Ryan Braun: Where Should He Be Drafted in 2012?

My assumption, which could be wrong, is that Ryan Braun will be suspended for 50 games for whatever it is that he took that lead to his testosterone levels to be "insanely high, the highest ever for anyone who has ever taken a test, twice the level of the highest test ever taken". I am not sure how he would not be suspended after reading that, but stranger things have happened.

There has been speculation as to what he took and why he took it, but the fact remains, he could be suspended for 50 games, and we should find out in the very near future. So, fantasy owners are asking "where should I draft Braun this season?" What kind of season can we expect from him?

My thoughts after the jump:

Last season, Braun hit .332-.397-.597 with 33 HRs, 111 RBI, 109 runs and 33 stolen bases. Stats that resulted in him winning the NL MVP award. He had a tremendous season, and although I don't agree with him winning the NL MVP, he is the second best fantasy player in baseball right now. So, where should be be drafted and what kind of numbers will he put up?

For simplicity sake, if you remove the stats Braun put up in his first two months last season, he should put up the following stats in 2012:

HRs: 21

RBI: 78

Runs: 69

SBs: 20

Braun hit .328 or better in every month last year, with the exception of May, where he hit "just" .260-.364-.433 with 2 HRs, 16 RBI and 10 stolen bases. He also drove in just 11 runs in the month of July, his lowest total for any month in 2011. A 20-20 season from Braun is solid production for a player missing the first two months of the season. Last season, there were 12 hitters who hit 20 HRs and stole 20 bases, including Matt Kemp, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, Andrew McCutchen, Jeff Franceour, Chris Young and Braun. And from this list, only Kemp, Braun, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Justin Upton, Ellsbury and Franceour hit above .285 last season, and most had a BA of .262 or lower.

From that list, I can see 10 of those hitters repeating their 20-20 production, but only a few of them will also hit above .285 again in 2012.

If you want to average out, based on games played, Braun should put up the following stats in 2012:

HRs-23

RBI-77

Runs-75

SBs-23

Those stats are basically what Andrew McCutchen put up last season, and I would draft Braun in the 2nd round in NL-only leagues heading into 2012 drafts. In mixed leagues, I would draft Braun in the 3rd round or early 4th round, as he will also provide a .300+ BA and solid OBP for those of you in OBP leagues.

I recently projected Braun to hit .310 with 20 HRs and 20 stolen bases in my Top 12 for 2012 piece, and that is right around what he should put up if he can hit like he did last year, and I think he will.

Where would you draft Braun in 2012?

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