Blog Entry

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Posted on: January 16, 2012 10:35 am
Edited on: January 16, 2012 10:46 am

By Matt Snyder

As we continue the ongoing series of Would You Rather Have, we'll tackle a PED-themed version today. As every baseball fan surely knows by now, Ryan Braun failed a drug test and is facing a 50-game suspension for the beginning of the 2012 season, unless his appeal is upheld. Jose Bautista, on the other hand, has never failed an MLB drug test. However, I'd wager a hefty sum that if the Braun news first broke as "an unnamed All-Star slugger has tested positive for a banned substance" that the overwhelming majority of people would have guessed Bautista was the culprit.

In no uncertain terms, I think it's unfair how many people -- and it's not just fans, some media members are in on the witch hunt -- seem to believe that Bautista could not possibly get better at age 29 without having cheated. I've written about it multiple times (like here) but it drives me crazy. His body type hasn't changed one bit. Then again, neither has Braun's.

Whatever the case may be, that's why I connected these two superstar corner outfielders. Fair or not, one of these players has failed a drug test and the other has the suspicions of the majority of baseball fans. Since they are both big-time power hitters and play a corner outfield position, the debate works. Let's dive in.

The case for Bautista

Last year at this time many people believed the slugger's breakout campaign in 2010 was a fluke, but then Bautista went out and had an even better all-around season. He was once again punished for not playing on a team in contention in the MVP voting, finishing third. This time around it was much more egregious, considering the batting average and on-base percentage gains made. Bautista led the AL in home runs, walks, slugging percentage, OPS and Wins Above Replacement, version (he actually tied Justin Verlander there with 8.5).  Bautista's 181 OPS-plus led the majors and is insane (if you aren't familiar with the stat, it's ballpark adjusted and means Bautista's OBP plus slugging percentage was 81 percent better than the league average).

Would You Rather Have
Also impressive, Bautista walked more times than he struck out, an amazing feat for a slugger of his caliber. Albert Pujols regularly does it, but not many other power hitters ever do.

While neither outfielder here is going to approach a Fielding Bible Award any time soon -- both rate out poorly in advanced defensive metrics -- Bautista has a nice arm in right field, racking up 13 outfield assists in 116 games last season (he played 25 games at third). Using the eye test, too, I'd much rather have Bautista in the outfield than Braun.

Oh, and Bautista isn't facing a 50-game suspension.

The case for Braun

The 2011 NL MVP, Braun had a spectacular season with 33 homers, 111 RBI, 109 runs, 33 stolen bases and led the NL in slugging percentage and OPS. His OPS-plus was 166 and WAR was 7.7, for comparison's sake. Since winning the NL Rookie of the Year (after playing just 113 games) in 2007, Braun has been one of the best hitters in all of baseball.

Again, neither is a very good defender in terms of range or saving runs for his pitching staff, but one thing Braun does very well is not commit errors. He's only made six errors in the past four seasons combined. So while he won't get to as many balls as, say, Brett Gardner, Braun is sure-handed when he does.

If you wanna use age, Braun isn't that much younger than Bautista. He does have a three-year lead, as he turned 28 in November while Bautista turned 31 in October.

Our call

You can call me petty, but I'm going with Bautista until -- if ever -- he fails a drug test of his own. I'm pretty sure I would have leaned that way in October, but it would have been incredibly tough. That's irrelevant now, though, because Braun's name is tainted, even if temporarily, while Bautista's is not.

Vote away, and I have to say, I'm very interested to see how this one goes down. Lots of different issues in play, so let's hear those opinions. Please do keep in mind this is moving forward. Even if Braun misses 50 games this year, he's signed with the Brewers into his late 30s.

Fan Vote:

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Since: Jan 8, 2012
Posted on: January 17, 2012 8:35 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

So many of the people here are so hateful. What do any of you really know about Ryan Braun and this case? He's played like this his entire career, I have to believe he's innocent. Even if his suspension is upheld he will still be my favorite player on my favorite team. Plus, I haven't seen anyone realy go on the record about this yet. Other than the leak and an all this web noise, there is not any new information available. Thank you THEGAMESKI!

Since: Sep 9, 2009
Posted on: January 17, 2012 8:03 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

If you said you lived anywhere besides Milwaukee your story might have been believeable, as it is you live in Milwaukee, of course you think he's innocent. If you lived in Pittsburgh you would think Big Ben didnt rape women and if you lived in Boston the Patriots would play clean football.

Since: Jan 24, 2007
Posted on: January 17, 2012 8:02 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

How on God's green earth anyone voted for Braun is remarkable! Bautista has been Barry Bonds like the past 2 seasons. Just like Halladay the American public will only realize the special player he is once he plays south of the border. It is unfortunate that Americans are so offense...but wake up and open your eyes to a world outside your borders...

Since: Sep 9, 2009
Posted on: January 17, 2012 8:02 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Ryan Braun, they havent found the PEDS bautista is using, he came out of nowhere two years ago and is now one of the best power hitters in baseball after what 7 years of suck? Im not buying it...

Since: Jan 3, 2008
Posted on: January 17, 2012 6:06 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

I live in Milwaukee, and I have information that leads me to be confident that Braun was not cheating and that he will win his appeal.  I just hope to see you guys on here apologizing for being so fast to pass judgement.

Since: Jan 12, 2012
Posted on: January 17, 2012 5:39 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Jun 1, 2009
Posted on: January 17, 2012 9:51 am

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

This is not even debatable.  If not for his wrist injury (sustained in June) Bautista would have match his 54 shots from the previous year.  He is a fantastic player, a model citizen and a great story.  Braun on the other hand has been caught cheating.  They would have made bloody well sure that he was guilty before delivering the suspension.  Obviously the MLB did not want to suspend their newly crowned MVP who just happens to play on the team owned by the commissioner.  The fact that Braun is playing the typical "I'm innocent" makes it even more pathetic.

BOMBTISTA in a landslide!

Since: Jun 2, 2009
Posted on: January 17, 2012 9:33 am

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

I majored in Engineering not English sorry for the typo.  

You are all cynical jerk's that seem more happy in believing that every player is cheating reather then enjoying baseball anymore.  What happen's if Joey Bats never turns in a positivie PED test?  Just turn your cross hair's to the next slugger?

The game I love is becoming a joke because fool's that don't enjoy it properly anymore.   When you start getting your kick's out of accusing the game's star's of being cheater's you are no longer a fan.

Since: Dec 10, 2007
Posted on: January 17, 2012 9:31 am

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Another writer who is associating a clean player with PEDs.  Eventually, enough writers write it that people start believing it.  How about if we start accusing these bums (writers) with using hard drugs like cocaine and LSD.  Afterall, they have to be on something to write such trash.  So maybe Snyder and his friends all do drugs at the office before they put pen to paper.  I bet if they had to pass drug tests, they would all test positive for illegal substances.

As for Jose and his rise once he got to the Blue Jays, the fact is, he never really got the opportunity to perform in Pittsburgh.  The Blue Jays saw something in him to sign him and try to develop him.  Why don't we give his coaches credit for getting the best in him instead of placing all bets on a PED program?

As for Braun, till he has his day in court, isn't he innocent (till proven guilty)?  I thought that was one of the principles in the American (free wrold) justice system. 

Let's stop listening to these lousy writers who purely write on speculation.   

Since: Jan 11, 2012
Posted on: January 17, 2012 8:34 am

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?


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