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Kicking Rocks: I Said Studs, Not Duds!

Complaint time, folks!  I got my crying hat on today…

We’ve all heard it a million times before — every year, every site, every pre-draft advice column — fantasy championships are won in the later rounds of your draft.  When you’re getting third round production from your 22nd round pick, your team is destined for success.  What they don’t say is that, while that may be true for the most part, you also need for your first and second round picks to produce accordingly.  If not, then you’re in a little bit of trouble.  The work it takes to recover from a first or even second round bust is plentiful and can be an agonizing task.

I’m in six leagues, ranging from 10 teams to 18 teams.  Two of them are auction and the rest are all snake drafts.  My biggest bids landed on Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez.  For the other four leagues, my first round picks were used on Ramirez, Evan Longoria, Carlos Gonzalez and David Wright.

Drop your shorts and bend over, Mr. Babar.

Sure, every year you’ve got a guy or two that doesn’t live up to his draft position or gets tagged with a fluke, long-term injury, but this year is just plain ridiculous.  When was the last time you saw five of the top ten overall picks (according to Mock Draft Central’s 2011 ADP Rankings) fail their owners so miserably in a season?  Five!

Injuries happen.  You just can’t prevent them.  Maybe if Wright was out with a concussion again, a la lingering effects like Justin Morneau has dealt with, then I could have said that I should have known better during the draft.  But the back injury is completely unrelated and therefore just a huge bummer that you just have to take. Unfortunately with this, you’re “taking it” a little harder than the normal run-of-the-mill injuries.  Not only are you forced to replace his level of production for the current time lost, but you have no idea if/when he’s coming back, so you’re efforts could last for the entire season.

Longoria’s is obviously a little easier to take.  Totally sucks having to replace two months of production from him, but it’s just salvaging two months and not a season.  It’s workable; something you can hopefully power through, especially since his level of production upon return has been where you thought it would be.

Pujols’ injury obviously hurts a lot more.  Sure you’ve got a general timetable, but what you’re missing out on for the next 4-6 weeks is irreplaceable with just one late round sleeper or some savvy waiver claim.  You’re talking about a guy who started off the season ice cold and then turned it on in…well….a Pujolsian way.  I don’t know any guy that you’re going to pick up that will hit .300-15-45 over the next month and a half.

CarGo, on the other hand, is just poor judgement.  If you chose to ignore the home/road splits and thought that you were going to get similar production to his ridiculous 2010 stats, then you only have yourself to blame.  I justify my pick of him based on how late my choice was in the first round (16th out of 18) and that I was planning on trading him after he got off to a hot start.  Whoops!  I finally found a buyer, but not nearly for the price I was hoping.  Still, he probably hurts the least out of them, as my expectations weren’t huge and a good late round sleeper and a halfway decent waiver claim helped supplement his mediocre production.

And then there’s Hanley.  Oh man.  Now this one hurts.  27 years old, coming off a down year?  He, himself, talked about putting the team on his shoulders this season.  I don’t think anyone was really expecting the .300-30-100-30 season, but I think we were looking for close.  Instead, we just got a swift kick to the fantasy groin.  With his current totals, you might as well have taken Paul Janish with your first round pick.  What hurts even more is that no one produces a stat line like that, especially at shortstop.  Matt Kemp seems to be on his way, but obviously at a much deeper position.

Even worse with Hanley is that his line stinks so bad that not only do you need a late round sleeper or two to pan out, but you also probably need to throw in a big time waiver claim just to counter that atrocious batting average that he is pushing on you.  You either need a guy who’s hitting .320 in 200 AB or atleast two that are banging between .280 and .290 just to fix the damage he’s done.  You can hope that there’s a turnaround in his immediate future, but it’s going to have to be pretty substantial to counter the damage that’s already done.

Obviously this is weighing on me a lot more having experienced it in so many different leagues.  If you’re just getting tagged in one league, the hurt is probably much less.  Or is it…?  The bitch session is now open.  You have the floor.