I had a dream last night that I was fifteen and Derek Jeter was caught with steroids and suffered the same consequences as Ryan Braun and those who will be suspended from their Biogenesis connections. Smart, interesting people dream about other worlds, space, love, mustaches, breasts, and loads and loads of money — I, on the other hand, seem to be stuck thinking back on my adolescence and how neurotic, nervous, and unconfident it eventually made me. I grew up in New York as a Yankee fan — 2001 ALCS game 7 is my fondest moment that doesn’t involve sex, alcohol, or gambling — and if Cap Jeets was indeed ever connected to PEDs, HGH, IGF, ATD, or any other incriminating acronym, my entire perception of good and evil would be forever skewed. All the Luke Skywalkers, Frodo Bagginses, and Disney Worlds on Earth would be incapable of convincing me genuine goodness exists. I’d probably become homicidal. I’m not even really sure if I can say I’m kidding. All underdog stories would be a joke, right? Did Luke really use his targeting computer? Did Frodo actually just fly one of those giant eagles all the way to Mordor?! (and why didn’t he just do that?) Did Rudy take steroids?! The possible deceptions are endless! My faith wouldn’t keep. I’d be an empty soul. I’d be… Ryan Braun, the soulless rat who could grow back into a prince if we play our keeper cards right.
There’s a lot of debate about how much of who Braun was is because of his “illegal intake”, and how much is because he’s, well, a rather good baseball player. Was he always taking steroids? I mean, he did hit 37 homers in 2007 as a rookie. It’s not like he just shot out of nowhere like Brady Anderson and was quickly caught juicing afterward. He’s been good for a while and you can bet your booty that he was getting tested ever since his matriculation to the Bigs — league testing began in 2004. That means he either beat the tests all those years or he hadn’t mustered up the courage (cowardice?) to actually starting PED’ing.
We don’t know and probably never will know, but you know that already. What actually matters is what your league-mates think of Braun’s “real ability” and what you think his “real ability” is.
You paid a steep price for Mr. Braun this year if you got him. And in auction leagues, would have to pay a steep price next year if you traded for him this year. The price tag attached to 2013 Braun is a whole lotta bucks or a top first-round pick. And regardless of how legitimate you think Braun actually is, it’s safe to say that steroids do indeed improve someone’s ability to hit a baseball, which in turn makes it safe to say that Braun will not be as good as he was, even if you think there won’t be too much of a difference between the former and the current.
Whether it be because Braun’s salary will increase next year despite his suspension, because guys like Matt Kemp are demanding his MVP award revoked and Max Scherzer demand his contract voided, or because most people simply feel “betrayed” by a guy who cheats, there will be uber-super-duper hate on Braun when the 2014 draft comes around. And you know how none of that actually matters in fantasy? Well, not everyone realizes that, or they do and just can’t compartmentalize their minds. Remember Jayson Werth‘s ignominy because the Nationals were stupid enough to sign him to that outrageous contract?
Side: More people have played organized baseball than any other sport during their childhood. In those sports, it seems that nobody cares about PEDs or, at least, doesn’t care enough to “question” players who are crushing the league like a Chris Davis is crushing the league. Meanwhile, baseball has the strongest and most thorough testing system out of any major sport in the U.S. Is this because it’s “easier” to see and quantify stats that “signify power”, like the home run does? Or is it because, ever so slightly, we, “all former ball players” feel ever so slighted by guys who cheated? Does jealousy play a part? Purhayps.
Braun’s still good for a .285 BA, 25 homers, and 15 steals when he’s healthy and off whatever it was Bosch-bag was peddling. That means he could reasonably be drafted in the middle of a 12-teamer’s second round. Not everyone will realize that—especially if you take the temperature of the water at this very moment. Not to mention “eff you” mode is some scary crepe. Next year, when you go into your draft, don’t make the same mistake that a lot of your league-members will make—don’t undervalue him just because he’s a lying, stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking, nerfherder. Get him there in the second and have him at slight value for years!
Anyway, Jaywrong is awesome. And his recent “keepers list” was awesome. And for the most part, I agree with everything he said. Just a few things:
Donaldson never hit more than 18 homers in the Minor Leagues, and that was in the launching pad of the Pacific Coast League—the same place that Brandon Belt got his reputation as a “good” player. He’s hitting 34 points higher this year than his career Minors batting average. His HR/FB is at 11%, which won’t last—especially in O.Co. Yeah, he wouldn’t be the first player to really break out at 27, but those guys are usually capped. Unless you’re Cliff Lee. I wouldn’t consider him a better keeper than Wil Myers, who’s younger and, well, better. Jay already heard this from Nick on the podcast, though. So I don’t mean to belabor, Jay. I love you.
Don’t let his prospect status fool you into thinking he’s a fantasy superstar; those ratings include fielding and other thingamajigs. I really like Jay’s spot here.
Follow Terse on Twitter and he’ll answer awl uv yer ?s. @TerseRazzball. Peace & love, y’all.