Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is Garrett Atkins A Keeper?

In 2006, Garret Atkins had one of the best second half performances in recent MLB memory. He hit .354 with 18 HR, 62 RBI, and an OPS of 1.062. In 2007, he hit .349 after the all-star break, making many of us think that he might be one of those perennial second-half players that we could elect not to draft, trade for in June, and reap the benefits.

Hopefully, you didn't do that in 2008. He hit just .259 with 7 HRs after the break this past season, and generally disappointed fantasy owners after a very solid first half. The question for 2009 is, can Atkins work out the kinks and just be a good hitter all season long? The answer? Not likely.

Over the past three years, Atkins has declined in virtually every statistical category each year. He dropped from 29 to 25 to 21 HRs, and 120 to 111 to 99 RBI. His walks have gone down and his strikeouts have gone up. His batting average has gone from .329 to .301 to .286. All of this indicates that he's not getting more comfortable as he gets more at-bats in the majors, and it's possible he's getting worse.

I still believe that Atkins is a solid player with good hitting instincts and enough pop to be a fantasy factor. And if everything was the same as last year, I'd probably still look at him as a keeper. But the day that Matt Holliday was traded to Oakland was the day that Garrett Atkins became a non-keeper. The Rockies' best hitters now are Atkins, an aging Todd Helton (hi...) and Brad Hawpe, a nice player but just a roster-filler in fantasy baseball.

If I thought that Carlos Gonzalez, Ian Stewart, and Troy Tulowitzki were going to take big strides forward this season (or in the case of Tulowitzki, just stop taking steps backwards), I might consider keeping Atkins. But I just don't see where he can get 110 RBIs in 2009 out of this Rockies lineup.

2009 projections: .290, 85 R, 20 HR, 85 RBI

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