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One Hit Blunder

Turn on any radio station and you will hear your share of one-hit wonders. These artists hit the “big time” with their 15 minutes of fame from a song that had everyone hummin’ their catchy melody. Unfortunately, most people cannot name the band or singer that performed the song, but they certainly will sing along to the tune even to this day.

Fantasy baseball has its own version of a “one-hit wonder.” Flash back to 2009 when Aaron Hill, Ben Zobrist, Adam Lind and Mark Reynolds boasted monster breakout seasons, but were pegged with this inglorious title as their numbers returned to earth the following season. With surprise success last season, only time will tell if Rickie Weeks, Jose Bautista, Drew Stubbs and Carlos Gonzalez were on the brink of stardom or just another notorious “one-season wonder.” Instead of forecasting which of these wonders to target in your draft, we are going to focus on the “one-hit blunders.” Every star will have a disappointing year. Whether it is due to lower offensive output, age, injury woes or another factor, which star this season will rebound and remove the 2010 blunder from their career? Let’s take a look at several former “money in the bank” stars that have fallen from grace this season but may have the potential to earn their owners Top 10 offensive numbers and may lead them to a fantasy trophy.

Ryan Howard

– His 31 home runs and 108 runs batted in are not generally numbers to shake one’s head, but his owners were disappointed last season. From 2006-09, Howard hit at least 45 home runs with 136 runs batted in. A sore ankle and a less potent Philadelphia Phillies’ lineup may be partially to blame. With the departure of Jayson Werth, and Chase Utley’s health in dire straits, it is difficult to believe Howard will fully bounce back. However, I believe he will return to 40 home runs and 130 runs batted in. With a large degree of depth at first base, I would not recommend drafting Howard in the first round, but he may be worth a look in the second round.

Prince Fielder

– Despite playing in only one less game last season, Fielder hit 14 less home runs, 58 fewer runs batted in, and a career-low .261 batting average. Milwaukee’s “Prince” will not only have a chip on his shoulder to silence critics, but will also be motivated to shine during a contract year. With a potent Brewers’ offense that includes Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and Casey McGehee, Fielder should elevate his stat line to 40 home runs and 100 runs batted in.

Matt Kemp

– If you drafted Kemp in the first round last season, it is unlikely that you won your league. Unless you snagged sleeper Jose Bautista or traded for Carlos Gonzalez, your season was probably disappointing. Not only did the Los Angeles Dodgers struggle last season, but their rising star Kemp took a sharp downturn in numbers. At an early age, Kemp flirted with the glorified mark of 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases, which pushed him up draft rankings. After a breakup from hip-hop superstar songstress Rihanna and decreased limelight on the “McCourt-room” drama, Kemp is primed to achieve the iconic 30-30 honor and return to a first-round draft pick.

Ian Kinsler

– Speaking of 30-30, the Texas Rangers’ second baseman achieved 31-31 in 2009. After seducing the fantasy world with hopes of an encore, Kinsler’s injury woes plagued him in 2010. With an average of 32 missed games per season over his career, his average draft position has fallen with his injury risk tag. On the bright side, he is only 29 and will hit near the top of the order for an offensive powerhouse. I may be going out on a limb, but I predict Kinsler to stay healthy and get close to his 2009 marks. With a strong spring and a healthy season ahead, expect 25-25 from Kinsler.

Chase Utley

– The news on Utley seems to worsen each day. Although his injury does not sound career-threatening, he does appear to be a dangerous pick for this season. It was recently announced that Utley will begin the season on the Disabled List, but will optimistically be ready to join the team in May. Now All-Star break is the new expected return. There is too much risk here so I would look elsewhere for a second basemen. Grab Utley if he falls into the 10th round or later and stick him in your DL slot. If he plays half of the season, Utley can still hit 15 home runs, but his knee issues hinder any stolen base value.

Justin Morneau

– After suffering a concussion at midseason, the Minnesota Twins’ offense suffered when they lost their first baseman. Morneau was on pace for another 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in when his season came to an early conclusion. Thus far, the former American League Most Valuable Player has not experienced any setbacks and may be overlooked in drafts. Expect another 30 home run and 100 runs batted in from the Minnesota slugger.

Curtis Granderson

– With a move from Motown to the Big Apple’s home run-friendly new Yankee Stadium, most experts predicted career highs for Granderson last season. Instead, the Yankees’ acquisition experienced career lows in most offensive categories. Fortunately, he closed the season with a “grand finale” by going deep 14 times from August through September. After his batting coach helped him with a swing adjustment that worked wonderfully, Granderson’s 2010 blunder may offer a late-round steal if his success continues and he nears his 30-30 upside.

Good luck this season. Hope you drafted well, and most importantly, have a blast!

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