Ryan Braun 'Strongly Leaning' Toward Retiring After 14 Years with Brewers

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2021

Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun bats against the Detroit Tigers during the third inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Duane Burleson/Associated Press

Longtime Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun suggested Monday that he may opt for retirement rather than attempting to play a 15th MLB season in 2021. 

According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), Braun said: "I'm strongly leaning in the direction of being done as an active player. But I think you can always push that decision back. I'm still young enough, still working out, still in shape. If something were to change, I might as well leave that door open as long as possible."

Braun, 37, spent all 14 of his MLB seasons with the Brewers, earning six All-Star selections as well as winning both the 2007 National League Rookie of the Year award in 2007 and the NL MVP award in 2011.

The five-time Silver Slugger award winner is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. He hit a career-low .233 to go along with eight home runs and 26 RBI in 39 games during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign.

Braun has been plagued by injuries in recent years, appearing in more than 140 games in a season just once since playing in 154 in 2012. That includes a back injury last year, which prevented him from playing in Milwaukee's first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

From 2007-12, Braun was unquestionably one of the best hitters in baseball. He was named an All-Star in five of those six seasons and averaged a .313 batting average with 34 home runs, 107 RBI, 102 runs scored and 21 stolen bases per season during that stretch.

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In 2011, Braun hit a career-best .332 with 33 homers, 111 RBI, 109 runs and 33 steals en route to being named NL MVP.

It can be argued that he was even better the following season when he hit .319 with a career-high 41 home runs, as well as 112 RBI, 108 runs scored and 30 stolen bases en route to finishing second in the NL MVP voting to San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey.

Braun missed 101 games due to injury and suspension in the 2013 season and his production never fully recovered. He made a sixth and final All-Star team in 2015 when he hit .285 with 25 homers and 84 RBI and then hit .305 with 30 home runs and 91 RBI in 2016, but he was far from MVP status.

Since 2017, Braun's per season averages have dropped to a .267 batting average with 17 home runs, 54 RBI, 50 runs scored and nine stolen bases.

If Braun does decide to play again, he seemingly doesn't want it to be for any team other than the Brewers, saying: "I can't foresee a scenario in which I play for any other major league team."

Regardless of whether he plays again or not, Braun will go down as one of the all-time greats in Brewers history with a career-batting average of .296 to go along with 352 home runs, 1,154 RBI, 1,963 hits, 1,080 runs and 216 stolen bases.

Braun is first in team history in home runs and second in most of the other major offensive categories.

If not for a suspension due to a violation of MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program in 2013, Braun could have been in line to receive heavy Hall of Fame consideration.

The Hall of Fame likely isn't a realistic landing spot for Braun any time soon, but there is no question that he enjoyed a highly productive career and played a big role in the Brewers remaining competitive throughout his career.