MILWAUKEE — For Brewers star left fielder Ryan Braun, his fifth All-Star game invite — a selection that was decided by player vote on Sunday — put him in a special class of Milwaukee Brewers.
That’s because only two other Brewers’ greats, Robin Yount and Cecil Cooper, can claim a similar honor in a Milwaukee uniform.
This year, however, Braun wasn’t elected as a starter by the fans, which had happened the last four seasons. That may have something to do with Braun’s offseason controversy, but to Braun, the selection was enough of an honor.
“You never get greedy,” Braun said. “Any time you go to an All-Star game, it’s a tremendous honor. It’s a lot of fun. It’s amazing to have an opportunity to represent the Brewers organization. . . . It’s so hard to go to an All-Star game. Any time you get an opportunity to go, whether it’s in the final vote, vote-in by the fans, players, by the manager, whatever the circumstance or situation is, it’s a tremendous honor.”
Still, even without the fan vote, Braun will likely get a chance to start in the game on July 10. With Dodgers outfielder and third-leading vote-getter Matt Kemp likely out for the game with a hamstring injury, Braun’s spot in the player vote would make him the de facto starter.
It’s definitely not a question of whether the Brewers outfielder deserves the starting nod, as his numbers are actually better at this point in the season than they were last year in his NL MVP campaign. Currently, Braun is batting .308 with 22 home runs and 55 RBI.
That kind of performance at the halfway point is a point of pride for Braun, who sought to cease any questions of whether he used banned substances by proving his performance on the field wouldn’t change.
“I said from the beginning of the year, the most important thing for me to do to move on from everything was to have success on the field,” Braun said. “That was the single most important thing I could do.”
It’s safe to say he’s on his way to making that a reality, as his 22 home runs leads the National League. That home run total was grounds for questioning whether Kemp, who is the NL’s Home Run Derby team captain, asked Braun to take part in the derby.
But Braun remained mum on whether he was asked to join, dodging the question twice and repeating that he enjoys watching the derby. He did, however, say he was excited to see former Brewers Prince Fielder take part in the competition, calling him the “(Ken) Griffey (Jr.) of our generation”, in reference to Fielder’s skills in the derby.
Braun also joked about the All-Star voting process in relation to the votes received for San Francisco Giants players, as three Giants were elected to start in the game, including outfielder Melky Cabrera, third baseman Pablo Sandoval — who was hurt for much of the season — and catcher Buster Posey, who led the National League in votes.
“I think whoever is involved in the San Francisco election process out there needs to contact the Barack Obama re-election team and maybe get a hold of Mitt Romney or something because the surge in the polls was spectacular,” Braun joked.