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Free Agent Fantasy Impact: Vladimir Guerrero

Vladimir Guerrero‘s monster contract with the Angels has run out, and it’s time for him to hit the open market.

In 2009, Guerrero hit .295 with 15 dingers and 50 RBI in 100 games with the Angels. Vlad’s time was limited due to injury, spending 39 days on the DL with a pectoral strain and another 27 DL days with a calf strain. Vlad’s previously high OBP and OPS league value dropped drastically, as his OPS went below .800 for the first time in his career.

To make matters worse, Vlad only played 2 games in right field for the Angels, losing his OF eligibility in 2010. For a UTIL spot, you are going to need better production from Vlad if he is to warrant a starting spot in your lineup.

To judge whether or not Vlad will improve next year, we need to know if he’s healthy. Assuming he would be healthy in 2009, all the major projection services had him hitting over .300 with 20+ homers. At the lower end of the 2009 projections, Marcel thought he would hit .302/.369/.508 with 23 bombs. Goes to show you, that Vlad can still put up some numbers if he can stay on the field.

If Vlad moves on from the Angels and signs elsewhere this offseason, his teammates probably won’t mind. Kendry Morales would likely slide into the cleanup role, with Juan Rivera moving up from seventh to fifth in the batting order, allowing both of them to improve thier RBI opportunities next year.

For Vlad’s new team, his production will be based solely what kind of a lineup he’s in. Because he may no longer be a home run threat, fantasy owners can only hope for a good number of RBI chances in his new lineup. Vlad will need to stay in the AL, as he cannot withstand the pounding of playing in the field everyday (if at all). Some may think that leaving Angel Stadium could also hurt Vlad’s home runs, as the ballpark ranked second in home runs this year with a 1.22 factor. However, from 2005 – 2008, the stadium was considered bad for homeruns by park factors, and I’m inclined to go with the larger sample size.

Based on early signs, it looks like Guerrero will come back to the Angels for another year, as outside interest seems to be fading. However, keep an eye on Vladdy this offseason, and wait to decide if he is worth a shot in your draft next year.