Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Hamels or Iwakuma? Pujols or Kemp?

by Todd Zola, on March 12, 2014 @ 13:52:47 PDT


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The extended vacation is over. It's time to put the Knights back to work. That said, we don't want to ask too much of them too early. It's best to ease them in to help avoid the dreaded dead-typing-finger syndrome.

We'll officially kick off the 2014 Lord Zola's Fantasy Baseball Roundtable series with a discussion on two pairs of players that are likely causing some pause when their names are at the top of your draft board or nominated in an auction.

Los Angeles Dodgers OF Matt Kemp
No legs-up for Kemp

Who are you more concerned about -- Cole Hamels or Hisashi Iwakuma?

Who's more likely to bounce back -- Matt Kemp or Albert Pujols?

Ryan Carey

Without getting too scientific, I am more concerned about Hamels than Iwakuma mainly because Hamels' injury is to the shoulder, while Iwakuma is dealing with a finger issue. For me anytime I hear the shoulder is involved I get much more concerned.

Add in the fact that Hamels has been hurting for awhile now, all the way back to late last year, and this sure seems like the problem could be a lot more serious than either the player or team is letting on at this point. That of course ties into the fact that the Phillies as an organization don't have the best reputation when it comes to reporting injuries, or for that matter, treating them. 

Iwakuma's injury on paper is more serious, but at least we know what it is and what the timetable back should be. This way we can at least take a better guess at what we can get out of him when he returns and determine how far to drop him in the rankings on draft day.

Pujols vs. Kemp is an interesting question. Honestly I don't really want to own either of them this year if I can avoid it (I have so far). But if I have to choose one to bet on then I will go with Pujols. The biggest deciding factor is I have no faith that Kemp's speed is coming back, and so much of his value was tied to the stolen bases. If that is gone, then he really is just an average OF, and an injury-prone one at that.

Pujols on the other hand just needs to hit, and he sure seems motivated to put last year behind him. I am sure some others can give stronger evidence as to why Pujols will at least bounce-back to 2012's numbers, but simply staying healthy will likely be at it takes. The nice thing is, it seems like Pujols is a little better priced and, it should be easier to hedge your bets him by grabbing another 1B later on. 

Nicholas Minnix

I concur with Carey as far as Hamels and Iwakuma are concerned. I really didn't think Hamels' injury would be a big deal when it first popped up, but how long this has gone on is disconcerting. I still think there's a good chance that it turns out to be nothing serious, based on his scouting profile and relatively clean medical record, but it's too tough to predict, and predictability is worth a little something.

I have an easier time than Ryan does in choosing Pujols over Kemp. Even when Kemp is cleared to return to regular season action, whenever that is, he'll almost certainly be limited in some manner and be spelled, given the club's OF depth. Agreed: The speed has to be in doubt. If we see the real Kemp again this season, when will that be?

I think Pujols is primed for a pretty big rebound. He could play through pretty much anything for so long that we grew accustomed to that M.O. I think he finally did the smart thing last year -- he had no choice, really -- and took the time off, had the procedures and is good to go. The numbers won't be elite, but they'll be really good. I don't see any more risk in him than I do any other player on the wrong side of 30 who's healthy as we speak.

The debate rages on.

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About Todd Zola,

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at and, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums. Fantasy Baseball

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