Russell Branyan Hates Your Fantasy Team

This is more of a Kicking Rocks sort of piece, but it’s Memorial Day Weekend, so let’s have some fun…

Perhaps the title is a bit inflammatory.  In all likelihood, Russell Branyan has no idea who you are and couldn’t care less about who’s on your fantasy team or where you are in your standings.  He’s just a guy out there trying to make a living playing a game that he loves.  But in the spirit of being a mock GM and the need to release some of our angst and frustration with hopes of giving the bleeding ulcer a rest, we vent about players as if we’ve known them for years and that their negative performances are actually stemming from some sort of a personal attack.  That being said, I would like to share my deep-seeded hate for the 35 year old Branyan and the fact that he does everything in his power to ruin my fantasy seasons.

It all began back in early 2000 for me when I was looking for some depth in a 17 team keeper league and was reading about a highly touted prospect in the Indians system nicknamed “The Muscle” and often being compared to Mark McGwire.  After a couple of cups of coffee in the two years prior, Branyan was primed to make an impact and after drafting him late, I stashed him away on my bench.

He did an admirable job for a rookie, batting .238 with 16 HR in just 215 plate appearances and I thought I was on the verge of adding a colossus to my stable of protects.  In 2001, after an injury to incumbent third baseman Travis Fryman, Branyan was moved to the hot corner which increased his potential fantasy value.  Love that added position eligibility!

However, the average was still a disaster (.232) and the HR total dropped off a bit.  He still plugged 20, but in almost 150 plate appearances more.  He was still young though and I opted to give him one more shot the following season.  After all, he was now getting a little pricey to keep given my league’s protect system.  When he continued as a utility player, I lost my affectation for him, and when he was shipped off to Cincinnati after hitting just .208 with 8 home runs, I was ready to wash my hands and my feet of him.  But while he was finished as a member of my fantasy teams, Branyan still found a way to hurt me, year in and year out.

In 2004, I was hoping for a second half rebound from Wes Helms when suddenly Branyan was dealt to the Brewers and started stealing at bats away.  Helms never got into any kind of groove while Branyan started hitting enough dingers to keep garnering playing time.  When it looked like he was going to win the job outright the following season, I drank the Kool-Aid again and, well, he did nothing for me.  After this, he would never reside on my roster again, but still, he continued to abuse my team somehow.

During his 4 team run between 2006 and 2007, he seemed to always pop up somewhere I had a player and somehow managed to worm his way into the lineup and steal at bats from a guy or two that I owned.  In 2009, during his “breakout” campaign with the Mariners, the guy who edged me out of first during the final week of the season, not only had Branyan on his roster, but named him his team MVP as the player who’s contribution most helped him win the title.  In 2010 I owned Matt LaPorta who lost significant time due to Branyan’s presence and this year, I had drafted both Juan Miranda and Brandon Allen, hoping that one of them would land the first base gig.  That was, of course, until the club signed Branyan and he ruined everything.

And finally, most recently, Branyan has wormed his way onto the Angels roster, and yes, I own Mark Trumbo.  His average and OBP may be lacking, but with a solid .198 ISO and decent history of developing power, he’s been a fairly good option at the corner infield spot.  Now with Branyan on the team, it’s more than likely that his consistent at bats will decrease as veteran-lover Mike Scioscia has already said that he intends to platoon Branyan regularly.

Now while that’s just me and my history with Branyan, I’m sure there are plenty of you as well that have been hustled by The Muscle.  The guy sucks you in with all sorts of power potential and then doesn’t hit his mark until his 10th year in the majors.  He doesn’t produce enough to stay with any one team and between the heavy strikeout totals, the low average and weak OBP, he doesn’t have what it takes to be a full time player.  He shows flashes of talent every now and again, but it’s always just enough to force a developing player into a platoon and never enough to make for a worthwhile fantasy pick up.  Well, just once, but my therapist says it’s actually healthier for me to block that year out.

So maybe Branyan has no idea who I am and, in all likelihood, couldn’t care less about what he’s done to my fantasy teams over the years.  But if it makes me feel better to hate on the guy, the mediocrity he brings to the table, and the way he seemingly stunts the growth of developing, young players I like, well then dammit, that’s what I’m going to do.

If you’re looking at young, up and coming first basemen, then beware The Muscle.  He’ll be on a new team ruining one of your guys real soon.




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com


12 Responses to “Russell Branyan Hates Your Fantasy Team”

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  1. Mike G. says:

    I bought Russell Branyan for $1 in CBS A.L.-only expert in 2009 and he was a big part of my victory that year.

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  2. 7fcs says:

    I’m in exactly the same boat, Howard. At least I was able to scoop Miranda back up off waivers in both my leagues. Everyone who tries to draft premium positions and waits on 1B has been ruined by Branyan at least once.

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  3. AA says:

    I wouldn’t exactly call Scioscia “veteran loving”. He plays young guys that he likes (Borjous, Kendrick, Aybar, etc.)

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  4. Joe says:

    Great post man, I literally laughed out loud multiple times. Kudos on a funny well written piece!
    -JC

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  5. Danny Kugler says:

    Enjoyed the article very much. I too succumbed to “The Muscle” in ’09 in my second year draft in a deep fantasy league and he served me well, but at $19 he wasn’t a keeper. Now as a Trumbo owner he’s paying me back.

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  6. Grant says:

    I’m the guy who won the title in 2009 because of Branyan, who I picked up on waivers.

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  7. Matty Brown says:

    i have in my OttoNeu league, he has been nothing short of atrocious.

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  8. Sandlot Scrub says:

    I had Allen this year but dropped him when Branyan came into the picture. Reminded me of the St. Louis closer platoon…everybody plays and nobody helps your fantasy team. Since Branyan departed I’ve added Miranda…hope it pays off.

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  9. Young gung says:

    he might just be on my team in the near future solely for power as a bench platoon player. For someone desperate for power on their team in roto, the guy has avg’d roughly 10 homers per 100 ABs against RHP with an avg no worse than .250 the past 3 years. Sure he won’t get a season’s worth of ABs, but as a platoon player in roto leagues where its all about logging games I think he’s still a pretty damn solid value.

    For that matter, Jim Thome, is worth a look on the platoon tip. If your in a daily league and your the type of manager that can usually check rosters before the game Thome against righties is almost like branyan on roids against righties. Thome’s splits last year versus righties for his age and considering target field were ridiculous and extremely efficient on a per AB pace.

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  10. Unkle Fester says:

    So funny and so true. One of my other favorite blogs (will remain nameless for legal purposes) posts this about Trumbo and the impact Branyan is having:

    Mark Trumbo – 2-for-4, home run. There’s still a number one Sciosciapath and he manages the Los Angeles Angels of Not Los Angeles. On Saturday, he started Branyan against a righty and benched Trumbo. Not good for Trumbo’s fantasy value. <–Well, obviously. Hopefully, Trumbo’s home run yesterday will lead to him starting over the prospblock.

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  11. Mike G. says:

    Now that I think about it, I had Branyan as a farm player back in the late 90s. I was able to flip him as part of a dump deal in 2000 that pushed me to the pennant. Yay Branyan!

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