COMMENTARY | Ever since Ryan Braun made his debut for the Milwaukee Brewers back in 2007, the Brewers have been expected to be a winning team every year. Milwaukee has only won fewer than 80 games once since the perennial silver slugger joined the club.
In his first five full seasons, Braun has also been voted in as a starter at the Midsummer Classic. Even with the controversy surrounding Braun following the successful appeal of his positive test in 2012, Braun managed to start for the National League. However, he wasn't voted in by the fans -- Braun made the NL squad as a reserve, but replaced the injured Matt Kemp in the starting lineup.
He might not be so fortunate in 2013.
Through Milwaukee's first 62 games, not only are the Brewers 12 games below .500, but Braun is having a down year by his standards. He currently has a .304/.380/.509 split, and while the average and on-base percentage are pretty close to his career averages, it's his slugging that has declined significantly. Braun has just 9 HRs, but does lead the team with 36 RBIs.
Comparative to other top outfielders in the NL, Braun is third in OBP, but ranks No. 14 in HRs and No. 7 in RBIs. What's also concerning is Braun's strike out rate, which is No. 10 among NL outfielders at 21.5 percent.
Heck, Braun might not even be the best outfielder on his team this season. Carlos Gomez leads NL outfielders in WAR (3.8) by a landslide according to Fangraphs, while Braun is a whole two wins below his teammate.
As we all know, the fans are responsible for voting in the starters, and through the first two vote counts, Justin Upton, Bryce Harper and Carlos Beltran are the starting outfielders. Each has put together a nice season, but players behind Braun -- he's fourth in outfield voting -- like Carlos Gonzalez, Domonic Brown and Gomez are the ones most deserving of a start.
Fans have also appeared to be rewarding players on winning teams, so this doesn't play into Braun's favor.
Braun has also dealt with a nagging injury to his thumb which could very well put him on the disabled list and cause him to fall behind in voting even more. He also sat out a few games near the start of the season with neck spasms and has missed six games in all.
While Braun has been hindered by his own injuries, what may have hurt him the most was the absence of his protector in the lineup for nearly an entire month. A knee injury to Aramis Ramirez in the first week of the season led the Brewers to scramble at the cleanup spot, which saw almost no production during Ramirez's DL stint.
Oh, and there's also this whole Biogenesis thing and the possibility that Braun could be suspended 100 games. The fact that Braun still remains in contention to be voted in as a starter considering the PED controversy is rather surprising, and it might say something about how baseball fans view the scandal and PEDs in baseball in general.
Assuming Braun can avoid a trip to the DL, avoid a 100-game suspension and maintain his current pace, he can still be make the team as a reserve if he isn't voted in, but that's assuming a lot, and even then there's no guarantee that Braun avoids missing his first All-Star Game.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
- Sports & Recreation
- Ryan Braun
- Milwaukee Brewers