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Pujols is back, while Jones never left

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - When it comes to Los Angeles Angels big money slugger Albert Pujols' season, a couple of Eminem songs from about 12 years ago come to mind.

In April, fantasy owners were begging for the real Albert Pujols to please stand up. It seemed unfathomable at the time, but Pujols was one of the worst hitters in baseball in April. He hit .217 with a .570 OPS. He didn't hit his first home run until May 6, 111 at-bats into the season, and fans were wondering what was wrong with the superstar.

It turns out, it was just a big slump as Pujols was getting acclimated with American League pitching after spending 11 seasons in the Senior Circuit. There was no injury and no decline in skill. Just a slump, simple as that.

And now, Pujols, a 32-year-old former three time National League MVP, is singing, "guess who's back, back again, Albert's back, tell a friend."

Pujols is indeed back, wreaking havoc on pitchers everywhere and raising his average a little bit each day. Pujols has strung together seven straight multi- hit games to raise his average from .236 to .263. It's going to take a little more than seven days for Pujols to get back to the level he's been at his entire career, but we should have no doubt in him anymore.

Pujols' resurgence isn't limited to the last week. In the past 30 days, the Angels first baseman is ranked fourth overall in Yahoo! leagues, second among hitters to teammate Mike Trout. In that span, the slugger is batting .349 with eight homers, 25 RBIs, 20 runs scored, four steals and a 1.060 OPS. The surge has pushed Pujols inside the overall top 100 for the first time all season.

There's still plenty of room for improvement, too. Pujols' BABIP is still just .265, so, hopefully, as that continues to normalize, his true batting average will rise close to .300.

If you own Pujols or are attempting to acquire him, I would consider his value to be the same as it was last year. Don't worry about what he did in April. That month is dead and gone and Pujols is alive, well and ready to destroy pitching for the rest of the season.

While the Angels first baseman may be back, Baltimore's Adam Jones never left. Unless you consider his 0-for-11 streak from June 6-8 an exit. I don't, especially considering Jones has more than made up for it in the past three games.

Since that stretch, the Orioles outfielder has gone 8-for-16 with two homers, four RBIs and five runs scored, including a 4-for-5 performance Tuesday against Pittsburgh.

On the strength of that effort, Jones raised his average to .310 and his homer total to 18. He also has 39 RBIs, 44 runs scored and nine steals. With those numbers, Jones, still just 26 years old, is threatening to be the No. 1 player in the fantasy game. He's at No. 3 right now, behind Texas' Josh Hamilton and Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez.

Though Jones has a .259 average and a .723 OPS in 277 career games after the All-Star break, it seems like we may be able to throw some of those past numbers out the window this season as Jones is clearly coming into his prime.

Unless another owner makes you an offer you just can't refuse, take the risk that instead of declining in the second half this season, Jones will continue to make a play for the No. 1 overall spot.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.


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