Braun Cleared – Fantasy Ramifications

Ryan Braun will not have to serve a 50 day suspension for performance enhancing drugs. While many ramifications may come from this ruling, I will get to the meat of the matter. How does the ruling affect his and his teammates fantasy value?

Ryan Braun

Ryan now jumps up from a late 2nd to 5th round pick with the suspension, to being one of the first players taken. Before the news was released, many people considered him the top pick in the draft. This high ranking should not change, but it may just a bit.

I do see some reasons for him dropping from a top 3 pick to maybe a top 6 pick. Some fantasy owners may hold some animosity against him. They may feel he cheated the system, whether true or not, and they want nothing to do with him. Another reason for him dropping would be owners viewing him as a risk for getting tested positive again. Finally, other owners may believe he was using steroids and his production will drop. When given the opportunity to pick between Braun and a similar player (Matt Kemp), the owner may take the other player since they see him as less of a risk.

The Rest of the Brewer Hitters

I didn’t see the rest of the Brewer’s hitters going lower in drafts because of the possible Braun suspension. They should not have dropped and here is why. Braun is about a 6 WAR player. Assuming Braun’s production gets replaced with a replacement level player, the Brewers would lose about 2 WAR (or 20 Runs) over the 50 games he was lost. The 20 runs would work out to 40 Runs+RBIs over a replacement player. Assuming Braun would get credit for half the total, only 20 Run+RBIs would be left to spread out among the rest of his teammates. It would be about a 3 Runs+RBI drop for each of the 6 players hitting before and after him in the lineup. The numbers would have been even less if the Brewers could have found a player with above replacement level ability.

A trend I could see happening is that owners assumed the rest of the Brewers were under valued and begin to value them more highly. I will look in a few weeks to see if any of their ADPs have moved since Braun was cleared.

Zack Greinke

Greinke has had motivational issues in the past. If the Brewers had struggled without Braun, Zack’s motivation may not have been 100%. With Braun in the lineup helping the team score runs, Zack is likely to be more motivated. A motivated Zack is a productive Zack.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

21 Responses to “Braun Cleared – Fantasy Ramifications”

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  1. west says:

    I’ll chose to factor in that he is no longer cheating and his bat speed will be slowed….. pass

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    • Ender says:

      24 previous tests that didn’t give wonky results and weren’t mishandled tend to disagree with you. i would assume he puts up the same numbers we would have thought he was due for if the false positive had never been leaked by the media.

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      • Lefty Longfoot says:

        Given that his lawyers didn’t argue the test results, instead arguing chain-of-custody loopholes, calling his result a “false positive” seems overly generous.

        That said, I’d still take him somewhere in the top 5 overall.

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      • Ender says:

        They aren’t allowed to argue the test results. The policy is set up such that they have no recourse to attack the test unless they can at least put some doubt on the procedure first. They did attack the results somewhat as well if you believe what guys like Will Carroll have said, it just isn’t public yet.

        However my point is even if he was using it is short term, he has passed way too many tests to think he has been juicing his whole career and he didn’t see some big spike in production. He is a top 5 pick.

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      • smocon says:

        I dont think he was cheating his entire career, and I dont think he did anything intentional that led to the dirty test, but to claim that he didnt have a big spike in his production last year is not true. He doubled his overall production last year more than any other year in his career.

        I know you’re a home town guy and all, and want to believe in the “guilty until proven innocent” claptrap that Brewer fans are spouting all over the internet today, but his playoff performance and his 2nd half clearly show a performance that was above and beyond any he has had in his career.

        To believe otherwise is either being a homer, or having total blinders on. It was a dirty test, and he got away with Baseball murder.

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      • west says:

        Live in your fairy tail world, I’ll live in the real world.

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    • Dustin says:

      It’s not like any of Braun numbers this year were better than most previous year. He took more walks, thats about it.

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      • cpebbles says:

        Correct that to say “In a year in which offense took a nose dive, Braun took a lot more walks, got fewer ABs, and still managed to keep all of his power numbers up,” and you’ll have a true statement.

        Barring a very surprising decision by the treatment board, MLB will have the ability to test him at will this year. If you truly believe Braun wasn’t cheating, I suppose this doesn’t give you pause, but it should.

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  2. BStu185 says:

    “They may feel he cheated the system…and they want nothing to do with him.”

    Fantasy isn’t a morality contest. If you pass on drafting the best player because you “don’t like the guy,” you aren’t going to win many leagues. And in most cases, Braun is going to be the best player.

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  3. Junker23 says:

    Wait, so why are you dropping him from top 3 to top 6? Other than explaining his potential ADP, I have no idea why you’re bringing up hypothetical “other owners.”

    If you think Braun should be valued as a top 3 player, rank him there. Just because his ADP might fall thanks to random biases of other owners doesn’t merit dropping him 3 spots in your rankings.

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      Sorry if that line is confusing. I could see him dropping, but I wouldn’t plan on it. Personally, I would have him in the 3 or 4 spot. I put a little too much stake into positional scarcity and would have Cabrera first with Bautista maybe at #2 (depend on league depth)

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      • Junker23 says:

        Gotcha. Thought you were trying to say, “He’s a top 3 player, but hold out for him until pick 6, it’s a better value!” or something.

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  4. Dan says:

    The only reason I would take Kemp over Braun would be that Braun is now facing extra pressure to perform, while Kemp is just angry that he didn’t win MVP and wants to prove that he should have won the award. There is a definite possibility in my mind that Braun’s production could take a slight hit from the pressures associated with the whole process as well as expectation to recreate his numbers from last year to prove he wasn’t juicing.

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    • ash says:

      What makes you think kemp is angry? He publicly stated he doesn’t want the award and he seems genuinely focused on working out and getting ready for the season regardless of last year. Maybe you meant that he’s going to be more motivated to compete for the MVP this year than Braun, I guess I could buy that, but I’ve seen nothing to indicate “anger” from MK27

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      • game6ers says:

        All I’ve heard from Kemp is humility and support for Braun. If he’s mad about anything it should be that he is wasting another year of his prime hitting with the likes of Juan Uribe, Mark Ellis, Juan Rivera and James Loney.

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  5. shibboleth says:

    A joyous day for fantasy owners… I still consider him one of the of the few players who could club 50 HR in a season. Now I struggle with where to place him on my cheat sheet… somewhere in the top 5, but i’ll probably hurt someone’s feelings in the process.

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  6. Mx says:

    Excuse the perhaps stupid question here, but wouldn’t a reason to drop other Brewers this year not only rest on Braun’s potential suspension but the loss of Fielder’s bat from the lineup as well?

    The same reasoning could also be used to justify bumping Braun below a Kemp or Bautista as well, no?

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    • Oliver says:

      Aramis Ramirez is close enough to Fielder that for fantasy purposes it might end up being a wash. Although Fielder was substantially better than Ramirez, by wRC+.

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  7. Joel says:

    If the guy has been using steroids, and there’s reason to believe he has, then there’s sufficient doubt around his performance so that one might drop him down the rankings…

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  8. game6ers says:

    The one certainty for Braun this year is that he will be living his life under a microscope. Any drop in performance will immediately be sensationalized and scrutinized. I’m probably not going to fork over the $50+ in my auction for this circus.

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