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: Sep 28, 2010
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:20 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Bautista hit 50 or more homeruns in 2 of the 3 seasons in which he played more than 140 games. So if Mike Stanton hits 50 homeruns next year but then only 20 the next season we must imply that he was using peds in his first 2 years of baseball. Would it sound reasonable if someone said that a 13th round draft pick could become one of the best hitters of all time?  Albert Pujols certainly surprised every scout that passed on him the previous 12 rounds.

Since: May 12, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:18 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Brady Anderson Baltimore Orioles enuff said

Since: Feb 19, 2010
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:13 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

It's hard to believe that Bautista is clean. He was a 15 homer a year kind of guy and out of no where he got 54. I've never seen a guy make that kind of jump in homers in one year before.

Since: Feb 19, 2009
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:10 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Joey Bats without a doubt. 

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: January 16, 2012 6:26 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

I just can't help but feel that Bautista is a freak of nature. Nobody can hit like this without being on something, in my opinion. I think it is a matter of time he will be caught. Or should be.

Braun has already been caught. This is really an interesting dilemna, to have to pick one of these two. How will a 50 game suspension, plus the pressure of not having Fielder in the lineup anymore, plus being a cheater and being booed by many fans from now on, affect Braun's play?

I would pick Braun as he is younger, and because I just don't have faith that Bautista can keep doing what he is doing.

Since: Dec 18, 2011
Posted on: January 16, 2012 6:25 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

I'm so disappointed with the state of the game because of the PED issue over the past few years.  I'm leary of every player that has a break-out season or improves on his skills in a noticeable fashion.  What's worse is that you don't know just how far back the PED scandal's reach.  I'd like to think that Canseco and McGuire were the first wave - but common sense tells me that players have always looked for ways to improve the game whether it is with HGH, Testosterone or Speed.  Caffeine was probably the drug of choice before the 'roids came into play.  The game is tainted and the doubts are manifesting themselves when players become HOF eligible.  I think baseball is just going to have to recognize that the times have changed and draw the line on what sort of enhancements are going to be acceptable to use.  Sort of the "legalize it" approach (with limits of course)

Since: Apr 18, 2009
Posted on: January 16, 2012 6:20 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

    As time goes on athletes don't even to seem to really care if they are caught. They will give one of the usual excuses like Chael Sonnen's, and Ryan Braun's to treat a medical condition excuse seem to be the defense of the moment. Chris Cyborg's someone gave me a supplement with steroids in it excuse does not hold water here. Mcguire tried that ages ago, as did many others. It is a very popular one that I think A Rod tried a variation of,  a friend gave me something, I thought it was a supplement  and I didn't know what was in it. Clemen's ,he stuck a needle is my butt, but I didn't know it was illegal or a PED is a classic. How about he/she could'nt have he's scared of needles. You have to say you didn't know something. A common one to stop things at the gate for the moment is, the Test is wrong. This is more or less to buy time til you can figure something out, which invariably you don't, and you are proven guilty after all. There's something faulty about the test. Hey, how about, I just have a unusually high level of testosterone in my body. LOL. I'm a throwback to the Neanderthals is all. Why look at my skull the cranium is much bigger than usual, and the jaw is jutted and wider than usual.

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:52 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

then you probably shouldn't have compared them in this article
Re-read the article -- they were compared because of the "suspicion" of others about both players, not because the author thought one or both used PEDs.

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:49 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

If you were a pro baseball player and clean and someone said you failed a drug test, would you 'come clean' or re-affirm your innocence.

No one can prove then DIDN'T do something.
Well, if I was falsley accused, yes, I would "come-clean" and re-affirm my innocence and by that I mean talking in detail about EXACTLY how the test could have been wrong.  You are right that it is difficult to prove a negative, i.e. "prove you didn't do something" but not impossible -- if there were problems with the test that gave a false positive tell me what errors, when and how you know they occured; if there was a problem with handling of the sample that let it get contaminated, etc -- what, when, where, who did it and how do you know?; If it was an error in the label of a supposedly okay supplement, where is your proof?; If it was a non-performance enhancing med for a legit medical condition (although higher levels of testosterone would be considered "performance enhancing) then just tell us what it is.  It is difficult to prove a negative in most cases, but it is not always impossible.  So yes, Braun should "come clean" and tell everyone what happened.

Since: Jul 14, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:48 pm

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

The only thing violated were the fans for having to watch this cheater last year.

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