A face of the Brewers franchise, Ryan Braun is nearing the end of his career and is ready to pass his torch to someone else. With his contract being up at the end of the 2020 season, Braun will be entering his 14th season as a Brewer and could possibly be drawing near his final opening day appearance. Let’s take a look at Braun’s career so far.
Rookie of the Year
A 2005 first-round draft pick, Ryan Braun was drafted fifth overall and was only in the minor leagues for two years until he got his major league call-up. Over 199 games, Ryan Braun hit 42 home runs, 144 RBIs, and posted a .328 batting average and 1.005 OPS. He was ranked by Baseball America as one of the top prospects going into the 2007 season.
Getting his call up on May 24th of 2007, he would play his first game in the major leagues against San Diego the next day. In just his second game as a Brewer, he hit a home run and went on to hit six more and drive in 21 RBIs in just the first month of the major leagues.
In 2007, Braun posted a .324/.370/.634 slash line with 34 home runs, earning him the Rookie of the Year award. He also earned Rookie of the Month in both June and July of ’07, and in July of that same year was named National League Player of the Month.
He’s an All-Star
2008 would begin to show Braun as an all-star as he would go on to make five appearances in the All-Star games. He was also a five-time recipient of the Silver Slugger, as his stats surely proved that he rightfully deserved those awards. Braun would go on to average 30 home runs, over 100 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases from 2008-2010, maintaining a .303 average.
Not only was Braun on fire in 2008, but he helped lead the team to their first postseason appearance since the Brewers were in the World Series back in 1982.
As Braun entered the 2011 season, he was ranked among the top 50 greatest baseball players at the time. In April of that same year, he would set a franchise record for the longest on-base streak with 28 games. He posted a career-best .332 average and led the national league with a .994 OPS, hitting 33 home runs and stealing 33 bases. 2011 also was the year that the Brewers made yet another postseason appearance, where they would take the NL Central title, the franchise’s first division title in almost 30 years.
Due to Braun’s incredible efforts and the way he was slowly becoming the face of baseball, he was awarded the NL MVP, made another all-star appearance and won another Silver Slugger.
Braun signed a five-year, $105 million dollar contract extension to keep him secured in Milwaukee until the 2020 season. He does have a $15 million dollar mutual option in 2021 with a $4M buyout, but time will tell if he’s going to continue playing baseball.
Going into the 2012 season, the MVP was living up to his name as he led the National League in home runs, runs scored and extra base-hits. He went on to become the ninth player in Major League history to join the 40-30 club, and despite all of his amazing efforts, Braun would finish as the runner-up in the MVP voting for the 2012 season.
The PED Suspension
While those who got to celebrate winning MVP had all winter to do so, Braun did not. It broke in the news that Braun had submitted a urine test before the 2011 playoffs that tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, which another subsequent test revealed it was synthetic. This didn’t look good for Braun, as he was facing a 50-game suspension for the PED violation. He had just signed his huge contract extension and was named MVP but was cheating his way through it? Things weren’t looking so positive.
There was questioning on if his 2011 MVP title should be revoked as a punishment for submitted a failed drug test. Ryan Braun got to keep his title however, accepting it in January of 2012. It was many months of debate and arguing with lawyers and Major League Baseball, but Braun would face no suspension and he had won his case. He stated that “it is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.”
Then came 2013. Braun’s name happens to appear in records from the Biogenesis of America LLC clinic, a business that provided PEDs to several players in the Miami area.
Given his MVP, super-star status, Braun was in the media as a high-profile name. Even though there was evidence proving Braun was guilty, he maintained his innocence. He would miss 26 games due to a thumb injury, but once it was finalized that he would be suspended for PED abuse, Braun would miss the remainder of the 2013 season without pay and any potential postseason games instead of the original 50-game suspension.
Coming off the suspension, Braun was looking to prove himself once again and show baseball fans that he wasn’t a cheater. 2014, he moved to right field and he would hit a career low .266 average, hitting 19 home runs. He played his 1,000th game as a Brewer, becoming the 12th person in franchise history to do so. In 2015, he would make another all-star appearance for the 6th time in his career as a Brewer. 2016 was the year Braun really started to bounce back and show that he was a solid hitter and outfielder, hitting a .305 average with 30 home runs (his sixth 30+ HR season), 91 runs batted in, and 16 stolen bases. He would also be named the team’s MVP for the fourth time, respectively.
Hitting More Milestones
These last three seasons for Braun have been successful in terms of cracking the bat. There would be rumors in 2017 of Braun possibly being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but thankfully, that fell through. He went on to hit his sixth career grand slam, setting a new franchise record and later in the season. He would also hit his 300th career home-run.
2018 brought the playoffs to Milwaukee, where they would earn the NL Central title, and fall just a game short of going to the World Series. Braun became the Brewers all-time postseason hits leader. In 2019, although some injuries would hinder him from playing in a couple of games, he reached 1,000 career runs on April 6 and would finish the season leading the Brewers in all-time home runs (344). September 15th of ’19, in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals in their division chase, Braun blew a grand slam with two outs and a full count, helping the Brewers win that game. He would then blast another grand slam ten days later against the Reds, beating them 9-2.
What’s Next for Braun?
As we head into the 2020 season, whenever that may be due to the preventative measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19, it’s safe to say that we can expect a healthy Braun taking the field. But, not where you’d expect him to be.
Due to the recent acquisition of Avisail Garcia, fans can expect to see Braun getting a little more time playing first base. It wouldn’t be the first time Braun’s played the position. They tried it two years ago with the acquisition of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, but it was short lived thanks to Jesus Aguilar coming in and being a powerhouse at first base.
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Could this be the last year we see Braun in a Brewers uniform? Only time will tell. With a third kid on the way and getting up there in age, it’s possible that this could be the final season of Braun. Brewers fans have to cherish the moments we have left with him, as it sure will be different after he hangs up his glove and retires number 8.