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Starting a Franchise From Scratch: Ryan Braun

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Updated 3:30 PM - Braun won NL MVP earlier today. 

Hot on the heels of Travis' pick to start a franchise, I'll give you my player and reasons for selecting him. 

The player I'd love to start a team around is Ryan Bruan. I opted to go for a positional player rather than a pitcher so that he'll be playing every day and be making the largest impact possible for my team. 

Here are my reasons for selecting Braun. After the jump, of course. Formatting halfway through my reasons is not working today. 

  1. At 28, he's established himself as one of the premier players in all of baseball in merely five years at the MLB level. His WAR of 25.2 over the past five seasons is good for 11th best in all of baseball amongst positional players. Braun is just now entering the prime years of his career. 
  2. If we take contracts into consideration, he's locked down until the end of the 2020 season with a mutual option in 2021. He'll earn a manageable $6 million in 2012, $8.5 million in 2013, $10 million in 2014 and $12 million in 2015. After that, his front-loaded five year, $91 million extension will pay $19 million for 2016-2018, $18 million in 2019 and $16 million in 2020. 
  3. In 729 games, he's averaged a wRC+ of 149. His weakest wOBA was .377 in 2008 and strongest was .433 last season, all the while averaging a whomping .411 in his career. 
  4. His strikeout rate has seen regression every year since entering the majors in 2007, working its way down from 22.8% in 2007 to 14.8% last season. It's impractical to believe that it will continue to decline, but there's no reason for it to deviate far from where it was at the end of 2011.
  5. In addition to a vastly reduced strikeout rate, his walk rate has grown steadily since his debut, climbing from 5.9% in 2007 to 9.2% in 2011. 
  6. Braun has also become more aggressive on the base paths, stealing on 33 occasions in 2011. 
  7. His fielding when he first played for Milwaukee was, simply put, atrocious. He's certainly not a gifted defensive outfielder, but his defense won't handicap the team. 
  8. I fully understand the small sample size (15 games), but he's performed exceptionally in the brief playoff stints he's been exposed to: 22 for 58 (.379), .422 OBP, .638 SLG, two homers and 12 runs batted in. 
In my opinion, Braun seems to make the most sense of the players that were left for me to choose from. 

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