Last season, Ryan Braun struggled greatly. He not only hit a career worst .266, but he slugged just 19 home runs. During the final months when the club needed a big hit, the often clutch Braun failed all to often as he appeared punch-less at the plate. Many grumbles were heard surrounding him that he was done. Although his injured thumb was a major issue, many questioned if this is the real Ryan Braun off of PED’s.
But this season, the 31-year-old Braun will prove that he is still among the elite hitters in the game. With one of the sweetest swings in all of baseball, a healthy Braun will help take the Milwaukee Brewers lineup to a new level.
Last season, Braun was not himself. All too often he chased pitches as his strikeout rate was one of the worst in his career. While he had spurts of power, like his three-homer game in Philadelphia, he simply could not drive the ball and slugged just a paltry .453. Instead of looking like a powerful slugger his spray charts looked more like a left handed pull hitter. Trying to get full extension with a painful thumb injury was nearly impossible, but in the midst of a pennant race, Braun tried to gut it out and did not succeed.
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Just like he has in the past several seasons, Braun enters this year as a big question mark. Braun has declared himself healthy after his offseason thumb procedure and Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported that he has zero limitations heading into spring.
With this positive outlook, I expect big things from Braun this season. While it is hard to believe everything he says these days, it was apparent that Braun was not fully healthy last year. Returning to full strength this season will be as impactful as making a blockbuster trade this offseason. With several all-stars already in the lineup, Ryan Braun at full strength and playing at an MVP level will help carry the Brewers to the postseason in 2015.