Ryan Braun has had a rocky few years with the Brewers. In 2011 he helped lead the Brewers deeper into the playoffs than they had gone in over 20 years. Not long after it was announced he'd been suspended for PEDs. That suspension was overturned but the story didn't end there.
He returned in 2012 and had what was arguably the best season of his career. He hit 319/391/595 with 41 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Most Brewers fans felt vindicated and excited for his future with the team. Then he hurt his thumb in 2013--an injury that will continue plaguing him for the rest of his life. That was overshadowed by what happened in July of that year.
It was announced that Ryan Braun had accepted a suspension for his connection to the Biogenesis scandal. He admitted to using PEDs at one point in his career. It was a low point for him and the Brewers as they finished that season well below expectations.
Braun would return in 2014 his suspension now in the past. Yet his thumb injury remained. It was something the majority of baseball was unaware of at the time. He struggled mightily all season and when it was revealed he would need a somewhat experimental treatment most just assumed it was an excuse and he really was just struggling because he wasn't on something.
That's why this season was such a big deal for Ryan Braun and Brewers fans everywhere. A lot of people didn't know what to expect. To be honest that probably included Ryan Braun himself. No baseball player had ever undergone the cryotherapy procedure he had. Therefore no one could be certain how his thumb would hold up.
Turns out we might still not know entirely how well the thumb will hold up. Braun had to have another "maintenance" procedure done int he middle of the season which is likely something that will have to happen every year. On the bright side his production this year gives us reason to hope.
In 140 games and 568 plate appearances Ryan Braun hit 285/356/498 with 25 home runs and 24 stolen bases. It wasn't peak Ryan Braun but the production was still quite good. Ryan Braun was one of only four qualified players in all of baseball that was able to go 20/20. The others are Manny Machado, Paul Goldschmidt, and AJ Pollock. That's some pretty good company to keep. Overall he was worth 2.8 fWAR which is not great but still above average.
The best single offensive metric is weighted runs created plus (wRC+). Ryan Braun's production this year was good for a 129 wRC+. That ties him with 4 other qualified batters for the 27th best mark in baseball. Among just qualified outfielders that ties him with Lorenzo Cain for the 12th best mark in baseball.
It wasn't all good news this year though. Towards the end of the season it was revealed Ryan Braun has been dealing with a pretty serious back injury. So serious he is going to need offseason surgery to fix a slipped disc. I have no idea how that will impact his next season if it will at all.
Hopefully the back won't be too much of a problem because Ryan Braun proved this year he can manage the thumb issue. He showed he can still be a very productive player. And if he can keep that up through to the end of his contract with the Brewers then it won't look like the pariah many assumed it would be.