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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Albert Pujols replacement options

Let's get this out of the way now: You don't replace The Machine.

Albert Pujols, until Sunday, seemed invincible.

The Cardinals first baseman's season averages from 2001 to '10, his first 10 years in the majors, were as follows: .331, 41 home runs, 123 RBI, 119 runs and eight steals. He played at least 154 games in eight of the 10 years, and appeared in 143 and 148 contests in the other two (2006 and '08, respectively).

Sunday, as you know by now, Pujols fractured his left wrist. The Cardinals said he will miss about six weeks, which takes him out of your lineup through at least Week 17.

He started slowly by his standards, but had begun to heat up this month, batting .317 with eight homers, 14 RBI and a 1.197 OPS in 63 at-bats.

Now what?

If you own Pujols, here are some possible waiver-wire acquisitions, along with a couple of players you could target in a trade. All of the waiver-wire candidates are available in more than half of the leagues on

All statistics are through Tuesday, unless noted.

Waiver-wire possibilities

1. Ty Wigginton, Rockies (owned in 38.0 percent of the ESPN leagues): We like his versatility (he's eligible at first base, third base and the outfield in most leagues), and his power (Wigginton hit 22 homers or more three times in four years from 2007 to '10). This season, he is batting .261 with seven homers, 24 RBI and four steals in 184 at-bats. Since May 24, he has been much more productive, batting .296 with five homers and 13 RBI in 98 at-bats.

2. Freddie Freeman, Braves (40.9 percent): He was ranked as the game's 17th-best prospect by Baseball America heading into the season, and he's shown pretty good power as a rookie (seven homers and 27 RBI in 253 at-bats). He's hitting .269 and strikes out too often (69, once per 3.7 at-bats). The average should improve, though. In Triple-A in 2010, Freeman batted .319 with 18 homers, 87 RBI, six steals and an .898 OPS in 461 at-bats.

3. Mark Trumbo, Angels (48.7): He has the best power numbers of the group (12 homers, 30 RBI) and he's stolen six bases, but Trumbo is hitting .254 with a .761 OPS as a rookie. In June, he is batting .250 and has two homers and two RBI in 56 at-bats. He eventually should hit for average, however. In Triple-A in 2010, he batted .301 with 36 homers, 122 RBI, 103 runs and a .945 OPS.

4. Brett Wallace, Astros (18.1): He's hitting .296 with an .810 OPS, though you likely need more power from your first baseman. Wallace has four homers and 21 RBI, and he's 0-for-17 in his last three games. In April, he batted .388, and he has followed by hitting .250 in May and .232 in June. Like Freeman, Trumbo and the player at No. 6 on this list, Wallace should be a future stud. He batted .304 with 46 homers and 180 RBI in 1,119 at-bats in the minor leagues.

5. Casey Kotchman, Rays (3.0): He's hitting .339 with an .858 OPS, but, like Wallace, his power numbers leave something to be desired (three homers and 18 RBI in 183 at-bats). Kotchman has been consistent, hitting .341 in April, .373 in May and .297 in June, a trend that includes his lack of power (one homer each month). If you are going to acquire him, you need him to hit for average to make up for the low home-run and RBI totals. If that's the case, consider that Kotchman is a .265 career hitter.

6. Anthony Rizzo, Padres (22.7): He's off to a slow start since getting called up by the Padres, batting .167 with a homer, two RBI and 13 Ks in 36 at-bats. The 21-year-old was a key piece to the Adrian Gonzalez deal with Boston, and he was tearing up Triple-A before his promotion (.365, 16 homers, 63 RBI and a 1.159 OPS in 200 at-bats in 2011). He's likely a year away.

7. Derrek Lee, Orioles (29.6): This former stud is hitting .243 with four homers, 18 RBI and a .649 OPS. Lee hasn't homered since May 8, and at age 35, he's about as far away from Pujols as I am from Dirk Nowitzki in a late-afternoon pickup game. But if you've made it this far down the list, you are getting desperate and might be willing to take a chance on a player who was very good as recently as 2009.

8. James Loney, Dodgers (25.0): He batted .293 in May, and he entered Tuesday's late game against the Tigers hitting .322 in June. The bad news: He has virtually no power (three homers and 13 RBI in 151 at-bats in those two hot-hitting months). Loney batted .331 in 2007 and he's a .284 career hitter, but he hit .267 in 2010 and is hitting .266 this season. If you're scoring at home, this is where the Pujols options get to beyond-desperate levels.

Position play

Pirates outfielder Garrett Jones (27.4 percent) has played only two games at first base this season, but he's eligible there in most leagues. If he is available on the waiver wire, consider him in the middle of the above list -- at No. 5, ahead of Kotchman. He is batting .250 with seven homers, 26 RBI and three steals in 180 at-bats. In June, however, he's batting .333 with nine RBI in 45 at-bats, and he tallied a combined 42 homers and 17 steals in 906 at-bats in 2009 and '10.

Trade targets

1. Michael Morse, Nationals: Since May 23, he's been among the best in fantasy -- batting .346 with 11 homers, 24 runs and 32 RBI in 107 at-bats. Overall, Morse is hitting .308 with 13 homers, 43 RBI and a .913 OPS. The reason I think you could get him in a trade is he's 29 and he isn't a proven commodity. He's never had more than 266 at-bats. That and the fact he wasn't drafted in many leagues, which means the owner who has him (unless he also has Pujols) might not need him at first base. Morse is also eligible in the outfield, so you could play him there when Pujols returns.

2. Michael Cuddyer, Twins: He batted .300 in May and he entered Tuesday's late game against the Giants hitting .333 in June. Cuddyer has 10 homers and 28 RBI overall, and he is eligible to play second base and the outfield.

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