This is a tricky position to currently evaluate. Opportunities could open up for other guys in right with Ryan Braun getting work in at first base this spring. However, changing positions at age 34 is harder than it seems. Thus, the face of the franchise will most likely be in right field for the start of the season.
There’s no doubting Ryan Braun’s history. He has absurd numbers, the peak being two straight 30-30 seasons and an MVP award in 2011 after putting forth a wRC+ of 171. Braun’s track record is ridiculous, and that’s the reason he’s the face of Milwaukee Brewers baseball. But he’s a ticking time bomb, an extremely injury prone player on the wrong side of 30.
In the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Braun recorded exceptional offensive numbers after a down year. He finished the seasons with over a 130 wRC+ in both and his usual below average defensive output. Even with the injuries in each of the seasons, the veteran was still a fairly productive outfielder. Yet he followed up those two years with a season ravaged by injuries, missing nearly a third of the season. His frail body left many fans wondering if last year was the beginning of the end of the face of the Milwaukee Brewers.
With a prospect on the rise in Domingo Santana, it will be interesting to see how Craig Counsell handles the lineup. Getting the 25-year-old outfielder into the lineup consistently is a must, and Braun picking up first base quickly would help. But so far that is not the case.
The Brewers will be forced to choose between two routes if the transition is tougher than expected. Down one they have loyalty, while the other is the future and arguably more success. How Milwaukee handles this debacle throughout the season may determine how deep into the playoffs they go.