Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun is following up his MVP season with another outstanding year. Is it possible for him to continue this greatness and sustain the pace he has currently set for himself this season?
The reason why it is amazing what Braun has been able to accomplish through the first half of 2012 is because of the constant scrutiny he was under in the offseason. He was not able to enjoy his MVP Award and he could not prepare himself for the upcoming season without feeling the pressure of possibly being suspended 50 games for violating Major League Baseball’s performance enhancing drug policy.
Braun, of course, was found not guilty and did not have to serve the suspension. Even so, to be able to put up the numbers he has thus far is quite astonishing. He leads the National League with 24 home runs and has 61 RBI, 14 doubles, two triples, 56 runs, 35 walks, and 15 stolen bases while batting .306 with a .990 OPS.
There is a reason why Braun does not get booed at opposing stadiums as he did during the first few weeks of the season. He even got the same applause almost everyone else received when called on to the field at the All-Star game in Kansas City. Braun also proved to a national audience that he is for real after going 2-for-3 with the game’s first RBI in the first inning off American League starter Justin Verlander.
Braun has clearly proved the doubters wrong with his performance and even though his batting average may be down from last year, his power numbers are actually up. With that being said, even Braun will admit that it is nice to be successful through the first half but the goal is to have those numbers at the end of the season and for many years to come.
I believe he will be able to sustain his current pace and continue his spectacular season while helping the Brewers fight their way back into a pennant race. Milwaukee needs Braun to continue leading the team offensively and hopefully his hot bat it will rub off on some of his teammates.
There will be more pressure for him to perform in the second half of the season, especially if the Brewers start tailing off. Fans expect him to hit home runs and drive in base runners consistently and if Milwaukee is nowhere near the running for a playoff spot, then Braun will be their only enjoyment this season.
The voters may not agree due to the controversy surrounding him in the offseason, but I believe Braun will be in the running for another MVP Award come September.