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LF <a href=Ryan Braun" width="150" height="150" />

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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