After-the-career-year blues

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Did you draft Barry Bonds the year after he blasted 73 home runs, only to be disappointed when he hit 46 the following season?

Did you select Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson No. 1 after his monster 2,509 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns in 2009 only to be unhappy after he produced 1,000 less yards and four fewer touchdowns in 2010?

Were you dissatisfied with Wilt Chamberlain's 1962-63 season of 44.8 ppg and 24.3 rpg after he posted an NBA-record 50.4 ppg and 25.7 rpg in 1961-62?

OK, just kidding on the last one.

You get the idea, however. It's not a good strategy to go after the player who has just posted a "career year." You will invariably pay too much.

Lets look at five candidates for "Most Likely to Disappoint":

Alex Avila, Detroit - It only takes one look at the jump in production from 2010 to 2011 to label last season as a "career year." Avila went from a .228- hitting, part-time catcher to an All-Star in three months. Check the numbers a little bit deeper and you will see that he had three good months and three poor months at the plate last season. Unfortunately, two of the three weaker months came in the second half of the season after scouts had time to spot his weaknesses. Then in the playoffs, he went 3-for-41 (.073) in the ALDS and ALCS. I believe the pitchers have figured him out.

Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs - In his second season with the Cubs, Castro led the National League in at-bats (607) and hits (207) and received plenty of media attention. In most fantasy rankings, including ours, Castro is a top- five shortstop. However, Castro benefits from an overall weak shortstop position. He's being selected in the fourth round (Yahoo ADP 36) and that's simply too high considering his flaws. He doesn't hit for power, has a mediocre OPS and will be in a lineup without Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena to knock him in. I'd rather have Asdrubal Cabrera (ADP 71) Jimmy Rollins (ADP 74) or earn similar statistics from Arick Aybar (.279, 10 HR, 30 SB) at No.153.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston - In no way am I saying that Ellsbury will have a bad season, it's just that a fantasy owner should rightfully question a hitter who had never hit more than nine homers in his first four seasons posting 32 in the fifth year. As I've stated in my preseason outfielder rankings, I believe Ellsbury can put up a .310 batting average with 110 runs, 20-plus homers, 80-plus RBIs and 40 steals. The price to put him on your roster, however, is an end-of-the-first-round pick (ADP 12). If we are all just a little bit off in our analysis and he returns to the hitter he was from 2007-2010, then we will be paying an obscene price for a few stolen bases. Shouldn't your first- round selection be a sure thing?

Alex Gordon, Kansas City - After Gordon seemingly spent the last two years in hibernation, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2005 MLB amateur draft produced the best numbers of his career last season. He batted .303 with 23 HR, 87 RBI and 17 SB - all career highs. He also played 151 games after injuries reduced him to just 49 and 74 in the previous two seasons. If you select Gordon at Yahoo No. 64, then you believe he can stay healthy and improve on his 2011 season.

Ian Kennedy, Arizona - While Kennedy is definitely an improved pitcher over the guy who went 9-10 in 2010 and led the NL in wild pitches, I don't believe his 2011 season (21-4, 2.88 ERA, 1.086 WHIP) is repeatable. Pitching in hitter-friendly Chase Field, Kennedy still managed to hold hitters to a .210 batting average, an ERA of 2.64 and a WHIP of 0.984. His statistics will likely rise in 2012, and the price to put him on your roster - a seventh- round pick - is too high.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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