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Vernon Wells Traded to Los Angeles Angels: 2011 Fantasy Impact

In a deal that sent shock waves through the baseball community last weekend, the Toronto Blue Jays sent Vernon Wells and his monstrous contract to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera.

While the Angels inexplicably handcuffed themselves with one of the worst contracts in baseball history, it’s not relevant to fantasy baseball. In fact, we don’t even care about Wells’ declining defense. All we really want to know is how his bat will fit into the Angels lineup.

2010 was a fountain-of-youth type season for the now 32-year-old Wells, as he blasted 31 HRs for just the second time in his career after posting home run totals of 16, 20 and 15 in the three seasons prior to last.

His batting average, which has been all over the map in recent seasons (.245, .300, .260) checked in at .273 in 2010, just a few points shy of his .280 career batting average.

Even his line-drive and fly-ball rates have been up and down in recent seasons, making it difficult to find any patterns that might explain his sudden power resurgence.

According to Hit Tracker Online, however, 32 percent of Wells’ HRs qualified as “just enough” last season, a mark slightly above league average. All things equal in 2011, fantasy managers should expect a small regression in Wells’ home run total.

Unfortunately for Wells, things are no longer equal.

With last weekend’s trade, Wells moves from baseball’s fourth most home run-friendly park (Rogers Centre) to the eighth least home run-friendly park (Angel Stadium of Anaheim) according to ESPN’s MLB park factors.

This trade does, however land Wells in a more fantasy-friendly lineup. Instead of being sandwiched between Jose Bautista and Adam Lind, Wells now finds himself in a lineup with speedsters Erick Aybar and Peter Bourjos and run producers Torii Hunter, Kendry Morales and Bobby Abreu. This probably won’t help Wells blast 30 HRs again, but it will likely aid his run-scoring and run-producing opportunities.

Wells won’t blow you away in 2011, but if you’re willing to lower your expectations from his 2010 HR total, he could be a borderline No. 2 outfielder in most standard leagues.

  PA R HR RBI SB AVG
2010 stats 646 79 31 88 6 .273
3-year average 599 75 22 77 9 .275
2011 FBI Forecast 620 85 24 85 10 .272

 

Image courtesy of: Dennis Adair

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