This season the Milwaukee Brewers have been loaded with stars. Instead of just getting the token All-Star that they often had in the 90s, the Brewers had three players in the starting lineup and another player in the bullpen. But when the rosters were selected, Ryan Braun took a backseat to seven other National League outfielders. As a player who was signed to be the face of the Brewers franchise, many among Brewers fans felt that Braun’s year has been nothing but a disappointment. Some have still struggled to get past the PED suspension, while others say that he is not the same elite player that he used to be.
But his season has not been as big of a disappointment as many think. In fact, Braun has had a very underrated season. Though he has battled injuries, he has remained a big part of the Brewers’ lineup and will be a vital piece of the team’s second-half surge.
Before the season began, Braun, who had been the team’s starting left fielder since 2008, agreed to the second position switch of his career and moved from left to right field. While it appears like a simple switch, it is a major adjustment for a player who has never seen time in right, especially at the major league level.
In right, Braun has excelled. He has learned new dimensions of both Miller Park and other road fields and has been able to use them to his advantage. While he still takes precarious routes at times, he has only made one error all year. Continuing to possess a strong throwing arm, he has three outfield assists in the first half.
At the plate, even though he has battled injuries to his thumb, back and oblique, Braun has remained among the leaders on his team in many offensive categories. Even with the Brewers being an offensive juggernaut, Braun leads the team in both runs batted in and slugging percentage. He is also among leaders in hits, home runs, runs scored, doubles and batting average.
While many argue that it is a down year, Braun’s .298 average is only 13 points off his career numbers. With 52 RBIs, he is on pace to finish with over 100 for the sixth time in his career. When comparing his numbers to the other NL All-Star reserves, Braun is better at almost every statistical category. His OPS is far and above the other three players, and he is tied with Chris Blackmon for the most RBIs of the group.
Ryan Braun missed the All-Star Game, but his year cannot be seen as a complete failure. While many others get the attention, Braun has flown under the radar this season. Though he has battled through pain and not been 100 percent all year, he has remained a feared bat in the lineup. Many teams around the league have underrated young players, but the Brewers are different; they have an underrated star.