Hank Blalock is really good…when he plays at home.
In his career, Blalock has hit .306/.375/.531 with 77 homers in 397 games. On the road, Blalock has hit .244/.299/.402 with 50 homers in 390 games.
Fortunately for Blalock, he is currently still a member of the Texas Rangers. Although the Rangers have many corner types, Blalock appears to be in line for a lot of plate appearances, probably at first base (assuming Chris Davis can handle third base). If he plays every day for the Rangers, he can probably continue to put up decent numbers – the type of numbers he has put up over the last 2-3 years (think ~.270 with ~25 homers or so). For those of you who play in leagues with daily updates, you can take advantage of Blalock’s drastic splits, benching him for road games but making sure that he’s in your lineup for all games in Arlington (this could work in leagues with weekly updates too, but it won’t work nearly as well).
However, Blalock’s numbers have been artificially inflated by his home park, and if he is traded his overall (and fantasy) numbers will suffer. While he may not be as bad as his road numbers indicate (after all, most players play slightly worse on the road, and his road numbers don’t take into account any games in Arlington), his overall numbers will suffer significantly if he’s traded to, say, Minnesota (or just about anywhere else, really).
In my experience, Hank Blalock’s reputation exceeds Hank Blalock’s production. Back in 2004, Blalock hit 32 homers; since then, he’s hit 63 homers total. Blalock was the Next Big Thing after his 04 season, but he simply hasn’t lived up to his reputation, and he’s had plenty of opportunities to do so. While I will admit that Blalock has some upside, he’s so far removed from his excellent 2004 season and simply hasn’t shown any improvement (let alone any ability to replicate his 04 season). That, combined with his drastic home/road splits, makes me very wary.
Again, that’s not to say that Hank Blalock is without value – that’s simply untrue. The key is his perceived value – is he perceived as being more valuable than, say, Paul Konerko? Or Conor Jackson? Or Carlos Pena? I’d much rather have those three than Blalock, but some others in your league may disagree.
Don’t be afraid to have Blalock on your team. Just make sure you value him appropriately and don’t draft him too early.