Originally posted on Fantasy Baseball Dugout  |  Last updated 3/11/12

DOWN AND OUT: Justin Morneau hit just 4 homeruns in 2011.

This post was written and contributed by Kellen Hunter.

Picks for 2012
During the fantasy baseball draft, nothing quite beats the thrill of getting the most in-demand players on your roster. If you’re serious about your team, you spend hours poring over predictions and stats, making your picks and setting your lineups.

But sometimes, a player that looks great on paper just fizzles on the field. That pick that was such a coup during training camp turns out to be an albatross that brings down your whole team… Just like some of these 2011 fantasy baseball must-haves who turned out to be duds:

Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins

Players returning after injuries are always risky, and Justin Morneau is a textbook case as to why. The once consistent hitter hit only four HRs in 2011 and had an average of .227.

Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins

Another player often touted as a “must-have,” Joe Mauer had a dismal 2011 season. His batting average was low, and he only scored 38 runs all season. He didn’t add much to any roster.

Francisco Liriano, SP, Minnesota Twins

Yet another Twins player who fell short in 2011. Liriano, after a decent 2010, was expected to have a good 2011 season. Instead, he disappointed everyone with a disastrous start and finished the season with a 4.84 ERA and an injury.

Carl Crawford, OF, Boston Red Sox

Never mind that the Red Sox had one of the biggest collapses in baseball history in 2011. Crawford was an early round draft pick for many fantasy players – who later regretted the decision. Only 17 stolen bases, 11 homeruns and disastrous play all around made Crawford one of the biggest disappointments of 2011.

Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida Marlins

Many consider Ramirez, who was widely proclaimed one of the top three picks of the 2011 season, to be the biggest bust of all. His play was average – although disappointing for those who drafted him in the early rounds and sacrificed more effective players to keep him — but his injuries, attitude issues and altercations kept him on the bench for most of the season.

Certainly, these are just a few of the 2011 fantasy baseball busts, and depending on how your own team did, you probably have other names to add to the list. But with the 2012 draft just a few weeks away, it’s time to put those disappointments behind you and focus on some of these potential fantasy superstars for 2012.

Catcher: The Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Santana is getting a lot of attention, not only for his skills behind the plate, but also for his power with the bat. In 2011, he hit 25 homeruns. Another catcher to consider is Baltimore’s Matt Wieters, who put up solid hitting numbers in 2011 as well.

1B: While Albert Pujols is still a good bet, set your sights on the Reds’ Joey Votto. Votto is an all-around athlete, and his 2011 batting numbers were just shy of Miguel Cabrera’s. Cabrera is another good 1B bet, as are the Tigers’ Prince Fielder and the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira.

2B: The Yankees’ Robinson Cano is widely believed to be the best at second base, but don’t overlook Dustin Pedroia from the Red Sox. For a potential sleeper, check out the Reds’ Brandon Phillips, who is looking at 2012 as a contract year and is bound to impress.

3B: Of the top-ranked players in the hot corner, only the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista stayed healthy through the entire 2011 season. However, the Rays’ Evan Longoria, the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre and, of course, A-Rod are also solid additions to your lineup. One of last year’s biggest disappointments, Hanley Ramirez, still has potential, if he can overcome the attitude issues that clouded his 2011 season.

Shortstop: In some circles, the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitski is being eyed as the overall first round draft pick. Other good choices include the Marlins’ Jose Reyes, the Cubs’ Starlin Castro and the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins.

Outfield: The Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton is young – only 24 – and has skills that make him a great bet for any fantasy team. The Red Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury had a great 2011 season, making him a solid choice for the 2012 draft. The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp is a good choice as well.

Starting Pitcher: The Angels’ Dan Haren is highly underrated – and widely considered to be a productive addition to any fantasy team. Also consider the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg and the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez for an SP spot.

These are just a few of the options for the 2012 fantasy baseball draft. Your draft picks should be made based on your own analysis of the players’ previous performance, injuries and, of course, your own gut instincts and personal preferences. It’s impossible to predict exactly what will happen in any baseball season – and some of your picks may turn out to be duds — but do your research, and you’ll have a better chance of prevailing in your fantasy league.

Kellen Hunter has been playing various fantasy for several years. Kellen has also been calculating baseball odds for several years. Kellen uses his knowledge to write about fantasy baseball and MLB baseball odds.

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