If ever there was a lost season for a team, it was 2013 for the Milwaukee Brewers. Yovani Gallardo underperformed and Aramis Ramirez missed half a season. Then the bright star of Jean Segura came crashing down after the break and Rickie Weeks finally fell off the planet altogether.
But there was something else that happened last year. What was it again? I feel like it was a big deal. Oh right, Ryan Braun was suspended 65 games for his Biogenesis connection, lying about his positive drug tests and embarrassed his organization, teammates and the entire fan base — that whole thing. Braun not only destroyed his own team’s relevance, but wiped out most Fantasy owners who surely drafted him within the top five picks last season.
The lone bright spots were Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy. Gomez really blossomed and his .284 batting average, with 24 homers and 40 stolen bases, was a huge lift for owners.
Meanwhile, Lucroy established himself as one of the best Fantasy catchers in baseball. Those who stuck with Lucroy after his rough start (.687 April OPS) were rewarded with a. 280-18-82 line. From the catcher spot, that is serious production.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get the Brew Crew past 74 wins. However, there may be room for optimism with the 2014 Milwaukee Brewers.
The question on every Milwaukee fan’s mind, and Fantasy owners alike, will be — what we can expect from Braun? In this year’s Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2014, how you approach Braun this season made the Five Biggest Questions in Fantasy.
On one hand you can say “If he was taking PEDs all along, perhaps his production was never real to begin with.” On the other, “These substances merely enhance already talented players, making good ones great and great players legendary.”
Clearly the 2014 season is full of questions to be answered.
Projected 2014 Milwaukee Brewers “Go-To” Lineup:
- Jean Segura, SS
- Scooter Gennett, 2B
- Ryan Braun, RF
- Aramis Ramirez, 3B
- Jonathan LuCroy, C
- Carlos Gomez, CF
- Juan Francisco, 1B
- Khris Davis, LF
This is a lineup that hinges a great deal on the success of the top of the order. If Segura and Gennett can reach base, there are plenty of RBI guys in the middle capable of driving them in. If they struggle and Gomez gets shifted to the top of the lineup, the bottom portion could really drag down the overall run production.
Personally, I would rather see Davis in the 2-hole. He has good strike-zone judgment and would benefit from hitting in front of Braun.
- SP1 Yovani Gallardo
- SP2 Matt Garza
- SP3 Kyle Lohse
- SP4 Marco Estrada
- SP5 Wily Peralta
- Tyler Thornburg, Mike Fiers
- Setup: Brandon Kintzler, Rob Wooten
- Closer: Jim Henderson
This is a boom-or-bust rotation. If Gallardo rebounds, Garza stays healthy, Lohse holds steady and Estrada takes the next jump, you could have a contender on your hands.
Unfortunately, you can just as easily see the wheels coming off here as none of them are “sure things.” What’s worse is the Brewers are far from loaded with young pitching in their system. Henderson is pretty safe in the closer role and is a decent RP2.
Fantasy Studs: Carlos Gomez, Jonathan LuCroy, Ryan Braun
Gomez has been able to harness the raw potential he flashed for years and you can make a case for him as a top 15 outfielder in any format without hesitation. He carries a nice blend of speed and power. With a healthy Braun and Ramirez to support him, Gomez seems poised to have another strong season.
Lucroy is the third overall catcher on my board in 2014, based on age and skill set. His home run total did drop from 13 to 5 after the break, but most catchers fade as the season goes on.
Braun is still a first-round talent until proven otherwise. If he slips further than he should in your league be smart enough to grab him. If David Ortiz is a measuring stick of a “failed drug test aftermath,” Braun should have little trouble being a well above average Fantasy outfielder in his prime years.
Breakout Candidates: Khris Davis
When a former MVP is forced to switch positions to make way for a youngster, it speaks volumes (Braun will play RF this year with Davis in LF). Khris Davis has above average on-base skills (career .392 OBP in the minors) and power that will be assisted by hitter friendly Miller Park. There is not a lot of hype around Davis, making him a potential Draft Day steal.
Sleeper Candidates: Yovani Gallardo
Gallardo has made 30 or more starts five years in a row, topping 200 strikeouts in four of them. Yet after one down year, he seems to be the forgotten man. Gallardo admitted he wasn’t 100 percent, last season. After his DL stint, his ERA and K/9 came right back to his career norms.
It‘s crazy to write him off at 28 years old. He is way down the ADP ladder considering his track record, making him a sleeper in 2014.
Bust Candidates: Jean Segura
The overall line is deceiving for Segura in ’13. After the break, he hit just one home run with a .241 batting average and a dreadful .583 OPS. To say he was exposed would be an understatement. Most owners won’t realize that and may overpay. In Rotisserie leagues, his speed still plays and at shortstop you could do worse. In points leagues, there are steadier options available.
Top Rookies: Tyler Thornburg
Thornburg barely surpassed his rookie eligibility last year and is far from a finished product. However, he does have strikeout ability (career 10.3 K/9 in the minors) and will most likely have an opportunity to showcase himself considering the health record of Garza and Peralta’s lack of growth. He still struggles with high walk rates, but may be better off in the big leagues instead of pitching in the PCL another season.
What Should We Know?
My final thought on Braun is this: great athletes have enormous egos. That’s part of what makes them great and drives them. We know Braun’s ego is gigantic based on his actions. The visiting ballparks will be hostile and may take a bit of his “edge” away.
However, a 10-percent dropoff from Braun’s usual production leaves him with a .290/.360/.525 slash lines, with 30 home runs, 100 RBI and 20 steals, based on his career averages. That sounds like a first-round talent to me. As Braun goes, so go the 2014 Milwaukee Brewers.
Joe Pisapia is the creator of the revolutionary statistic RPV (Relative Position Value) and the author of the No. 1 best-selling e-book, “The Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2014 Edition.” Available on Amazon Kindle Store and iTunes for Apple Devices. Check out www.fantasyblackbook.com for your Fantasy Baseball news and listen to him on Sirius210/XM87 Fantasy Sports Channel “Going 9 Baseball“ every Tuesday 8-10PM EST.
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