The Dreaded Turn: What to Do After Albert Pujols

By Eno Sarris

You’ve got the first pick of your 2010 draft and you’re bouncing off walls. Albert Pujols
will be yours, finally. You’ve seen the big man crush poor pitching
for years and imagined what you could do with that kind of firepower.
Nothing will stand in your way now.

Right?

Then the doubt starts creeping in. In a 12-team mixed league, you have to wait a whole 23 picks
before you get to go again! All those great borderline first-round
talents won’t be yours and you’ll be forced to pick someone who’s
almost a third-rounder as your second-best player. What will you
do at The Turn? We’ll attack this from a couple angles
so that you’ll be prepared when the time comes. We’ll assume you’re in
a 12-team mixed league, the most popular of leagues.

TheTurnGrab.jpgLet’s take a look at what B-Rank says. Here’s a screen shot of the projections right around the dreaded turn. Click the image for a full-size look.

The first thing that jumps out at you is that you may not want to take B-Rank’s #24 at the end of your second round. Of course, a team with both Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez would hit a lot of home runs, but who would play the other positions on the diamond? Why fill up your utility slot that early?

The first piece of advice is, of course, that you have a nice list of second-round talent to try and catch as they fall. Troy Tulowitzki and Mark Reynolds could drop to you given some concerns about the repeatability of their 2009 seasons. Having a steady performer like Pujols in your back pocket allows you to catch those more borderline second-rounders if they fall too far. Even if Reynolds bats a mere .245 instead of Bloomberg’s projected .255, and Pujols ‘merely’ repeats last year’s seven-year low in batting average (.327) the pair of players would average close to .285 and you’d be fine in that category going forward. (While enjoying their projected 75 home runs and 30 stolen bases.)

Now on to your second pick. There is no consensus #25. Zack Greinke, B-Rank’s suggestion, is a fine choice as he could be the best pitcher in baseball next year. But say you don’t want to pick a pitcher that early, what’s there for you?

JustinUptonGrab.jpgConsider Justin Upton, the proud owner of a new six-year $50+ million contract. Take a look at his OPS over the year last year, from Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Draft Kit. He stumbled early, but he was excellent all year and did not hit any sort of rookie wall. Add to this the fact that he cut his strikeout rate to an acceptable level (for a power hitter). After whiffing at a 34% rate his rookie year, he got that rate down to 26% by making more contact in the strike zone (80% last year, after 74% the year before). He also boosted his isolated power (ISO) from .213 to .232 while stroking those 26 home runs. The combination of Pujols and Upton would give you immense power with almost 30 combined steals to boot.

Again though, unless Tulowitzki falls into your lap, you’ve done nothing about the scarcer positions on the infield. Taking a look at average draft positions from MockDraftCentral.com, we can identify some other candidates for The Turn. A couple interesting names emerge – Justin Upton is there (25.19 ADP), and so is Jimmy Rollins.

For more information on possible second- and third-round picks, and more, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.

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