Only a Fool Would Draft Joe Mauer in the Second Round

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Only a Fool Would Draft Joe Mauer in the Second Round
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Most 2010 projections have Joe Mauer at around .330 with 22 HR and 100 RBI.

For a guy who's won three batting titles, three Silver Slugger Awards, and a 2009 MVP Award, that seems like a good estimate to me.

But it isn't worth your second-round pick.

With a current ADP of 13.2 in ESPN leagues, Mauer is being selected over Ryan Howard, Evan Longoria, David Wright, Justin Upton, Felix Hernandez, and Roy Halladay, but he won't put up the numbers that those guys will.

If you're drafting Mauer in the second round, you're passing up on too much talent to ensure you get an elite player at a shallow position. Brian McCann and Victor Martinez are the next two catchers to come off draft boards, but not until over 30 picks later in the fifth round, and they contribute in almost every category that Mauer does.

Looking for a .300/20/100 guy? Sounds like Martinez to me. He may not push 100 runs like Mauer will, but he had 88 last year, and he should play more games than any other catcher due to Boston's infield rotation. McCann won't top 70 runs and won't play as many games as Martinez, but he's right there too.

Who else is available in the fifth round? Players you'll probably see drafted here include Brandon Phillips, Mark Reynolds, B.J. Upton, Justin Morneau, and Jason Bay. They're very good fantasy producers, but each has a major weakness or question mark.

To illustrate my point a little more clearly, let's take a look at some either-or scenarios.

 

Scenario No. 1: You take Mauer 13th overall.

In this scenario, you jump on Mauer and don't look back. By the time the fifth round rolls by, you snag Reynolds. You really wanted to take Morneau, but you wisely decided not to invest much of your team's future in two players from one team who are moving to a new, outdoor stadium.

 

Scenario No. 2: You take Howard/Longoria 13th overall.

Since Reynolds is eligible at both first and third base, we'll look at this from both perspectives. If you take Howard in the second round, you sit back and happily imagine your team with a 45 HR, 140 RBI monster who flourishes in the second half of the season (career .302 hitter).

Martinez then comes along in the fifth, and you take him too (there is, of course, the alternative that you don't even take Martinez, instead waiting on Matt Wieters in the 10th round or Geovany Soto much later).

 

So after looking at our two scenarios, here are the possible combined projections for your second- and fifth-round picks:

Mauer/Reynolds: 185 R, 60 HR, 215 RBI, 23 SB, .300 AVG

Howard/Martinez: 185 R, 70 HR, 250 RBI, 6 SB, .290 AVG

Longoria/Martinez: 185 R, 60 HR, 230 RBI, 11 SB, .298 AVG

Looking at all three possible pairings, Howard/Martinez looks like the most productive to me. You sacrifice 10 points in batting average and 14 stolen bases (according to projections), but you gain 10 HR and 35 RBI.

The steals and batting average can easily be made up with your other picks in the first five rounds or your later picks, and this gives you the added bonus of not having a second-round pick who has missed chunks of time in just about every season.

Depending on what projections you have for these players, the numbers may vary slightly, but you'll find they are pretty accurate.

Of course, this assumes no one really likes Mauer and takes him in the first round.

Man, what a sucker.

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