When we talk about underrated outfielders, we are usually focused on those with a late ADP. This year, one of the most underrated outfielders is among the league’s best. After a suspension cut his season short, the fantasy baseball world has soured on Ryan Braun. On FantasyPros, Braun is ranked as the sixth top outfielder, behind Bryce Harper. Some analysts have him ranked as low as 14th on their outfield rankings.
It’s easy to criticize analysts’ rankings but it’s far more advantageous to take advantage of a market that’s down on a perennial MVP candidate. Depending on your league, Braun is likely to fall far lower than his value (you’ll see below that his value is very high). That means you can snag an MVP candidate as late as the second round (maybe even later?).
Let’s take a look at what Braun has done leading up to his shortened 2013 season.
In six full seasons, Braun has his 32 or more home runs in five of them. He even managed 34 in 113 games in his rookie season, winning Rookie of the Year honors. The only time he failed to reach 32 home runs was in 2010 when he hit 25.
In each of those six seasons, Braun has posted 97 or more RBI. In his last two full seasons, he’s posted at least 110 RBI.
In each of those six seasons, Braun has scored 91 or more runs. Over his last two full seasons, Braun scored a combined 217 runs.
In each of those six seasons, Braun has stolen at least 14 bases and stole at least 30 in each of his last two full seasons.
In five of those six seasons, Braun has batted .304 or higher and has a career .312 average.
As you can see, there are few players more consistently elite than Braun. Steroid suspension or not, there is no reason to expect Braun not to produce the numbers he has always produced. If given the choice between Braun and someone like Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, or Adam Jones, I’m going with Braun and I recommend you do as well. As you can see in the projections, even numbers slightly below his usual output still make him the second-best option available.
With all that said, let’s take a look at what we can expect from Braun and the top 45 fantasy baseball outfielders in 2014.