Milwaukee Brewers Ryan Braun: Continuing The Success Of 2015

Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun bounced back in 2015 after a disappointing 2014 season. Can he continue that success this season?

The Milwaukee Brewers offense was one of the worst in the league, ranking in the lower half in runs, hits, home runs, RBI and batting average. The team had some successful hitters, but it was an overall disappointment. One of those hitters had a bounce back season and is looking to continue that success in 2016. Ryan Braun had an all-star season and can do it again this season.

Braun was a superstar fantasy baseball player. He had five 30-plus home run and 100-RBI seasons, including 41 homers in 2012 and 114 RBI in 2009, in his first six seasons. He won the National League Rookie of the Year in 2007 and MVP in 2011. Then, the PED use came to light. 

He played in just 61 games in 2013 after being suspended for the rest of the season on July 22. He had just nine home runs, 38 RBI and a .298 batting average.

Ryan Braun came back for the 2014, but it wasn’t the season fantasy owners were hoping for. He hit a career-low .266 average with 19 homers, 81 RBI and 11 steals. He underwent surgery to desensitize the pain receptors near the nerves at the base of his right thumb in October. This problem was affecting his ability to grip the bat and make good contact with the ball.

He came back strong in 2015 with another All-Star game appearance. In 140 games, he had 144 hits (most since 2012) with 25 home runs, 84 RBI, 24 steals, and a .285 average. The 31-year-old outfielder finished ninth among outfielders and 26th overall on the ESPN Player Rater. The power numbers along with the steals made Braun a very valuable fantasy option.

Between 2014 and 2015, Ryan Braun made big improvements at the plate. He became more patient, as his walk rate jumped from 7.1 to 9.5 percent and strikeout rate rose only 0.7 percent. The surgery must have helped because his hard hit rate rose 2.3 percent.

Braun’s RBI numbers last season were not going to be at the levels before the suspension. The offense was not close to the level it was back in those 30-home run seasons. Braun led all Brewers hitters with 87 runs. Adam Lind, now a member of the Seattle Mariners, led the team with a .360 on-base percentage.

The Brewers didn’t make a lot of changes during the winter, but the moves they did make were important. The team brought in former Houston Astros slugger Chris Carter and kept breakout left fielder Khris Davis (for now). Having these two power hitters can only help Ryan Braun in 2016. He is still a top-20 outfielder and will be drafted as such in fantasy leagues. The potential for another 20 HR/20 SB season is high, which only increases his value.

Projections: 155 hits, 26 HR, 87 RBI, 24 SB, .270 average

Draft: Round 4