2011 MLB Projections, No. 8: Brewers' Ryan Braun Is the Top Fantasy Outfielder

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2011 MLB Projections, No. 8: Brewers' Ryan Braun Is the Top Fantasy Outfielder
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Our 2011 fantasy baseball projections will be released one-by-one until the top 100 players have been revealed. These rankings consider past achievements, current performance and expected future results based on standard 5×5 H2H settings.

Despite failing to hit 30-plus home runs for the first time in his four-year career last season, Ryan Braun remained among the top fantasy producers at a very deep outfield position. His 2010 stat line (101 runs, 25 HRs, 103 RBI, 14 steals, .304 batting average) was perhaps the worst of his career, which speaks volumes to Braun’s potential entering his age 27 season.

Although Braun hit only 25 homers last year, he set a career-high in doubles with 45, the fifth most in baseball.

One theory which could explain Braun’s “off” season stems from being plunked by Tommy Hanson on May 10 last year. He missed the next two games, and was arguably never the same after, especially in the power department:

  • Before May 10: 32 games, 31 runs, 6 HRs, 28 RBI, 18/18 K/BB ratio, .359/.443/.594
  • After May 10: 125 games, 70 runs, 19 HRs, 75 RBI, 33/87 K/BB ratio, .289/.342/.490

Braun wasn’t DL’d, but the Tommy Hanson pitch he took off the elbow clearly affected his production at the plate for the remaining four and a half months of the season. Given that he’s finally recovered, another 30-plus HR campaign is most certainly on the horizon.

If that isn’t enough to convince you that Braun is the number one fantasy outfielder, consider the growth in his plate discipline peripherals since he entered the league in 2007. A free-swinger who took just 29 walks in his rookie season, Braun has increased his walk rate and decreased his strikeout rate in each of his first four seasons:

BB%

  • 2007: 5.9%
  • 2008: 6.3%
  • 2009: 8.1%
  • 2010: 8.2%

K%

  • 2007: 24.8%
  • 2008: 21.1%
  • 2009: 19.1%
  • 2010: 17.0%

Similarly, Braun’s contact rate and swinging strike rate have improved each season:

Contact Rate

  • 2007: 76.3%
  • 2008: 79.2%
  • 2009: 80.8%
  • 2010: 81.8%

Swinging Strike Rate

  • 2007: 12.1%
  • 2008: 10.5%
  • 2009: 8.7%
  • 2010: 8.4%

The law of averages (among many other things which we’ll get into in a later post) suggest a regression for the top outfielder in 2010, Carlos Gonzalez, paving the way for Ryan Braun to be drafted as the number one outfielder in 2011.

  PA R HR RBI SB AVG
2010 stats 685 101 25 103 14 .304
3-year average 685 102 31 108 16 .303
2011 FBI Forecast 685 110 33 115 15 .310

 

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