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I Hate You Austin Kearns
Written by Charles Dimino

The year was 2005, and there was a young right fielder I had my eye on in the draft.  He was primed to hit for average, power, and have solid run producer.  Not to mention, he hit in a ballpark that has since started to turn Aaron Harang’s goatee grey.  Austin Kearns, however, did not quite work out as planned.

If you also drafted Kearns in the ‘05 season, you probably punted him to the waiver wire as quickly (if not sooner than) me.  In the past few years, the outfielder has struggled considerably resulting in his exit from Cincinnati.  A platoon situation has become the direction the former promising Red’s career seems to be headed.

The Kearns story is one all too common in the big leagues.  A can’t miss prospect that misses by a long shot.  In fantasy, it raises a very important question:  Should I draft leaning more towards potential, or go with an older veteran that has a proven track record?

Potential is high risk, but the rewards can pay off in a huge way.  Josh Hamilton is a prime example of the positive side.  The Ranger outfielder had loads of talent that finally came to fruition last season.  His monster numbers resulted in a great deal of fantasy players kicking themselves (me include) for letting him slip through our fingers. There also always is a good possibility of drafting an Austin Kearns, and wondering what the hell happened to your pick.

Drafting a well-seasoned veteran can have its ups and downs too.  In 2004 I used a late round pick to snag Paul Konerko, who was coming off a career worst season with the White Sox.  That season his production skyrocketed from under twenty homers to forty. He drove in a hundred runs to boot, repeating the same act the next season.  There is room for you to-Andruw-Jones-it with these picks as well.  The one time top power hitter and run producer in the National League has morphed into something that resembles a distant cousin of Baby Huey over the last two seasons.

Whether you draft an older player that might be a bit past his prime this season or maybe take a chance on the young guy, there is a way to ease your mind if said player does not work out.  This year’s Nate McLouth will be sitting on the waiver wire just waiting for someone to pick him up.