Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
On-Base Percentage: .384
Wins Above Replacement: 18.8
At-Bats per HR: 18.0
There were some difficult decisions in making this lineup, and then there was Ryan Braun in left field.
Growing up in the 1990s, conventional wisdom stated that the "easiest" path to the big leagues was as a catcher. Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez were great. Guys like Jason Kendall, Todd Hundley, Javy Lopez and Sandy Alomar Jr. were pretty good.
Beyond that, it seemed like you could be a starting catcher in the big leagues just by limiting passed balls and not striking out too often.
Mike Piazza's WAR from 1995 to 1997 was 21.7, which says as much about Piazza's value as it does the value of a replacement-level catcher at the time.
Don't worry, I'm getting to the point.
Over the past three seasons, the left fielder with the fourth-highest WAR is Alex Gordon at 11.9. Brett Gardner is fifth at 11.3 and Martin Prado is sixth at 10.7. No offense to those guys, but no one is building a dream lineup and thinking "Man, I gotta have Alex Gordon in left field."
If you're trying to make it in the big leagues today, you might want to work on shagging flies in left field.
The second- and third-best left fielders by WAR (Matt Holliday and Carlos Gonzalez, respectively) are undoubtedly solid options, but you're absolutely taking Ryan Braun in left for the same reasons he was one of the first three guys off the board in fantasy drafts last month.
Braun has more home runs than any other left fielder and more stolen bases than any left fielder not named Brett Gardner or Juan Pierre.
It's not all about offense, either, as he had an UZR last season of 4.7 as compared to Matt Holliday's minus-4.0 and Carlos Gonzalez's minus-6.8.