Ryan Braun is the Premier Hitter In Milwaukee Brewers History
On May 26th, 2007, in his second career game, Ryan Braun loudly introduced himself to Major League baseball by slugging his first career home run off Justin Germano of the San Diego Padres. Eight years, six All-Star appearances, and an MVP award later, the Hebrew Hammer firmly entrenched himself in franchise history by slugging his 252nd career long ball on August 19th, passing Robin Yount for Milwaukee’s most all-time.
The Brewers aren’t one of the more storied franchises in baseball, having experienced relatively little success (four playoff appearances in 45 seasons) since moving to Milwaukee in 1970. They have had some excellent offensive players in their history, however, including Yount, Paul Molitor, Cecil Cooper, and Prince Fielder. One man stands above those vaunted hitters, however, due to his special combination of power, speed, and overall offensive impact: Ryan Braun, the best hitter in Milwaukee Brewers’ history.
In his nine plus seasons in Milwaukee, Braunie’s career numbers read like this:
5152 PA || 1412 H || 290 2B || 39 3B || 252 HR || .304/.366/.545 || 141 OPS+ || 159 stolen bases || 40.3 oWAR
In addition to being the Brewers’ all-time leader in home runs, Braun ranks first in franchise annals in career slugging percentage, second in batting average and OPS, third in oWAR, fourth in total bases, and fifth in hits. These numbers would look even better had Braun not suffered a nerve injury in his thumb that greatly hampered his production in the 2013-14 seasons. Ryan also missed some time in 2013 while serving a suspension in connection to using banned substances to help him recover from an in injury in 2011.
While Molitor and Yount are both Hall of Fame inductees, neither had the impact offensively that Braun could have on a game. Yount is “Mr. Brewer” and eclipsed the 3,000 hit mark in his career, but he was helped by longevity and had several seasons of below average offensive performance. Braun’s worst career season in 2014 saw him put up an OPS+ of 113, which is only two points below Yount’s career mark. In fact, Ryan’s 2014 performance was better than 10 of the 20 seasons Yount played in terms of OPS+. Yount his .300 or better in only six seasons during his career while Braun has already hit .300 in five of his nine seasons. Yount’s career high in home runs was 29, and Braun has averaged 34 home runs per 162 games during his career. Yount averaged 4.03 oWAR per 600 plate appearances during his career while Braun has easily surpassed that mark, averaging 4.70 oWAR per 600 PAs.
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Paul Molitor was an even better hitter than Robin Yount was, but he still isn’t on the same level as Braun. Ryan’s .304 career batting average slightly bests the Ignitor’s .303, and his OPS+ bests Molitor’s by 16 points. Molly was able to get on base just a tad bit more, but Braunie’s slugging percentage dwarfs Paul’s by more than 100 points. Molitor’s gap power is no match for Braun when it comes to home runs, but Braun even hit doubles at a greater rate than Molitor. Paul averaged 28.8 doubles per 600 PA in his Brewers’ career, while Braun has averaged nearly 34 doubles per 600 PA. Molitor’s 4.16 oWAR per 600 PAs while a Brewer is nowhere near Braun’s mark.
Not everyone is the biggest fan of Ryan Braun, but there is little disputing that he is the best hitter that the Milwaukee Brewers have ever seen. With five years remaining on his mega contract extension, it’s unlikely that Braun is going anywhere anytime soon, barring some sort of blockbuster trade. This means that Braun will continue to pile up statistics and add to an already impressive career and could have close to 400 home runs and 2500 hits by the time it’s all said and done. Ryan Braun has been a joy to watch for the last nine seasons, and I am looking forward to seeing him continue his career in a Brewers’ uniform and hopefully being apart of the next winner in Milwaukee.