After receiving a late May call to the bigs last year, Brewers 3B Ryan Braun went on an absolute tear, taking home Rookie of the Year hardware in the process. 112 games into his second season it does not appear that he has fallen victim to the ever heralded “sophomore slump.” In fact, take a look at his two seasons, side by side (or on top of one another) as he has had virtually the same amount of opportunities:
2007: 113 GP, 146-451, 26 2B, 6 3B, 34 HR, 29 BB, 112 K, .324/.370/.634
2008: 112 GP, 138-460, 31 2B, 6 3B, 30 HR, 26 BB, 99 K, .300/.339/.589
With roughly two months remaining he should easily surpass his counting stats from the tremendous rookie campaign. Interestingly enough, due to the season-long success of the Cubs, the early struggles of the Brewers, and outside factors such as acquiring CC Sabathia, there are plenty of knowledgable baseball fans out there unaware that Braun is having this good of a season. His 30 home runs ranks third in baseball behind just Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn, and his WPA/LI of 2.74 checks in ninth in the senior circuit.
He didn’t walk much last year and is doing so even less this year—seventh lowest BB-rate at 5.3%—but at least his frequency of strikeouts has decreased a bit. Due to his lack of free passes, his OBP is not very high relative to his batting average; doubly so it means his slugging percentage would need to be very high to result in the ninth best OPS in the national league. Sure enough, his slugging percentage ranks sixth best and his isolated power of .289 ranks fifth best.
Using the in-season Marcel, he is projected to finish the season hitting .310/.368/.572, with 11 doubles and 12 home runs. The reliability or accuracy of his projection is not going to be as high as others, however, given that this is his second year. Regardless, this would put him at .303/.358/.584 in his sophomore season. Stack up his first two years:
2007: 113 GP, .324/.370/.634, 1.004 OPS, 26 2B, 34 HR
2008: 156 GP, .303/.348/.584, .932 OPS, 42 2B, 42 HR
Not too shabby for his first two years in the major leagues. He doesn’t walk much and is not a tremendous fielder, but the Hebrew Hammer can flat out rake.