Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, Yu Darvish
Your fantasy baseball draft isn't far off. KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove surveys free agency, trades, salary arbitration and injuries that will affect your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league. You're cleared for your MLB offseason program: The Arizona Fall League, Baseball Winter Meetings, Rule 5 draft and more will shape your fantasy baseball rankings.
In 2012, the first year of a contract that will carry him through the next decade, Pujols will be 32 years old. He may have trouble pulling his weight by the time he's 41. This past season, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound piece of granite batted a career-worst .299 with 37 bombs and a lifetime-low 99 RBIs.
Oh, how disappointing. Relatively speaking, even a less-than-perfect Pujols is fantasy baseball monster. The move to the West Coast won't change the fact that he's still a great pick at No. 1 overall.
There's plenty of evidence - his radically different (though still solid) BA profile, his April 2011 stumble, his lengthy medical chart - that The Machine's defense systems are now vulnerable.
In keeper leagues, you missed your window to maximize your ransom for him. In the immediate future, considering how much elite first basemen dwarf the rest of their position class, he's still gold.
The Halos doubled up on free-agent blockbusters and instantly made themselves the favorites in the AL West. Wilson joins Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana in a rotation that could rival - or exceed - the results that the Philadelphia Phillies' 2011 quartet achieved, thanks to Roy Oswalt's inability to hold up his end up his corner of the tent.
The move only strengthens Wilson's rotisserie value because he leaves hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark for the more pitcher-friendly digs of Angel Stadium. The left-hander will still have to face his old club but otherwise remains in a comfortable atmosphere and gets to continue to beat up on the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners a bunch.
He didn't tweet it or make it his latest Facebook status. The Asian sensation went old-school: He notified his fans via his personal blog.
The bidding for his services will probably fall in a large range, but expect the floor to be pretty high. (Oh yeah, big-league teams face the same scenario in their quest to win the rights to negotiate with Darvish.) Now that he's virtually certain to play Major League Baseball this coming season, his fantasy baseball stock will rise rapidly.
Now, rotisserie managers and pundits will spend months determining how much stock we should put in his ridiculously good numbers in Japan. Tim Heaney took a long look at how Darvish's nasty stuff might play if and when he traveled across the sea.
There's little doubt that he'll be good, but will he be good enough to live up to a hype-fueled draft-day bid? He might be a ninth-rounder in mixed leagues, but is a league mate infatuated enough to call his name in the fifth or sixth?
In a statement, a Nippon Ham representative iterated the organization's desire to see its prized pitcher "become the ace of the world." Some roto owners may see the potential for him just that. The equivalents of his Japanese League numbers suggest that's unlikely, at least right away.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570. Follow @NicholasMinnix
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