Like It Or Not, Ryan Braun Is Back
When Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was suspended for half the season in 2013 for taking performance enhancing drugs, it didn't seem likely we would ever get back here. But here we are, Ryan Braun, killing baseballs for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Major League Baseball named Braun the National League Co-Player of the Week for last week, in which he hit .381/.481/.952 with four runs, six extra-base hits, and 11 RBI. And he's also in the running for Player of the Month, although it's pretty hard to give that award to anyone other than Bryce Harper right now. Still, in the month of May, Braun has hit .286/.386/.643 with 8 home runs, 27 RBI, and 6 doubles. And here are his season stats, with his NL ranking in parentheses.
|2015||.271 (40)||.347 (29)||.542 (T-8)||.378 (T-14)||137 (16)||12 (T-4)||37 (4)||.271 (7)|
Clearly, Braun's power numbers have returned, and he's also doing well in virtually every offensive category across the board. His 10.2% walk rate is better than his 8.0% career average and the 7.1% he put up last year. His weighted on base average of .378 is the highest since it was .413 in 2012, and his weighted runs created (wRC+) of 137 is his highest since '12 as well.
Oh, and he did this the other night, too.
It went very, very far.
Ryan Braun’s fifth-inning HR was calculated at 465 feet, longest at Miller Park since 2011 (Prince Fielder, 471 feet) pic.twitter.com/74tXs0btWN— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 25, 2015
Coming into Wednesday's action, Braun was on pace for a season of 41 homers, 125 RBI, 91 runs, 20 doubles, and 17 steals. By the power of Biogenesis, I command you!
After last year, it didn't seem like he would be able to put up those kinds of numbers again. A nerve injury in his hand sapped him of much of his power, resulting in just 19 home runs and a slugging percentage of .453 in 580 plate appearances, career lows for him in a full season.
Of course, now that he's hitting well again and regaining his All-Star form, the questions about whether he's doing it legitimately will pop back up. Unfortunately, given his history and admitted PED use, it's always going to be that way with him. But assuming that he's off the sauce, the return of Braun's power game is great news for the Brewers, who are still on the hook for $111 million starting next season, through the year 2021, his age 37 season.
It will be interesting to see if a rebuilding team like Milwaukee will try to spin him at the trade deadline, and if they decide to go in that direction, if another team will bite at the price, given his history.
In either case, Braun's power is back and doesn't appear to be going anywhere.