The Milwaukee Brewers are in the midst of a run that many franchises dream of. A year after shocking the league and nearly making the playoffs, the Brewers made it to the NLCS. Having long been the face of the franchise, Ryan Braun is looking to contribute more in hopes of a ring at the end of the year.
At Brewers On Deck, the Milwaukee Brewers’ winter fan fest, Braun talked about changing his swing to fit a more analytics-oriented approach. It’s not a secret that the outfielder hasn’t been his old self of late. Injuries, along with general decline at the age of 35, have affected Braun’s numbers the last two years.
His power and steals output aren’t near his past numbers. But, his weighted runs created plus (wRC+) has him as an above average hitter (105 in 2017, 110 in 2018). And yet, that still translates to similar output as Derek Dietrich and Teoscar Hernandez, not the greatest of company at the position.
Braun’s New Approach
Now, energized by the Brewers’ recent success, Braun is preparing for one more stretch run. The former MVP is working with the current MVP, Christian Yelich, and analytics to make his swing more efficient and productive.
Braun’s underlying numbers show that he still has something left in his bat. He makes consistently good contact, generating a hard contact rate of 43%. That would put him in the top 30 among all hitters, right on par with consistent 40 home run threat Nolan Arenado. Braun’s home isn’t Coors Field but is still a generous hitters’ park that he could capitalize on if he adjusts his swing accordingly.
Building off that, the Brewers’ outfielder hurts himself significantly by putting the ball on the ground too often. His ground ball rate of 48.4% is a far cry from his 30+ home run days, and is lethal to a hitter looking to generate power. He rates in the top 30 for highest such rate in the league. Regardless of how hard one’s hitting the ball, it’ll turn into hard outs more often than not if consistently hit into the dirt.
Last season, Braun suffered from a .274 BABIP, and many of his hard hit baseballs were directly to defenders.
Braun getting into the launch angle revolution would be interesting to watch. He’s always had a great swing, but now he’s looking to change it up and add some more power to his bat, even at his more advanced age.
Another player that has consistently been plagued by such batted ball numbers is Yelich, who reached the 20 homer plateau once before coming to Milwaukee. With the help of some swing altering, the new Brewer doubled his power numbers from the year before, finishing with 36 home runs on the way to his first MVP award.
A Ryan Braun revival season could be on the horizon considering the work he’s putting in with Yelich. If Braun can take advantage of such adjustments, adding another 30 home run hitter to a Milwaukee Brewers lineup already touting three of them would be a major key to the end goal of getting a ring.