Why Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun Is the Best Outfielder in the MLB Right Now
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While Josh Hamilton is certainly a worthy candidate because of his legendary power and highlight-reel defense, let’s take a look at why Braun edges out the Texas Rangers slugger for the top spot.
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Ever since he stepped into a major league batter’s box, Ryan Braun has torn the cover off the ball.
Although he doesn’t possess the prototypical slugger’s build, Braun has averaged 32.2 homers during the first five full seasons of his career.
The 2011 NL MVP isn’t just a slugger as he currently ranks ninth among active players with a .3126 career batting average.
Along with his eye-popping .567 career slugging percentage, Braun demonstrates the rare capability to hit for power and average despite not being surrounded by elite talent.
As of Sunday, the MVP candidate leads all outfielders in on-base percentage (.399) and ranks in the top five in average (.319), home runs (20), RBI (52), slugging percentage (.612) and OPS (1.011).
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When looking at Ryan Braun’s splits, it’s nearly impossible to find a weakness.
Whether it’s on the road, at home, against righties or facing lefties, the guy gets it done.
In 60 at-bats against left-handers, the 6’1” left fielder is hitting .300 with six homers and an astounding .650 slugging percentage.
Those numbers represent just about a third of his production as he’s torn up righties to the tune of a .327 average with 14 homers and 33 RBI.
It doesn’t seem to matter what ballpark Braun is at as his road/home splits are equally impressive.
While he does have a 37-point edge in batting average at home (.338 versus .301), his power numbers are split right down the middle with 10 homers apiece.
Coming Through in the Clutch
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The difference between a good player and an elite player often comes down to how he performs in pressure situations.
Ryan Braun passes that test with flying colors.
The Brewers' star outfielder remains ones of the best two-strike hitters in the game.
With the count at 0-2, Braun has managed to post a solid .241 average, but his numbers are even better in other two-strike counts.
He’s hitting .289 with the count at 1-2 and .306 with three homers with the count at 2-2.
When the Brewers need to score, Braun is by far the best hitter to count on.
In 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position and two outs, last year’s MVP has managed eight hits and four walks, good for a .414 on-base percentage.
Simply put: Braun is a run-producing machine no matter the situation.
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What separates Ryan Braun from the rest of the pack are his contributions on defense and the base paths.
Although he leads all left fielders with four errors, the normally sure-handed Braun still remains one of the better defensive outfielders in the game.
The four-time All-Star ranks second in putouts for all left fielders and ranks third in range factor.
What’s even more impressive about Braun is his skills as a base stealer.
After posting the first 30-30 season of his career in 2011, he’s on pace to repeat the feat.
He currently sits in a tie for 13th place among all outfielders with 13 steals in just 67 games.
With 109 career steals, it only enhances Braun’s reputation as a five-tool player and the best all-around outfielder in baseball.