Southern California native Ryan Braun has an interesting history with the Los Angeles Dodgers. First, the Milwaukee Brewers star beat out Matt Kemp, then with the Dodgers, for the 2011 National League MVP Award.
That caused plenty of controversy when Braun later admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs that season. Then, Braun was reportedly nearly traded to the Dodgers in a 2016 deal that would have sent Yasiel Puig and Brandon McCarthy to Milwaukee.
Two years later, Braun played all seven games of the 2018 National League Championship Series from start to finish. The Dodgers, of course, defeated the Brewers in that series to clinch their second straight NL Pennant.
Braun now has another Dodgers connection as he recently overhauled his batting stance to copy Cody Bellinger, who was named MVP of that NLCS despite an overall down year in 2018. Bruan got the idea after watching an MLB Network segment on Bellinger’s approach, per Adam McCalvy of MLB.com:
“I just showed up [Friday] and said, ‘Hey, I want to try this,’” Braun said. “What actually put the thought in my head is I saw a demo they were doing on MLB Network about Cody Bellinger and his bat, and where he was starting the angle of his bat in his stance in ’17 when he was really good, in ’18 when he was not quite as good, and this year when he’s been incredible. They were showing how his bat was flatter.
“I was like, ‘Why don’t I try that?’ I put my hands there and it felt really good. It gets me in a better position, sooner, for the position I’m trying to get to. Obviously, it’s a lot different [from his traditional stance], but it felt really good. I get through the zone quicker and easier. We’ll see what happens.”
As Braun alluded to, Bellinger is having a special 2019. The third-year outfielder leads all of Major League Baseball in wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference and is a favorite to become the first Dodgers position player to win MVP since Kirk Gibson in 1988.
Like Kemp in 2011, though, Bellinger has competition from a Brewers outfielder. Braun’s teammate Christian Yelich, the reigning NL MVP, is turning in another spectacular season. Yelich is one ahead of Bellinger for the MLB lead with 35 home runs.
Braun, now the longest-tenured Brewer, has managed to remain productive in the twilight of his career. As the Brewers fight to return to the postseason, there are worse ideas for Braun than trying to emulate what clearly seems to be working for Bellinger.