Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Does Ryan Braun Still Hold Appeal In A Revamped Milwaukee Lineup?

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If everyone stays healthy (and we know that’s a big if), the moves the Brewers have made recently are intriguing to the impact on the lineup:

  1. Signed Avisail Garcia for 2 years and $20 million
  2. Signed Justin Smoak for 1 year and $5 million

After the Garcia signing the expectation was for Milwaukee to utilize an outfield of Garcia, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, leaving Ryan Braun to shift to first base. However the subsequent addition of Smoak complicates that equation.

Of course while Smoak is a switch hitter, he’s struggled against left-handed pitchers in recent years. Just look at the SLG:

  • 2018 – .371
  • 2019 – .341

Considering Braun’s .571 SLG against southpaws last season that’s an easy place to get him into the lineup. Meanwhile Garcia has played more than 104 games in the outfield twice during his career, so days off are to be expected. You also have Cain turning 34-years old in April, while Braun himself is likely incapable of playing every day.

In other words even without injuries there would appear to be at least 450 AB available for Braun. He showed last season that he does have some value, though there are legitimate concerns:

  • Declining Approach – His 12.1% SwStr% and 37.4% O-Swing% were among the worst marks of his career
  • More Groundballs – Last season he carried a 50.4% groundball rate, and that will limit his power potential

At his age we all know he s not the player he once was and he clearly won’t be playing everyday. The best fit for fantasy owners is for those in daily formats, where you can plug him in on days he’s facing left-handed pitchers. Otherwise, for most there are going to be higher upside options worth targeting.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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