Ryan Braun: Brewers 2015 Most Valuable Player


Aug 30, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun (8) celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting a solo hoe run in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

With the news yesterday that Bryce Harper had unanimously won the NL MVP vote, I figured it was (way beyond) time RtB reviewed their own unanimous MVP.

Ryan Braun            Total Votes: 63      First Place: 9

Adam Lind              Total Votes: 33      First Place: 0

Khris Davis             Total Votes: 24     First Place: 0

Gerardo Parra       Total Votes: 13     First Place: 0

Jason Rogers         Total Votes: 8       First Place: 0

Carlos Gomez        Total Votes: 4       First Place: 0

Jonathan Lucroy  Total Votes: 3       First Place: 0

Jean Segura            Total Votes: 3      First Place: 0

Braun returned as team MVP for the first time since 2012, with some great years from Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy bridging the gap. While leading the team in few of the traditional statistics (min. 400 PA), Braun was the most consistently good position player for the Crew.

Lind stole the spotlight with more RBI and OBP, and Khris Davis lead the team in HR, ISO, and SLG%, but Braun lead the Crew with a an .854 OPS,  .366 wOBA, 129 wRC+, and a 2.8 fWAR ( and 3.8 rWAR). The most complete (and in many ways advanced) measures favored Braun.

The slugger was also one of just four players to post a 20/20 season in 2015, (HR, SB) something that is becoming more and more rare in the 21st century. He was the only 20/20 player in the Bigs in 2015 to receive no points in the official MVP voting.

Braun also did a lot to separate himself from his down, injury-riddled 2014, with a strong, somewhat injury-riddled 2015. His year certainly lends itself to optimism going forward, showing that his contract is not yet the lame duck that some want to label it.

According to FanGraph’s base running metric, Braun also went from an “awful” baserunner in 2014 to an “above average” one in 2015. His jump from 11 SB (69% success) in ’14 to 24 SB (86% success) in ’15 certainly reflects that.

Braun also posted the highest full-season BB% of his career, at 9.5%, and his quality of contact stats placed him in the top 30 hitters in the Bigs. It should always be noted that batted ball statistics are not a perfect science, but Braun’s soft/med/hard contact percentages were 14/50/36, which were almost identical to that of Yoenis Cespedes (14.1/50.1/35.8). They were also very similar to Adrian Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Lind.

Again, these numbers aren’t a perfect measure of how well a player performed, and one year isn’t an ideal sample size. For example, Matt Kemp was in the top 10 for hard hit percentage, but that list also includes Harper, Chris Davis, Mike Trout, and Miguel Cabrera. Like modern defensive metrics, these numbers tell us something, but should be taken with a grain of salt.

Even with a back surgery this offseason, Braun’s future looks significantly brighter than it did this time last year, with the slugger proving he can manage his nagging thumb injury. Braun has twice received cryotherapy on the thumb, which, provided it remains effective, he may continue for the rest of his career.

Special thanks to our voters: Editor Pete Schwichtenberg, staff writer Michael Trzinski, former editors Kyle Lesniewski, Bill Berg, Justin Schultz, Benjamin Orr, and former staff writers Andrew Vrchota and Dave Radcliffe.