Ryan Braun won't have to be missed
The unprecedented news that Ryan Braun's PED suspension has been overturned, in addition to greatly improving his fantasy value in leagues across the country, immediately raises the 2012 values of his colleagues in the Brewers lineup.
Braun has averaged 30 HR, 109 RBI, 107 RS and 22 SB over the past three seasons while hitting at a .318 clip. To know that those numbers will be back for another year has Braun's fantasy owners rejoicing. His presence in the Brewers' batting order ensures strong fantasy production from a few of his teammates as well.
This article will examine the top of the Brewers lineup and how it benefits from a full season with Braun.
On December 14, 2011, Aramis Ramirez became a Milwaukee Brewer and immediately had the pressure of being the "run producer" thrust upon him with the potential loss of Ryan Braun to a 50-game PED suspension looming.
Ramirez is coming off one of his best seasons, hitting .306 with 26 HR and driving in 93 runs with the Cubs in the 2011 campaign. Throughout his career he has been a solid fantasy producer at third base, and there is no reason to believe that would change in the 2012 season. The only question would be how he would handle being the heart and soul of the lineup for the first 50 games of the year.
The overturning of Braun's suspension removes that question.
Regardless of whether Ramirez hits behind Braun or in front of him, the new Brewer third baseman can be assured that he will have many opportunities to drive in runs. The load on his shoulders is gone and one can expect a big year for the former Cub.
Corey Hart has put together solid back-to-back seasons with the Brewers, scoring 91 and 80 runs, respectively, and pounding 57 HR while hitting .284 at the top of the lineup. Much of his success at the plate can be attributed to having the potent Braun/Prince Fielder combo behind him.
The prospect of not having either of those players in the lineup behind him could only leave Hart's fantasy owners looking for other more attractive outfielders to grab in their 2012 drafts.
Those owners can now breathe easier as the Braun/Ramirez punch should allow Hart the run-scoring opportunities he has enjoyed in the past.
Like his teammate Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan's success in 2011 can be attributed to the powerful Braun/Fielder one-two punch behind him. Hitting .310 from the second spot in the lineup, Morgan showed he can be a very valuable commodity for the Brewers in years to come.
The potential loss of Braun for the first 50 games of the season perhaps hurt Morgan the most as with only Ramirez behind him, pitchers would have had less lineup depth to worry about at the top of the Brewers order.
With Braun and Ramirez protecting him, pitchers are now forced to take a more aggressive approach, providing Morgan with a better choice of pitches to choose from. Look for an upward trend to Morgan's fantasy production.