Paul Molitor took 835 games to reach 1,000 hits. Robin Yount took 948. Pete Rose took 831 games.
Last night, in his second at-bat of his 815th game, Ryan Braun beat them all to reach the 1,000 hit milestone.
Of the 90 active MLB players with at least 1,000 hits, he is only one of five who was able to do it before turning 29.
Ryan Braun wouldn’t get another hit in the game, and the Brewers did lose 3-1 to the Cincinnati Reds, but Ryan Braun put one more notch into a career that might end up in the Hall of Fame.
In his sixth season with the Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun has climbed to tenth all-time on the team in hits – tied with Jeff Cirillo at an even 1,000. If he keeps up his usual production, he will easily climb to eight on that list. It’s a long way to the top, and he has to knock off some pretty big names – Robin, Molly, Cooper, and Gantner sit at the top – but Brauny is amassing numbers at a faster rate than all of them.
He has a career batting average of .312, leading the list of Brewers all-time and tenth among active MLB players. He is also leading the team all-time in slugging percentage and OPS, where he falls third an eight among active Major Leaguers, respectively.
If he can hit four more home runs and steal 14 more bases, he will punch his fourth ticket to the 30/30 club. 13 more home runs and he will have 200 on his career before the year is out.
Looking at those numbers right now, and projecting them forward, it’s not hard to make Hall of Fame connections.
Coming up as a hard hitting infielder, it’s not a stretch to bring up Eddie Matthews of the Milwaukee Braves. His flashing speed, outfield ability, long bombs, and oh-so-dreamy smile no doubt hints at shades of the Mick. His five consecutive All-Star starts and NL MVP award is almost gilding the lily in terms of a Major League resume.
Braun’s 1,000th hit last night was nothing spectacular – a ground-ball single driven up the middle in the fourth inning – but historic careers aren’t built on a foundation of flashy highlights. They’re built on doing what needs to get done every time you step up to the plate. Ask Hank Aaron.
These days, it’s hard to know what to trust or believe in with baseball – indeed, it was hard to trust Braun just this winter – but the character, poise, and outstanding talent he’s displayed over his career is enough to make a believer out of just about anyone. There’s little doubt that when you watch Ryan Braun play, you’re watching a player who is going to help define his generation in the game.
I’m just glad we can all come along for the ride.