Ryan Braun Developing Plate Patience?

Jimmy HaggertyContributor IMay 26, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 19:  Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers at bat against the New York Mets at Citi Field on April 19, 2009 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Ryan Braun is quietly having a great season. In 43 games played, he is batting .325 with eight homers and 31 RBI. 

But, those aren't the numbers that impress me. Through Braun's first 300 games as a big leaguer, he has earned a reputation of a free swinger. In each of his first two seasons, he had over 110 strikeouts without drawing more than 42 walks in a season. 

This year, he does have a high number of strikeouts (31), but has already accumulated 25 walks. It might just be me, but until this year, I always thought he had the potential to become a superstar in this league. 

It all depended on when he developed some plate patience.

There are often comparisons between Braun and Albert Pujols, most of which are made by Bill Schroeder, and I always thought this was an unfair comparison.

Sure, the power numbers are similar, but Pujols's batting average is 20-plus points higher than Braun's, not too mention he has 30 or 40 more RBI every year.

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Here are the actual stats for both players through 264 games.  Ryan Braun- .301 batting average, 71 Home runs, 203 RBI, 71 BB, and 241 SO.  Albert Pujols- .313 BA, 60 HR, 206 RBI, 123 BB, and only 138 SO. 

By the look of these numbers, you actually could make the argument that Braun may have actually had better numbers.  But, we must take into account that Pujol's numbers would have been much better if he didn't walk nearly twice as many times as Braun.  Also, Braun came into the league at age 23.  Pujols was 21 when he started his professional career.

Also, in the same number of games, the Cardinals won a total of over 20 games more than the Brewers did in the first 264 games with their young stars.

However, it seems Braun is starting to earn the right to be compared to the great Pujols, though we cannot really expect Braun's RBI total to compete because of the way the Brewers' lineup is set.

This is an exciting time to be a Brewers fan. If Braun keeps working on his plate coverage, he might not only become a Hall-of-Famer, but quite possibly be recognized as one of the greatest players of our generation. 

I know, I know, this seems like a stretch, but in an age full of steroids and "birth control" pills, it is nice to see a young player rely on pure talent (and plate discipline) to become one of the MLB's greats.

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