Aside from fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, nobody cringes more at the endless loop of replays of Albert Pujols breaking his wrist than those who have built their fantasy baseball teams around him. But in an injury, the savvy owner sees opportunity.
So do you do it? If you own Pujols, is now the time to capitalize on the value of the most consistent position player in the game? If you’ve coveted him, is now the time to pounce?
The answer, of course, depends on the status of your team, format of your league and so on. But if you, like me, own him and reject almost all Pujols offers on sight, now is the time to reconsider.
A six-week injury on June 19 puts Pujols back in action at the beginning of August. If you’re in good shape and think you can tread water until he gets back, hold him. There are suddenly plenty of first-base-eligible options for the kind of production you expect from Pujols. Over the past 30 days, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera and Paul Konerko join Pujols among the 20 hottest hitters in the game. That’s to be expected, but none of them are hotter than Washington’s Mike Morse (24 R, 11 HR, 32 RBI and a .352 average) over that period, while Michael Cuddyer and Adam Lind are putting up serious numbers as well. Derrek Lee has 11 hits in his past four games. You should be able to find someone to keep Pujols’s seat warm.
So shop him around, especially in keeper leagues. Perhaps the name-recognition will get a bottom-feeding or star-needy team to overpay and fix your team’s problems. You owe it to yourself — especially with the glut of 1B options; let’s not forget Joey Votto and Ryan Howard. You might regret not having Pujols when August rolls around, but if you have a team that can contend, losing six weeks of your best player could sink it. What you get in the interim should propel it.
For those who don’t own Pujols but would like to, it’s an opportunity to buy. You might suffer in the short term, but it’s a great time to try to get in for pennies on the dollar on a player who is as close to a sure thing as any. No matter the format — rotiserrie, head-to-head, keeper — Pujols is highly likely to come through for your team during the stretch run of late August and September.
An injury to a player of Pujols’s magnitude could change the outcome of your league. Make sure that change is in your favor.