Ryan Braun: 3 Ways the Reigning NL MVP Is Silencing His Doubters
Ryan Braun, coming off an immaculate MVP season, is doing everything in his power to silence his skeptics.
The Brewers slugger should have spent his entire offseason celebrating his accomplishment. Instead, after testing positive for steroids, he had to keep quiet as his name was dragged through the mud.
Throughout this whole ordeal, Braun claimed his innocence and was eventually exonerated. Fans cried foul, claiming he was only vindicated because of a technicality in the drug testing process. Even now, the majority of people outside of Milwaukee believe Braun is a juicer.
The thought was that Braun's production would begin to slide this year, evidence of his steroid use and also the fact that Prince Fielder left for Detroit. But it has been the exact opposite. Braun is putting up significantly better numbers then he did during his MVP campaign.
Here are three reasons why Braun is silencing his doubters.
1. He Is Producing Without Prince Fielder
The common thought around the league and among fans was that with Prince Fielder no longer hitting behind Braun, Braun would see fewer pitches to drive. That hasn't been the case.
According to FansGraph.com, Braun has been walked 30 times but only intentionally walked five times this season. Even with Fielder gone, pitchers are still choosing to pitch to Braun. And he is making them pay.
Braun is hitting .311 with runners in scoring position. Even though that is down from .351 a year ago, it's still an impressive statistic, especially without Fielder backing him up. He is almost at the halfway mark in his RBI total from 2011 with 52.
Even if opposing pitchers are throwing him fewer pitches to hit, Braun is a stellar bad-ball hitter. This contributes to his high batting average of .320. He has the unique ability to drive pitches out of the strike zone.
If the voters get it right, Braun will be starting in yet another All-Star game.
In the National League, he ranks first in home runs, third in RBI, seventh in batting average, sixth in on-base percentage and second in slugging percentage.
Fielder is gone, but Braun doesn't seem to know that.
2. Power Numbers
Braun is putting up considerably better power numbers then he did when he took home baseball's best award.
His home runs (20) and slugging percentage (.617) are up from where they were in 2011. It's safe to say that Braun will surpass the 33 home runs he hit.
Doubters and skeptics will say his power numbers are increasing because he is still using steroids, but that's just ignorant. In a statement given after his 50-game ban was overturned, Braun claimed to have been tested 25 times in his career and three times in the past season. Therefore, it's safe to assume MLB is testing him multiple times this season.
The former MVP could arguably put up a 30-30 season for a second straight year. He has already stolen 13 bases and only needs 10 more long balls to make it to 30. There's an outside chance he could have a 40-40 season, but that's near impossible.
His power numbers have only improved after his MVP year, and he is looking for another one.
3. His Numbers Are Staying Consistent
Braun has a career batting average of .313 which includes this season. Excluding 2012, he has averaged 32.2 home runs per season and 106.2 RBI since he came up to the big leagues in 2007.
Throughout his entire career, his numbers have stayed consistent.
If he did in fact use steroids in 2011, then why didn't his home run totals explode? His 33 round trippers were only the third-highest home run total in his career. Aren't steroids supposed to give you more power and strength?
If Braun did take performance-enhancing drugs, they had no effect on him.
This year, Braun is picking up right where he left off. He is driving in runs and getting on base with just as much consistency as he did in past seasons.
His consistent numbers are why he's an MVP candidate year in and year out.