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: Feb 27, 2009
Posted on: January 17, 2012 8:34 am

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

It was medication to treat what??? You seem to have all the facts. Enlighten me.

Since: Mar 30, 2009
Posted on: January 17, 2012 8:27 am

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

SO, you're choosing between a purported steroid (or some type of PED) user and a purported cheater who gets signs of upcoming pitches from the "mysterious man in white" in the outfield bleachers?  And, on a side note, looking at the staitstical splits ESPN Magazine offered up on this story, wow, it does look pretty damning for the Blue Jays....but I digress.  Apparently the writer is choosing the lesser of two evils: he is taking the old-fashioned, kind of like throwing spitballs, Gaylord Perry type of cheater, as opposed to the Barry Bonds-Mark McGuire-Rafael Palmiero type of cheater.  

Since: Apr 26, 2010
Posted on: January 17, 2012 8:25 am

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

yout a dork.shut up.end of story

Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:17 am

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Both came out of nowhere to hit alot of homeruns. Both are not built to hit homeruns. Hence, both are steroids users. Enough said!

Since: Apr 5, 2008
Posted on: January 17, 2012 12:06 am

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Hasn't there been enough info out already that says Braun wasn't even using PEDs, his name shouldn't even have been mentioned because if he wins the appeal morons will still talk like he used anyway. I'm a Yankees fan and would take Braun over anyone not named Pujols if I had to start a team right now, He has hit since the day he came up to the majors and is only 28, Bautista has 2 good seasons after starting his career as a bum. It's more likely that Braun keeps getting better and Bautista goes in the opposite direction, Braun all day.

Since: Nov 22, 2011
Posted on: January 16, 2012 11:43 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Ryan Braun hands down. Braun is a stud and it wasn't a PED it was medication. He wasn't using it to hit home runs or be a better baseball player. Ryan Braun people don't realize he has become a pretty good defender and nearly won a gold glove this year. Braun is a better all-around player. He stole 30-some bases this season. Bautista has power and is a good power hitter, but after that he leaves a lot to be desired. Braun is starting to become more patient at the plate too and led the league in slugging.

Since: May 15, 2010
Posted on: January 16, 2012 11:20 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

and straight back to dud PED if ever there was one

Since: Dec 18, 2011
Posted on: January 16, 2012 11:07 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Luis Gonzales did it when he went to Arizona from Houston...dud to stud overnight

Since: Aug 22, 2007
Posted on: January 16, 2012 10:45 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

bautista or braun?..really?..braun is a cheater/juicer who'll miss 50 games. jose is the easy choice.

Since: Jan 7, 2012
Posted on: January 16, 2012 10:03 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Have to go with Bautista as he has way less cheezy of a beard than Mr. Braun. 

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