Ryan Braun

Last time, I previewed shortstops. Now, let’s head to the outfield to round out our hitter previews.

Which outfielder should go off the board first?

Mike Trout (LAA) – There is no question that Trout is the number one outfielder in fantasy baseball. Trout is in a tier of his own, as he batted .323 with 27 home runs, 97 runs batted in and 33 stolen bases last year. The 22-year-old is going to do it big again this year, and you should have no fear in going all in on Trout.

Who is making a comeback from a disappointing 2013 season?

Josh Hamilton (LAA) – Texas Rangers fans rejoiced last season, as Angels fans and fantasy owners of Hamilton were frustrated by his production. The former American League MVP had 21 home runs, just 79 runs batted in and hit a career-low .250 after getting a fat contract from the Angels. I expect Hamilton to come back strong this season and prove the naysayers wrong.

Don’t sleep on this guy

Curtis Granderson (NYM) – Granderson only played in 61 games last year for the New York Yankees and was rather disappointing. However, he is getting a fresh start with the New York Mets. He is being ranked in the late 30’s and early 40’s, which I believe is way too low for Granderson. The guy hit 43 home runs in 2012 and 41 home runs in 2011. With exceptional power and potential to steal some bases while knocking in a lot of runs, I think he’ll have a good year. He isn’t hitting in the greatest lineup or the friendliest ballpark, but he is healthy and excited to be a member of the Mets.

Bound to bust

Ryan Braun (MIL) – After a stint on the disabled list and a season-endingsuspension for violating baseball’s drug policy and lying to the public, Braun is being ranked as high as 4 or 5 on most 2014 pre-draft outfielder rankings. It is tough togauge how Braun will perform this season, knowing that he was using performanceenhancing drugs en route to his past success. Now that he is clean, or at least claims to be, I’ll side with Braun being a bust.

My Pre-Season Rankings: Outfielders

  1. Mike Trout (LAA)
  2. Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
  3. Carlos Gonzalez (COL)
  4. Bryce Harper (WAS)
  5. Adam Jones (BAL)
  6. Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY)
  7. Yasiel Puig (LAD)
  8. Carlos Gomez (MIL)
  9. Justin Upton (ATL)
  10. Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)
  11. Jose Bautista (TOR)
  12. Shin-Soo Choo (TEX)
  13. Josh Hamilton (LAA)
  14. Ryan Braun (MIL)
  15. Yoenis Cespedes (OAK)
  16. Curtis Granderson (NYM)
  17. Jay Bruce (CIN)
  18. Alex Rios (TEX)
  19. Matt Kemp (LAD)
  20. Starling Marte (PIT)
  21. Matt Holliday (STL)
  22. Allen Craig (STL)
  23. Wil Myers (TB)
  24. Hunter Pence (SF)
  25. Mark Trumbo (ARI)

I’ll leave you with this...

As always, the outfield is strong. The top ten outfielders will probably be taken within the first three rounds of all fantasy drafts, and outfielders tend to go quickly since you need three of them in most standard leagues. It also doesn’t hurt to have extra on the bench and for your utility spot. Considering the position is so deep, you are kind of on your own as to how you want to approach it.

Each week, Adam will give his two cents about the players at each position, naming a clear-cut number one, a comeback player, a sleeper/breakout, a bust, his full rankings and a little advice as to what to do in your draft and throughout the season.

Ryan Braun, Mike Trout rank amongst top fantasy out fielders in 2013

With Opening Day coming up on Sunday there are sure to be a great deal of fantasy drafts going on between now and then. For anyone that has a draft in the next few days it would be a wise decision to draft an outfielder with one of your first picks. ESPN fantasy experts project that in most drafts five of the top 10 players picked will be outfielders. With that being said, here are my top five fantasy outfielders:

1. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

Braun is a fairly easy pick at No. 1, and if you have the first pick in your draft he would be an excellent choice. Last season he recorded 41 home runs, 112 RBIs and a .319 batting average. Those stats speak for themselves but the stat that puts him at No. 1 for me was the 30 stolen bases that he recorded last season. In addition, Braun has proven to be very durable. Since the 2008 season he has played in at least 150 games each year.

2. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Trout is similar to Braun in many ways, he is a player that can hit for power and average and steal bases as well. In his historic rookie season last year he hit 30 home runs, had 83 RBIs, a batting average of .326 and stole 49 bases to top it all off. Trout is the real deal and I see no sign of him slowing down this season.

3. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers

I am not going to bore you with another paragraph full of stats and numbers, when it comes to Kemp there is not a lot of explaining that needs to be done. Despite being bothered by an injury last season he was still one of the most productive players in baseball. If he stays healthy this season look for him to put up monster numbers and be right up there with guys like Braun and Trout. Kemp will be right in the middle of a stacked Dodger lineup so he will definitely have plenty of opportunities to produce.

4. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburg Pirates

Last season McCutchen quickly became one of the best players in baseball. On a mediocre Pirates squad he still managed to record 31 home runs and 96 RBIs. He is also a threat on the base path as well; in his first four seasons in the MLB he has stolen at least 20 bases each year. I would have put McCutchen over Kemp, but because he is on the Pirates he will not get as many opportunities as Kemp will to drive in runs.

5. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

There is no doubt that Gonzalez is extremely talented but he does have some injury concerns. He has not spent a significant amount of time on the DL, but he missed 27 games last season and 35 games in 2011. Despite missing those games last season he was still able to hit 22 home runs and 85 RBIs. There is no telling what kind of numbers Gonzalez would be able to put up if he could stay healthy for an entire season.

The use of PEDs wreaking more havoc across baseball landscape, further tarnishing integrity of the game

Once again, the use of performance-enhancing drugs has been dominating the MLB headlines lately. Records from now-closed, Miami-based clinic, Biogenesis, have recently been released, linking multiple baseball stars’ names to buying PEDs from the clinic.

The two biggest names mentioned so far are superstars Alex Rodriguez, of the New York Yankees, and Ryan Braun, of the Milwaukee Brewers. This is neither player’s first encounter with PED accusations. 

In 2009, Rodriguez admitted to taking PEDs from 2001 to 2003 while with the Texas Rangers but added that he had not used them since. Alex Rodriguez has already tainted his reputation and severely decreased his chances of being elected into the Hall of Fame because of his steroid use. As seen in this year’s BBWAA Hall of Fame vote, any suspicion of steroid use can severely stain a career. This year, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa didn’t even come close to receiving the required percentage of votes for induction to Cooperstown because of PED links and scandals. Like A-Rod, all had legendary numbers and should have been shoe ins, but with how rampant PED use is in the game today, one of the few options left for baseball authorities to try and eradicate the problem is to treat suspicion as guilt.

These allegations could not come at a worse time in Rodriguez’s career, as he is coming off a hip impingement, which required surgery in early January. Doctors say he should be back by the All-Star break, but the chances he’ll return as even half the player he was in his prime seems unlikely. The Yankees have already signed Kevin Youkilis to play third base for the Yanks this season. In other words, A-Rod’s career in pinstripes, or career, in general, could be over.

The second superstar linked to Biogenesis is Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. Coming off a National League MVP in 2011, Braun was slated to be suspended for the first 50 games of last season but was  reinstated before the season began, as a result of winning an appeal for his positive test for elevated levels of testosterone. Braun is no doubt one of the most consistent, all-around players in baseball, so this is unfortunate for the game and for the all-star, especially if he is clean. Braun insists that his name is listed under a ‘moneys owed’ category in Biogenesis documents because his attorneys used Anthony Bosch, the clinic operator, as a consultant, and that any tie to Biogenesis is merely “over a dispute over compensation for Bosch’s work.” Like last year, Braun claims innocence and “will fully cooperate with any inquiry into this matter."

Other names involved in the Biogenesis mess are former Toronto Blue Jays’ outfielder Melky Cabrera (also his second PED scandal); Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Danny Valencia and New York Yankees catcher, Francisco Cervelli, among others.

In 2009, after Alex Rodriguez admitted to “juicing,” President Obama gave his opinion about the dark shadow PEDs are casting over the game in his first primetime press conference. He stated, “If you’re a fan of Major League Baseball, I think it tarnishes an era, to some degree.” That was 2009. Now, in 2013, the words “think” and “to some degree” can be deleted from the latter part of the president’s quote. As one can see, PEDs have tarnished the game and extensive use continues to rear its ugly head.

Use of PEDs wreaking more havoc across baseball landscape, further tarnishing integrity of game

Once again, the use of performance-enhancing drugs is dominating the MLB headlines. Records from the now-closed Miami-based clinic Biogenesis have recently been released, linking multiple baseball stars’ names to buying PEDs from the clinic, according to a Miami New Times report.

The two biggest names mentioned so far are Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers. This is neither player’s first encounter with PED accusations.

In 2009, Rodriguez admitted to taking PEDs from 2001 to 2003 while with the Texas Rangers, but added that he had not used them since. Rodriguez has already tainted his reputation and severely decreased his chances of being elected into the Hall of Fame because of his steroid use. As seen in this year’s BBWAA Hall of Fame vote, any suspicion of steroid use can severely stain a career. This year, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa didn’t even come close to receiving the required percentage of votes for induction to Cooperstown because of PED links and scandals. Like A-Rod, all had legendary numbers and should have been shoo-ins, but with the rampant PED use in the game today, one of the few options left for baseball authorities to try and eradicate the problem is to treat suspicion as guilt.

These allegations could not come at a worse time in Rodriguez’s career, as he is coming off a hip impingement, which required surgery in early January. Doctors say he should be back by the All-Star break, but the chances he’ll return as even half the player he was in his prime seems unlikely. The Yankees have already signed Kevin Youkilis to play third base for the Yankees this season. In other words, A-Rod’s career in pinstripes, or career, could be over.

Coming off a National League MVP title in 2011, Braun was slated to be suspended for the first 50 games of last season but was reinstated before the season began, as a result of winning an appeal for his positive test for elevated levels of testosterone. Braun is no doubt one of the most consistent, all-around players in baseball, so this is unfortunate for the game and for the All-Star, especially if he is clean. In a statement he released this week, Braun insists that his name is listed under a ‘moneys owed’ category in Biogenesis documents because his attorneys used Anthony Bosch, the clinic operator, as a consultant, and that any tie to Biogenesis is merely “over a dispute over compensation for Bosch’s work.” Like last year, Braun claims innocence and “will fully cooperate with any inquiry into this matter."

Other names reportedly involved in the Biogenesis mess include, among others, former Toronto Blue Jays’ outfielder Melky Cabrera (also his second PED scandal), Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Baltimore Orioles third baseman Danny Valencia and New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli.

In 2009, after Alex Rodriguez admitted to “juicing,” President Obama gave his opinion about the dark shadow PEDs are casting over the game in his first primetime press conference. He stated, “If you’re a fan of Major League Baseball, I think it tarnishes an era, to some degree.” That was 2009. Now, in 2013, the words “think” and “to some degree” can be deleted from the latter part of the president’s quote. As one can see, PEDs have tarnished the game and extensive use continues to rear its ugly head.

Lift a questionable eyebrow, but don't lay a finger on the superstar

And with a swift and not so subtle stroke of the broom, all of Ryan Braun’s issues were swept under the rug, presumably to die and be forgotten. With one final verdict from an appeals committee, the immediate future of the slugging left fielder became infinitely clearer.

Over the winter, it was discovered that the National League MVP had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, registering the largest amount of testosterone seen under Major League Baseball’s new drug testing program.

And even with the positive test coming into public light, now we’re all suppose to forget it happened. Forget the last three months of scrutiny, forget the positive test. The guy triggered the test using herpes medication, nothing to see here.

Sorry to disappoint you Mr. Selig, but it doesn’t quite work like that. Your superstar has been cast in a negative light, and no appeals board will change that. And it’s hard to not look past the hypocrisy of this turnout compared to another famous failed drug tests since the new testing program was implemented in 2004.

Manny Ramirez tested positive for steroids, for the first time, in 2009 while with the Dodgers due to a drug prescribed to him and didn’t receive such favorable help from baseball’s big wigs. Even though he did not fight the suspension, it didn’t appear as though he got the guidance Braun got. Ramirez, although beloved by most baseball fans everywhere, was a somewhat polarizing figure in the game, causing mild issues amongst baseball’s front office elite with his silly antics and flippant attitude. Braun is more of a baseball golden boy, seemingly never causing issues except to opposing pitchers. He plays in Commissioner Selig’s hometown of Milwaukee, and is seen as one of the good guys in the game. For a sport trying to turn the page on the steroid era of the early 2000’s, it sure seems like Major League Baseball is trying anything to keep faith in its superstars amongst the masses, something that was shattered by the likes of Mark Mcgwire, Sammy Sosa, and Roger Clemens.

The bottom line is this: athletes, especially in today’s society that is extremely paranoid about cheaters in sports, are ultimately responsible for what goes into their bodies. Manny Ramirez took a prescribed drug and got busted, why is Ryan Braun any different?

Fortunately for the slugger, he’s on baseball's good side, and his season will start April 6th against the Cardinals instead of May 31st against, ironically, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

ST. LOUIS— Randy Wolf outfoxed the St. Louis Cardinals for seven innings to earn his first postseason win at age 35 and the Milwaukee Brewers got two more hits from Ryan Braun in a 4-2 victory Thursday night that evened the NL championship series at 2-all.

Matt Holliday and Allen Craig homered for the Cardinals, representing their only runs in the last 16 innings.

Francisco Rodriguez allowed a hit in the eighth and John Axford finished for his second save of the series and third this postseason.

The Brewers ended an eight-game road losing streak in the postseason dating to the 1982 World Series opener at St. Louis.

Jaime Garcia faces Zack Greinke for the second time in the series in Game 5 Friday night. Either way, the NLCS will be decided back at Miller Park.

Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled twice with an RBI and Wolf hit one of the Brewers’ five doubles. Braun is batting .471 (16 for 34) in the postseason with two homers and nine RBIs.

The Cardinals needed more heavy duty from their bullpen, too, after Kyle Lohse, pitching on 12 days’ rest, failed to make it out of the fifth.

Albert Pujols was a quiet 1 for 4 for St. Louis, which was 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and is 0 for 15 after the first inning of Game 3.

Wolf kept the Cardinals off-balance with soft tosses and retired 13 of his last 15 hitters in his fourth career postseason start. It was a huge improvement from Game 4 of the NL division series at Arizona in which he surrendered seven runs in three innings.

Wolf also struggled in his last two regular season starts, allowing 10 runs in 11 2-3 innings.

For the fourth straight game, the Cardinals had to lean heavily on their relievers. Lohse sailed through three innings and then allowed three doubles and three runs to his last eight hitters, and was charged with three runs in 4 1-3 innings.

St. Louis relievers have worked 17 1-3 innings in the series.

Two of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa’s moves paid off. Bumped down one spot to fifth, Holliday hit his first postseason homer and doubled.

Craig started in place of Lance Berkman, who was 3 for 32 lifetime against Wolf and had a minor right thigh bruise from getting hit by a pitch in Game 3. Craig hit his first career postseason homer made it 2-0 in the third.

The Brewers tied it in the fourth with their first runs since the third inning of Game 3 on doubles by Prince Fielder and Jerry Hairston Jr. and an RBI single by Yuniesky Betancourt.

Lohse was pulled after Nyjer Morgan doubled to start the fifth and advanced on a groundout, the heart of the order coming up. Braun’s single off Mitchell Boggs put the Brewers in front although second baseman Ryan Theriot’s sprawling stop transformed Fielder’s smash into an inning-ending double play.

Rickie Weeks singled and Hairston doubled again to open the sixth, and the Brewers soon had a two-run cushion. George Kottaras hit a grounder against a drawn-in infield off Arthur Rhodes, and Theriot bobbled the ball on a short hop for an error.

The Cardinals’ streak of scoring in the first inning ended at five games when they went down in order against Wolf, but they hurt the left-hander with opposite-field power the next two innings. Wolf fell behind the count to six of the first 14 hitters and the Cardinals were 4 for 5 with two homers, a double, single and walk.