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Editor’s Note: This post was made by my long time competitor Sean Herman. Sean has played fantasy baseball for a decade and has competed in my most intense league for seven years. He will be contributing to FBHS on a part-time basis.

Key Stats: Here’s the good – Adam LaRoche’s batting average wasn’t too far off his career mark, his homerun and run totals were perfectly in line with expectations, and he eclipsed the century mark for RBIs for the first time in his career. But don’t let this seemingly decent season fool you; Laroche actually had the worst season of his career. LaRoche is notoriously known for his second half tirades and his uncanny knack for saving fantasy seasons with the annual August waiver wire pick up (because God knows an impatient owner has already dropped him by the All Star Break). There was an initial hope that LaRoche was going to prolong his second half success throughout an entire season when he hit .296 with a .954 OPS in April (career highs for April). Thus, imagine my dismay when Laroche fell apart in September. In the last four seasons, his second half averages have been .323, .312, .304, and .311. In 2010, he batted only .269 in the second half with only a one-thousandth of a percentage increase in OPS in the second half. This was largely due to a horrible September which destroyed any hopes of salvaging his season. He did all this while also maintaining a fairly high .330 BABIP. This appears to indicate that he just may not have a second half surge in his tank anymore, making me pessimistic about LaRoche going forward.

Skeptics Say: He’s 31 years old. Hope of him being able to string a full season together is being quickly diminished with each passing day and he’s coming off one of his worst seasons as a major leaguer in 2010. The 25 homers and 100 RBIs were strong, and the .261 average was only 10 points off his career norm. But the concern is that he read the Mark Reynolds book on batting patience and struck out a career high 172 times while walking at the lowest rate since his rookie season. It should be no surprise that he swung at a career worst rate of pitches outside the zone in 2010.

Peer Comparison: LaRoche is ranked rather high and the reason for this is somewhat consistent end-of-the-day stats and the never ending hope that he may have a strong season in the first and second half. But let me first propose the following two stat lines (2010 season/career):

Adam LaRoche: .788/.827 (OPS), .207/.216 (ISO), 24.6/23.9 (PA/HR)
Aubrey Huff: .891/.821 (OPS), .216/.193 (ISO), 21.9/24 (PA/HR)

Huff’s career averages are, for the most part, rather similar to LaRoche’s. LaRoche is coming off a down year and a modest rebound should be expected. Huff on the other hand is coming off a strong year in which he exceeded LaRoche in homers (26/25), runs (100/75), and average (.290/.261) though falling short in RBIs (86/100). In addition to this, allow me to remind you that Huff plays in a pitcher’s park, is surrounded by meager bats, and is three years older than Laroche. This is not to say that Huff is not a better bet in 2011, but only to demonstrate that hitters like Huff can be found later on in the draft in the form of Laroche – so don’t overpay.

Team Outlook: 2010 was an off year for the D’Backs. Reynolds and Justin Upton were disappointments and the pitching staff was subpar. Despite these let downs and lack of support in the lineup, LaRoche eclipsed the century mark for RBIs for the first time in his career. His numbers in Arizona were not that much better than on the road. At the time of this article, he was offered arbitration by Arizona and is an impending free agent. Batting 5th again for Arizona could be a positive sign for his power numbers, especially if the team sees an uptick in production.

What They’re Saying: Yahoo: #25 First Baseman & #190 Overall; CBS Sportsline: #25 First Baseman; Roto Professor: Not Ranked Top 15 1B; FB 365: Not Ranked in Top 10 1B; Mock Draft Central ADP: #171 Overall; Couch Managers: #146

Projection: I will no longer be among the believers that LaRoche can have a consistently strong year from start to finish; but I do believe he won’t repeat his September’s slump in 2011.
70 R, 24 HR, 80 RBIs, .272 AVG, .810 OPS

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