Jays Should Sign Russell Branyan

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The Toronto Blue Jays should bring on Branyan for 2011. Here’s why.

All-Time Stud

I pimped Russell Branyan a few years ago for being an under-rated source of power. At the time he was one of baseball’s all-time leaders in home runs per at-bat, averaging an HR every 15.04 AB. After the conclusion of the 2010 season, Branyan now sits 14th, ALL-TIME, with a rate of 1 HR per 14.9 AB.

Considering the park he played at this year (Safeco), he didn’t fair too poorly, hitting 25 overall HR in 376 at-bats.

Eats Righties for Breakfast

Branyan can bring real strength to the Jays vs righties lineup. In 2010 Russel posted a .874 OPS vs righties. Over the past three seasons, Branyan has a combined .914 OPS vs righties in over 750 plate appearances.

However, his OPS is below league average vs lefties. With the Jays posting the MLB’s highest runs scored vs righties and the lowest vs lefties, this may be the biggest strike against Branyan becoming a Jay.

D at 1st

While listed as a DH in various 2010 free agent lists, Branyan posted a 6.0 UZR/150 in 2010 (51 games) at 1st. He was +2.1 in 2009 (116). He’s not going to set the world on fire but at least, from a statistical standpoint, this former 3rd basemen is at least average defensively over at 1st base.

Young Jays Could Use a Creepy Old Man

AL EAST

While the sample size is small, Russell has had 203 official at-bats vs the AL East over the past three seasons. In this time he’s hit 18 home runs. That’s an average of a home run in every 11.27 at-bats. His 2010 rate was a homer every 10.8 at-bats (10 in 108 AB).

To put these numbers into perspective, Jose Bautista hit a HR once every 10.5 AB during his 54 HR outbreak season.

Now is Russell going to hit 50+ HR? No, I wouldn’t count on it. But is he a cheap source of power, seemingly built for an HR park such as RC, with an average defensive 1st base and a strong recent track record vs the AL East. Yes, yes he is.

Fits into the Short Term, Lost Cost FA Model

Considering the Mariners declined a $5 million option and set Russell free, I’d imagine the Jays could offer a 1 year incentive based contract or a mid-tier 2-year deal in the $6-7 million range. With no decent prospects in the system, the Jays should make a play at this often overlooked HR hitter.

Written By

has written for mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Matthias on Twitter, Facebook and Google +

  • That first pic of Branyan is the creepiest pic ever. He looks like a corpse.

  • robert mitchell

    Absolutely.Baseball almanac America projects Russ would hit 31 h.r’s and drive in 76[exactly his #’s in 2009 in 431 ab’s] with 452 at bats.His 189 dingers,453 ribs in 2,807 career ab’s is less than 6 seasons of 500 at bats! Or better than 33 homers and 76 a year.Not bad for a guy who has always been a part time player.Including 2009[missed 46 games]and 2010[missed 56 games]

  • johnny carey

    great choice. being a mariner fan I’ve love big Russ. Shame to see him go but I would recommend his great power for RC. And the guy is just a stud in general

  • Mr.Koster.Regarding your comments of Branyan against lefties.In 2010 true he hit only .180 vs southpaws but did have 5 h.r’s and 14 ribs in 99 at bats.In 2009 he had 1/3rd of his production,10 homers[2nd to Matsui’s 11 homers vs lefties]&26 rbi’s in about 170 ab’s.So even though he hit about.205 combined against lefties both years,that’s 15 dingers and 40 ribs in 270 at bats.u won’t find too many right handed hitters,even with higher b.a’s give you that production against lefties.When he was with the Brewers,Bill Schroeder remarked that Branyan would luv the chance to play against lefties since he hit a tater every 13.8 ab’s against them.I’d love to see him get some playing time in Toronto and at this point he only needs 11 homers for 200 and 47 ribs for 500.Not bad for a guy who has always been a part timer with less than 3,000 at bats.