Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
To get Albert Pujols on your roster requires a huge outlay in dollars in your auction draft or a top-five draft choice in your "snake" draft. Certainly, he is a great hitter, but is he worth it?
When it comes to hitting, there is no one better than the St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman. You know when you draft him that Pujols will perform as expected, because he always has. Since 2001, Pujols has never scored less than 99 runs, hit less than 32 HRs, knocked in less than 103 runs, hit less than .314 and had a slugging percentage of less than .561. Last year was a typical Pujols season - 100 runs, 37 HRs, 116 RBIs, .357 batting average, .653 slugging percentage.
But he doesn't come cheap. His 2008 ADP was 4.18. And the first base position has a lot of players who can put up pretty good numbers too.
Ryan Howard, he of the new three-year $54 million contract, gets you more in terms of HRs and RBIs (2006-08 average of 51 HRs, 143 RBIs), but takes a huge hit in batting average (.277). He would cost you an end-of-the-first-round selection (ADP 9.45).
Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, got off to a slow start in 2008, but still hit 37 HRs and knocked in 127. It was his first go around in the American League and things will be better for him in 2009. He'll be 26 in April and his best years are still in front of him. Plus you might be able to get him at the start of the second round leaving you the ability to pick a top player at another position first.
Prince Fielder struggled in 2008. He had just eight homers through the end of May. Yet when the final statistics were in, Fielder had 34 HRs and 102 RBIs. Sure, it felt disappointing after his 50-HR season in 2007, but he's even younger than Cabrera (he'll be 25 in May) and hits upside is "unlimited." With his seemingly down year, Fielder might drop to the end of the second round or possibly further.
Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis put up very good numbers in 2008 (91 runs, 29 HRs, 115 RBIs, 312 batting average and .959 OPS). With Manny Ramirez gone, it will be up to Youkilis and Ortiz to keep the Red Sox offense going.
Lance Berkman has his third consecutive "big" season. Playing more than 150 games for the seventh time in eight seasons, Berkman posted 114 runs, 29 HRs, 106 RBI, batted .312 and had a .567 slugging percentage. He even added a new category to his repertoire - the stolen bases (18). It's the one offensive area where Pujols usually isn't a factor. Which might put his 2008 season ahead of Pujols'. Last year Berkman's ADP was 26.91 - a third-round pick. If I could get Berkman's numbers in the third round, why would I select Pujols in the first round?
Possible 10-Team League Starting First Basemen