Although it may seem like nearly a decade's worth of achievement, leading NL vote-getter and Brewers left-fielder Ryan Braun has spent just three full seasons in Milwaukee upon being drafted back in 2005.
In fact, Braun has averaged 32 HR, 105 RBI, .307 BA and a .923 OPS from his 2007 rookie season up to the conclusion of last season—making him one of the game's most lethal offensive threats and worthwhile talents to watch.
Some argue (myself included) Braun is more valuable to Milwaukee's future than that of fellow superstar teammate Prince Fielder. And, judging by his contract extension (which locks Braun up through 2020), it seems our thinking was right.
Nevertheless, it should be stated that Braun is worth every penny of his $145 million extension. But is he worth more than any other player in the National League?
It's a question worth pondering for the simple fact that Braun is in fact the most valuable player to his respective team, based on statistical output and Milwaukee's success without Braun in the lineup.
Here's an interesting fact: since making his rookie debut back May of 2007, Braun has missed 25 total games. In those games, the Brewers have a combined 10-16 record, and have been outscored 121-101 in those games.
Sounds like a pretty big discrepancy, huh?
When Braun was placed on day-to-day back on July 2 for a left calf strain, the Brewers promptly lost their next two ballgames, and continued to fall back in the NL Central standings, now at 45-42 overall.
Braun addressed the media following Milwaukee's 8-6 loss to the Diamondbacks:
"Injuries are a part of baseball. It happens sometimes," Braun said. "Obviously I want to play, but at the same time I have to listen to what everyone else says. It's the type of thing that you could easily re-aggravate or make far worse, and I don't want that to happen and have to miss a couple months."
For a Brewers in dire need for health as the season progresses, Braun's injury should come more as a testament to the success he brings forth.
So before you crown Matt Kemp the undisputed NL MVP, consider what Braun has meant for his respective team in the long-haul.
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