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Legit or Quit: Garrett Atkins
Michael Ryan,

Colorado's Garrett Atkins shot into the second tier of third basemen after an excellent 2006 season in which he bombed 29 homers and 120 RBIs with a .329 batting average. In 2007 he followed it up with a nice 25/111/.301 line and 2008 featured a respectable 21/99/.286. All of these seasons show some decent production from your third base spot but only 2006's numbers can be considered near elite.

After two straight years of steady decline in production, I have a hard time seeing why we should be expecting the 29 year old to rebound back to his near 30 HR and .320 average ways. There are several factors showing why this is not likely.

The first of which are his numbers. Since 2006, Atkins cut his walks in half while his strikeouts increased by over 30%. His OPS dropped from .965 in 2006 to .853 in 2007 and just .780 last year. His runs also dropped from 117 to 83 and 86 and are not looking to see an increase anytime soon, with the likes of catcher Chris Iannetta and Brad Hawpe likely batting behind him in the order.

Atkins has also been the subject of many trade rumors in this offseason. While it is looking to be likely that he will stay a Rockie for the time being, the possibility of a mid-season trade to make way for prospect Ian Stewart is still not out of the question. While Coors Field may not be the number one ballpark for hitting as it was several years ago, it is still one of the top places and Atkins' numbers have been much better there than on the road. In 2008 his home splits for average and OPS were .342/.903 versus an away split of .233/.661. In 2007 it was .349/.936 at home compared to .254/.773.

I think it's safe to say that Atkins loves playing in Colorado. If he stays put this becomes a bit of a non-issue but if there is a trade made you could see a further decline in his numbers

If Atkins isn't traded, it is still a good possibility that he will find himself on the other corner at first base quite frequently, just as he did in 2008. Again with the emergence of Stewart, and the continued decline of Todd Helton, Atkins is the guy most likely to slide over when Helton finally does collapse for good. This was not a good thing for Atkins owners last year, as he hit only .258 with 7 homers and a .723 OPS in 236 at bats at first base compared to 14 homers, a .307 average, and .823 OPS when back at his natural position in the hot corner.

I am not saying to not draft Garrett Atkins, but I am advising caution on a player who is looking more and more like a 20 homer, .285 guy than that 30 homer, .320 guy we saw a couple years ago and make sure you are drafting him for what he is rather than what you want him to be so that you can avoid disappointment come draft day.

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