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Ryan Braun: Evaluating OF’s 2014 Fantasy Value


Not many players in the history of baseball have had a more interesting season than Ryan Braun in 2013. Actually, you could date that back to December of 2011, when his initial positive PED test was revealed.

We all know what happened to Braun in 2013, as a PED suspension led to Braun being suspended for 2013′s final 65 games. How bad was it? Let’s take a quick look back at some numbers. 

Split
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
20125981084111230.319.391.595
2013 (Actual)225309384.298.372.498
2013 (Projected)6051053410723.317.378.565

Yikes. That’s definitely not what people had in mind when they took him at the top of their fantasy drafts.

 

What went wrong?

Just about everything went wrong for Braun. It’s easy to look at the suspension, and we’ll get to that in a second. But to look exclusively at the suspension actually ignores some other things, as that was certainly not the only problem.

He achieved those numbers in 61 games, with 65 to go. You can obviously do the math. If he didn’t get suspended and played every one of the 65 games that that suspension missed, he would have only played 126 games in 2013, meaning he’d already missed 36 games before getting suspended.

At the paces he was playing at, look at what would have happened to Braun had he played all 126 games. 

R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
6219798.298

It doesn’t even stop there. Take the disappointing numbers, injuries, and suspension, and you’re still missing a lot of what went wrong for Braun in 2013. Actually, you’re still missing a lot of what went wrong for people who drafted Braun in 2013.

In the preseason, most sites (including this one) had Braun ranked as the top guy, with Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout coming in at two and three, respectively, though not always in that order. The justification for Braun being over those two was simple.

  • Mike Trout: There’s always a fear of regression, especially when someone splashes onto the scene like Trout did in 2012. TroutPlayer Profile Hitter could go on to a Hall of Fame career and not have many years like he had in 2012. Also, Trout started the year as a lead-off man, which hinders his power potential.
  • Miguel Cabrera: Even if you predicted Miggy would be better in 2013 than 2012, Braun will usually be close enough to him in Miggy’s best categories, and 25-30 steals better than him.

Trout and Cabrera dominated baseball and the statistics of baseball again. Braun was just a massive disappointment. So, if you took Braun first, it means you passed on either of those two guys for a guy who just fell flat.

 

What went right?

Not much. Actually, nothing. But if we’re trying to be positive, we can look at it this way from a few angles.

  1. If you’re in a keeper league and have Braun on your team, then a lot went right. How much baseball had on him remains to be seen, but the fact of the matter is this. A typical suspension for the first positive PED test is 50 games, while a second gets you 100. Braun got 65. Something tells me that baseball had enough on Braun to at least try to give him 100 games, or even more. If not, they would have had a hard time convincing him to take 65.
  2. If you’re not in a keeper league, then there is a very good chance that you may get a steal for this guy. People are avoiding Braun like the plague right now in the draft. They don’t trust how good he was before, which I understand. Also, fantasy owners tend to take stances on things like this. It’s often hilarious and inconsistent. Someone will back away from Braun in the draft but if Melky Cabrera gets off to a hot start, the same people will crash the free agent wire to get him. But in the draft, fantasy owners seem to take the responsibility of shunning guys like Braun very seriously. If that happens, he’s got looming potential to be an absolute steal.

 

What will 2014 offer?

Look at the extrapolated numbers again.  

R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
6219798.298

How many people really think that Braun won’t exceed those numbers? I certainly do and with the exception of average, I think he exceeds them in a big way.

Personally, I still rank the guy as a Top-10 player, easily a first-round pick, though I have a sneaking suspicion he won’t end up that way. With Jean Segura, Carlos Gomez, and Jonathan Lucroy, Braun actually has a lot of talent around him in that order. Throw in another player on the rebound in Aramis Ramirez, and a hitter’s ballpark, and you should see good numbers across the board in 2014.

I won’t put him ahead of Cabrera or Trout, because I’m not sure they’re actually human. I’m also willing to move guys like Robinson CanoChris Davis, Andrew McCutchen, Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, Adrian Beltre and possibly Adam Jones above him. But that’s still a Top-10 guy, who should go over any pitcher.

Now, I’d be willing to hear some arguments for other players. But even in my most conservative mindset, I can’t drop Braun out of the Top-15 in any kind of league. Neither should you.

Ryan Braun: Early 2014 Projections

 
AB
Runs
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
BB
K
Ryan Braun55388279519.292.368.51463122

*There’s no way to predict that someone will have a year like Braun did in 2013, but we’d like to do much better in 2014. We’re partnering with Tanner Bell of Smart Fantasy Baseball to crunch even deeper, so that we might provide the most accurate projections possible for 2014. Look for our full Crackerjack projections in our 2014 Draft Kit coming in February.

Tags: Featured Milwaukee Brewers Outfield Ryan Braun