Branyan Makes A Splash

Last year, in need of an offensive boost, the Brewers called Ryan Braun up from Triple-A and handed him their third base job despite concerns about whether he was capable of playing a major league quality third base. Braun went on to have one of the most remarkable rookie seasons in major league history, becoming one of the league’s best hitters from the day he stepped on the field.

Russ Branyan isn’t at the beginning of a great long career, but it’s eerie to note just how history is repeating itself up in Milwaukee. With a struggling offense and no obvious answers at third base, the Brewers recalled Branyan from Nashville (where he was hitting .359/.453/.693) on May 25th and gave him regular playing time at third to get his bat in the line-up while they figured out if they could live with his defense.

He hasn’t stopped hitting since he got to Milwaukee, putting up a .306/.405/.855 mark in 62 at-bats since he got the call. He’s doing it in typical Branyan-style fashion, joining the three true outcome heroes of the game with a 15.1% BB%, 38.7% K%, and .548 ISO based on 10 longballs. Of his 74 plate appearances, 45 of them (61%) have ended in a walk, strikeout, or home run. Notable TTO monster Jack Cust has had 56% of his plate appearances end in a BB, K, or HR for comparison, while Adam Dunn is at 55% and Ryan Howard is at 53%.

With Branyan, the Brewers knew what kind of player they were getting, and they were willing to overlook the flaws in order to see if he could provide some much needed offense. Perhaps teams that continue to overlook these AAAA sluggers should take note – Branyan already has more extra base hits in 20 games than everyday designated hitter Jose Vidro has for the Mariners all season, for instance. Finding a guy who can just hit the baseball really far isn’t all that hard, and the organizations struggling to get production from their DH positions should be fairly ashamed of themselves.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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fifth of
14 years ago

Right on, Dave. Branyan has, imho, been flat out disrespected at several junctures in his career, and it’s good that he’s gotten off to the kind of start that will allow his slumps not to be unduly emphasized.

Also, great suggestion on the Full Nelson plan over at USSM.