Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Rick Ankiel's timeline as he moved away from a pitcher and turned into a hitter is nothing but impressive. There are countless number of players who have made the switch, but none are seeing the success Ankiel is having since Babe Ruth. Ankiel, who was once considered the top pitching prospect in the Cardinals organization, 'forgot' how to throw strikes and was converted to an outfielder. He was always a good hitter, and the decision to move him rather than cut him was a great decision. As he worked his way back to the bigs from 2005-2007, he hit .260 with 53 homeruns between Single-A and Triple-A. You could not deny his power, but a .285 average to finish last season was surprising.
Coming into this season, I expected him to put a season similar to Adam Dunn, but with less power. A low average around .240 or .250 with 30-35 homeruns. However, he is hitting .296 to start the season with 3 HR, and should be hitting behind Albert Pujols in the lineup. If Ankiel were to start hitting behind Pujols, it would make that lineup a lot more threatening because Ankiel is still hard to figure out, despite playing in 53 games as an everyday player. Players get off to hot starts, so I am hesitant to change my projection, but it wouldn't be ridiculous to say that he will hit somewhere between .270-280 with 30-40 homeruns. In ESPN drafts, he is being taken around the 160th pick. However, in one of my leagues he was a free agent, and of course, I picked him up. His power and RBI numbers will help any owner, so if he is available, I would pick him up.