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: Aug 2, 2011
Posted on: January 16, 2012 9:54 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Bautista has been proved innocent thus far and I am sure if he gets caught he'll be punished in the same way as Braun. I feel Braun cheated the entire 2011 NL MVP voting system as well as damaged his own image and tarnished his reputation for the future

Since: Dec 29, 2011
Posted on: January 16, 2012 8:41 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Matt, I think it's pretty presumptuous to speak for "the majority of baseball fans".  Why would you lump Batista with Braun when you're talking about PED's.  That's a cheap shot as far as I'm concerned.  If Braun has cheated, he shouldn't even be spoken off in the same sentence as Batista, unless there's eveidence that Jose has broken the rules as well.

I totally agree with you, Joe. Matt's decision to put Bautista with Braun wasn't merely a coincidence. He knew it would create a wave of comments because of Braun's alleged PED use and the countless number of fans who suspect Bautista is on something as well.

I'm a teacher (as you would assume, teaching English) here in China. I once discussed steroids as a free talk topic and one student said "if every player could use steroids, then it's fair".  I replied it's not as simple as say allowing each student to take their text books into the exam room with them. Oh, incidentally, cheating at school has become an accepted practice here which should not come as some surprise as everybody knows the Chinese are some of the biggest cheaters on the planet (just take a look at the female, 13 year old gymnasts if you don't believe me)

Since: Dec 29, 2011
Posted on: January 16, 2012 8:21 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Guilty until proven inisant for most of you idiot's out there.
Assuming "inisant" isn't some play on words or something, I didn't even realize it was a word. I guess you've proven who the real idiot is.

Since: Jun 22, 2007
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:48 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Hey T Pitty. you lose your right to call other people idiots when you use the word "inisant."

And he was proven guilty. that's what "failing a drug test" means. they proved he had illegal substances in his body.  

Since: Nov 26, 2006
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:46 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

"Guilty until proven inisant for most of you idiot's out there." ...isn't it cute when toddlers play on your keyboard?

Since: Dec 12, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:42 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

I would have to take Bautista over Braun, mainly because he has accomplised so much offensively in a lineup that offers little to no protection, while Braun has had the luxury of hitting in front of Prince Fielder.  In addition, Bautista can be plugged into third base if needed.  He may not be winning any gold gloves there but 3rd can be a tough position to fill and Bautista's versatility could allow a team with a strong outfield to get him into the lineup.  Now that I think of it, Bautista would look great at 3rd in Seattle where we have lots of OF prospects and not much of an outlook at the hot corner...

Since: Jun 2, 2009
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:42 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Guilty until proven inisant for most of you idiot's out there.

Since: Jan 16, 2012
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:38 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Bautista or Braun? You mean who is doing more PEDs??

Since: Sep 28, 2010
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:33 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Roger Maris   -   6 feet tall 197 lbs  -   hit 100 homeruns in two seasons. The previous 3 seasons he only hit for a combined 45 homeruns.

Jose Bautista  -  6 feet tall 195 lbs -   hit 97 homeruns in two seasons. The previous 3 seasons he only hit for a combined 43 homeruns.

So Bautista haters have two options: Admit that you are an idiot, or request an exhumation of Roger Maris for testing.

Does a homerun hitter have to increase his homerun total in increments of 5 each year until he hits 50, or does one have to be a certain size to "cleanly" hit 50. 

Since: Dec 29, 2011
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:24 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Who would I rather have? The player that is clean, responsible, hard-working, isn't a primadonna-arrogant jerk, and is most likely to help the team win. Wait a moment, does such a player exist??? Never mind.

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