Ryan Braun can add National League home run champion to his résumé after taking opposing pitchers deep 41 times this season.
The Milwaukee Brewers left fielder won the batting title in 2009 and the NL MVP in 2011, and his 2012 home run total is the highest throughout his six seasons in the majors.
He has been remarkably consistent all year, never hitting more than eight home runs in a month, but also never cracking less than five.
At 28-years-old, Braun is just entering his prime. He has become a dominant offensive player, and this is his second consecutive season with at least 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases.
After playing at an elite level in both 2011 and 2012, Braun appears set for a stretch of seasons that will cement his place as one of the top players of his generation.
He held off Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton for his latest accomplishment. Here is how the NL home run race finished.
|Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran, Ike Davis||32|
Braun was able to have the best power-hitting season of his career, despite dealing with a significant amount of controversy in the offseason due to allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Staring a 50-game suspension in the face, Braun appealed the penalty and was able to get the ruling reversed. This was the first time a player had ever been able to overturn a suspension due to steroid use.
The reigning MVP then publicly defended his reputation in an impassioned statement following the decision.
This set the stage for Braun’s attempt to continue his success from the previous year. By all accounts, he has succeeded. In addition to leading the NL is home runs, he also has the best slugging percentage, ranks fourth in batting average, third in on-base percentage and second in RBI.
Because of his performance this season, Braun is a serious candidate to repeat as the NL MVP.
His impressive statistics, along with his ability to help keep the Brewers in playoff contention throughout most of the season—despite Prince Fielder’s departure this offseason—are powerful arguments to give him the award.
Even if the MVP goes to another worthy candidate, his performance this year has helped repair his image and reputation after it was damaged by accusations of cheating. Under incredible scrutiny, Braun delivered another elite season that was highlighted by his 41 home runs.