to what projection systems thought Pujols would do in 2012.

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Just Make Pitch: morneau will regress…”just like” cuddyer. Pujols’ bad balls in play trends started in ’11. He’ll still contribute.

      • DonSlaughtOnslaught says:
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        @dano: Mike Cuddyer wasn’t coming off a year of being absolute garbage like Morneau is either.

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Just Make Pitch: morneau jumped 20 ft in avg distance too by the way. Babip inflation from Colorado and the hr/fb ratio but ratio backed up by type of contact and the hr & fb avg distance.

  3. David says:
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    Dano,
    You’re doubling down on Morneau??? And, for good measure, it sounds like you peg Cuddyer as a true .300 hitter. Good luck with that. Maybe, you are smarter than all of the projection systems. It’s not impossible. You are probably looking at more data than they are.

    I saw Morneau struggle for two years after the head injury and my medical sources tell me brain injuries don’t heal except in babies. It’s a nice story, but just about anything can happen in a month. I can’t buy into Morneau even at Coors. I certainly don’t see the power returning suddenly.

    Just about anything can happen in a month. That is your explanation for Pujols being the most consistent hitter of April. It would be a stronger case if he wasn’t also the most consistent hitter of his generation, at least up until 2012.

    And, yes, the projection systems noticed the declines in numbers and in Pujols run environment going into 2012. I just looked that up. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/a-walk-through-the-2012-zips/ And, they predicted something for 2012 very much like what Pujols is doing so far in 2014.

    I do like the peripheral numbers that you are providing. But, context about what is significant would be helpful, too. When we are looking at the rankings for HR distance, I certainly wouldn’t expect to learn much at this time of the year. End of year 2013 fly ball distance is a nice stat to help get excited about the rookies, but I really have no idea what a month’s worth of homerun ball distances mean.

    So, we disagree, and you may be right. But, I think you are going out on a limb on at least a couple points.

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @David: Colorado has a hardcore affect on babip …more than hr/fb. And I provided year past hr/fb &avg dist’s + other’s hr/fb & avg dist this year…significant difference bud. Again his babip TRENDS started in ’11. His hr/fb is double last years w/ similar avg dist. And he hasn’t hit into the shift at all even though he’s pull heavy which is luck and will keep his babip pulled down. He’s a 270+ hitter with 25 hr now…not .285-40. Pitchers will stop the zone%/agressive approach and pitch to Hamilton/Ibanez/cron.

    • David says:
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      @David: Was looking back. A nice comp might be David Ortiz, whom everyone was writing off in 2008. He was age 32 and had a wrist injury. Did he return to past glory? No. That didn’t keep him from being a top player again after the wrist healed. Likewise, Pujols, age 32 in 2012 had a foot injury. Is anyone expecting him to hit like he did in his 20’s? No. But, likewise, Pujols could be a top player again with a healthy foot. Six infield flies (actually half that), one monster homerun (that he has yet to hit) a swinging strike difference of one percent (based on 123 PA) and injury year data is the basis for the analysis here that is telling otherwise. It is good analysis to read. But, it is only an indicator. It’s really too soon to say whether he is back or whether he is not coming back. There were no shortage of numbers based articles telling us how Ortiz was done for in 2008/2009. One month isn’t much data. Good article. Just over-stated IMO.

      • Longbeachyo says:
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        @David: the batted ball distance is not just homeruns. It includes all balls hit for base hits. One “monster homerun” will not have the affect you think it will to his average flyball distance. I will agree with you on one point. If anyone can buck the trend, or numbers if you will, it is someone with the pedigree of pujols. (much like Ortiz did) BUT, the numbers/stats are definitely not in alberts favor. I would definitely look to trade him if I had him. Maybe not for cuddyer or morneau, but definitely would trade him.

    • Dano

      Dano says:
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      @David: Albert Pujols = 1 for his last 25; no rbi; 1 run; 2 bb.

  4. Longbeachyo says:
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    Nicely done. This is the info we need to see. I’d say you hijacked it straight from fangraphs, but I looked, and you didn’t. This article makes me wish I had Pujols if nothing more than just to trade him!
    While I’m a firm believer in these numbers, I don’t necessarily agree with who you recommend trading him for…
    Good stuff. I’ll be reading your articles every time now.

    • Dano

      Dano says:
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      @Longbeachyo: um no. 10 days later they noted his hr/fb decline as i did above (5/3)….FYI.

      Also in the last 25 AB: 1/25; no rbi; 1 run; 2 bb. Early on he was clearly trading off hit potential for HR potential. It was affecting his balls in play. Now his trends from past 2 seasons are catching up with a sense of urgency.

  5. Connor says:
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    I flipped Pujols and Soria for Goldschmidt last week and feel even better about it now!

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Connor: that’s EXACTLY the type of deal I’d offer him for…jackpot.

    • David says:
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      @Connor: I’d even do that one!

    • Longbeachyo says:
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      @Connor: Goldy, very nice! That’s the type of deal that wins championships.

  6. malamoney

    malamoney says:
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    Who wins in a H2H points league?

    Adam Jones and Shelby Miller for Jay Bruce and Strasburg

  7. T says:
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    Pujos for Teheran?
    Pujos and machado and dee Gordon for Teheran and pedrioa and liriano ?

  8. Dano

    dano says:
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    I do like Teheran but there’s already sp our there. I’d prefer that pujols, machado, Gordon side by a bit

  9. Peanut butter jelly time says:
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    This isn’t Pujols related, but I could use some advice. Would you drop Everth Cabrera for Aaron Loup? Cabrera is giving me empty lines after empty lines. I could use another closer even if it is for the short term. Thoughts?

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Peanut butter jelly time: I wouldn’t touch loup w/ a 12-16 team pole. While the bb% should regress he never has a good enough k rate to close. The hr/fb and babip will naturally regress. He’s not closer material.

      • Peanut butter jelly time says:
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        @dano: Muchos Gracias mi amigo! Love the 12-16 team pole ref.

  10. Steve says:
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    Would u trade Cano,Cueto,Uehara, for Miguel Cabrera???
    Thanks

  11. Dano

    dano says:
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    1) yes 2) if u have another mi & rp to displace them then yes moreso

  12. BOBBY says:
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    Can you do an article on Dee Gordon? This guy confuses the crap out of me. I’m inclined to trade him but he’s been so freakin good.

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @BOBBY: sup bobby…it’s simple really…opportuny and confidence…he just has an inflated babip by 50 points. I’d expect 275-290 moving forward…his speed makes the groundball% a good thing really…his k%, swstr% and contact rate are back to minor league levels …the 90% contact rate is elite. He’s an asset …85-4-50-40-285 type of line…maybe inflated this year b/c of the hot start

  13. Steve says:
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    I have Rendon for 2b
    My other saves guys are rosenthal,melancon,hunter,Frankie rod,joe smith
    I have would have longoria at 3b
    Dee Gordon at SS
    Rendon at 2b
    Put Miguel Cabrera at 1b

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Steve: thanks for the context…I’d def do that then. Miggys not really showing cause for concern like fielder is. I’d do it without much hesitation …I’ve liked rendon for a while and actually regret trading him w/ Gregory polanco for cano in a deep dynasty league I’m in and I’m trying to win-now

  14. Will says:
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    Pujols and Yelich or Ozuna for Goldy and Greg Holland get something done?

    Thoughts?

    I’m sure I could have more luck getting Abreu, Rizzo, Freeman, Fielder or maybe Votto, but just wanted to see what you thought first

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Will: I would trade them for that if they would do it…I like yellich more than ozuna.

    • Will says:
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      @Will: or would Pujols and Bogaerts for Goldy and Holland get it done?

      I have Machado at 3B and Segura at SS

      • Dano

        dano says:
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        @Will: might wanna keep bogs b/c of segura.

        • Will says:
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          @dano: what about Pujols and Morneau or Ozuna for Rizzo and Joe Nathan

  15. Dano

    dano says:
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    I prob wouldn’t give up them both for Rizzo (and Nathan) unless it’s a keeper/dynasty league where I would b/c of Rizzo.

    • Will says:
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      @dano: it’s a 10 team keeper league

      • Dano

        dano says:
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        @Will: both are a bit much for Rizzo altho keep eye on inj concerns …think pujols has a small hammy issue.

  16. Tom says:
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    You said “He’s a 270+ hitter with 25 hr now” is that ROS or total? With another HR today 16 HRs for the rest of the year seems a little low even with your great analysis. If you could, give me a projection for 5 categories including OBP ROS.

  17. Triple-D says:
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    Your breakdown is impressive and persuasive, but Pujols has been doing me right so far. Make a trade offer for a Fredie Freeman + Sonny Grey combo, or stick with Pujols?

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Triple-D: I’d certainly offer / take that for pujols but doubt they’d say yes.

      • Triple-D says:
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        Thx.

  18. kevinmac says:
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    pujols straight up for strasburg? in need of pitching due to the whole tommy john epidemic

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @kevinmac: hm I’m not one to trade a big hitter which he is still for a starter but if I had another sufficient 1b and ci it’s not a bad offer. I do think Strasburg could outvalue him but you can also stream sp

  19. Eric says:
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    Great article, thanks. I found this by searching around trying to do some better valuation on a trade I was just offered. I would give Pujols for Wainwright. It is a head-to-head league with the standard 10 categories. I am struggling with pitching, and have a surplus of hitters. I think it is the right move, but for some reason it’s hard to pull the trigger.

    What do you think for Wainwright?

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Eric: wainwright and lee are my sp’s of choice…before and during the season where I draft them later than guys like Felix and Strasburg and trade keepers for them to supplement my win-now approaxh. They’re both k/bb monsters

  20. Mike says:
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    I need sp. I was offered pujols papelbon and shields for freeman chapman and minor. What do you think?

    • Connor says:
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      @Mike: I’d take the pujols side. Chapman is struggling and shields is underrated in my opinion

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Mike: thought Chapman had just 1 rough appearance. …why so he can profit off Chapman while you had to sit on him? If he offered that you can always do one better. Never accept the first offer.

      • Mike says:
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        @dano: we’ve been talking trades for a while and that was the best one yet. Chap had 2 rough appearances in a row now at triple a. I’m hesitant to give him up but papelbon has been pitching well. Pretty much need to know if shields is that much better than minor or if minor will come back to form and be a top 20 pitcher.

        • Dano

          dano says:
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          @Mike: shields is better but I also like freeman more than pujols for the rest of the year

          • Mike says:
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            @dano: yea pujols is just lookin so good so far. Would you do something like chapman minor and Travis wood for lee and papelbon?

            • Dano

              dano says:
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              @Mike: yeah lee is still a k/bb monster

  21. Dano

    Dano says:
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    Albert Pujols folks: 1 for his last 25; no rbi; 1 run; 2 bb

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Excluding today

      • Dano

        Dano says:
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        @Grey: details ;)

Comments are closed.