Is It Time to Bench Pujols?

Last season, I drank the Adam Dunn Kool-Aid. He was coming over from the the National League. He would likely be in the lineup everyday, even if hurt, with the option of the D.H in the AL. What could go wrong? Pretty much everything. It couldn’t happen again I figured, so this season I drank the Albert Pujols flavored Kool-Aid. With him getting up in the years, he would be able to get a rest from fielding, DH a bit, continue hitting, win the MVP, and most importantly, lead my fantasy team to a title. Yea … that is not happening.

Many people are guessing the reasons behind Albert’s struggles and when will he finally break out of the slump. No one knows for sure. Besides Pujols himself struggling, his fantasy owners are struggling with what to do with him over the rest of this season. Here are some possibilities. I know that they may seem obvious, but sometimes owners become so concentrated on just one possible solution, they don’t expand their options.

Trade him?

It would be the total sell low situation. An owner would/should not expect top return, but they may be able to trade him and get a reasonable replacement as part of the trade. Find an owner with an extra 1B on their bench. Possibly the owners that took a chance on Adam Dunn. They would be able to sit Pujols and hope he turns it around. The owner that got rid of Pujols would now be able to have a productive 1B in their lineup.

I know it is frustrating to have high hopes for a player and see them under perform. If an owner is going to trade Albert, make sure it is not out of frustration, but out of a desire to improve their team.

Sit him?

I got to this point yesterday with my Ottoneu points league (and no thanks needed for him going 3 for 4 last night). He sat at 68 points on the season. Alex Rios had twice as many points as Albert. Alex Rios. I have the option of 2 good catchers (Matt Wieters is the other), so I have moved Mike Napoli over to 1B and put Albert to the bench.

I plan on re-evaluating the situation once he has hit a total of 3 HRs. I just picked that number out of the air, but I am tired of trying to see if he has turned the corner on a daily basis. I like to use this method of stepping away from struggling players, sitting them and re-evaluating at a set point like a week later.

If an owner has the option of playing another productive 1B in his spot, play them for now. Maybe Albert will get, maybe he won’t. At least the owner’s team will be getting decent production from the 1B position.

Play him out?

I find myself in this situation in an AL-only league I am in. I have no better options on my bench (especially after Longoria went down). I will just have to hope for the best. I just looked and the best 1B option on the WW is Daric Barton.

Some owners will just have to put him out their everyday and hope for the best. Having to play under performing stars is just one of the pit falls of playing in a deep league. With less starters, not alone stars, to go around, an extreme under performer will just have to be played every day and hope he turns it around. Sometimes I find this situation the easiest to handle because I know I have no other options.


Albert Pujols has been the biggest disappointment of the year so far. His owners have the options of trading him, benching him, or just playing him everyday. Depending on the each owner’s unique situation, they will have to make the best choice for their own team.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

50 Responses to “Is It Time to Bench Pujols?”

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  1. yaboynate says:

    Wait, so if I understand correctly, the options we have for Pujols are… trade, bench, or trade?

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  2. Simon says:

    Who to sit? Because Lahair has 1B/OF eligibility and I’ve got OF in my Util slots, I can really go with any combination of:


    I need to fill 1B/3xOF/2xUtil from these 8, so two need to sit.

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  3. Mx says:

    I couldn’t find an owner in my league who thinks he can bounce back. And I was offering it to a guy who had Konerko/Dunn and he didn’t want to roll the dice. Looks like I’m riding this out.

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    • mcbrown says:

      Wow, and just last week I was trying to nab Pujols for Starlin Castro… I need to set my sights lower!

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  4. mcbrown says:

    And the SABR community officially begins to give up on him! Time to go make some lowball trade offers…

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  5. NatsFan73 says:

    Thank heaven for daily leagues. I play Pujols as a matchups guy now, mixing and matching with Goldschmidt primarily, but also with my LFs, Duda and Craig, who have 1B eligiblity.

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  6. Cody says:

    I am in the fun situation of having a 1B and a UTIL slot (no Corner IF slot) and owning both Hosmer and Pujols. I love both of them as players, but there production has killed me thus far. I wish I could bench them both, but I cannot bring myself to it.

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  7. supershredder says:

    Any thoughts on Chris Young ROS? His numbers to start the season were just ridiculous but “only” fueled by a .379 BABIP.

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  8. Jay says:

    What are your thought on another slumping 1B: Eric Hosmer? Time to sit for now? I don’t have many 1B options but I can play Howard Kendrick there and Kelly Johnson at 2B. When is the time to pull the trigger on Hosmer? Mind you, I play in a 12 Team Auction Keeper League.

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    • DJG says:

      I’d stick with Hosmer. Everything with him points to serious bad luck. His ISO, K%, and BB% are all in line with last season. He BABIP is ridiculously unsustainably low at .175. Also, he is in line for a 20+ homer season, even with his bad luck.

      Pujols is different. He does have a low BABIP .236, but he’s strikeout out more, walking less, and his power has vanished. This can be chalked up to small sample size probably, but he’s actually playing poorly in this small sample leading bad results. Hosmer is playing OK in his small sample, but just not getting the results.

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  9. Chan Can Cook says:

    Step off the ledge, folks. We are 7 weeks into a 25-week season. Pujols is pressing and out of his element. He’ll turn it around – in fact, firing the hitting coach may be just the mental gimmick he needed. Be a bull, not a bear. 300/30/100/100. Sure, thanks!

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    • Feeding the Abscess says:

      He’s had a five year trend of swinging more frequently at pitches outside the strike zone and less frequently at pitches in the strike zone. Until he stops doing that there is almost zero chance he produces like he did from 2001-2010.

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    • wjylaw says:

      All I’m going to say is that the Pujols “supporters/lovers/projections are never wrong guys” are all starting to remind me of Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House, running around and shouting “All is well… All is well…”

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  10. LuckyStrikes says:

    Funny to see this article after I just traded Pujols for Dunn yesterday in my Ottoneu league…

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  11. Mikey says:

    Traded that stiff Pujols and got AGone in return. One on one. Very happy !

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  12. prankmunky says:

    Can I get some opinions on Teix, Lilly and Myers for Pujols and Vargas? Is that even too much at this point?

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  13. sirvlciv says:

    I somehow landed Tulo and Scherzer for Pujols a couple weeks ago. Don’t ask me how.

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  14. Paul D says:

    IMO Albert is hiding an injury. Trade him the next time he hits an HR. Doesn’t matter who–just the best player you can get in return.

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  15. Sean says:

    I can trade Pujols for Konerko, straight up. Go for it?

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    • shmmrname says:

      I just got Lawrie/Hosmer for Pujols. I’d prefer Konerko, as he more closely resembles the type of production I was expecting from Pujols.

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  16. Shibboleth says:

    A pox on Pujols. No way I can move him in my league, and I’m probably too deep in the hole he left me to really get average production out of my 1b spot ROS. Out of curiosity, would any Pujols owners here trade him for Cutch or Jones, straight up?

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  17. west says:

    Why did anyone draft Pujols? He’s most likely older than he says he is, he moved to the big boy league, and he began his decline last season. I would have passed on him even if he fell to me in the second round, possibly the 3rd.

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  18. j-bones says:

    Took Pujols in all three of my leagues (twice with the 2nd pick). Thought I was being safe! dang

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  19. Colin says:

    Have same situation in AL only salary auction keeper league. Best waiver wire option is Kila, I have no 1b backup, time to pick up Kila and sit Pujols for a bit?

    I offered Pujols (39) for Hosmer (7) straight up, other guy said no.

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  20. lerryjee says:

    Man, that’s genius. You can:

    A) Play Pujols
    B) Bench Pujols
    C) Trade Pujols

    Considering that there are no other options besides play/bench/trade, what exactly is the point of this article?

    The sky is up. Water is wet.

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  21. Slats says:

    Pujols just hit a 3 run HR!

    Glad I had him in my lineup.

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  22. TD says:

    I’m clearly in the minority here, but I think that Pujols will start hitting again, players do hit better as they learn the pitchers in the new league. I don’t think he will be a .330 35-125 monster from here on out, but im plenty happy with .300-30-100, which i think is doable.

    So confident i swapped Billy Butler and Anibal Sanchez for him (granted I’m deep in pitching)

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  23. Wade8813 says:

    I started playing matchups with him a couple weeks ago

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  24. KW says:

    Thus column could have alternatively been written as such:

    Is it Time to Bench Pujols?


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  25. Eric says:

    Just traded him away… Pujols and McCann for Votto and Mauer. Votto puts up solid numbers and Pujols puts up elite numbers (just now now). Adding Votto to your team is never a bad thing.and by swapping Votto and McCann, we are both upgrading a spot on our team.

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  26. OzzieGuillen says:

    Benching him is silly. A great way to miss out on a 5 HR week. You can’t just start/sit guys based on their most recent play, or else you’ll always be catching the aftermath of hot streaks instead of the hot streaks themselves.

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  27. Bretschtown says:

    Just got offered Hosmer, :Benefacio, and Lohse for Cabrera. Do you take it?

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  28. uclabennett says:

    reading these comments a couple weeks later is comical. good recipe for perspective whenever one of your stars are slumping.

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  29. TBGriot says:

    Albert Pujols has a .423 wOBA in the 37 games since this article was written. Hope nobody traded him

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