Note: This page is for Ryan Braun, the All-Star outfielder; for his contemporary, pitcher Ryan Braun who played in 2006 and 2007, click here
Ryan Joseph Braun
(The Hebrew Hammer)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 190 lb.
- School University of Miami
- High School Granada Hills High School
- Debut May 25, 2007
"If I had done this intentionally, or unintentionally, I'd be the first one to step up and say 'I did it.' By no means am I perfect, but if I have ever made any mistakes in my life, I have taken responsibility for my actions... I truly believe in my heart, and would bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point." - Ryan Braun, on the notion he took performance enhancing drugs and having successfully appealed a positive test in February 2012
Ryan Braun made his major league debut in 2007 and was a key contributor to the Milwaukee Brewers' renaissance beginning in 2008. Braun was Rookie of the Year in his first season as well as leading the league in slugging percentage, and established himself as one of baseball's top hitters, winning the MVP award in 2011 (the same year he failed a testosterone test and came under heavy scrutiny). He was later suspended 65 games in 2013 as a key figure in the Biogenesis scandal and his numbers have not been as otherworldly since.
Undrafted out of high school, Braun attended the The U. In 2003, he won the Baseball America Freshman of the Year award. As a sophomore shortstop/designated hitter on the #4 team in the country (according to Baseball America, Braun hit .335 and slugged .606, stealing 21 bases. In his junior year, he made the ACC All-Conference team at third base, splitting honors with Wes Hodges. Braun hit .388 (sixth in the ACC), homered 18 times (second-best), slugged .726, stole 23 bags and drove in a conference-high 76. He was 9th in NCAA Division I in slugging and 10th in RBI and was named to Baseball America's 2005 College All-American Team as the designated hitter. Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers with the fifth overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft, Braun signed for $2,450,000; the scout was Larry Pardo.
Assigned to the Helena Brewers in 2005, Braun batted .341/.383/.585 in 10 games, driving in 10 runs, then found himself with the West Virginia Power, where he showed lots of power, hitting .355/.396/.645 with 26 extra-base hits and 35 RBI in 37 contests. Braun was rated the 5th-best prospect in the South Atlantic League following that season. Beginning the 2006 season with the Brevard County Manatees, Ryan was hitting .274/.346/.438 with 14 steals in 18 tries when he was promoted to the Huntsville Stars, where he hit .303 with 15 homers in 59 games. Minor league columnist Jonathan Mayo wrote that year that Braun is "[b]y far the top Jewish prospect in baseball." . Braun was selected to play in the 2006 Futures Game and went 0 for 1 as the backup third baseman to Alex Gordon. Baseball America rated him the best batting prospect in the Florida State League. Braun began the 2007 season with the Nashville Sounds. After hitting .342 with 10 homers in 34 games, he was promoted to the majors.
In 2007, Braun hit more home runs (34) than all but 4 of the top 10 career Jewish home run hitters hit in their best seasons. Only Hank Greenberg (58), Shawn Green (49), and Al Rosen (43) hit more in a single year. On July 7, he became the fastest Brewer ever to hit his 10th major league home run. Braun hit his 15th home run in the 50th game of his career, and his 20th in his 64th game, making him the fastest to 15 and 20 since Albert Pujols in the 49th and 63rd games of his career in 2001. He easily eclipsed Bill Schroeder's pace as the fastest Brewer to 20 career home runs; it had taken Schroeder 94 games and Braun 64. Braun was voted the National League Rookie of the Month for June and July, as well as the NL Player of the Month for July 2007, the first of many times he would earn the prestigious honor. On August 12, after 70 games, Braun led the Major Leagues in slugging percentage (.666) and the National League in batting average (.348) among hitters with at least 300 plate appearances. In addition, he had the best batting average (.468), OBP (.553), and slugging percentage (1.026) against left-handed pitchers with at least 75 plate appearances. He was also leading the Brewers in batting average, slugging percentage, and OBP (.392), was 2nd in home runs (22) and tied for 2nd in triples (4), and was 3rd on the team in RBI (59) and steals (10) - despite not having played 48 games in the first half of the season. At that point, he also led all NL rookies in batting average, slugging percentage, OBP, home runs, and total bases, was tied for 2nd in triples (behind Hunter Pence), 2nd in RBI (behind Troy Tulowitzki), 3rd in runs scored (54; behind Tulowitzki and Chris Young) and 4th in stolen bases (behind Young, Michael Bourn, and Rajai Davis). On September 9th, he followed Rickie Weeks and J.J. Hardy in homering off Phil Dumatrait to open the game against the Cincinnati Reds. This made the trio the first in major league history to start a contest with three straight homers (two other teams have hit three homers to start the bottom of the first inning). Braun struggled defensively as a rookie, posting a fielding percentage of .895; it was the first fielding percentage under .900 by a major league regular since Butch Hobson in 1978. Offensively, though, he finished with a .324/.370/.634 batting line with 34 homers, 91 runs scored, 97 RBI and 15 steals in 20 tries in 113 games. He led the league in slugging percentage and was among the top 10 in OPS (5th) and homers (tied for fifth with Miguel Cabrera and Lance Berkman). He was voted the 2007 National League Rookie of the Year, beating out Tulowitzki, and was named to the 2007 Topps All-Star Rookie Team.
In 2008, Braun hit his 56th MLB home run in his 200th game. Only Mark McGwire (59) and Rudy York (59) had hit more in their first 200 games. Braun helped the Brewers set a franchise record with homers in 20 straight games when he delivered a 2-run, 9th-inning game-winner off Ryan Franklin on July 24th. He was the National League's Player of the Month in July, one year exactly after first earning the award. He moved to left field in spring training and took well to his new position, quickly establishing himself as an above average defender. There was never any question about his bat, and in his sophomore season, he hit .285 with 37 homers and 106 RBI as the Brewers played in the postseason for the first time since the 1982 World Series. In four games against the Philadelphia Phillies, he went 5 for 16, with a pair of doubles and 2 RBI. He was also named to the All-Star team for the first time, something that became (early in his career) an annual occurrence. Braun was added to Team USA for the 2009 WBC. He had another excellent year at the plate, improving his batting average to .320 with 32 homers and 114 RBI. He led the National League with 203 hits and scored 113 runs. In 2010, he slipped slightly, to .304 with 25 homers and 103 RBI, but had a career-high 45 doubles.
Braun was named the National League's Player of the Month in April 2011. He tied for the league lead in homers (10) and runs scored (24) while hitting .367, slugging .724 and accumulating 23 RBI. He kept up that torrential pace over the following months and formed, with first baseman Prince Fielder, a devastating pair in the heart of the Brewers' lineup as the team put it all together, running away with the NL Central title. He repeated as Player of the Month in September, when he hit .330 and had 22 RBI in 25 games. He became the second Brewer player to have a 30-30 season, after Tommy Harper in 1970, and finished the year with superlative numbers - a .332 average, .597 slugging, 109 runs scored and 111 RBI. Voters recognized his tremendous season by awarding him a fourth consecutive Silver Slugger award, and then voted him the NL Most Valuable Player, ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp.
There was a cold shower soon thereafter, when it was revealed by ESPN on December 10th that Braun had tested positive for a PED, displaying abnormally high levels of testosterone in a urine sample taken during the postseason. Facing a 50-game suspension, Braun told USA Today "It's B.S.". His agent also issued a statement claiming his innocence: "There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan's complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program." At the time, no player identified under MLB's drug policy had yet had a positive test result overturned. The result was a bitter blow for Major League Baseball, which had sought to promote the idea that the steroids scandal was a thing of the past and had promoted Braun as a role model. A number of sportswriters immediately opined that Braun should be stripped of his recently-won MVP title. Ten days later, news stories reported that the positive test had been triggered by medication taken for "a private medical issue", although neither the name of the substance, nor the condition it was supposed to treat were made public. On January 19, 2012, he met a three-person commission in New York City to give his side of the story in the hope of reversing the suspension. On February 23rd, Braun's suspension was reversed through the arbitration process; the three-man panel chaired by independent arbitrator Shyam Das ruled that proper protocol had not been followed in collecting and storing the incriminating sample before testing, leaving a doubt open as to whether it could have been the subject of tampering. That doubt was important, because the level of testosterone found in the sample was so incredibly high as to leave doubt that it could have been produced naturally. As a result of the ruling, the potential 50-game suspension was lifted, to the relief of Braun, his teammates, and the Players' Association, which had fought strongly on the star's behalf.
On April 30, 2012, Braun recorded the first three-homer game in notoriously pitcher-friendly PETCO Park, and added a two-run triple for good measure to lead the Brewers to an 8-3 win over the San Diego Padres. No one had hit 3 homers and a triple in a major league game since Fred Lynn in 1975. On September 16th, he hit a pair of homers in a 3-0 win over the New York Mets, giving him 200 homers for his career and his first 40 homer season. After the game, he was leading the National League in home runs, total bases, slugging percentage and OPS, and, in collecting his 102nd RBI, had passed the Padres' Chase Headley to take the lead in that category as well; he was second in runs scored and in the top five in batting average as well. He finished the season at .319/.391/.595 in 154 games. He led the NL in runs scored with 108, homers with 41, total bases with 356 and OPS at .987; his 112 RBI placed him second behind Headley, and his batting average was third best (discounting the disqualified Melky Cabrera), behind Buster Posey and Andrew McCutchen. He finished second in the voting for MVP, behind Posey but ahead of McCutchen.
There was more controversy for Braun at the start of the 2013 season, as his name was one of those linked to Biogenesis Laboratories, a drug clinic in Miami suspected of having supplied PEDs to major leaguers. Still, he started the season hitting well, and had a batting line of .304/.380/.509 after 57 games. On June 15th, he went on the disabled list for the first time of his career; he had not played since the end of May, complaining of sharp pain in his right hand caused by an inflamed nerve that had sapped his power. When rest proved insufficient, he had to take some time off, and also sought the expertise of Dr. Don Sheridan, the specialist who had worked on teammate Rickie Weeks' hand the previous year. He returned to the lineup on July 8th, but the time missed meant that for the first time of his career, he would not play in the All-Star Game. On July 22nd, he became the first player to be suspended as a result of the Biogenesis investigation, the punishment covering the remainder of the season and the postseason; this time, Braun decided not to contest MLB's evidence and issued a public apology for his actions: "As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions." Some 20 other players were being investigated by MLB in conjunction with Braun. At the time of the suspension, he was hitting .298/.372/.498 in 61 games, with 9 homers and 38 RBI. A lot of Braun's fellow players thought his 65-game suspension was not enough punishment: pitcher Max Scherzer opined that the remainder of his contract should be voided, while Matt Kemp, who lost out to Braun in the 2011 MVP race, stated that the award should be taken away. Online polls showed that around 90% of fans shared that particular opinion. Braun was soon joined in suspension by a host of other players as MLB cracked down hard on this latest drug scandal. After the season, he continued to make amends, in particular by apologizing in person to Dino Laurenzi, the person who taken his "tainted" urine sample in 2011 and whose professionalism Braun questioned in trying to defend himself from allegations of PED use.
After serving his suspension, Braun was back in the Brewers' starting lineup on Opening Day, March 31, 2014, although he had now switched from left field to right following the departure of Norichika Aoki. He was an unwitting part of history in that game against the Atlanta Braves, as he was declared out at first base following the first successful use of a manager's challenge under the expanded video review; umpire Greg Gibson had originally called him safe, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was successful in getting the call overturned after a review. He was bothered by a nerve issue in his right hand, and was unable to play the outfield when the Brewers traveled to Fenway Park on April 4th, then had to sit out the next game. He started the season in a 1-for-16 slump and was at 3 for 20, all three hits being singles, when he broke out against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on April 8th. Greeted by copious boos in his trip to the City of Brotherly Love since his suspension, he first made a great catch to end the 2nd inning, saving two runs when he snagged a sinking line drive off the bat of Carlos Ruiz; he then homered off Kyle Kendrick in the 3rd, his first long ball since May 22, 2013, ending the longest homer drought of his career. He added two more homers in the game, leading the Brewers to a 10-4 win; his 7 RBI on the day also tied a team record. It was the second three-homer game of his career, following the one he had in 2012. He continued his heroics over the next few days: on April 19th, he had a two-homer game against the Pirates, including a two-run blast off Jason Grilli in the 9th for an 8-7 win; the next day, he again homered off Grilli with the Brewers trailing by a run in the 9th, this time sending the game into extra innings. With his offense contributing greatly, the Brewers had the best record in the majors when he went on the disabled list on May 2nd with a strained right rib cage, the assignment retroactive to April 27th. He was hitting .318/.591/.952 in 22 games. He ended up playing 135 games that season, hitting .266 with 30 doubles, 19 homers and 81 RBI, although the Brewers faded in the second half and missed the postseason. His OPS+ of 113 was the lowest of his career.
The Brewers had a terrible start to 2015, costing manager Ron Roenicke his job in early May. Ironically, that came just as Braun was starting a tremendous hot streak that saw him accumulate 29 RBI in 23 games starting on April 28th, also hitting 10 homers during the stretch. Up to that point, he was hitting .226 with a homer and 4 RBI, contributing to his team's early woes. In spite of all of the homers and RBI, his batting average was still only .257 on May 21st, well below his career average of .305. He returned to the All-Star Game for the first time since 2012 and, on August 16th, he tied Robin Yount for most home runs in Brewers history when he connected for a grand slam off Aaron Harang of the Phillies for the 251st of his career. He passed Yount and claimed the record for himself on August 19th when he connected off former teammate Chris Narveson, now pitching for the Miami Marlins. Braun finished the year with a .285 average, 25 homers and 84 RBI in 140 games. By the start of spring training 2016, the Brewers were in full rebuilding mode, having traded away a number of veteran players at the end of the previous season and more during the offseason. One of the players who had departed was left fielder Khris Davis, and Braun was moved back to left, with youngster Domingo Santana given a chance to win the right field job. Braun had an excellent first half, but could not escape rampant rumors that he was on the trading block, even though observers pointed out his contract would make it very difficult to move him to another team. He was not traded and played 135 games for Milwaukee, hitting .305 with 30 homers and 91 RBI, a season on the level of his usual solid production in spite of the lack of support in the lineup.
Braun was still with the Brewers at the start of the 2017 season, and he had a good first month, even though he was overshadowed by new teammate Eric Thames who was taking the major leagues by storm in his return from Korea. Ryan hit .287 in April with 7 homers and 18 RBI. The Brewers were playing better than anyone expected, and took advantage of poor play by their main rivals in the NL Central to briefly occupy first place during May. By that point, Braun was no longer contributing much: on May 2nd, he suffered a left calf injury and could not shake it off, first missing a string of games, then, after a couple of appearances, going on the 10-day IL on May 11th. He returned on May 21st, went 0-for-9, and was placed back on the IL on May 26th. He returned just over a month later on June 27th. He ended up playing just 104 games, hitting .268 with 17 homers and 52 RBI. Ironically, the Brewers had their best season since their last postseason appearance in 2011, as they were in the running for a division title until the last week of the season. They decided to make a push to possibly get over the top in 2018, when they signed free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain and acquired another outfielder, Christian Yelich, in a trade in January. With Braun, Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton, the Brewers suddenly had a surplus of outfielders, and Braun, whose contract made him virtually untradeable, indicated he was willing to move to first base if that would help the team. On April 19th, he recorded the 1,000th RBI of his career with a pinch-hit three-run homer against the Miami Marlins. He hit .254 with 20 homers and 64 RBI in 125 games during the season, being overshadowed by Cain and Yelich in the Brewers outfield. He was outstanding in the Division Series, going 5 for 13 in Milwaukee's three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies, and contributed 7 hits in 29 at-bats, a pair of doubles and 4 RBI in the NLCS, which Milwaukee lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 7 games.
He raised some eyebrows at the end of spring training in 2019 when he did not show up in Montreal as the Brewers were completing their schedule of preseason games by being the Toronto Blue Jays' opponents in their now-traditional two-game series in the French-speaking Canadian city. He claimed that he had forgotten his passport. On September 15th, with Milwaukee in the thick of a postseason race, he found himself batting in a critical position: the Brewers were trailing the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-3, with the bases loaded, two outs in the top of the 9th and Braun worked a full count until he homered off Junior Fernandez. The grand slam gave Milwaukee a 7-4 lead, and they managed to hold on for a 7-6 win as the Cards scored 2 runs in the bottom of the inning before Josh Hader could nail the dramatic victory. Overall, he batted .285 with 22 home runs and 75 RBI in 144 games. He then went 1 for 4 in the Brewers' loss to the Washington Nationals in the Wild Card Game. He was considering retiring at the end of the 2020 season, but the coronavirus pandemic made him reconsider his plans, given that he was now looking at a very short season in which he would get to DH most of the time, limiting the wear and tear on his body. That would allow him to undertake another season after that one.
Braun was voted the 2007 NL Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award, in a vote by 488 major league players and 30 managers. He was also named the 2007 Baseball America Rookie of the Year., was voted the Brewers Top Newcomer by members of the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America in October., and became the first player with any Jewish heritage to win the BBWAA Rookie of the Year Award, beating out Troy Tulowitzki in a close race for the 2007 National League Rookie of the Year Award. In 2008, he received a Silver Slugger Award as an outfielder, and repeated the honor every season from 2009 until 2012. In 2011, he was the National League MVP.
Braun's father is Jewish but is not halachically Jewish and told his college coach he was raised with "no faith" and his mother says "He's totally not Jewish." . His father, Joe, is Israeli-born, and immigrated to the United States at the age of 7. Braun is one of the highest-drafted Jewish ballplayers in the history of professional baseball. The New York Yankees made Ron Blomberg the number one pick in the 1967 amateur draft. Braun's nickname is The Hebrew Hammer, and he said he's cool with that according to an unsourced newspaper article. Research by Jewish sportswriter Nate Bloom was unable to come up with any source for such a claim and his family denies the nickname.  It references his Jewish heritage, former Brewer Hank Aaron (whose nickname was "Hammerin' Hank"), and the movie The Hebrew Hammer, starring Adam Goldberg. It was, in the past, also a nickname of Al Rosen and Hank Greenberg.
"Braun" was the family name of Sandy Koufax, until his mother remarried and he took his stepfather's name. "There's no (family) connection that I know of," Ryan Braun said, "but it's kind of cool." Braun lived for a time with his maternal non-Jewish grandfather in a house that previously belonged to Jewish Hall of Fame first baseman and outfielder Hank Greenberg. Braun's grandfather has lived in the house for over 40 years. Braun has said he is "half-Jewish" and never celebrated any Jewish holidays. 
- 2007 NL Rookie of the Year Award
- 2007 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
- 6-time NL All-Star (2008-2012 & 2015)
- 2011 NL MVP
- 5-time NL Silver Slugger Award (2008-2012/OF)
- 2-time NL OPS Leader (2011 & 2012)
- 2-time NL Slugging Percentage Leader (2007 & 2011)
- NL Runs Scored Leader (2012)
- NL Hits Leader (2009)
- NL Total Bases Leader (2012)
- NL Home Runs Leader (2012)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 10 (2007-2012, 2015, 2016, 2018 & 2019)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 6 (2007-2009, 2011, 2012 & 2016)
- 40-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2012)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 5 (2008-2012)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (2009-2012)
- 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (2009)
|NL Rookie of the Year|
|Hanley Ramirez||Ryan Braun||Geovany Soto|
|Joey Votto||Ryan Braun||Buster Posey|
Sources: 2005-2007 Baseball Almanacs, minorleaguebaseball.com, Jonathan Mayo column in the 5/4/06 Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh
- Tom Haudricourt: "Why Ryan Braun trade not as simple as it might seem", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 06/18/2016
- "Sporting News honors A-Rod; Third baseman earns magazine's Player of the Year award," MLB.com, 10/15/07, accessed 10/17/07
- "SN awards: A-Rod is player of the year," The Sporting News, 10/15/07, accessed 10/17/07
- "Record-Setting Bat Propels Braun," Baseball America, 10/17/07, accessed 10/18/07
- "Brewers Players Receive Awards," Associated Press, 10/18/07, accessed 10/18/07
- "Give Jewish media an error on Braun," Texas Jewish Post, 10/25/07, accessed 10/28/07
- "Moving to the Big Leagues, Braun becomes next Jewish baseball hope," The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, accessed 9/13/07
- "Rookie could make history — but will he cut Yom Kippur?,", Jewish Standard (New Jersey), August 31, 2007. Accessed September 13, 2007.
- "Graduation Day: June 26 through July 7," Prospect Prospect, 7/7/07, accessed 9/13/07
- "Five Up, Five Down," Sports Illustrated, 8/24/07, accessed 9/13/07
- "Ten great baseball flicks that relate to this year's pennant races," ESPN, 8/16/07, accessed 9/13/07
- "Greenberg To Green To...Braun?", The Jewish Press, August 8, 2007. Accessed September 13, 2007.
- "Give Jewish media an error on Braun," Texas Jewish Post, 10/25/07, accessed 10/28/07
- "Al Rosen," SABR, accessed 9/13/07
- "Off Base ...with Ryan Gorcey," The Daily Californian, 9/13/06, accessed 9/13/07
- "Get to know Brewers 3B Ryan Braun, The Sporting News, 8/8/07, accessed September 10, 2007.
- MLB.com, 9/14/07 entry regarding Braun and Yom Kippur, accessed October 28, 2007
- Tom Hadricourt and Todd Rosiak: "Ryan Braun knows 'it's possible' this is his final year with Brewers, and perhaps as player", The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 26, 2020. 
- Richard Justice: "Braun not 'remotely comfortable' at first base: Outfielder trying to make transition to new position, but 'it feels awkward'", mlb.com, March 10, 2018. 
- Todd Rosiak: "Ryan Braun says he's open to trying first base for Brewers", The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 28, 2018.