Fantasy Baseball: Ryan Braun vs. Matt Kemp

by Bryce McRae and Cory J. Bonini on February 25, 2010 @ 03:26:23 PDT


Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Bryce McRae

Braun's fantasy baseball player profile

  • Power, power, power: Last year Braun smacked 32 dingers, and almost half of his batted balls were grounders. His HR/FB remained relatively the same as '08; as long as he lifts more pitches, he should come close to 40 homers.
  • Milwaukee Brewers OF Ryan Braun
    Improving eye = BA stability
    The baseline for Braun is more established than his Dodgers counterpart. We've seen it from Braun for three seasons. Sure, Kemp is on the upswing, but not everyone improves drastically each year; do you want to risk that with your No. 1 pick?
  • OK, I admit Braun's stolen base potential doesn't compare to Kemp's ... but Braun will snag enough that you won't have to risk drafting a lone-category contributor later. You'll be establishing a stronger power base while not abandoning steals.
  • The 26-year-old Braun is showing more signs of maturity at the plate: His batting eye and contact rate have both improved two seasons running. Keep in mind he didn't have a ton of minor league seasoning. His indicators suggest he could keep his batting average high while not sacrificing homers.
  • Kemp was spotted with Rihanna this offseason (definitely not a bad thing), plays in a major baseball market and will have a spotlight on him this year like he hasn't had before. Braun plays in the land of beer, brats and football. Unless he starts wearing a Brett Favre Vikings jersey during games, he'll likely remain relatively spotlight-free.
Closing argument: It's a choice between an established star who still has some upside and a rising star who isn't yet completely established. Taking the latter is fine later in the draft, but with your first pick you want minimal risk. That's Braun.

Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Cory J. Bonini

Kemp's fantasy baseball player profile

  • Kemp is basically a lock to be a .290-plus hitter, especially because of his high liner percentage. An improved batting eye from 2008 to 2009 suggests more patience from the blossoming 25-year-old.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers OF Matt Kemp
    Kemp on the rise
    Kemp's home run total improved to 26 from 18 the year before in as many at-bats (606). His groundball percentage (40.4 from 45.0) came down while his HR/FB rate climbed from 12.3 percent to 14.4 in '09. He homered and doubled more often in the second half, too.
  • He is a potential 30-30 threat after swiping 35 and 34 bags the past two years, respectively. Detractors say he runs less when Manny Ramirez is in the lineup, but last year Kemp ran just as often after Ramirez returned from suspension as he did before that.
  • Given his production level and steady improvement, the Dodgers are likely to use Kemp in a more prominent lineup spot, like they did in the 2009 season's final two months.
  • He could be significantly better. The center fielder has shown two years of quality play and improvement. His upside is palpable.
Closing argument: All indicators suggest Kemp will have another fine season, and natural maturation at his age points to further improvement. Even with all of the positives surrounding Kemp, it's risky to draft him ahead of Ryan Braun because Kemp hasn't quite reached prime age.

KFFL staff verdict

Analyst Ryan Braun Matt Kemp
Nicholas Minnix   X
Tim Heaney X  
Bryce McRae X  
Cory J. Bonini X  
Keith Hernandez X  

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About Bryce McRae

Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.

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