MILWAUKEE — For the first time since September 7, Ryan Braun connected with the ball like he had so many times this season, rounded the bases in the fourth inning and scored against the Mets on Sunday — his 39th home run of the season.
But this one was different. As soon as the ball left play, Braun’s home run put him in an exclusive club — the 200 home run-club — which he’d joined after just 867 games. And as he took his seat in the dugout, the fans at Miller Park roared for their star outfielder. It was the fastest any Brewer had ever reached the 200-home run mark — a club that only includes five other Brewers: Robin Yount, Gorman Thomas, Prince Fielder, Geoff Jenkins, and Cecil Cooper.
Perhaps even more impressively, it was the fifth-fastest road to 200 home runs of any active player in major league baseball. Only Ryan Howard (658 games), Albert Pujols (788), Adam Dunn (822), and Alex Rodriguez (826) have reached the mark faster.
“That was quick, wasn’t it?” Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez joked after the Brewers’ 3-0 win. “Man, he’s the best player I’ve ever played with, and it’s not just because of the homers. It’s everything. He’ll steal a base whenever you need him to, he’ll play good defense.”
And that seemed to be the theme of every answer about Braun’s milestone day — a game that also included another home run, which gave him a career-high 40 home runs on the season.
Braun’s home runs are obviously one of the most impressive facets of his game. But to Ramirez and to Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, Braun’s contributions on the field this year — and every year for that matter — have stretched far beyond that.
“Pretty impressive,” Roenicke said. “He’s a guy that when you hit for average, power, steal bases, play defense … that’s a nice well-rounded player. And especially at his age.”
At just 28 years old, it’s true that Braun will likely have plenty more of these milestones to celebrate. But as Miller Park continued to give their resounding applause for Braun, he stepped out to a brief curtain call, acknowledging — even for a moment — that he had indeed hit a significant blast in front of his home fans.
Still, Braun refused to dwell too much on the accomplishment when asked about it after the game.
“Individual accomplishments are always far more enjoyable when they come in the context of a team win, a meaningful win, and we’re in a position where every game is of utmost importance,” Braun said. “So it’s certainly easier to enjoy it on a day like this.”
Now, with two home runs on Saturday, Braun is in a tie for sixth all-time in Brewers history with Cecil Cooper, just 50 home runs off of No. 1, which is held by Hall of Famer Robin Yount. And at the ripe age of 28, Braun’s current pace should have him shattering that franchise record sooner rather than later.