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Browsing Posts tagged Matt Kemp

Braun hits the first of 3 HRs (Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

When Ryan Braun smashed three HRs against the San Diego Padres on Monday night (see video), Jewish baseball fans everywhere celebrated.

Here are a few more reasons to be proud:

  • The Milwaukee Brewers right fielder is just the fifth Jewish player since 1918 to homer 3 or more times in a 9-inning game, and the first to do so in nearly 10 years.

Players with 3+ HRs in a 9-inning game, since 1918

Ryan BraunMilwaukee Brewers4/30/20123Went 4-for-5 with a triple, 6 RBIs, and 15 total bases
Mike LieberthalPhiladelphia Phillies8/10/20023Went 4-for-5 with a single and 4 RBIs
Shawn GreenLos Angeles Dodgers5/23/20024Went 6-for-6 with a single, double, 7 RBIs, and 19 total bases
Shawn GreenLos Angeles Dodgers8/15/20013Went 3-for-5 with 7 RBIs
Mike EpsteinWashington Senators5/16/19693Went 3-for-4 with 4 RBIs
Al RosenCleveland Indians4/29/19523Went 4-6 with a single, walk, and 7 RBIs
  • Hank Greenberg, who leads all Jewish players with 331 career HRs, never had a 3-HR game. He did hit two HRs in a game 35 times.
  • Thanks to an added triple Monday night, Braun finished with 15 total bases. The last time a major-leaguer had 15 or more total bases in a 9-inning game? Nearly 8 years ago, when Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals hit 3 HRs, a double, and a single against the very same San Diego Padres (7/20/2004).
  • Monday night’s game took place in a venue — San Diego’s Petco Park — that is unfriendly to HRs, though much more so to lefties than righties. As this article points out, the Padres as a team hit just 6 HRs in their first 14 home games this season. Braun matched half that number in just one game. (Thanks to Jewish Baseball News contributor Jack W. for the tip.)
  • Monday’s performance vaulted Braun into a tie for 2nd-most HRs in the National League this season, behind Matt Kemp’s 12 dingers. The Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder finished 2nd to Braun in last year’s N.L. MVP vote.

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2011 N.L. MVP

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Milwaukee Brewers RF Ryan Braun was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player today, earning 20 of 32 first-place votes from the country’s top baseball writers.

The prestigious award comes just 4 years after the southern California native was named N.L. Rookie of the Year, and 6 years after the Brewers drafted him.

Braun’s victory over 2nd-place Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers also marks the end of a 48-year-old drought. The last Jewish player to earn the honor was Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax, who won the MVP and Cy Young awards in 1963.

By coincidence, Koufax too is a “Braun.” Born Sanford Braun, he was renamed after his stepfather, Irving Koufax.

2011 was a stellar year for Ryan Braun. The 28-year-old hit .332 with 33 HRs and 111 RBIs, leading the league both in slugging percentage and OPS (on-base-percentage plus slugging). He became the 36th player (and third Jew) of all time to record at least 30 HRs and 30 stolen bases in the same season. And although postseason play is not part of the MVP calculus, Braun ranked 3rd among N.L. players in playoff doubles (7), 5th in RBIs (10), and 4th in both average (.405) and on-base percentage (.468).

Asked why baseball writers chose him over Kemp, Braun was humble. He told it probably was because the Brewers made it to the N.L. championships, while the Dodgers finished the regular season 11.5 games out of first place in the N.L. West division.

“That’s probably the one thing that separates us,” Braun said. “If you honestly assess our seasons individually, (Kemp’s) numbers are probably slightly better than mine. I just feel fortunate to have been on the better team.”

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun clubbed 2 HRs in Friday night’s 6-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds — and launched himself into the record books.

Braun’s HRs (see video) were his 29th and 30th of the season. Combined with his 31 stolen bases, Braun now joins one of the most exclusive groups in baseball history: the 30/30 club. He is just the 36th player in MLB history, and the second Brewer, to have at least 30 HRs and 30 stolen bases in a single season.

Remarkably, three of the 36 club members are Jewish. RF Shawn Green had 35 HRs and 35 stolen bases for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998, while Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler had 31 HRS and 31 stolen bases in 2009. Jewish fans will also appreciate that Braun is the 36th club member — 36 being double ‘chai.’

Speaking of Kinsler, the 29-year-old is threatening to become a 2-time member of the 30/30 club. With 11 games remaining in the 2011 season, he has 29 HRs and 25 stolen bases.

The 30/30 club’s 36 members have accomplished the feat a total of 55 times. The all-time leaders are father/son duo Bobby Bonds and Barry Bonds, who had five 30/30 seasons apiece. The leader among active players is Chicago Cubs LF Alfonso Soriano, who has accomplished the feat four times for three different teams.

Soriano belong to an even more exclusive club. He is one of just four players in MLB history with at least 40 HRs and stolen bases in the same season, having accomplished the feat in 2006 with the Washington Nationals. The three other members Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, and Alex Rodriguez.

Also joining the 30/30 club this season is Los Angeles Dodgers CF Matt Kemp.

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Ryan Braun

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — If Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun finishes the 2011 season the way he’s started it, he’ll be joining one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs: those with 30+ HRs and stolen bases in a single year.

Only 34 MLB players have joined the 30/30 club since 1901 (see table). Two are Jewish: Shawn Green (1998), and Ian Kinsler (2009). The only Brewer on the list is 3B Tommy Harper, who had 31 HRs and 38 SBs in 1970.

Braun, a 27-year-old now in his 5th MLB season, hasn’t come close before. Power has never been the problem; Braun has hit 30+ HRs in 3 of his 4 full seasons. What’s kept him from joining the club is stolen bases. Since his rookie year in 2007, he has averaged 16 thefts and never stolen more than 20.

Improbably, Braun’s base-stealing prowess is improving. Through 78 games this year he has stolen 17, 6th best in the A.L. and more than full-season totals in 2007, 2008, or 2010. Braun’s prior high at the 78-game point was 11 stolen bases, in 2010 (see table below). Having said that, his  base-stealing efforts typically decline in the latter half of a season.

Ryan Braun, through 78 games/full season
Year HRs SBs Doubles
2007* 24/34 10/15 17/26
2008 20/37 8/14 21/39
2009 16/32 6/20 18/39
2010 11/25 11/14 23/45
2011 16/n.a. 17/n.a. 17/n.a.
* Played only 113 games

Why Braun is stealing more bases now is up for debate. (Jewish Baseball News readers are encouraged to offer their opinions in the ‘comments’ section below, or on our Facebook page.) But it’s worth noting that he’s on pace to reach career highs in walks and on-base percentage.

The only other MLB player on pace to join the 30/30 club in 2011 is Los Angeles Dodgers CF Matt Kemp, who has 22 HRS and 21 stolen bases through 80 games.

If both Kemp and Braun join the club this season, Jews will account for three of all 36 members, a percentage far in excess of our MLB representation.

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