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Anatomy of a loser
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - This wasn't part of the plan.

Coming off the draft in my 12-team league, I was optimistic that I had assembled a dynamic offense that would be one of the best in the league; I thought I had power, speed, average and runs all covered.

Sure, my pitching was weak on paper, but if I hit on a few lottery tickets, it would be good enough.

But seven weeks into the season, hardly anything has gone right, and I'm staring up at nine other teams and dealing with too many questions I don't have the answers to.

Join me as I recap how I reached this point.

Slumping stars

My biggest mistake was taking Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols with the fourth overall pick. I trusted that Pujols would return to MVP form after he hit .312 with 42 doubles, 29 home runs, 93 RBI and a .964 OPS in his final 119 games last season.

Plus, Pujols would have Josh Hamilton hitting behind him this season. Little did I know Hamilton would forget how to hit, and Pujols would barely be able to run or play first base due to plantar fasciitis and knee soreness.

Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, was my second-rounder. He went 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP in 55 innings before going on the disabled list last week with a strained triceps.

My fourth-rounder, Matt Holliday, also hasn't performed up to expectations. He has hit .266 with six homers and a .783 OPS through 41 games.

I selected Arizona Diamondbacks utilityman Martin Prado in the eighth round to anchor my third base position, but he has gone 43-for-182 (.236) with four homers, 10 RBI and a .625 OPS.

Injuries

Every fantasy team deals with injuries, and mine hasn't even been the most injury-ravaged team in this particular league. But when you factor in the subpar contributions from my top players, the injuries have been debilitating.

I already mentioned Price; he's my most recent loss. I also had D-Backs closer J.J. Putz go down with an elbow injury, and didn't have the stomach to pick up his replacement, the erratic Heath Bell.

I also had Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Bourn spend nearly a month on the DL with a lacerated finger, and the man I picked up to replace him, Oakland Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp, hit the DL with a strained hamstring two weeks after Bourn's injury.

The middle infield I drafted has played a combined 10 games. Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch in early April, and New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter suffered a setback with his fractured ankle shortly before Opening Day and will be out until after the All-Star break.

Lottery tickets busted

I took a chance on San Francisco Giants starter Tim Lincecum in the 11th round. While I didn't expect to hit the Powerball jackpot and have Lincecum return to Cy Young Award form, I needed the right-hander to be competent. Instead, he has gone 3-3 with a 4.70 ERA in 53 2/3 innings.

Rounding out my roster with Adam LaRoche, Daniel Straily, Brandon League, Chad Billingsley and Mike Fiers over the last few rounds of the draft didn't quite work out, either.

Missed opportunities

With closers Putz, Jason Grilli, Glen Perkins and League on my team, I didn't feel the need to add Edward Mujica, Jim Henderson or Jose Veras, but Putz' injury and League's struggles have left my bullpen awfully thin all of a sudden, and all three of those guys seem like great options now.

Missing out on early season stars like Manny Machado, Patrick Corbin, Jean Segura, Jose Fernandez and Starling Marte, who all went undrafted in my league, also has been disastrous.




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

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