When it comes to five tool players, there aren’t many names bigger than Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp. The two superstars are likely to be among the first five players taken in most fantasy baseball drafts in 2013, not because they are amazing at one thing, but because they are amazing at everything.
That might just be an understatement.
Last season, Braun hit well above .300 with 41 home runs and 112 RBI, then went and stole 30 bases just to put some icing on the cake. Kemp, on the other hand, struggled with hamstring issues for a good amount of the season, but was on pace to match Braun’s numbers before those struck.
So as we head into 2013, it’s easy to see why both of these two are ranked among the top four overall players in fantasy baseball, but is Braun really worth the first overall pick and Kemp the fourth?
Let’s take a look at it:
When it comes to power, both Braun and Kemp can compete with the best long ball hitters in the game. Braun’s home run total has been on the rise since 2010, posting 25 that year, 33 in 2011, and a career-high 41 last season. That’s an appealing trend. Opposite him, Kemp has averaged 30 a year over that span, and was well on pace to break that mark last year before tweaking his hamstring early on. It’s hard to call this one—especially given the PED cloud hovering above Braun—but the Milwaukee Brewers superstar is the better power hitter between the two, having reached the 30 mark in all but one of his six seasons in the majors. Kemp, on the other hand, has only done it once.
Both Braun and Kemp have a way of taking advantage of RBI opportunities. Kemp managed 69 in 106 games last year, while Braun managed 112 in 154. That comes out to about 0.65 RBI per game for Kemp and a little more than 0.72 for Braun, giving Braun a slight edge when it comes to the stats. However, I’m giving this one to Kemp. He’ll be smack dab in the middle of one of the better lineups in baseball, possibly the best, and with speed in front of him and power behind him, we could see the career high 126 he set in 2011 go down. Braun will get to 100—he’s only failed to once in his career—but there might not be enough around him to get much farther.
3. Hits and Steals
Braun takes the cake when it comes to average, having hit .313 over his career versus Kemp’s .295, but what makes these two so alluring in fantasy baseball is more than those hits. It’s the steals they produce. Braun has deceptive speed, having snagged 30 steals in 2012 and 33 the year before, but Kemp is the faster of the two. The Los Angeles Dodgers superstar stole 40 bases in an explosive 2011 and was on track to repeat the feat before tweaking his hamstring last season. 50 steals might be a stretch for Kemp, but he’s good for 30 in 2013, whereas Braun will likely settle around 25 or so.
Overall, had it not been for a 2012 in which Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown and youngster Mike Trout broke out like none other, Kemp and Braun would be the top two picks in 2013. They’re that good, and picking between the two is tough, but there’s a reason Braun is going first overall and Kemp isn’t. The Brewers slugger has been doing what he’s doing for his entire career. He’s never not been a fantasy superstar and that isn’t likely to change in 2013. Kemp has all the potential in the world, but Braun has proven himself over and over again and that’s what you look for in a top pick.
Take Braun with the first overall pick if you want to. He’s worth it.
Kemp is darn near worth the second.
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