Thursday, May 28, 2009

Russell Branyan - Fantasy Baseball Stud

posted by Jon Williams
I am not one to say I told you so but I so did. In January I told you just how good Russell Branyan could be if he received the playing time that Seattle seemed to be promising him. I drafted him on quite a few teams this year and he has more than rewarded me for it.
In 2008, Branyan hit 12 homers in 132 at-bats. And he has essentially always performed that way. Last month, the Seattle Mariners signed him to a one-year guaranteed contract approaching a million bucks a year to be their primary first baseman. This was an excellent move. Branyan has a low contact rate but has a career fly ball rate over 50 percent and approaching 60 percent the last few seasons. This translates into homeruns because of his excellent career HR/FB of 21.9 percent. Do the math – (500 at-bats)*(70 percent contact rate)*(50 percent fly ball rate)*(22 percent HR/FB) = 38 homeruns. Branyan's best-case batting average is probably no better than .270 and reality suggests an average closer to .250, but if Ludwick can hit .290, anything can happen.
David Cameron over at FanGraphs.com just posted an article lauding Jack Zduriencik, the Seattle Mariners general manager for signing Branyan and giving him the opportunity that no one else would.
So far, he looks like a genius. Branyan entered the day hitting .306/.395/.590, and he just hit a Trevor Cahill fastball about 750 feet for his 11th home run of the season. Given a chance to hit against left-handed pitching for the first time, he’s responded by showing a fairly normal platoon split - .312/.407/.634 vs RHPs and .294/.373/.529 against LHPs.
Even Branyan's most fervent supporters don't believe he'll continue to hit over .300 but I and a growing number of others do believe that he can approach (if not surpass) the 40 homerun level.

Did you draft Russell Branyan? Do you believe he can continue his present rate of production? Please share in the comments section.



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2 Comments:

Blogger Dave Zahniser said...

Jon,
I did get Branyan in our auction, and for the minimum salary -- no one else bid on him -- at your suggestion. I even credited you on my blog when I did my draft recap. Thanks (again) for the tip. BP's PFM also liked Branyan, and that was my main draft tool. I think Branyan will continue to hit for power, but agree with you that his average will come down at least some and maybe a lot. But for the minimum, I'll take the almost guaranteed 25+ home runs (and probably more).
Dave
http://www.bigzbluesoxbaseball.blogspot.com

Friday, May 29, 2009 at 1:26:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jon Williams said...

Thanks Dave. I agree, even if his average falls (and so far there is no sign of that) the power makes him worth owning. At this point he should be owned in leagues of every size and type.

Friday, May 29, 2009 at 4:59:00 PM EDT  

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