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Ryan Braun boosts value with May power surge

May 27, 2015

If it weren’t for Bryce Harper, Brewers slugger Ryan Braun might be the hottest hitter in baseball. But there’s no shame here in second place.

Since April 28, Braun leads MLB in RBIs with 33 and ranks second behind Harper with 11 home runs. Braun is batting .289/.377/.691 over this stretch, with six doubles, 22 runs scored and 15 walks to go along with the power numbers.

Looking at May, the totals drop off slightly, but Braun still is having one of the best calendar months of his career.

Braun’s .273 average this month is nothing special, but his eight home runs and 27 RBIs each rank in the top six of any single month of his career. It’s the ninth time Braun has topped eight home runs in a single month, including five months of nine or more. At 27 RBIs with three games to play in May, Braun is within reach of his career-best mark of 29 runs batted in during September 2007.

His 1.029 OPS entering Wednesday’s game was Braun’s ninth best, with his top mark being 1.181 in April 2011, when he hit 10 home runs, three doubles and a triple, with 23 RBIs.

What is most remarkable about Braun’s power surge is how unlikely it looked just a month ago. Before getting hot, the former National League MVP had posted a slash line of .226/.273/.274 over his first 18 games, with just one home run, four RBIs and more strikeouts (15) than hits (14). That slow start followed two years in which his offensive numbers dipped to .275/.339/.466 with 28 home runs and 119 RBIs over 196 games.

Braun’s power surge also presents an intriguing dilemma for the Milwaukee Brewers. Do you sell high if he stays hot in June, or do you build around the former face of the franchise?

The former option is the better long-term move, provided the club does not retain too much of Braun’s salary in order to move him to a contending club. The latter option is a better move for drawing fans to Miller Park through the rest of this season, but could slow the much-needed rebuilding process in Milwaukee.

Either way, Braun’s hot month has dramatically improved his value.

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