Key Stats: This is the pick that will make the rest of your leagues drop their collective jaws. The pick that will shake up the whole league. Oh wait never mind I got this confused with a different day. It’s only Vernon Wells. This is the pick that will make the rest of your league collectively start to discuss moving the pace of the draft a little quicker.
Wells had a terrific season after being a forgotten man since 2006. He had the most home runs, RBI, and best OPS since that 2006 and also had the second most doubles of his career with 44. And as boring as he is, he has only missed 9 games combined over the past two seasons and will make $23 million so it’s not as if he’ll be like Chris Coghlan, Scott Podsednik or Jonny Gomes as far as there being questions as to whether or not he’ll get a ton of at-bats.
Skeptics Say: For three consecutive seasons prior to last year, Wells did not finish a season ranked in the top 150 by Yahoo. Those seasons were in his 28-30 year old seasons, so that should have been the time in his career where he was close to his peak performance. Which is the better sample size, three years of numbers or one?
Also, last season Wells was ranked the 6th best player at the end of April, but from June through August (about half the season) he hit just .241. Essentially one hot month is what propelled him to being one of the seventy-five best ranked players last year. For him to repeat that performance seems very unlikely.
Peer Comparison: Corey Hart and Wells both ended up with 31 home runs on the season, but Hart is much easier to like heading into 2011. Here’s why Hart is the superior pick:
Hart – Age: 28, 1 HR every 18 at-bats, approximately 65% of at-bats were with Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder hitting behind him
Wells – Age: 32, 1 HR every 19 at-bats, approximately 55% of at-bats were with Jose Bautista hitting in front of him
Hart is younger and if the lineups are not shaken up too much (and Fielder isn’t traded), the Brewers have a better situation for Hart to thrive in.
Lineup Outlook: Back in 2009, Wells stole 17 bases in 21 attempts. Last year he only stole 6 bases in 10 attempts. Given how great a season it was for him in other categories, if Wells could have added 8 to 10 steals to his final line, he would have had a shot to be ranked in the top 30 in the player ranking formula. Where his steals go this season is a question first and foremost of health, but now it will also be up to John Farrell. Farrell has never managed before and has always been a pitching coach, so what his philosophy will be when it comes to sending Blue Jay runners is hard to guess. Given that he stole just 4 in 2008, I’d be more inclined to say that Wells will be closer to the 6 he had last year than the 17 two years ago.
Projection: Yes it is a boring pick, but if he comes out of the gates on fire again you won’t be thinking that.
76 R 24 HR 86 RBI 8 SB .279 AVG .830 OPS
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