After Ryan Braun’s heroics against the Pirates, it’s clear that he still has the clutch gene and the question about retiring his number at the end of his Brewers career has come up again.
Without a doubt, Ryan Braun is one of the most important Milwaukee Brewers players in franchise history.
It’s also quite clear that Braun is an extremely polarizing player, and the question of his legacy is going to be up for debate. There will be people that fall on different sides when it comes to their view of Braun’s career as a Brewer.
None of us are ready for Braun’s career to end, and Monday night’s clutch double only highlighted that fact. Still, it’s going to happen one day in the relatively near future.
The question that everyone comes down to is should Braun’s No. 8 be retired by the Brewers once his career be done?
Should Braun’s No. 8 Be Retired?
When you walk into Miller Park or any professional sports stadium, you will find jersey numbers of great players in that team’s history hanging in the rafters, signifying the importance of those players and that no one else will wear that number for that team again.
Every single one of those players is in the Hall of Fame. In fact, induction into the Hall of Fame is essentially a requirement to get any player’s number up in the rafters.
However, Ryan Braun’s statistical case for making the Hall of Fame is fringy at best, even if he continues to play well over the next few years.
Braun is closing in on 2,000 career hits, 350 home runs, and 1,150 RBIs. Braun’s 46.8 career WAR per Baseball Reference is pretty low for a Hall of Fame candidate and his seven year peak WAR is also slightly below expected production for a Hall of Famer.
According to Bill James’ Hall of Fame Monitor, Braun scores a 107 and a likely Hall of Famer is at 100. Offensively, Braun could make a case for the Hall of Fame. It’s a fringe case, and the counting numbers aren’t as high as BBWAA voters might like, but one could try to make the case.
But we can’t ignore the fact that Braun did test positive for PEDs in 2011, he vehemently denied it, won an appeal, took a victory lap over everyone, and then the Biogenesis scandal proved that he actually did take PEDs and he was suspended for 65 games in 2013. It tarnished Braun’s name across baseball.
To make matters worse, Braun has not come close to his pre-2013 form since his suspension and has since dealt with numerous injuries that have hampered his playing time.
The Legacy Of Ryan Braun
Despite Braun’s misdeeds off the field, he has been an instrumental player for the Brewers franchise and was the main key to getting the franchise out of the 20 year stretch of losing they had in the 1990s and 2000s.
Whatever baseball fans across the country think of Ryan Braun, he was the catalyst for getting the Brewers back on the map as a winning MLB franchise and his now 14 years as a Brewer have been the most successful 14 year stretch in franchise history and that is no coincidence.
Brewers fans have forgiven Braun for his transgressions and have supported him because he is family. It might be a Midwestern thing, but the Brewers are a part of our family and Braun has overall had such a positive impact for this team, that his efforts on the field deserve recognition after he retires, regardless of his misdeeds.
The misdeeds, however, still exist. What will visiting fans and players think when they see the name and number of a player who was suspended for PEDs and confirmed to have taken PEDs in his career hanging in the rafters, especially since that player isn’t in the Hall of Fame? What kind of message does that send?
The standards for putting a player’s name and number in the rafters remains the same, regardless of fan love.
So What Should Happen With Braun’s Number?
No matter what happens, I don’t think anyone else will wear No. 8 for the Brewers ever again. Ryan Braun will forever and always be No. 8 for the Brewers.
What will happen with Ryan Braun will likely be what happened with Jim Gantner and the No. 17 jersey. Gantner’s No. 17 is unofficially retired, meaning that his number is not up in the rafters, but no one has worn that number since he retired in the early 1990s.
Gantner’s numbers did not show that he belonged in the Hall of Fame, but he was a local, Wisconsin kid that was a very good player for the Brewers for a long period of time and a key piece in the lineup. He was loved by all Brewers fans and it was pretty much unanimous that no one else should wear Gantner’s number again.
The same should be the case with Braun. He won’t go in the Hall of Fame, his name won’t be in the rafters, but no one else will wear No. 8 ever again for the Brewers.
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While there are some that support putting Braun’s number up in the rafters, I just don’t think it will end up happening.