ADP Champs or Chumps - Albert Pujols & Miguel Cabrera

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I know what you're thinking. "ADP Champs or Chumps? The season has already started!" That may be true, but there are some leagues that wait until the first week of the season to conduct their drafts.

Personally I think that this is a terrible idea, as values become more linear when you know Opening Day rosters and even how playing time is starting to shake out. Still, some owners haven't drafted yet, so I'm keeping ADP involved for a little longer.

With that out of the way, we have two elder statesman to look at today. Miguel Cabrera is consistently great year after year, but fantasy owners aren't giving him his due now that he is 34. Albert Pujols is nowhere near the player he used to be, but the player he is now is still a tremendous fantasy asset. Let's take a look at why.

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The Fantasy Jury is Out

Miguel Cabrera (1B, DET) ADP: 14.3

If Pujols maintained his batting average into his older years, he would be Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera hit .316/.393/.563 with 38 big flies last season, decisively silencing critics who claimed his star was fading after a down 2015 (for him). Amazingly, he could be even better this year.

Cabrera's .336 BABIP may seem too high to sustain, but it is actually short of his career .347 mark. Better yet, the difference was his BABIP on line drives (.670 vs. .735 career). Age should not rob him of line drive BABIP, suggesting his career number remains attainable. Cabrera has also learned to avoid pop-ups, as he has not posted an IFFB% higher than his career 6.8 percent rate since 2010. His 10.2 percent SwStr% suggests more strikeouts than last year's 17.1 percent K%, but he'll still have a favorable strikeout rate for a power guy. The result should be another elite batting average in 2017.

Cabrera's pop also returned after disappearing in 2015. A modest recovery in both FB% (32.7 percent in 2015, 35.5 percent last year) and HR/FB (15.8 percent to 22.1 percent) brought both metrics in line with his career totals. Cabrera also led all of MLB in Barrels last year with 72, suggesting that he has not lost the ability to square up the baseball at all. Cabrera's hard-hitting ways and favorable batting order position should produce plenty of counting numbers again this year.

Finally, I love Cabrera's schedule. The White Sox have no pitching outside of Jose Quintana, who should be traded midway through the campaign. When that happens, they'll look like the motley crew of arms Minnesota has collected. The Royals do not have any names that scare you on their staff either, while everyone on the Indians seems to be injury prone. I fully expect Cabrera to clobber the mediocre arms in his division for a career season. How he is lasting after the first 10 picks is a mystery to me.

Verdict: Champ

 

Albert Pujols (1B, LAA) ADP: 124

Did you know that Pujols hit .268/.323/.457 with 31 dingers last year? He compiled those numbers while playing through a foot injury that required surgery in the offseason, suggesting that he has plenty left in the tank entering his age-37 season.

The best thing about the current version of Pujols is power, and it displayed no signs of slowing down last year. He continued to both hit fly balls (39.5 percent FB%) and convert them into home runs (15 percent HR/FB) at an above average rate. Both marks were below his 2015 numbers (42.2 percent FB%, 17.8 percent HR/FB), suggesting that the Machine is approaching the twilight of his usefulness. He actually pulled a few more flies last year (30.9 percent) than the year before (28.4 percent), however, suggesting that he is not done quite yet as a power hitter.

The batting average part of his game slipped long ago. Last year's .260 BABIP was much better than the previous year's .217 mark, allowing Pujols to at least not hurt his owners in batting average. Sadly, that's probably the former stud's upside. His career LD% is a paltry 18.7 percent, and he failed to reach even that two years in a row. He is also extremely shiftable, batting .229 against .301 when it was not in play last year. Add in the fly ball heavy profile mentioned above and his older injury-prone legs, and a .300 BABIP is out of the question, unless fortune smiles upon him, of course.

Pujols never strikes out (11.5 percent K% supported by a 6.6 percent SwStr%), so he could still do a lot of good with a strong BABIP. His lineup slot also ensures that his hits have a high chance of producing runs and/or RBI for his owners. He qualifies at 1B based on 28 games there in 2016, and early word is that he will DH exclusively this year. I have a hunch that Pujols produces more without subjecting his body to the rigors of the field, enjoying one last dominant campaign before he falls off of a cliff. Let's see if I'm right.

Verdict: Champ

 

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