BRAUN FOR MVP, AGAIN?
After yet another dynamite performance at the plate last night against the Chicago Cubs, Ryan Braun is now hitting .307/.385/.600 with 35 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Players from non-contending teams have serious troubles contending for year-end awards — and Braun will have particular trouble due to his offseason appeal — but Braun’s name is once again coming up in the discussion.
Thanks to a minor slump to begin the month of August, his numbers have fallen off their 2011 pace. He is no longer replicating his phenomenal MVP campaign, though his power totals have actually increased and he still has a month remaining to further pad those numbers.
In terms of the MVP race this season, Braun has legitimate claim to the award at this point. He possesses the highest WAR in the National League. Furthermore, compare his numbers to Andrew McCutchen, who is largely considered the leader for the award:
McCutchen has the edge in terms of batting average and on-base percentage — which is largely due to the huge gap in BABIP — but Braun has the advantage in every other category. Braun has hit for more power, stolen more bases, created more runs, and played better defense. If the MVP were merely about on-field production by a single player, Ryan Braun would be the leader in the clubhouse for the award.
Unfortunately, the Brewers’ slugger will undoubtedly be deducted points for his team’s lack of postseason contention (much like Matt Kemp last season) and all of the continued speculation that he cheated last season, winning his appeal by a “technicality” over the winter. In my opinion, for Braun to win the NL MVP for the second-consecutive year, his on-field production would have to absolutely dwarf the competition. Currently, that’s not the case.
DOIN’ YARD WORK IN CHICAGO
The Brewers connected with five home runs on Monday night against the Cubs — a feat that becomes more impressive once one realizes that the wind was blowing in all night, too. Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, and Corey Hart all deposited souvenirs in the bleachers.
None of the home runs could match the awe-inspiring shot from Ryan Braun in the top off the ninth inning against lefty Alex Hinshaw. He completely flushed the baseball and launched one over the bleachers onto Waveland Avenue. ESPN’s Home Run Tracker said the home run only traveled 404 feet. That seems unlikely, though, if one watches the video.
Just imagine how far that ball would have traveled if the wind would have been blowing out last night. What a bomb.
A-RAM AND EXTRA-BASE HITS
Last week, we featured an article that discussed Aramis Ramirez and his quest to break the Brewers’ franchise record for most extra-base hits in a single season. Robin Yount and Prince Fielder both hold the record with 87 extra-base hits.
After three more extra-base hits on Monday evening, Ramirez now has 65 extra-base hits on the season (43 doubles, 2 triples, and 20 home runs) with 35 games remaining on the schedule. He’s closing in on that franchise record rather quickly, and he’s also chasing down Lyle Overbay for the most doubles by a Brewer in a single season, which currently stands at 53.
Brewers pitchers struck out 15 more batters on Monday evening. According to Elias, Milwaukee became the first team to record 10 or more strikeouts in seven-consecutive games since 1900. Of course, those seven games came against the Cubs and Pirates, both of whom rank in the top four for highest strikeout percentage in the National League.
This speaks to a larger point, though.
Milwaukee’s pitching staff has racked up the strikeouts all year. They lead all of baseball with 1104 strikeouts on the season and are attempting to run down the all-time record, which is currently held by the 2003 Chicago Cubs (1404 strikeouts). With only 35 games remaining, the Brewers’ pitching staff would have to average 8.57 strikeouts per game to break the record, and their current pace has them at 8.72 strikeouts per nine innings.
So, they have a shot.