Christian Yelich should be returning to the lineup soon and when he does, the Milwaukee Brewers have a tough question to answer. Is it time for the Brewers to transition Ryan Braun into a more limited role?
Ryan Braun’s Statistical Decline
In 110 plate appearances this year, Ryan Braun has a .206/.257/.412 slash line, one stolen base, six home runs, and a -0.6 WAR. If you look at his stats from 2016-2018, you’ll find that he has had a steady decline in batting average, OBP, SLG%, OPS, stolen bases, and WAR.
In addition, Braun has played in 30 games and only has five multi-hit games. The only statistic where there has been some level of consistency is his home runs. He actually hit more home runs in 2018 than in 2017. He hit 17 home runs in 2017 and 20 in 2018 and is on pace for 29 home runs this season.
Braun’s decrease in several statistical categories, but his increase in home run production may have something to do with changes he made to his swing during the off-season. Those changes were implemented in order to hit more home runs.
The other options
Utility outfielder Ben Gamel continues to put together a nice season since joining the team via trade during the off-season. He has a .297/.392/.422 slash line with five doubles, one homer, and 11 runs scored.
Eric Thames is making a case that he may need more playing time. Thames is currently hitting .270 with five home runs, and a .356 OBP in only 73 plate appearances.
Braun is 35 years old and has seen most of his stats steadily decline over the last three years. He is hitting poorly to start this season, and has an injury history. In addition to that, other outfielders on the team are currently out-producing him.
Because of his age, injury history and lack of consistent production as an everyday starter, it might be the best thing for the Milwaukee Brewers and Braun to use him in a more limited capacity for the remainder of the season.
The main issue with limiting Braun’s reps is that he’s due $19 million this season and that’s a lot of money to pay a healthy and available player to sit on the bench most of the time. It’s been a slow start to the season for Braun, and hopefully he can turn things around fairly quickly, but players like Gamel and Thames are producing at the plate, making their own cases for playing time based on something other than their salary.