Robin Yount played 20 seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, slugging 251 home runs over that time. To this day, no other Brewers player has matched that total while with the team. Part of that is due to longevity, part of it to talent. Still, Yount's record has held since he first passed Gormon Thomas with his first home run of the 1990 season.
That record won't last much longer, though. Ryan Braun socked home runs number one, two and three on the season last night against the Philadelphia Phillies. The first tied him with Geoff Jenkins for third all-time in team history. The second put him in third all by his lonesome. The third gave him a little extra breathing room in case Jenkins decides to make a comeback.
By the end of the season, odds are that Braun will surpass Prince Fielder's 230 home runs to move into second in franchise history. He needs just 16 more to tie, Fielder. Braun has hit fewer than 20 home runs just one time in his career, when he was dealing with injuries and suspension last season. He's hit fewer than 30 home runs only one time before that. Barring injury, Braun should surpass Yount for first all time sometime in 2015.
So just how many long balls can Braun finish with in his career? Does he have a shot at 500 home runs, once thought to be a sure-fire mark to get into the Hall of Fame? Unfortunately, probably not.
With the rash of players who have reached the 500-homer plateau over the past two decades, it's easy to forget just how difficult that achievement is. Braun has hit 214 home runs over 8 seasons. If he replicates that over his next eight seasons, he would still be at just 428 and heading into his age-38 season.
Of course, he likely won't double his current home run totals over the same time frame. I don't think anyone expects a big jump in homer output over the next couple of seasons and, if that's the case, he would have to still be hitting 35 home runs into his late 30s. Then, to reach 500, he would have to sock another 72. Braun is the kind of player who should be productive as he ages, but he won't be that good, still.
Realistically, Braun can likely reach 400 home runs in his career, or similar to Alfonso Soriano's power output in his career. Or Jim Edmonds. Certainly, 400 homers is nothing to sneeze at, and along with Braun's other hitting talents could place him in the same category as an Al Kaline or Mike Piazza, for example.
The nice thing is, Braun very well could hit all those home runs as a member of the Brewers. He's locked in with the team through 2020 and possibly 2021. So he's with the team potentially until he is going into his age-38 season. If he's still productive enough that the Brewers can't afford to keep him at that point, then maybe he will reach 500 home runs. If he's not, he will likely hold on to the franchise record for a long while.