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, Baseball-Reference.com 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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Comments

Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2012 2:23 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

"His OPS-plus was 166 and WAR was 7.7, for comparison's sake."

You said you aren't comparing them to each other, yet in the article you compared them right there.  I think these are fun things to do but you automatically have to compare players in order to choose which one you would rather have.



Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: January 16, 2012 2:23 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Yeah, I said Bautista is clean and have continued to defend him more than any other player over the past year. I really should quit taking such "cheap shots" at him.



Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: January 16, 2012 2:19 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Of course, you have to weigh the good and bad of both players and make a decision. But it doesn't mean I'm "comparing" every single aspect of Braun and Bautista --  like PED use. I'm not. I believe Bautista is clean.



Since: Jun 30, 2009
Posted on: January 16, 2012 2:19 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.



Since: Nov 20, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2012 2:16 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

It doesn't matter what Braun's multimillion dollar defense team comes up with to try and deflect the positive test away and have it labeled a mistake (look at the fools Bonds and Clemens still trying to prove the earth is flat). The test doesn't make up the drugs in your system, it only counts how much is there, and what it is. In this day and age it simply is not possible to believe that a functionally literate human being, never mind one who is paid millions of dollars with the support and advice of the best minds in the country, could ever make a mistake like this, considering what has gone on before ,and what is at stake. This is one of those indiscretions you can't wipe clean by pleading ignorance, like claiming you didn't know you weren't supposed to join the hot 17 year old baby sitter in the hot tub while wifey went to sleep.  



Since: Jun 24, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2012 2:12 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

But to answer the question, one has to compare them.  It's amazing how you don't understand this.



Since: Jun 17, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2012 1:58 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

Eventhough you repeatedly stated that and your intentions were good, our brains being as undeveloped as they are, will naturally lump PEDS, Braun and Bautista together. It isn't your fault but I think a better comparison could have been made for Jose in finding someone not linked to PEDS.



Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: January 16, 2012 1:57 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

I lumped Braun with Bautista? How?

Again, I'm asking who you would rather have on your favorite team. That's not a comparison nor is it lumping the two together in terms of using PEDs.

Please read the introduction, especially the second paragraph.

- Matt



Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: January 16, 2012 1:56 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

And while we're here, it's amazing how much people are saying we are "comparing" players in this series. We're asking who you would rather have on your team. That isn't a comparison. It's a question.



Since: Jun 17, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2012 1:56 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?

I agree that it is unfair to lump Bautista with Braun as Jose has never tested positive and Braun is a user. I just pray that Jose is telling us the truth, unlike so many before him. I already have Bautista on my favourite team and I would not trade him for Braun any day. Jose brings too much to the plate and adds a defensive stud at third to the mix as well. Apples and oranges here I think.


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